Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writer's Workshop and Spring Stuff

I have started a writers workshop this year...mostly inspired by Mrs. Wills at mrswillskindergarten! She has some of the GREATEST tips!!! I have always done "journal writing", but I knew that journaling was not bringing out the best in my students. So, I took some of the tips that Deedee had posted about on her blog this year about writers workshop and went with it. AND I am SOOOO, SOOOOO happy with the results!!!!
When I did journal writing, the kids would do ONE page a day. I would GIVE them a topic to write about and they had to be finished with that piece by the end of the 20ish minute block of time. Not a great approach for fostering creativity:)
So, I gave everyone a writing folder. They can work on a piece (usually 5 pages and a cover stapled together) for as long as they want. If, at the end of the writing block they are not finished, NO WORRIES!!!! Their work goes in the side of their folder marked with a green sticker so that they can work on it again next time. If they finish a piece, it goes in the side of their folder marked with the red sticker.
This simple change has made all the difference in the world!!!!
Here are a few books my kinders have produced recently:
The author of this story is a medium-high student who is VERY meticulous and works VERY slowly. Something like this NEVER would have been produced through my old journaling method. This kid needs LOTS of time!! That's the beauty of writer's workshop. Now, look at this FAB book he was able to write!!!
Title-Batman and Joker
 Joker is running away from Batman.

 Joker got "caughted" by Batman and now he is inside jail.
 Joker escaped with the bat key and now he is running away from Batman.
 Batman used the Bat mobile to catch Joker.
(Don't you love how Joker is laughing:)
He got caught by Batman again and he was caught forever.

So, you're asking yourself...do all of my kids write like that?! No! I have a class of 25 students with ALL different abilities. Here is another story that I am EXTREMELY proud of!!! This student has made SOOOOO much progress this year!
Title-I Went to Disney World

 I went to Disney World.

 I went on a rollercoaster that went upside down.
 I went on something that went up.
 I stayed by other houses.
I went to Disney Land and it was fun.

Don't you just LOVE Kinder writing?!
How is your writing going?? I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions!

On a different note---
Here are a few Spring-ish things that I just posted in my TPT store. Click on the pics to check them out:
I have had so many people ask me about this experiment-so, I finally posted it:) You can read about the experiment in THIS post.

First 2 people to comment can have these 2 items for FREE:)
Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Centers work-Check it or just send it home?

I recently had a conversation with another teacher about centers. As you may know, I think it is very important for the centers that I do to have some kind of a response sheet to go with it to help keep the kids accountable for doing the activity. Yes, that means MORE papers accumulate...more to grade. The teacher that I talked to said she doesn't check centers papers. She just has them put them in their folders when they are done to take home.
I understand that it's just more to grade and takes more time...but if you're not looking at the papers-how do you know that they are doing quality work, or even doing the work at all??? AND most importantly, how do you know if they are doing the activity correctly??? What if they don't understand the activity or the skill???...you may never know.
I think that immediate feedback on their centers work is crucial!!! How do you get those kiddos who mess around at center time and don't do a whole lot of anything motivated????
Here's what I've been doing this year....

This pocket chart is where all of the centers work from the day goes. Each time a student finishes a paper from centers-they must have it checked and starred by an adult and then it goes into this pocket chart. Each Kinder has their very own pocket.

Here is my first motivator:) This is what I star the kiddo's papers with. We call them "monster markers". They are actually Scentos Markers from WeVeel. I stumbled across them one day at the Dollar Tree and bought the last 4 of them up. I haven't been able to find any since...but have emailed the company-so I'll let you know where to find them if I hear back from them:) These ADORABLE markers are smelly!!!!! So, each time I put a star on their paper-they LOVE to smell it. They are a HUGE hit with my class....the BLUE one is the class favorite:) One of my little guys always requests the blue one. when he gets a star he takes a big whiff and says "MMMMMM! That's the GOOD stuff!" LOL! I ONLY use these markers for centers papers-or I think the novelty would wear off:) 

