Sunday, April 28, 2013

Details Mini-Lesson

We've been writing and publishing "books" for a while now in our classroom.  Some students are very good at telling a story from beginning to end with lots of details.  However, many are not.  I got a story from a little boy last week that said, "We went to California.  We got there.  We went home."  It was at that moment, that I decided I needed to concentrate my mini-lessons on the importance of adding details to our writing.   Recently, I purchased Deanna Jump and DeeDee Wills' Writing Through the Year Unit 6.  It is wonderful and has so many great ideas.  One of the first parts of that unit is a lesson on The Whole Pie and a Slice of Pie.  The idea is that students should zoom in and tell the most important parts of an event.  But this mini-lesson, although fabulous, didn't really meet what I wanted to accomplish.  So, I went to my fabulous teammate and explained what I was trying to do.  We thought about food analogies- cupcakes and frosting, corndogs (don't ask-that one was a little weird!) and finally we came up with the chocolate chip cookie!  The chocolate chips are the details in a story- they are the most important part of a chocolate chip cookie!  Without the chips, a chocolate chip cookies isn't as good.  Just like, without details a story isn't as good.  So, from this came my mini-lesson.  Click here to see it.  I am kind of excited about trying it tomorrow with my kinders.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rooster's Off to See the World

We've been doing an Eric Carle unit of study in class lately.  I am not crafty, nor artistic so I've been a little in awe of my teammate who finds these beautiful and creative art projects on Pinterest and recreates them with her students.  I try to duplicate, but fall short in so many ways.  Don't get me wrong, we're doing lots of really cute things and writing some amazing pieces to go with our artwork.  But I am just not an artist!  But, leave it to me to find a math connection that I can get excited about!  A few days ago we read Rooster's Off to See the World.  When we read the book we wrote down the number sentences to go with the story and looked for patterns in the sum and in the addends.  Then we colored a cute rooster and added some tail feathers and wrote about a place we want to go and see. Then today I gave the students a word problem: Rooster sees 4 cats, 5 dogs, and 6 pigs.  How many animals did he see all together?  I had the students illustrate that and we talked about how to solve this problem.  Because of all our work with 10, I thought a few students might see an easy way to add the numbers by making 10 with the 4 and the 6.  Unfortunately, that wasn't really the case... most students just counted all to get the answer and were kind of confused about what the number sentence would be.  Disappointed teacher :-(  So, in an effort to salvage my math lesson I decided to adapt a lesson I found when I was google searching common core math.  It's from Georgia.  They have these  pretty amazing units that go with the Common Core Standards for math.  Click here to find them.  Anyway, the lesson is about a trip to a farm.  Basically, you tell the students that you saw a certain number of farm animals' legs and you ask them to figure out what combination of animals they could have seen.  I adapted that to the book Rooster's Off to See the World.  We made a list of some animals that rooster saw- frogs, cats, turtles, and fireflies and added roosters (to give a 2 legged animal).  Then I told the students that Rooster saw 10 legs and asked the students to think about a combination of animals that Rooster could have seen.  We talked with our elbow partners about our combinations and then shared with the group and wrote the number sentence to go with our thinking.  Here are some of their ideas- 1 frog, 1 cat, and 1 rooster (4+4+2); 1 firefly, 2 roosters (6+2+2) and the list went on from there.  Then I told them that Rooster saw 12 legs- we continued in this way for a little while.  This was a pretty cool- it just sort of hit me in the moment math lesson!  We will definitely revisit this idea again!
On a funny note, and kind of connected to the elbow partner conversation, we had an inservice about the Common Core yesterday.  It was one of those really boring meetings where I knew we weren't going to learn anything we didn't already know.  But they showed this really funny video in support of Common Core and writing across the curriculum.  It's called I Choose C.  Click here to see it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So Many Things to do with Buttons!

I don't know about you, but this time of year I always begin reflecting on the year- what went well, what needs modifying for next year.  As I do that, I look forward to next year and begin informal planning of things to do at the beginning of next year.  My BFT (best friend teacher) and I were talking at lunch today about buttons.  She had ordered some Lakeshore Learning stuff and one of the things she had was a button sorting game.  She was telling me that I needed to make something similar to it or to extend the game into some other button related activities.  I was telling her that I did have some button clip art, but really needed to find some more.  Well, as I am blog hopping this evening after a long day of teaching followed by an even longer baseball practice for my son, I run across the blog of one of my new favorite clip artist, Ink n Little Things.  She has a button clip art set as a flash freebie until the 11th. Go check it out and then head to her TpT store.  She has some great products. I especially love her phonics clip art!  Now, I am off to think about how I can use these cute buttons in some beginning of the year activities!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

High Frequency Word Fluency

I really think high frequency words will be the death of me this year!  This particular group seems to be having a very difficult time learning the 75 words that they need for mastery by the end of Kindergarten.  I think part of it is that they came in so low- not knowing many letters and sounds- so we had to really focus on that at first and push sight words to the back burner until they mastered letters and sounds.  Another part is parental involvement- my kinders that have parents who will practice the words at home have mastered those 75 words weeks ago.  Unfortunately, many do not practice at home and we can only do so much at school.  Anyway, I made this recording sheet.  I know it's a little late for this year, but I will definitely use this with next year's group.  Get the freebie here

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A great give-away

Happy Saturday!  I am participating in a great give-away over at Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade.  She has 1,000 followers on her TpT store!  Congratulations! Stop over there and check it out!  It's her first give-away so let's make it a great one for her!  There are fabulous prizes for K-4th grade!

