Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing Workshop

I love teaching writing workshop. I think it is the most important part of my teaching day. My students become better readers and writers because we write everyday.

I have been teaching writing workshop for the past twenty years. If you told me that my kindergartener’s would be writing personal narrative’s with voice, animal research books with lots of facts, persuasive letters with strong reasons, and poetry from the heart, I would think it would not be possible… but it is.

Little kids become strong writers when they are given the opportunity to write, have choices in their topics, get teacher guidance on their work and see lots of writing demonstrations from an expert writer.

In my kindergarten class I do a lot of interactive writing to help students learn the conventions of writing. During Interactive, writing, we are creating a short message that focuses on many of the skills we want students to do independently. For example, if I see that many students are not putting spaces between words, I would pull those students together and we would write a few sentences focusing on spacing. I also do a lot of writing and thinking aloud to the whole group.
Interactive Writing

I also use lots of children’s books to teach writing. After reading Katie Wood Rays book Wonderous Words, it changed the way I look at children’s picture books. Now, when I pick up a picture book I always ask myself, “How can this book help me teach my students how to be a better writer?” What is the writer doing in this story that makes it a good book? Can my students try this out?

I have two boys in kindergarten this year. It’s amazing how quickly the year goes by.  Prior to entering kindergarten if I had only one wish for my boy’s school year it would be that they have writing workshop. They have had a wonderful year in kindergarten. They have learned what it means to be a listener, a friend, a student, a reader, and many more important things, but they didn’t learn to be a writer.  

My kids did lots of worksheets that “prepared” them to learn about reading and writing. I do not believe worksheets teach kids anything about reading or writing. I think worksheets keep kids busy.

I think writer’s workshop should be happening in every kindergarten classroom, if we expect students to learn how to be confident readers and writers.

One of my sons made this picture the night before the last day of school. To me, this is something I will always cherish! He was feeling sad and expressed himself with words and pictures.

 Imagine what he would have written if he had the opportunity to write every day?

If you are thinking about doing writing workshop next year 
below is a list of books I recommend. 
Happy writing!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thinking Maps Thursday

If you use Thinking Maps in your classroom this week I have a Brace Map to share. 
The map below begins whole {body} to parts.
I saw this on Pinterest (the original source was not known).
 {My boys}

If you teach kindergarten you know that drawing people is something students work on all the time. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Spy Math

Here are some math addition story problems that go with the book 
I Spy Under the Sea by Edward Gibbs. 

I recently blogged about these books here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Spy Books

I recently came across all of Edward Gibbs I SPY books, and I fell in LOVE! I know there are lots of I SPY books, at bookstores, but these are the best!!  All of his books have the perfect amount of print. 

I love how he has different series that have similar but slightly different formats. 
Letter Clue 
Describing Words {great for non-fiction}

I know playing I Spy is a popular game for my kids so making I SPY books will be a hit with kindergarteners. 

Below are some I Spy Templates that are similar to 
the format of Edward Gibbs books.

click here for template
I am playing around with Explain Everything this summer. Below is short, I SPY book my son made. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lois Ehlert

I am a big fan of Lois Ehlert books. Her bold bright illustrations and simple text are perfect for the primary classroom. I love how her story topics are things that kindergarteners can relate too. (snow, squirrels, leaves, vegetables)

Once you introduce her books to your students they can easily identify her writing craft, which includes her unique style of labeling illustrations throughout the book, and giving detailed information at the back of her books.

Lois recently published a book called Scraps. I read this book to my class and they were amazed and inspired by her life story. The cover of her book says it allnotes from a colorful life!

Just like her children’s books Lois’s book Scraps has captivating photographs, bold bright illustrations and just the right amount of information on each page. This book teaches students that they can get inspiration from everyday objects in their lives and what it means to be a writer, illustrator and artist.

I hope in the fall you read the book Scraps to your students.  Students will believe that they can write books just like Lois Ehlert.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Persuasive Writing

Recently we have been learning about persuasive writing in my class. This journey began by writing letters to the school principal asking for a class pet. Using a mentor text letter each day we would talk about the different parts we noticed of the letter and add them to ours. 

The anchor chart below outlines the different parts we learned about how to write a persuasive letter. 

On a different day we read the book TEN THINGS I CAN DO TO HELP THIS WORLD by Melanie Walsh. 

We reread this book a few times before we brainstormed a list of things that were important in our KINDERGARTEN WORLD. 

