Friday, September 16, 2011

Target and "Haiku-pons" {Poetry Friday}

a soft, cushy roll
is a cozy, happy joy
sweet squares of heaven

Author - Target

I got home last Friday to find a coupon flier from one of my favorite stores, Target.  On the inside page, they define a Haiku-pon as "Poetry and savings in one.  Haikus are three-line poems with 5,7,5 syllables.  Every coupon used makes a new haiku, so get clipping, creating and saving."  I wish I was teaching older students to use this as a mentor text with.  I'm wondering how I could take something so every day, so not very exciting and write a poem to celebrate and honor those things we probably take for granted and under appreciated. 

You can catch Poetry Friday this week at The Poem Farm, thanks Amy for hosting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Literacy Beginnings

Literacy Beginnings by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas got a lot of attention this summer as Literacy Beginnings Blog Party was hosted by several bloggers.  I read several posts and thought I could gather some new information for myself and maybe some ideas to refine my current thinking.  I got both and am so glad I've read this text.  I think it's important to know where our children are coming from and this text includes many ideas relative to kindergarten.  I do think this text is must read for beginning teachers of young children.  It is packed with researched backed thinking and best practice. 

My favorite chapter was, Promoting Constructive Learning: Engaging Children in Inquiry.  I think I knew this but never thought about putting it in print.  There are two types of inquiry:  information seeking and wondering.  I think information seeking is easily understood.  I loved this writing about wondering, "You might never know the right answer.  The goal is often the pleasure of the process itself - speculating, asking more questions, sharing insights that are only possibilities."  I think the inquiry part of young children is often the best part if we take the time to embrace it within the mandates of education right now. 

I found this book full of new titles for me to use with my students for a variety of reasons.  I loved reading even with emerging readers, "Reading is thinking."  Often one we read and hear about this for transitional readers.  Often when I read a book, I'm looking for things I could implement or enhance my work with students.  I loved the alphabet linking chart in this book for a few reasons.  It's in color.  It had two picture clues for vowels, c, and g.  Each picture clue was also labeled with the word below the picture.  I ordered it for my classroom and another one to cut apart so my word wall headers. I'm also interested in using the concepts about print assessment described on page 224.  I also love the questions they provide to help the teacher assess a student's learning during a component of a reading/writing workshop.  There is a  collection of poems/chants to support literacy learning within the classroom.  This is just a small snapshot of this book.  I felt this text help ground my thinking about early literacy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Howard B Wigglebottom Learns to Listen

Howard B Wigglebottom Learns to Listen has a note from the author on the front inside jacket flap.  Howard Binkow writes, " I used to get into a lot of trouble because I didn't listen very well.  Since I learned how to really listen, I get into much less trouble and have a lot more fun.  I want to help as many children as I can to become better listeners."  The character, Howard B Wigglebottom is rabbit and we all know rabbits have big ears and one might think that makes them good listeners.  That isn't the case here.  Many scenarios happen where Howard's friends try to warn him something semi dangerous might happen but he doesn't listen and some unfortunate things happen.  After quite some time, the teacher asks Howard to take a time out and starts to feel sad.  He thinks about his actions and decides to start listening more.  The reader then follows Howard being a good listener with many positive things happening.  At the end of the story there is a great list of tips, How To Be a Better Listener and then a set of discussion questions for each page of the story.  I find listening is something I have to be very explicit about in kindergarten.  It's hard to be one in a larger classroom for the first time and this is a great mentor text to help us think about our own listening.  Young children love having a book character to connect with.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Will I Get to School This Year?