Friday, April 5, 2013

More Motion Fun!

Here are some pictures from this week's motion activities.  We talked about push and pull and tried to push this tub across the floor empty, with some books and with my little friend here.  We talked about why I was able to move it a greater distance when it was empty even though I gave it the same amount of push! He was pretty excited to be a part of my experiment!

Then we made roller coasters out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls!  They loved this! Check out some of their creations below.  I am not sure that they could articulate the things that they learned from these activities this week, but it gave them a first exposure to the ideas of motion and forces.  And maybe they learned a little something.  One of my kinders told me that she was in the car yesterday with her mom.  Her mom was "speeding".  She told her mom that they were "in motion" and she was using "too much force on the gas pedal."  Love my kinders!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Numbers in Base 10

I am reading a book called Common Core Mathematics in a PLC at Work Grades K-2.  It is written by Matthew R. Larson and a whole group of other authors.  Here's the Amazon link.  It's a great book that leads you through what a math PLC would look like and how to read the standards and use them effectively.  I am not very far into it, but I was sharing some of it at our last PLC.  One of the things it mentioned was the idea of creating anchor lessons for the standards.  These are lessons that everyone teaches during the course of teaching a standards. I don't know about your school, but at my school we follow the district curriculum map for what should be taught in each quarter, but then every classroom is different.  If you went into my classroom and then someone else's on the team, you might not see the exact same standards being taught that week, and you certainly would not see the same lessons!  I don't love this- I think there should be more sharing of great lessons and activities, but we haven't gotten there yet as a team.  So, long story short- we decided to create a series of assessments for the NBT1 standard and then create an anchor lesson for that standard that we all can teach to introduce the standard.  Eventually, the assessments will be part of a product on TpT to go along with my other math assessments, but I wanted to share some of our work with you.  The three things all go together.  We decided to help students understand base 10 better we needed to connect those tools with other math tools we've used before- specifically ten frames, tally marks and linking cubes.  So, we came up with this lesson. NBT1 Anchor Lesson It uses a "bridge map" as the foundation, so if you are not familiar with that the lesson might not make sense.  But the basic premise is that students are matching the base 10 representation of teen numbers to the ten-frame, tally mark, linking cube and word representations. The Bridge Map Freebie has the cards needed for the activity as well as a little explanation.  The NBT1 Practice Worksheet is just that- practice of what they need matching the base 10 model with something else.  Here are some pictures of the students working on their bridge maps.  At the end, there is a picture of one page of the worksheet.

Students cut and paste these and place them on the worksheet above.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Motion Fun

I don't know about you, but teaching force and motion to Kindergarteners is hard!!!  The standard says "Investigate how applied forces can make things move (push and pull)." There are so many great motion experiments, but making them kinder friendly is difficult.  Well, that's not really true- you can still do the experiments, but explaining it in kinder friendly language is difficult.  So, we've been doing some basic things with motion.  On Monday, we discovered that markers can't roll by themselves- we need to give them a push or put them on a ramp and slide them.  Then we also saw how different objects can move down a ramp (slide, roll, spin etc...) Yesterday we explored with different sized forces.  I put tracks (green painter tape) of different lengths on the tables.  I gave each table cars and the job was to try to give the car enough force (a push) to make the car stop exactly at the track's finish line.

Then I brought them back to the carpet and we talked about what they noticed.  We wrote our "scientific observations" on chart paper.  The kinders noticed that if the track was long they had to give a bigger push.  If that track was shorter they had to give a smaller push.
Then, I told them that scientists sometimes do an experiment and then something else pops up that they wonder about.  I told them that while they were doing this experiment, I was wondering if the push they gave would be different on a different surface.  So, we moved one piece of tape at each table to a different surface- the classroom carpet, the meeting area carpet, the library carpet and the tile floor.  This time their job was to try the push on both surfaces and compare how big/small a push they needed to give the car on the different surfaces.

Then we came back together and talked about our scientific observations.  They decided that the carpet was rough, so they needed to give a bigger push than on the table.  They also decided that the tile was  more slippery ("slippery-er" in Kinder language) than the table, so they could give a smaller push.
Wow!  Lots of science going on and some fairly deep topics that they've just begun to brush the surface of, but it's a good start.
By the way, I found a great resource from TpT where some of these ideas came from.  I adapted a bit, but it's a great unit (and motion units for kinder are hard to find).  It's from Kindergarten Squared.  Click  here for a link to the product at their store.


Monday, April 1, 2013

39 School Days Left

So, the countdown has begun... maybe not with the kinders yet, but I am definitely counting the days.  It's hard to believe that the school year only has 39 days left.  Wow!  There's so much to do and so very little time, but yet these days will just drag and drag.  We have no days off left AND we're basically on lock-down all day during testing week with no specials and no recess!  So, we have to make it standards-packed and fun all at the same time. 
We've been enjoying our fairy tale unit.  Each week we read a different fairy tale.  I find different versions of it to read each day and we compare and contrast as well as focus on beginning, middle, end and characters, setting, problem and solution. 
We just finished our plant mini-unit and now we're focusing on magnets and motion.  I have some fun activities planned for that so hopefully I can share some pictures of that in action.
Well, I am off to school year this morning.  I have to change centers and make sure everything is ready for a unscheduled observation from my principal sometime this week! Gotta love our new evaluation system!!!
Happy Monday!