Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Study Group

This Saturday I am linking up with the book study group reading Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.
Marcia L. Tate offers the reader 20 strategies to use in their classroom. Each strategy is loaded with effective and research-based ideas.

I believe the big message of this book is for kids to be active participants in learning. And yet, worksheets are used all the time to teach students.  In my opinion, the best learning that happens in my class doesn't happen in a cute art project, or in a worksheet.

It is the intangible stuff.

When students get older and look back at kindergarten, they don't remember the worksheets they remember situations that made them feel good. They remember relationships with their friends and teacher. They remember feeling safe and being accepted. They remember the special times such as the 100th day of school,  the day the squirrel got in the bird feeder or  the day they lost a tooth.

My children have been bringing home worksheets for the last two-year.
When those sheets go out of the backpack, they go right in the trash.

If the worksheet is a cutting and pasting one, it goes in the barrel with a BIG groan because I know that sheet took my kid FOREVER to do!

And my favorite thing about the cutting and pasting sheets is that I usually can't figure out what the learning objective is.

What was the teacher trying to teach?

Don’t get me wrong, I know children need experiences cutting, but I think we can find better ways.

This week study group is focusing on the first two strategies in her book:

Brainstorming and Discussions
Drawing and Artwork

Here are some of my Favorite Things I learned


Right away, I can’t help but think that the Circle Map is a tool that any teacher can use in their classroom to brainstorm. When I often begin a brainstorming lesson using a Circle Map I often use one color on the circle for what we think we know. After learning new information, we often return to the Circle Map with a different color marker for what we learned.


To give students a purpose for reading, have students brainstorm a list of questions to be answered as the unit or story is being read. This was one of my favorite ideas from the book! Look it all the questions we came up with before reading the book Amazing Sharks.


I think lots of teachers use the think, pair, and share technique.

Ask a question, allow time for your student to think and pair up with a partner to share and return to the group. Linda Hoyt’s book Revisit Reflect Retell shares an effective lesson called My Partner Said

Before teaching your students, My Partner Said

Try this in your class have students think, pair and when they raise their hands to share, tell them that they have to share what their partner said…you will see lots of hands drop down.  I find this to be a great piece of information. How many hands went down because the didn’t listen to their partner


After students Think, Pair, Share have them report back to the group by using the stem, “My Partner Said…” Students are encouraged to use their partner’s name during the sharing session. Once students learn that they have to report back what their partner says they do a much better job of listening.

Children often forget to use their partner's name, and I will often jump in and model...My Partner Mary said..


When students come into class, provide some butcher paper for students to record information from yesterday’s learning. I have never done this before, but I plan to.

Have students design a poster that illustrates the significant details of a concept or unit of study.

reading response in kindergartn

After learning new information or having a class discussion, students record their thoughts on a Post-it. I find the Post-it is the perfect amount of space for a child to share their thinking.


Showing our thinking is a big part of my math program. The author suggests  having students draw a series of pictures illustrating their understanding of what is happening in each step of the problem. I love this suggestion.

Marcia suggests having student make drawings that illustrate vocabulary being taught.  I sometimes forget to have students illustrate math vocabulary, this is something I could easily add to my math stations.

math vocabulary in kindergarten
This is a great math pack I bought on TPT by Kim Adsit.

What strategies have you used in your classroom that connect with brainstorming, discussion, and drawing/artwork?

Check out some other amazing Blog Post 
 Blogger Book Study Posts
Happy Learning!


  1. I also love using post-it notes with my kindergarten students!! I love that math idea with the vocabulary word and having the students draw it. That is something that the book said that I would really like to do more of! Thanks for a great post! Have a wonderful weekend!


  2. I loved all of your pictures - just looking at them made me think "wow, those sticky notes might resonate with one learner, while the circle map will help a different student make a connection and while they think, pair, share even different students will hit the target". Let's face it - one size doesn't fit all, and not every lesson is going to hit the nail on the head for every learner all at the same time - you've gotta keep switching things up and it really looks like you've got that down to a science! LOVE!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

  3. Heather,
    I love the math vocabulary anchor charts too! It can be one of those things that you completely forget to do because you are to busy looking at all the math lessons you have to teach! I keep trying more ways to use Post-Its! Thanks for your comment! Melissa

  4. Holly,
    You are exactly right... you do have to keep mixing it up to meet all the needs of your students! What I love about all of the BIG IDEAS from this book is that they are so easy to implement!! Thanks for commenting! Melissa

  5. I screaming cheers of praise after reading your post! I totally agree with you about students being active participants. I love all of your strategies and many of them are some of my favorites that I use regularly.

  6. I love the way you're using circle maps. It sounds like your students are learning in so many wonderful ways!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Primary Inspiration

  7. Kara, I am glad that you are screaming cheers..yes!!! I am glad to here that you use them regularly in your classroom. Unfortunately, teachers who need to change aren't reading blog post against worksheets!!! Happy weekend. Melissa

  8. Lisa,
    Once you start using Thinking Maps it is hard to stop. They are great tools for kids and teachers! Melissa

  9. Thank you for your amazing post! I love all of our strategies and quotes that you shared! I love the idea of incorporating art in to math through illustrations. Thanks for linking up!

  10. Thank you for hosting Elizabeth! Melissa

  11. The cut and paste worksheets are the worst. I find myself thinking about all the quality reading and writing kids miss out on when they spend their time with busy work like that. Your kids don't miss out.

  12. Tam, I am guilty when I taught first grade we used to do the gluing word sorts and it took FOREVER!! Happy Monday! Melissa

  13. I haven't read this book but I know I'd love it. Not a big fan of worksheets either.

    BL Designs
    Grade ONEderful


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