Monday, November 28, 2016

Words Their Way OUR Way! (FREEBIE)

When I was introduced to Words Their Way last school year, it was fast and furious and I did not implement it with fidelity. It sounded GREAT when our literacy coach presented it to us at a staff meeting and I couldn't wait to try it out. Unfortunately, we never really got more training than that, and I tried to piece together what I could. Long story short, I did not like Words Their Way by the end of last year. Lots of cutting and not a lot of growth. Boo.

Until now! I have a new teammate this year, and we sat down during a PLC meeting to try to figure out just how to make this program work for us. She had never heard of WTW before, which actually was a positive because it forced me to do more research myself! Once I was able to fully explain my version of WTW to her (because what's that saying, you know you understand when you can teach it to someone else?), we started working on the actual implementation. And this is why our 30 minute PLC time turned into 2 hours...

But I think we finally came up with a great solution! We each have about 40 minutes of phonics/word study time in our classrooms. This is also our intervention time when some students with services get pulled a couple of times a week. We knew we could not have any new instruction during this time because those students would miss our Tier 1 instruction (we follow the RTI model in our school). So this is how we scheduled our time (Click on the schedule to download a copy):

This schedule has allowed me to be able to check in with each of my four groups every single day. I like that I am still able to do a minilesson with everyone, but depending on what sort they are on, the minilesson will differ. This has also allowed me to be able to see exactly what letters/sounds/words students are having trouble with. Since we stick with the same sort for four days in a row, my students are able to get plenty of time to work with a skill and I get plenty of time to provide support for particular skills.

Our group makeup looks like this:

The groups are differentiated based on their skill level. They do different sorts that focus on different letters, sounds, or words. What would normally seem to be daunting is much easier since I have scheduled myself to rotate around and deliver the quick minilessons for each group. While I am with a group, the rest of the students are actively engaged in their own activity.

On Day 4 of our Word Study schedule, I have felt that there was something missing beyond what is provided in the workbooks for writing and illustrating to apply the sort. I created a sentence-making activity for students to complete that will ask them to read the words on their own. This is much more challenging for some students, so I made sure to create two sentences for each sort in the Letter Naming book (one easier than the other). It includes sentences for Letter Naming sorts 1-26. Check back for another set for more sorts!

You can also click below to grab a FREEBIE to try it out for yourself! I hope you find these extensions useful for your students!

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

How to SUCCESSFULLY Add Word Problems into Your Math Routine!

Incorporating word problems into my kindergarten math routine was a little intimidating at first. I had tried it so many ways in the past, but it almost always ended up with me in the front of the room, all of my students following along to steps that I told them, all working on the same problem. Even with a part-time aide, I never felt like I was able to differentiate for word problems because there just weren't enough adults to check in with that many different problems! So, I ended up not doing word problems for a long time. Bad, I know!

Then I learned about problems with number sets and it changed everything! Providing the same problem but differentiating the numbers that the students work with meant that I was finally able to differentiate while also teaching the same skill to everyone. And with some modeling up front, I would finally be able to walk around and check in with MULTIPLE students during word problem time! My aide was able to sit with a few who needed more explicit modeling.

Here is how it all plays out:

While modeling, I choose one of the number sets given. This also helps build confidence of any mathematicians who need to see it modeled more explicitly. I also use one of the math toolboxes that the students will use. Check out this Instagram post to read more about our math toolboxes!

Then I make my way around the room to check in. I like to spend a minute or two at each table to make sure my students are able to work independently. This also allows me to give support or extensions to certain students.

She is counting out cubes from her math toolbox in the amount that she chose from her number set.
Now that she's solved the word problem with manipulatives, she will draw a picture to match.
Once my students finish, they have to be checked by a teacher. I simply walk around, eyeball their work, and put a check in the corner of their notebook. I will choose 2-3 students during this time to go up front and share their work on the big screen. I will either choose 3 students who chose 3 different number sets OR will purposefully choose someone who was making a common mistake. We will walk through the error together. Showing mistakes is one of the most powerful share strategies. As long as you've established a culture where students feel safe making mistakes, it can be very powerful.

I hope this has encouraged a few of you to start doing word problems in your kindergarten classrooms. This can of course be used for all grade levels by changing the structure of the problem or the problem type!

I've created a set of editable word problems for joining and separating, so if you don't want to come up with all of them on your own, check these out! Just change the names and you're done! Comes with instructions for how to print them on labels :) Click the picture below!

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Monday, November 7, 2016

USA Day! Teaching About the Election and Voting in Kindergarten

Today in kindergarten we celebrated yet another unit of study with a themed day of learning fun! We are in the middle of our social studies unit about the election, voting, and presidents. It has been so interesting to hear kindergarteners talk about our current 2016 election. Oh the things they say! So, let's get into how we spent our day:

We have been using this wonderful emergent reader from Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasboard for the past week. It's been great for practicing pointing to each word as we read and recognizing sight words. We counted how many words there are on each page before we read, then circled 'the' on each page. Find this great freebie HERE.

During our whole group reading lesson, we read Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio. Oh my goodness, this book made me tear up. I hadn't read it beforehand like I usually do, and with the historical relevance of the current election I almost couldn't keep it together. It is an AWESOME book.

Then we talked about what makes a good president using a page from Gladys at Teaching in High Heels's WONDERFUL election unit! Find it HERE. Look at the words that my kids came up with! I helped them sound it out, but hopefully you can read it. Nice, worthy, patient, and welcoming. My heart almost exploded.

Finally it was time to get into our voting booth and cast our ballots! But we didn't worry ourselves with electing the next President of the United States...

We voted on our next class compliment party treat! First we wrote "cookies" and "brownies" on the lines on the ballot, then we did our research on the candidates AKA we stuffed our faces. Then one at a time they entered the voting booth, marked their favorite, and cast their vote!

Of course they got a 'vote' sticker once they voted. These were larger in Gladys's set, but I shrunk them down and printed them on full-sheet Avery labels. They were so proud to show their parents when they left school!

We had so much fun today learning about elections and voting in kid-friendly ways. Although this election has some heavy undertones, the sweetness of hearing their sweet ideas and opinions makes it all better. I'm so glad I get to spend my days with such innocent, joyful, and kind-hearted people. I hope you have enjoyed learning about the election with your class!

Oh and by the way, brownies won :)

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