We had a great time listening to Halloween stories during our Story Hour today. It was fun to just get to listen, and I think some of the children did some drawing too. We listened to Turkey Trick or Treat by Wendy Silvano,
The Very Brave Witch by Allison McGhee, Pig and Pug Trick or Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion, Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman, It's Raining Bats and Frogs by Rebecca Colby, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Hallo-weener by Dav Pilkey, and the Witch's Cat and the Cooking Catastrophe by Kristie Watson. Ask me to tell you my favorite story!
During our afternoon class we read The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams. We listened to the story and identified the key events. We then found pieces of clothing that went with the story, and a doll to use as the little old lady, and practiced retelling the story using my words. I modeled this and we used the book to go through the story. It's a long story but fun to retell! The clothes all make a movement and a sound that are part of the retelling. Then, the children went to break out rooms to practice retelling the story. Ask me to retell The LIttle Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything! Then, remind me to put away the clothes I used!
We practiced listening and writing. I said a Halloween sentence and the children wrote it. The sentences had some "red words" that we have been learning in Orton Gillingham, and some words they needed to tap out to hear the sounds and write the letters that go with the sounds. We also were working on using spaces between words, a capital letter to start the sentence, and puctuation at the end of the sentence.
I hope you have a great Halloween and weekend!
It's been a busy week, and I'm sorry I've not blogged! I had training this week after class in math and in the new report card system.
Monday, Mrs. Abramson, came in to help me with teaching the children to use See Saw, and to help them learn to toggle to a different website while staying in Zoom. I will be sending you information about See Saw so you can visit this site with your child. The great thing about See Saw is that it does everything I need it to do! The children will be able to submit work to me, take pictures of work, make short videos to answer prompts and explain their thinking. The children were really patient in waiting for help, and although we couldn't get to everyone then, hopefully the information I send you will help you get them started. I am pretty sure once they start using it, they will be able to do many things independently.
We have read a couple fables and talked about the characteristics of fables. We also continued to identify key events in stories, for example in The Tortoise and the Hare, the hare took a nap by the tree would be a key detail. We compared characters from two fables we read. We compare the mouse and the tortoise. These lessons connect to the writing prompts, so we also wrote a narrative about what the charters were feeling. We used the illustrations in the story to help with an idea for what the character might be thinking. I model my thinking and idea, then model the writing, and now am starting to pull back some so the children can begin writing more on their own. We are going through the writing process of thinking of the idea we will write, rehearsing it with our study buddy, then writing it. We have some children share their writing when finishing.
In math, we working with drawing sets with one more and one less, counting items in a circular arrangement, and ordering numbers and sets from 1 - 10 and 10 - 1. I also did a few checks to fill in any gaps in my assessments for this unit that we have finished. We will be starting a short unit on geometry soon.
In Social Studies, we continued talking about leaders. We have learned about George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. so far. We will continue to talk about leaders next week as well.
This week, in the morning when the children came into the Zoom room, I put them in a breakout room with other children so they can get to know each other better. It's random, basically whoever comes in around the same time. We talked about how to talk in a small group, take turns, and encourage others to talk. We will continue to work on this next week as well!
Have a nice evening!
We started our day with an exercise to practice using short term memory. I asked the children to find three things: 1. Something blue, 2. Something that makes them happy, 3. Something that is soft. I repeated the directions orally twice, then sent them off to look for the items. They were so quick! They found the items needed for the list and quickly brought them back. We shared what some of them brought back for each one. We talked about the importance of listening to directions the first time they are given and that as we go on, I will not be repeating directions as often because that is only teaching them that they don't have to listen closely the first time directions are given.
We read another fable today. Fables are generally a more difficult genre, but the Benchmark versions of these stories are simplified and very short, so we are able to focus on key events, lessons and characters in the story. Today we focused on retelling using key events. I asked the children to go find two little stuffies or little characters to use to retell the story. We practiced together and tried to really exaggerate our voices to sound like the characters talking, and to tell the story in order. After we practiced as a group, we went into breakout rooms with a partner and practice with them as well. The children loved this and are anxious to share the story with you. Ask me to tell me the story of The Little Helper with my stuffies.
In math, we worked with the concept of one less. We also took the sprint that focused on "one more" that we took yesterday. We worked once again on the sprint routine, then took the sprint. Most of the children reported an increase in the number of problems they were able to complete.
We worked hard all week, and were able to take some time at the end of the day to work on self-control, following directions, and drawing a scarecrow. We read the beautiful book Scarecrow, by Cynthia Rylant, and took several breaks to follow directions to draw a scarecrow. We got our marker and paper ready, then listened to the story until they were told to draw something on their paper. We used mostly shapes to draw the scarecrow, but then they had time to decorate the scarecrow as they wished.
