Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November's Three Picked Pins

It's time to link up with my favorite Pick 3 Pins Linky. This month I highlight writers' workshop.

I've used the resource ideas from all three of these pins in the last month of school. I bet you've covered these concepts, too, but reviewing with a new anchor chart is always a good idea, so I put them in this post to use in November. Click on the images so you can pin or go to the sites.

My first pick comes from my friend Carolyn at Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.

Labeling is such a good first step to get kindergarten kids writing with letters. I made an anchor chart like this one with my kiddos to demonstrate labeling.

The second anchor chart I made with the kids was this one.

Hearing the sounds in words is HUGE in kindergarten. We simply cannot practice it enough. This is just one of several ideas I used.  Thanks to Chart Chums for the idea. If you don't have Marjorie and Kristine's book, I suggest you check it out at their blog.

Third for me is this little baby... which is certainly not a baby idea.

Each year I sort of clench my teeth, grin, and get to it. I don't know why the whole partner thing makes me cringe, because once partners are underway it all goes fine. I just need to get over it as a teacher and trust the system- which for my district is the Lucy Calkins' Units of Study. This particular anchor chart highlights a good way to begin with partners, as no writing is involved. Instead the focus is on oral storytelling which is the true first step to writing. This anchor helps the kiddos a lot.  It comes from Nancy at First Grade Wow. I think Nancy gets the distinction of most generous blogger on the web because she has tremendous freebies. Absolutely check her out by clicking on the picture above.

This month I'm adding a bonus fourth pin because I am happy to have found it again just now... you really do need to puruse your own Pin Boards occasionally– eyeroll. I will use this in upcoming days as we focus more on telling the story well. No, my kinders will not be able to write like this, but having this example to use, either printed out or just for me to share orally at this point in the year, will help me teach details. I want to pin it here so I remember it in the next week or two. It comes from Hooty's Homeroom.

The whole pin includes a fourth level in the example.

Eventually when we circle back around to narrative writing in the later part of the year some of my kiddos will be able to use this four star rubric to give a boost to their own writing.

Well, those are my pins for the month. I hope you'll stop by my Pinterest Board by clicking below. I love Pinterest and use it quite a bit. I learn a lot from what others pin, so if you follow me, I'll follow you. Happy Pinning!

Head on back to the Linky Party and find more great ideas. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pondering Moments to Connect

I sat on the edge of the sandbox on a glorious Michigan fall morning last week. The temps meant we needed light jackets, but the sun was streaming down and the trees were on fire with their red and gold. We were full of vim and vigor as everyone anticipated the upcoming big candy Halloween night, so this outside movement break was even more necessary than usual if we were to get any inside work done. I sniffed the fall air and was glad at that particular moment to have this job.

As I sat, my kiddos stopped one after another to touch base with me. One showed me his new coat with special sleeve holders– an ingenious new invention for keeping sleeves in place when taking on and off coats. Another one needed to touch parts of my coat to compare with parts of hers, both of us enjoying the different textures and words we could come up with to describe them. Yet another told me a story about his brother Sam, which included his brother Ram and Blam... I'm not saying it was a true story. A couple more ran by talking about their costumes and wanted to know what mine was going to be on the big night... yes, I have one.

Even as I encouraged each little person to go on with their run and play time while they had it, it occurred to me that these brief three-minute check-ins were just as important as everything else in the day. Most teachers will tell you, and the research will back up the fact, that our teaching is based on relationships. The more we connect with our kids and the more they connect with us, the more they will learn their reading, writing, and arithmetic.

And yet our days are so hectic. The best of us have every minute planned, every activity and objective at our fingertips. We pace with the curriculum and keep records on our students at all times, especially the struggling kids.  In addition to reading groups, we carve out minutes for writers workshop, guided math, social studies, science, health, and don't forget special fun activities. We make sure informational books as well as the best storybooks are read everyday. We return emails on a timely basis and never miss a weekly parent newsletter. We turn in lunch money, complete forms, and run to committee meetings. We. do. it. all.

But sometimes I think the most important thing I do can also be the hardest to fit in– knowing my kids. MY KIDS.

I was thankful for the fleetingly glorious fall day before the leaves lost their colors and winter gray set in. I was equally thankful for the time I had to talk to each of my kids. And I was especially thankful for the reminder that those few stolen moments of conversation and connection are what I must make happen EVERYday, as they are the crux of the matter.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ah, November, and a Throwback Freebie

I don't know about you, but for me the beginning of the school year is harder than the end of the year, I think. Although both periods of time are overflowing with things that must be done, not yet knowing the kids, or the parents, or my own schedule for the year; having to incorporate the constant changes in curriculum, at school, and in the district; getting the physical space set up and organized; doing biggies like curriculum night and parent-teacher conferences, along with the other 2.2 million things on the to-do list really stretches me to the limit in the first months of school.

I find that some things just have to go, and usually that means my blogroll reading and my own blog writing. Well... that's not exactly true, as I've been writing posts continually. in. my. head. Until I get to the keyboard and get them on the screen, though, they don't do anybody any good. So today I'm gonna share something timely for this week and a throwback from last year, in case you missed it.

As you put up your November calendar and get ready to teach about the change in month and season, have a little discussion about what happens in November, or maybe about what no longer can happen. Your discussion can be guided by this poem that I think has been around enough to be called traditional:

No green grass
No blue sky
No bare feet going by
No frogs
No bees
No more leaves on the trees

Each November I help my kiddos make a long list of the changes that have happened around them since we started school at the end of the summer. We then take our list and turn it into a simple book called The NOvember book.

Then at the end of the month, we give November a more positive spin and discuss all the things that CAN now happen because it is colder, and we call it The YESember Book.

You can also see a few samples of last year's November Book here. I can't show you any from this year because we are going to work on it this coming week.

I have the poem in pocket chart form and a template for the November and Yesember books as a little autumn FREEBIE for you. You can access the freebie by clicking on the image below. Hope you and your kiddos enjoy it.

Our district teachers have a report card writing day on Monday, so kids won't be in school. And then we have a district PD day on Tuesday. We won't see kids again until Wednesday, when they should be over their Halloween late night sugar blitz. Was that good timing on the part of the district calendar developers or what!!

Hope you enjoy the book and these crisp days of autumn. Thanks for stopping by.

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