At the end of the day, after we're all packed up-the kiddos get to work on their Math Journals. During this time, I pull out each kiddos papers from centers that day and call them up one at a time. Most of them will have all of their work done and will get a stamp on their Star Papers chart. I got this idea from Deedee at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten! She's BRILLIANT! Check out her post HERE.  To get a stamp, they have to have ALL of their work finished and NEATLY done. They MUST have their name on their papers to get a stamp and ALL of their papers MUST be in the pocket.  If any of these things are not done, then they don't get a stamp for the day...and yes, I'm very strict about this:) Most of them learn their lesson pretty quickly and things are done correctly next time.
This time also gives me a chance to talk to students who may have not understood the skill. It gives me the chance I need to talk to them about it and what they should do differently next time.
Here is an example of a stamp chart.....it's SOOOOO NOT cute!!!
 So, I decided to spruce it up a bit:) Here is what I came up with. "Rock Star Papers" sounds so much cooler:) click on the image below to grab your copy:

Why is it so important to them to get a stamp???? Because when they get 5 stamps, they get to pick a sucker from our sucker pull bouquet. (Sorry, it's lookin' a little bald in this picture!!) I'm really sorry that I don't remember where I originally saw this idea-but the kids LOVE it!!!
 Here's why it's sooooo exciting!!!! Some of the suckers are marked with blue on the ends of them. If they get a sucker with a blue tip-we call it a BONUS!!!! They get to go pick an extra treasure from the treasure box:) If there's no blue tip-no worries:) They still get to eat their sucker:)

 So, that's it. That's how I get to and go through all of their centers work. It's all done the same day that the work was completed. I think this immediate feedback for the kiddos is crucial in making your centers run smoothly AND you don't have any extra work to take home and grade!!! Works out great for everyone:)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

America!!! A little late:)

O.K. So, I'm a little late posting about this!!...O.K. maybe A LOT late!;) I've just been so totally exhausted lately and my blog has definitely suffered because of it! So, sorry!!!
O.K, so on to the pictures:)
One of my favorite things about this week is the bulletin board!!!! I LOVE doing this bulletin board! It always turns out soooo stinkin cute and the parents just LOVE it! No matter how many cute projects we do in a year, parents always tell me that this is one of their favorites....one that they keep forever:) Always love hearing that!

Here's a close-up of some of the silhouettes.

Most of these look exactly like the kids! Want to know how I get them so precise? I just take a picture of their profile. Then, I open the picture on my computer screen. I put a white piece of paper on the screen and trace it right from my computer:)
Here are the centers we did that week. I still haven't put the finishing touches on them to post them on TPT:( I will have them posted soon incase you are wanting any for next year:)

scrambled sight words:
you can see I differentiated by coloring and underlining the letter that it starts with for my approaching kiddos.
 Matching pictures to words:
This one is differentiated by putting matching colored dots on the back so my approaching level kiddos can self-check.

  A CVC word game:

Subtracting using pennies:
  Counting dimes and pennies:
 Numbers-before and after:

Here are our Georges and Abes:) The Abes are from Deanna Jumps America Unit! What an AMAZING unit!!!! If you have not checked it out-make sure you do for next year!!!!!!!
 We did a George and Abe Vinn Diagram:
Here are some other things we did from Deanna's America Unit:
EVERYONE in the building was amazed by how big the Statue of liberty's foot really is in "real life":)
 Here are a couple of examples of our response sheets after we measured to see if our class was longer or shorter than her foot;)

 OMGoodness!!! How cute are these step by step drawings of the Statue of Liberty!?

Why is the Statue of Liberty Green?? My kinders ABSOLUTELY LOVED this experiment!!!! Thanks, Deanna!

That's it:) Hope you got something from this SUPER late post:) I will be back with some more spring-timeish units soon....think rainbows and frogs:)