Have a wonderful, relaxing and safe weekend!
We had such a great day today! We are starting our day by making sure our work area is clear of distractions; toys are put away from the workspace, and school supplies should be put in a school box until they are needed. The children did a great job finding the right math book, which is one we have rarely used but they found it and found the pages we needed. They are moving quicker in getting their supplies for the most part, although we do still have a few stragglers. It's important they stop one activity and transition quickly to the next. This is true when we are in school as well, so it's something we work on there too. We learned how to do a math sprint today. We actually did just the first part today because it was some listening to learn the routine, then the work. Math sprints occur more often in the upper grades, but we will be having more as the year goes on. The purpose of the math sprint is to build speed. The children need to think fluently, stay focused, and work quickly and accurately. We will usually do the exact same paper two times in a row. The children are given a specific time limit so they have to start together and end at the same time, although they may not have finished the page. We count to see how many problems they finished at the end of the first sprint, and they try and do better on the second sprint. We will do the sprint we did today again tomorrow. Automaticity and fluent thinking are important for learners in all subject areas. In math, we want them to have strong, basic skills so that is where our sprints will often be found. In reading, we work to have kids read words, especially sight words, quickly, not sounding them out but just knowing them automatically. We work toward that in spelling those words as well, and in learning parts of words that can be used quickly in writing. This is why Orton Gillingham is such a great methodology and why kindergarten is so happy that we are able to implement this year.
We are working in math with the concept of one more, and looking at how it looks with cubes in a staircase, which will help them to visualize this, and will be a good foundation for addition.
In reading, we talked again about the characters from The Tortoise and the Hare. We talked about what the characters were like from what happened in the story. Then, the children wrote an opinion piece about which character they liked best. They know they need to state their opinion and a reason that is related to the story. I have done a lot of modeling in writing so far this year, and they have copied a lot so far. I'm starting to pull back some and encouraging them to stretch out the words and write the sounds they hear. They are really doing a great job. I don't see them looking frustrated, and although they are not writing much yet, they are attempting and getting something down. I put some words up they can copy, for example today they could copy tortoise or hare. Using resources is a good strategy to learn as a beginning reader, but we don't want the children to become overly concerned about conventional spelling of words that they haven't learned yet. For shorter words, they are learning how to finger tap with their "other hand" to hear the sounds.
We talked about leaders again today. We focused on George Washington. We studied the painting of Washington crossing the Delaware river and talked about what we noticed. I was happy to see we have a couple children who are very interested in history! Ask me to tell you what I learned about George Washington!
Reading groups went so well today. The children needed to write about George Washington, do three math papers, and read a book if they finished before groups were done. The times I checked back in with the big room, I found almost every child working, and it was quiet! I'm not going to brag because EVERY teacher knows when you do that, the next day will be crazy! But they were really good! I surprised them with a reward of watching an episode of Charlie and Lola, and we actually ran a little late today doing that, but it was worth it! They seemed to really enjoy it.
One of the kids asked in the morning if we could do a craft. I told them couldn't but if we have a good day today, and a good morning tomorrow, we would be able to get through what we needed to do and we would do a craft in the afternoon. So I'm hoping tomorrow afternoon, we will be making a scarecrow. If you happen to have construction paper, or old scrapbooking paper, your child would love to use it for their scarecrow. If not, no worries! They can use plain paper and color it to make their scarecrow. We will be focusing on following directions and cutting.
Have a great evening!
We had a great morning! We made sure our learning space was ready and removed distractors. We went to breakout rooms and talked about favorite book characters. Children were taking turns and listening to others. When we came back to the main room, I asked children to share what they heard others say. I was so happy to hear so many children able to tell me what other children in their room said, so they were showing that they listened to others and many remembered the names of the children they heard. The children also are learning to show a thumbs up when they have the same idea or answer instead of unmuting and saying that. We do that in the classroom as well. We are also working on piggybacking on what other children say, so we add on and don't repeat what someone else said. That is a skill that will develop throughout the year..
We worked with /g/ again in Orton Gillingham, and worked with the word go. We are working toward automaticity so the sounds and words are remembered, named, read and spelled without stopping to think about it. The kids are doing so well with the OG routines. They know where their supplies are and get them out fairly quickly and put them away where they belong quickly too!