·      Walking in the hallway
·      Recycling paper
·      Putting classroom tools away
·      Caring for animals
·      Turning the light switch off
·      Turning running water off
·      Walking your dog
·      Drawing on two sides of the paper
·      Wearing sneakers on PE day
·      Returning library books on Tuesday
·      Eating healthy foods 

I also created a template for the students to create their persuasive posters. The template helps students with placement of the title, words and illustrations. 

Click here for template

Sticky-Note Book Recommendations

On a another day we learned about STICKY NOTE BOOK REVIEWS. Using a Post-it, students were encouraged to write about a book in order to persuade someone else to read that book. You can see an example of the anchor chart. Here are some of the guidelines I talked about with my class.
You need to know the book.
You want to write something “Catchy”
You want to try to tell something specific.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nonfiction Writing

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have published so many beautifully, written nonfiction books together. To my surprise, when I visited Steve’s website, I learned that they are married.

Every year, I enjoy sharing their books with my class you can quickly tell a book illustrated by Steve because of his collage style. Beautiful, unique and creative are the words that come to my mind when I look at his illustrations.  If you visit his website he has a video demonstrating the process he goes through to make his books. One of my students said, “Wow Mrs. Clancy it takes A LOT to make a book.” His website is loaded with information about his work process, his strong interest in science and where he gets his ideas. I think all of this is so important for children to see and hear. Some kindergartener’s think books just come from the bookstore.

During the month of March my students started writing “Research/Informational ” books about animals. Students had to write about what their animal looked liked, where their animal lived, what their animal ate and any interesting facts. Of course one child in my class changed interesting facts into FUN FACTS. 

 This year I decided to have my students look closely at Steve’s books. Could we maybe find something that he does in his books, that we could do in ours to make our books even better? And also talk about WHY he makes these decisions as a writer. What affect does it have on us a reader and writer?

This is called “Reading like a Writer”.  Katie Wood Ray (an author who I admire) has an amazing book called Wondrous Words that is all about this BIG idea.

Learning from Steven and Robin

The first book I shared with my class was the book ActualSize. We began by looking at the cover and making predictions about what this book could be about. A child immediately predicted that the hand on the cover could be the actual size of an animal hand. As we looked over his book we talked about what we noticed. There were lots of discoveries and amazing facts learned.

On page 5 there’s a huge picture of an bears head, to think an animal has a head this big!

The next day, during writing time, a child in my class made a butterfly wing that covered the whole page she ZOOMED in on the scales and pattern of the wing.

When I noticed this, I immediately asked the child to share and as a class we gave Aila’s idea, a name. We called this ZOOMING in.

WOW, Aila, you did your picture just like Steven Jenkins (take book out)you zoomed in. This picture is really going to help the reader really understand what a butterfly’s pattern looks like.

The next day, room 5 was reminded of Aila’s idea of ZOOMING. Before sending students to tables, we took one last look at Aila’s picture as a reminder. Students turned and talk to a partner about how they might use the technique of ZOOMING in on an important part of the story. Mary shared how she might ZOOM in on the pink tongue of her frog because that’s how the frog eats.  On that day half of my class used the strategy of ZOOMING in and their illustrations were so unique and beautiful. Although we did this lesson a few weeks ago, many students are using this technique of ZOOMING.

On a different day we read my favorite book by Steven MOVE! Right away students started shouting out, “The words are moving like the animals.” “Yes you are right.” Why do you think he did that? “He wanted us to really get the feeling of the way the animal moves.” One child called it “Animal Action”

After reading MOVE we created some MOVING WORDS that students could illustrate and write about. (click here to see my class book)
Animal Move Book 
Room Five Move Book

On a different day, we took out our Animal Research books and we added a moving sentence about the animal. As a class we called this MOVING words. Why would we add moving words? Adding actions to our words and animals always helps the reader get a better understanding.

Here are the things we noticed about their books.
*The pictures are a collage of animals.
* There is usually a word pattern in his books about the animals.
*He gives lots of information.
*He writes about important features of animals.
* You can find out more information at the back of his books.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Moose Games

This blog post will share with you some of the MOOSE games 
I have students play in my class. 

Students shuffle the cards and place them face down.
Players take turns taking a card and reading it.
If the student reads it correctly, they keep the card.

If you get a MOOSE card, you need to 
put all of your cards back in the pot. 

Alphabet Moose
Alphabet Moose 

{Recording Sheet} 

Sight Word Moose
 Sight Words List One
Sight Words List Two 

Word Family Moose

Moose AM, AT, AM, AP 

Word Family Moose