How Will I Get to School This Year? by Jerry Pallotta is new this year and begins with a child stating they are tired of riding the smelly school bus.  It's the night before school and little girl begins brainstorming lots of different ways to get to school.  They all involve a different animal.  For example, "I'll swim to class on a hammerhead shark.  But where will I park the shark?"  The illustrations done by David Biedrzycki are funny and I think my students will giggle their way through this book at the thought of the unrealistic ways to get to school.  A truly fictional piece to read while thinking exploring how we get to school.  I do love finding books you can easily see children enjoy.  I'm predicting this will be one of them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Is the Way We Go to School

This Is the Way We Go to School, A Book About Children Around the World by Edith Baker has been a favorite of mine to use with every age group I've worked with.  This book is a great springboard for children to think about and investigate this question, How did we get to school today?  I love this book because it helps children think globally beyond their own daily life.  When reading this book we learn some children travel by ferry, cable cars, horse and buggy, skis, Skidoo and more.  I've signed up to participate in K Around the World via twitter and am wondering how our partner class gets to school.  I'll have to remember to revisit this book as we learn from each other.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Do You Wokka-Wokka?

Movement is essential when teaching young children.  I think it's even more essential at the beginning of the school year.  I was excited when I discovered How Do You Wokka-Wokka? by Elizabeth Bluemle at the beginning of the summer.  This book is about moving and dancing in all kinds of ways.  When I opened the book, I knew this was going to be just too fun to read aloud.  I actually have to concentrate quite a bit with the language as you can read from the first page.

"Say "HEY!" to your neighbors
up and down the blocka
Do your funky wokka,
get your dance on."

As the little boy travels through his neighborhood he asks several people how they wokka-wokka and their replies are fun and described with whimsical language.  Here are a few language examples -

rap-bap biddly-ap open-up-and-boppa

I just can't wait to see how my students are going to wokka-wokka.  I also think this book is worth using as a mentor text for writing ideas.  The author couldn't understand her nephew when he was two.  He actually started asking people, "How do you wokka-wokka?" and they all replied with various dance moves.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

30 Fun Ways to Learn About Counting

In looking at the Common Core for Mathematics, I am excited about the changes for kindergarten.  I love the idea of kindergarten being the only grade level with a Counting and Cardinality Strand and this focus for kindergarten is quite different than what Ohio expected for kindergarteners previously.  Therefore, I started searching for new resources and found 30 Fun Ways to Learn About Counting by Clare Beswick in my Internet shopping cart.

As the titles suggests, there are 30 activities to promote and engage counting with children.  Here's a progression of counting I was able to "pull" out of the book's introduction.

-students match, sort, group pictures and objects
-students then count groups and attaches number words to describe quantities
-students will count one to one
-students will glance at a group and identify quantity visually
-students guess and estimate visually quantity while then counting to confirm
-students are then able to use mathematical language for comparisons

The introduction of this book is filled with wonderful tips and reminders to promote counting.  Clare provides a list of items children should use for counting while also including a list of ways students can record their counting.  Counting is most often a verbal skill but so much of our mathematical work needs to be made visible for others, I just loved this list.  I found her list of Essential Attention Grabbing and Keeping Tips helpful.  It's a great list to remind us to vary our ways grasp our students attention.

Each activity is organized with a focus.  Followed by a list vocabulary, what you need, and what you do.  However, we all know in any given classroom we will probably need ideas to take the main idea of a lesson further for some students.  Clare provides us with ideas for taking an activity further.  She also guides us with a section guiding our teaching observations for things to look, listen and note.  Helping us grow as mathematical observers.  As if we needed more, there is even a section on more ideas to vary the original idea.  This is all within a two page spread.

This book is filled with so much valuable information.  The activities are very hands on with everyday objects.  They often require movement and motion which we all know young learners appreciate.  I also found myself wanting to share with title with my special area teachers.  They are often looking for ways to collaborate and I think letting them know about the new expectations with counting could help them become more of a partner in our mathematical learning this year.  I can't wait to try everything but these are a few I will definitely get to first;  Spotted Dogs, Beat that Drum, Hip Hop Bunny Hop, and S-t-r-e-t-c-h!  I think many of the activities could become part of our morning meeting.