In math, we worked with adding one more to a number. We listened to the Eric Carle story Rooster's Off to See the World. This book has a staircase of animals building in the upper corner of the page that goes with the story. We worked with staircases in math, looking at how adding on one builds the steps. I modeled with connecting cubes and your child can do this as well if they go to our Google Classroom and go to our stream. You will see a link to Unifix cubes. This is a tool children can explore and build their own staircase. They can make patterns and just explore number concepts with these cubes.
The afternoon was a bit bumpy. Once in reading groups, the kids did great. I showed the children the papers I expected them to do before I took groups in to break out rooms. I modeled what to do on each paper. I told them if they finished their work, they were to read books. I would like them to have 3 or 4 books they can read or look at when they finish their work. I have a second computer set up and what I saw was discouraging, but part of learning. In the classroom I would be working with them to stay on task, work quietly, and not play around with their supplies. That's part of learning to be part of our learning community. The same thing is happening online, but they have a greater selection of distractors because they are at home. I came back to a very loud room. I had to raise my voice to get them to hear me to settle down. I'm sorry for this and I hope it doesn't interrupt your work. I don't want the children to turn off their video because I feel responsible for their safety and their attention to their work. I don't want to just always send them to play games online because I know they discover other games that may be more exciting for them then the skill I am giving them practice on. We will be using our Google classroom soon, as well as See Saw where they can submit work on their own and send me a video with their explanation. But it's still important that we work on building their self-control and focus to get their work done. I know each day we will get better at this, and I still love them all dearly. They are a very sweet class, and I am so lucky to be working with them!
Have a nice evening!
We had a busy day! In Benchmark, we started a new unit about characters. We read The Tortoise and the Hare and talked about key events in the story. This is still somewhat difficult for our learners. They seem to have a hard time just focusing in on one thing that happened that is important to the story. I think this is very important to think about because it really shows us so much about their thinking. Often if we are talking to young children about a conflict or something that is bothering them, sometimes it's hard for them to tell just what happened, and in what order. Key events and retelling are skills we will work with throughout the year in reading.
We also wrote about a key event, although I modeled it and they copied. We will come back to this and they will need to write independently. Independently in kindergarten means that they will be writing the sounds they hear which may not be spelled correctly. We are looking for this to develop over time. They are learning words that are not encodable and those words, such as the,, we would expect to be spelled correctly once they are learned and practiced. Being able to talk about their writing, and their drawing is important, so getting their idea across is the most important thing right now in their writing.
In math, we worked with matching numerals to dots, putting numeral cards in order from 1-10 and from 10-1, and putting the dots cards in order. We took time following directions to cut, fold, and make the cards. Following directions is a skill we are working on every day. It's important that they are ready to hear the directions, so we are working on getting rid of "distractors" around them. Some of the kids do an awesome job with this, and others are still working on the self-control to leave things alone and listen. I started the day by talking to them about getting their workspace ready. It's really important that they have the materials they will need in folders and in a basket or bookshelf near by where the children can get them on their own. THANK-YOU for your help with this! It makes our day go so much smoother and we don't lose time looking for things. Moving toys and things they enjoy showing me before class is working pretty well. I'm trying to get them to get up and move them out of reach of the computer. The self-control, following directions, and remembering what they were told are all executive functioning skills that are so important for our young learners. We will be doing some fun activities that will help develop those skills. If you would like to learn more about executive functioning, you might want to go to the ISFP tab on our website and watch the video I put on there about executive functioning skills.
The other thing we talked about, and I am encouraging now, is for students to wear headphones. The headphones help them block out what may be happening in other parts of the house and just helps them stay focused. I was hesitant to wear headphones to listen to music for so long because I live alone and I was afraid I would miss something like a knock on the door or a phone call, but once I started using headphones to listen to music and relax or read, it because a much better activity for me to do to relax and take time for myself. I was really getting away from what was going on around me and could really just focus on my book or the music. I think the same is true with the headphones for learning. If your child does not have headphones with a microphone, this might be something you get for them. If you are not able to do this, please let me know and I will see what I can do to get these to you at the next distribution.
Thank-you for your continued support. I really can't tell you how much your kind words and encouragement mean to me. Even though we have been at this virtual learning for a while now, it's still a challenge and I do still feel like many times we are still "building the plane in the air."
Have a nice evening!
We started working with the /g/ today In Orton Gillingham. We try to have an object that we share with the children as we introduce the letter, but since we are online, I am using a variety of things. It gave me a good reason to show the kids one of my favorite videos of all time. Please enjoy this very persistent, and naughty, goat.
Orton Gillingham is going well for the kids. They are learning the routines, learning to manage their materials and get them out and put them away quickly, and seem to enjoy it. We need to move a little quicker through it and balance it with our Benchmark and our shortened Language Arts block, so I'll be tweaking our schedule a little to fit it all in. I know we are talking about that as a team on Monday during our reading meeting.
