The Kindergarten All-Stars is changing up the way we do workshop for this coming school year. The new way will provide students with more choice and more flexibility to learn on their own pace.
Those three choices that each group gets are based on three categories:
- Main workstations tubs (5 tubs) or Computers
- Extension tubs – Write the Room materials, Phonics Games, sight word lessons & flash cards, book bags
- Room Activities – These are centers that rarely change but students can go to around the room. Examples: classroom library, magnetic letters, poetry journals, journal writing, and pocket chart area
Student can go back and forth between one of the three choices. When they finish with one thing they can go onto to the next choice. If they do something and finish it, they can go back and do it again later after they finish something else. The main tubs are based on students needs and abilities.
The Kindergarten All-Stars are having fun with our fall theme. To support the skills we’ve been learning in class, we’ve been enjoying fall related literacy centers. We’ve been working on rhyming words, initial sounds, color words / sight words, and differentiating between letters and words.
We also read the story “The Falling Leaves” and enjoyed making leaf rubbings with completting a sentence starter with sight words we’ve neen working on so far in the past few weeks.
One part of my reading block through the past 4 years has been that of literacy workshop. It is a block of time for my students to work together in small groups to work on important literacy skills, work on social skills, and problem solving. This time allows for me to work closely with students that needs help on deficient skills and work with my students on guided reading.
Students are given a group and they follow a schedule that shows what center they are on. Each center has a card that matches the schedule. The students find the center based on the schedule and the clothespin shows the student what part of the schedule they are on. When the timer goes off students find the center that has the card that matches the next card.
For the first few weeks of school our focus will be on letter recognition. Students will work on matching letters at the pocket chart, playing with magnetic letters (building words if possible), putting together letter puzzles, and finally coloring a back to school book.
In the past 10 years or so there has been a steady increase in expectations in what students are required to learn in kindergarten. With the increase in expectations of our students; it makes it even more difficult to find activities that are not only engaging, age appropriate for young learners, but also align to state and national standards. Below are some examples of centers I do during my workshop / guided reading time.
There are many different centers that are shown here. On the computers the Kindergarteners have been using a website called abcmouse.com, which is an amazing website free to all public school teachers. It has a whole plethora of supplemental activities that range from early literacy, math, and even science. You can create a login for all students and place them at different levels based on their academic needs. It’s a great program for RtI.
First graders have been using the website raz-kids.com. This website is an interactive fluency / reading comprehension website that ties into the guided reading program I used last year called Reading A-Z.
One of the biggest changes in Kindergarten is the requirement of learning sight words or words used most often in children’s literature. Now most schools and school districts require that by the end of kindergarten children are able to read with success, at least 20 sight words by the end of the year. Examples of the most commonly used sight words are; a, my, the, see, I, go, can, he, she, look, like, and love.
The centers above show how we can encourage students to actively recognize sight words and how they are used in sentence formation, and how to spell them. I have sight word stamps that I pre select for students and they are to put them into the correct order to form a sentence. I also have alphabet letter stamps stamps where they can make the words. Finally our reading program provides sentences for students to partner read, I allow them to use highlighters to find the sight word of the week.
A few more examples of my centers include sequencing cards. They are a set of 4 pictures that show a simple story. The students practice putting the pictures in the correct order in which they would happen. Students can flip over the cards to see if they correctly completely the activity.
The last center is called “Write Around the Room” which is a class favorite! They get to put on silly fake sunglasses with the lenses popped out and they are spying for words in the room that begin with a certain letter that we are learning.
Every week we have a new literacy skill that we focusing on in Literacy workshop. This week our mini lessons are based on sequencing. I took four big pictures that went in order and had the whole class work together to put the pictures in the right order. Then as a whole class we told the story.
After this activity I put in the learning to sequence picture card game into out literacy workshop. I had students work with me one on one putting the four pictures in order. They turned the pictures over to make sure they were correct.
After students checked their work they turned the pictures back over and they told a story in their own words of what is happening in the pictures. Then students practiced reading stories on their own and answering sequencing questions.
Now that our Kindergartners have a solid foundation in letter sounds (m, a ,s, t, p, i, g), we have been working on rhyming words and words that belong in the same word family. We’ve been using interactive activities from starfall.com ‘s learn to read section.
Students were provided with magnetic whiteboards and given opportunities to write any -at words that they could remember. As an extension activity students cut and created -at words based on pictures that they saw.
Forgive the title, it is a call and response that we use in my classroom. Well it has happened my friends! The start of the new year has come. Currently our SFA theme is Welcome Back to School! Which we have been working on getting back into routines, how we get along at school, learning who is in our class, and talking about feelings. Not to mention we’ve been doing benchmark assessments to gauge where our Kinders and 1st Graders are at. Currently they’ve been assessed in Reading A-Z’s Guided Reading levels, and sight word fluency.
