Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pattern Stories At Writing Time

At writing workshop, we started a new unit of study focusing on Pattern Books. I have been recently reading Katie Wood Ray's books Study Driven and Wondrous Words, and she is reminding me the importance of teaching students to read like writers. I love the explanation below from Stephanie Parsons First Grade Writers.

Stephanie writes:

Reading like writers is an abstract concept. As with any skill, you need to break it down for your students teaching them the steps along the way. The goal here is that children begin to read like writers. So what part of reading like writers comes at the beginning? What part of the work do you do for them and what part can you expect them to do? One strong way to begin reading like a writer is immersing yourself in the kind of text that you can most easily envision yourself writing. 

Stephanies' book has some fantastic units of study to help children plan, organize and structure their writing ideas. I got the idea of exploring and creating pattern books from her book.

Frank Asch Books
I love how Frank Asch has a nature theme throughout his books.  The illustrations are beautiful, and these books lead easily into a classroom Shared Writing lesson. You can see a chart we wrote as a class.

I love Todd Parr.  His books have simple text with a powerful message.  Students can quickly come up with topics for special people in their lives.
I love all of these books by Paul Collicutt. The pattern is perfect for young students. These books have simple sentences, but the illustrations give you so much information about the topic!!  We talked about how these books have the opposite information on each page. The author Paul always ended the last page with something different from the pattern. 

Our class chart is recording some of our thinking! Below are some examples of pattern stories students are making in kindergarten. I just shared the first page or two.
 Happy News 
The bunny found a friend. 

Sad News
The Bunny lost his friend.

This train goes curvy. This train goes straight.
My big brother Christian likes little Lego's. My little brother Mark likes big Lego's.
Somewhere today a Water Snake it swimming.

Somewhere today a snake is laying 100 eggs

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Word Work

This post will share with you some of the Word Work we have been working on in KC kindergarten. During Guided Reading time, I have introduced Elkonin boxes with small groups. 

I see lots of kids struggle with breaking apart sounds and putting them back together again. I decided to incorporate some of the sound boxes with the large group. After shared reading time, a follow-up activity has been to take out the board below and have the whole group do some word work focusing on a familiar word family from the story.
We worked on the AT family, but we also played around with making words and nonsense words too.  After sounding out letters and words, we talked about how once you learn a new word, you don't have to sound it out.
We did this with our bodies! The kids loved this.  
Investigation Letters 

You can see a few Thinking Maps focusing on letters. 
I love how a boy in my class puts the e in the middle because it has a half circle. 

My girlfriend Genie did this Tree Map with her class. 

Click to download letter for pocket chart

Thinking Maps Comparing Letters

Kids have been having some great discussions about letters.

During shared reading, this week I have returned to a familiar big book and told the students we would become letter detectives looking for uppercase letters. Some student didn't know what upper case letters meant. We put highlighter tape over all of the uppercase letters we found. The class began to talk about sentences.

Interactive Writing 
I have been doing a lot of Interactive Writing with my class, and one thing, I have struggled with, is what to do when students are using capitals in the wrong places.

My primary goals in the fall are to build confidence in writing, reread our writing and creating a message that makes sense. Now, I have students learn when to use capital or a lowercase letter. You can see below in our KC Learning Journal that we are starting to use some lowercase letters.

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