Have a great weekend!
Today we worked on finishing our My Calm Down books. This book can be put in their Calm Down Kit to use when the children are working through strong feelings. We talked about how these strong feelings aren't always negative, that sometimes you need to calm down when you become too excited. We worked with Zen Doodling today. The children drew a shape or thing with a thick marker if they had one, then used a thin marker to make different patterns or designs in different parts of the drawing. I showed examples of the kinds of patterns or designs they could use. An important part of Zen Doodling to be very deliberate and work slowly, focusing on the lines you are drawing. I put quiet music on as the children were working. We went through this step-by-step, but one thing that is becoming more difficult is that the children begin working before I am done with directions or have modeled it. A few children drew pictures instead of a design with one big shape or thing such as a flower or fish. Some children colored in their pictures instead of doodling. I'm breaking down tasks into smaller parts to get children to listen to the directions and following them, but it's more difficult online than it is in person to get them to stop what they are doing and listen.
We wrote opinions today. We wrote a beginning sentence together, then they were to write at least one more sentence that tells their reason for their opinion. We will be working more on learning how to spell or write the sounds they hear, but I am giving them more opportunities to do this, and hope that if you are helping them, please help them by encouraging them to stretch out the word and to write the sounds they hear instead of focusing on spelling the word correctly by telling them.
We went to the Benchmark website today. Yesterday I logged in as almost every child and added Benchmark, Clever and See Saw to their favorites. I'm going to be brave tomorrow and try and get them to open a second window and toggle to Benchmark and back to Zoom. We will do this in the afternoon at the end of the day so if they accidentally close out of Zoom, you won't have to log them back on. I try and be very aware of your work situation from home so that you don't have to keep stopping what you are doing to come help, so hopefully we can learn this quickly. If you have time over the weekend, you might want to work with them on toggling between the sites. The other sites you might use are Benchmark, our Google classroom, and Clever. On Clever you could show them Tumblebooks so they could go there to hear stories read to them. Clever will already have the passwords saved so the kids won't have to find all these different passwords for the sites.
Have a nice evening!
We had a bumpy morning today! Orton Gillingham took a little longer because we added a new part in, and many children, as well as myself, had internet issues with freezing and one big drop in service. This happened in all the kindergarten classes today, so I am going to blame it on a flash sale or something on Amazon Prime!
We started to encode today in Orton Gillingham. I gave the children a three letter word to tap out and to write. In Orton Gillingham, they have the children tap with their "other hand" and write at the same time. They tap out the sounds in the word with the opposite hand they use to write. They start tapping with their pinky as they do in math for counting. Right now we are just finger tapping three letter words. As we get into longer words with more syllables, we will also be pounding out the syllables. It's important the children learn these routines now and do them with fidelity so they are a reliable strategy. We also practiced arm tapping our red words.
In Benchmark, we are finishing up our first unit. We will have a few days in between to do an end of unit test, and to do a few other reading and writing activities.
In math, we continued to work with counting to ten, writing the numeral ten, and showing ten in different configurations to learn to understand that the quantity has remained the same even though the arrangement of counters has changed. Some of the children are finishing a picture of a charm bracelet to share tomorrow. The bracelet should have ten charms in a circle. I suggested the charms be something they like.
Just a reminder that I will meet with three of our four reading groups tomorrow afternoon. I sent out e-mails to families who have children in those groups and the time they are meeting. I am looking at this reading group time online as a gift because in the classroom, sometimes it's harder to get uninterrupted longer group times, so I'm happy to get started with these groups!
Have a nice evening!
Today we started reading groups. Most days I will meet with 2 - 3 reading groups. I will meet with them for 20-25 minutes. The kids who are not in the reading group will stay online and work on classwork. Most of it will be tasks that have directions that are easy to follow so they can work independently. I also have some coloring/art type activities for them to do because this is a good way for the children to take a break and feel calm. If they are in a reading group, they may not finish all the work, but they can work on it the following day. The children who are in reading group will be reading mostly Benchmark books, but will also read some other books from Epic or that I am sharing on screen. They will also do some word work with me in the group which may be practicing red words, doing sound sorts, writing words or writing a response to their reading. Today went really well. I kept the reading group time short and we just worked on getting in to the break out room, reading together, and going back to the main room. The kids who remained in the Zoom room worked really well and were focused on their work for the most part. I have a second computer set up to monitor that room, so I can see what is going on and if anyone needs help.
I will be sending out more information next week about the Benchmark website where you can go to read with your child and play a few games if you like.
Have a nice evening!