In Math we’re going over numbers and quantities up to 12. Our very first day we covered the number 1 and what the quantity is. Students are to cut out the individual pieces and glue them onto a web chart that represents the number.
Matching up with our theme of Welcome Back to School, we read Franklin Goes to school and created our own My First Day of School book. On each page students colored or drew pictures that described their first day of school and what their school is like. It works perfect for the first week or so of school. This is something that we didn’t complete in one day, we’ve been working on it for the past few days.
To download an electronic copy of the First Day of School click here.
As stated before for Literacy Workshop, student’s have been taking benchmark tests in Guided Reading and sight words. While certain students are being assessed, the remainder of the students got a taste of Literacy centers. Students reviewed initial sounds by matching pictures that go with the beginning letter sounds. At the magnetic whiteboard center, students got to explore with letters and forming simple words if they were able to.
As we continue with the next few days of school I will display more of our activities and our classroom work!
Well my friends here is another year year under my belt in the magical world of Kindergarten. This up-coming year I will be returning to the village of Shaktoolik, Alaska. While this site is primarily used as a communication tool for parents and families for my new class and resource page for teachers; I encourage all of my friends who are interested in keeping up with my career to continue to visit. There will be plenty of goodies and pictures to check out in the near future!
So say goodbye to 2012-2013
There has been so much that has happened in the past few weeks, it’s hard to put it all into one post but I shall try. The past two weeks has featured special days and activities, not only in the school but in the classroom. Yesterday was the last day for all of my Kindergartners, and the last day of teaching in the monstrosity known as “the POD”. The POD being one big room separated into three classes by box plywood walls and no doors. This means there is noise CONSTANTLY. Very very challenging environment to say the least!
The end of year has been very bittersweet. This year has provided some of the biggest challenges I think any teacher should have to face in their career. However I will say that because of everything that I’ve had to face; I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I’d like to think I am a much better teacher now than when I was when I first entered in this year. It is also very sad because I really became close with quite a few of my students especially at the very end of the year. The very last day it was very sad and I had quite a bit of crying. But it ended with lots of hugs and smiles once they got their Kindergarten Diplomas!
Final academic days
Before I get to the Kindergarten Promotion Ceremony, I’d like to share all of the fun we had in our last few what I like to call “normal days” of school. Through the whole year we’ve been doing Workshop / Centers where students interact with hands on activities that reinforce previous skills taught. Last week we had our final workshop days which included a massive farewell to all the centers we’ve used this year. Students were able to use the blocks, ANY folder game that we’ve ever used, any math center we’ve ever used, computers. Below are some pictures that features the excitement!
The next week (this last week of school) has been pretty much clean up and fun activities. We’ve had a few school wide activities that were pretty enjoyable and interesting. We had a science day which featured several different centers focusing on various concepts. One center children tested out the result sound waves had on different items. Children learned that sounds are just vibrations heard by our ears.
Other centers included students testing out the floating properties of certain items, how electricity words, ecosystems, and a miniature planetarium where students could watch different slides in the dark of up planets in our solar system up close.
Kindergarten Promotion Ceremony
Teaching Kindergarten also means that you and your little ones get to participate in the time honored tradition of the “graduation” into 1st grade. Since Kindergarten has changed quite a bit over the years, it’s no longer as different from the rest of school as it used to be 10 years ago. However it is still fun tradition to keep and have your little ones participate in. Since the other Kindergarten teacher left about a month and a half early, the planning and implementation of the ceremony fell completely to me. I had taught Kindergarten the previous year but the promotion ceremony was added onto the high school graduation (since the school was K-12) and I didn’t really have to plan for anything.
This year I made sure to send out notices to all parents asking for volunteers, decorations and food. I sent out the information out at about the end of April. If you want an example of what my communications looked like, take a look here:
The responses I received were overwhelming. I used the Volunteer Sign Up slips to have updated numbers for all parents and called each one by one just to confirm what they were bringing. If parents were bringing decorations, I had the students bring the decorations the day before the actual ceremony so I had time to set everything up before the actual ceremony. Here is how the decorating turned out:
The day of the actual ceremony, EVERY SINGLE PARENT or family showed up. Which in my school is almost completely unheard of. It definitely helped that I was extra diligent in calling parents and sending out two separate reminders about the ceremony. Families brought a huge spread of food and all the food was set up in the POD common area. The ceremony went off without a hitch. I had all the Kindergarteners walk in a line and had them stand in front of the blue wall. They performed three of our special songs we learned in Kindergarten, and I spoke very briefly about what they had learned this year. Then I sat them all down in the front two rows and handed out a few awards, followed by the actual “Kindergarten Diploma”. The Kindergarten Diploma was quite possibly my favorite thing that I made. The name has been crossed out to keep from being sued lol.