Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How the Heck is it May Already?

Hi there gang!  Could somebody please tell me how tomorrow is May? Where did April go?  I have exactly 38 school days left to get all of my kiddos ready for first grade - yikes!  Getting them all to an F&P Level D is my biggest challenge - I have a whole bunch who are digging their heels in at Level B.  Time to step it up and hope all of the little light bulbs start coming on.   Here are my May calendar cards if you'd like to use them - just click below the picture to download.  Happy May!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Week of Tricks, Talking and Technology

     Shame on me! I did a horrible thing on Monday.  It was April Fool's Day and my class and I have a relationship that includes a lot of humor, so I thought a light-hearted prank would make us all laugh.  So . . . I changed our daily schedule to show a whole day filled with Writers' Workshop.
     My kids love writing and they are always eager for Workshop time, but when then hour's up, they've had enough.  So, I explained that the kindergarten teachers decided that we needed to really start getting ready for first grade and a day of writing would be our first step.  With a chorus of groans, moans and one very excited, "Oh good, I can totally finish writing my whole book about Star Wars," I knew I had them fooled. I ended the drama quickly and let them in on the joke.  They were very relieved and cracked up like I'd hoped they would, and then they spent the rest of the day trying to fool me. (Do you know how hard it is to feign fear when you hear for the 17th time, "Ms. C, you have a spider in your hair?")
     Once the dust settled from all of the pranks we got back to business. Our current Readers' Workshop unit is "Thinking and Talking About Books" and we're doing a lot of work with partners.  The give and take of conversation can be a bit tricky for kindergartners, with one of the partners often doing most of the talking. So, this year I tried something that a colleague uses called a talking stick.  You give each partner a handful of unifix cubes, with each partner having their own color. The first person starts the conversation and puts his/her first cube on the table. Then the second partner gets a turn to say something and he/she adds a cube to the first one. The conversation goes back and forth until all the cubes are used.  
     Before we used the talking sticks to actually talk about books, we did a few trial runs with topics such as, "What did you do this weekend" or "What are some of your favorite TV shows."  Thanks to Ms. N for the tip because the talking sticks work like a charm!
     This week we also started doing something really cool.  One of my kids broke his leg skiing, is in a thigh-high cast and will be home for six weeks.  The district is providing a homebound tutor for him an hour a day, but that's not a lot of time to cover everything we do in a day. So... we're Skyping him in for some of the day and it's awesome!  Not only does he get to be a part of the lessons (it's so cute - he even raises his hand) but he also gets to stay connected with the class.  When we "turn and talk" his partner quietly goes to the computer and talks with him. This pic shows him holding up the talking stick he made with his Mom after the Readers' Workshop mini-lesson.  Isn't technology great?

I hope you had a great week, too!