I'm Cathy, a former kindergarten teacher with a passion for early learners. Providing our earliest learners with tools, instead of excuses, can empower these students with success! I also LOVE teacher training and providing meaning professional development that can be used in classrooms immediately.
Later this week, I'll be in Norfolk, Virginia for the VSRA 49th Annual Reading Conference. I have been attending this conference for 10 years and can't imagine a spring without it. It is such a great part of my spring and my professional development. This year's theme is based on Norfolk, the Mermaid City. "Exploring the Depth's of Literacy" is sure to be successful.
This is an amazing group of people. They are true leaders in literacy in our state and around the world. They are advocating for best practices in literacy with the help of dedicated people like Senator John Miller. VSRA's newest initiative is all about Informational Texts. I can't wait to hear all about it. Chynita Turner-Pryer, the 2016 Conference Chair has worked tirelessly this year to bring us the best conference possible. Trust me, you will be in awe of this group. You will want to be a member and maybe even a part of the action. Find someone in VSRA and ask how to get involved.
The line-up for presenters this year is amazing. I can't wait to hear Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Nell Duke, Kathy Ganske, and Tim Rasinski, just to name a few. These featured speakers are pioneers in the field, we'll be getting the best from the best. BUT, my favorite part of the conference is hearing from teachers and reading specialist all over the state share what they are doing in their classrooms. It is the best way to get inspired.
As teachers, our world tends to be very small. We know our district, our school, our classroom. This is a great opportunity to visit places around the state. This year's conference will be in Norfolk, Virginia. It's close to home for me, but I can't wait to share Norfolk with my friends from around the state. We will be located in 2 fabulous hotels in the downtown area, the Marriott and the Sheraton. I'm sure we'll be visiting great restaurants and surrounding attractions (I didn't not mention MacArthur Mall).
And most importantly...THE PEOPLE
One of the best reasons, to attend a reading conference is for the people. People you know. People you meet. People you admire. People you value. People who all have a common goal: to be the best teachers we can be and give our students the best. Talking, laughing, collaborating, laughing, debating, laughing, learning, laughing, teaching, and laughing. I can't underscore the value of this reason. We need to join forces with all the other teachers who are in the same trenches day in and day out. Learning how they navigate the world of education and sharing our tips for success, as well.
If you are attending, make sure I know, I'd love to meet you. If you are presenting, make sure you tell us your time and place, I'd love to attend. If you can't go this year, make a plan for next year. VSRA will be at the FABULOUS Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia. I can't wait to see what Charles Richards, the 2017 Conference Chair has in store. Make sure bookmark the VSRA website (www.vsra.org) to get the details.
If you'd like a checklist for the conference CLICK THE PICTURE!
I've told you in the past I am a Reading Specialist from a K-2 school AND my school has half-day kindergarten. That's right...3 hours to get it all done. "How?" you might ask. Well, we can never teach 1 thing at a time in isolation. It all has to integrated.
Maps and Globes
This is a classic example of how we need to integrate each standard into the other.
1. Read Alouds
Make the map come to life, choose a read aloud from each continent and map it as you go. There are wonderful picture books representing each continent, choose your favorite. I love using the following: North America - Mama, Do You Love Me?, South America - Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth, Africa - Where Are You Going, Manyoni?, Europe - Strega Nona, Asia - Daisy Comes Home, Oceania - Koala Lou, and Antarctica - 5 Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice.
2. Poem of the Week
First, the Shared Reading poem of the week is called Maps. The poem is read each day with a different emphasis. Lessons throughout the week include: 1-on-1 voice to word match, rhyming words, word families, vocabulary, punctuation, fluency, and comprehension.
3. Math Lesson
Before telling your students there is more water than land on the earth...throw a ball at them. (HEHE) When my oldest was born a friend gave me a stuffed model of the earth. I kept it in his room for years then I moved it to my classroom. I explain to students that I will throw the ball at them, and when they catch it they need to look at their thumbs. Are their thumbs on water or land? We tally their thumbs. This tally chart becomes an anchor chart in the room. Typically, the ratio of water to land will come through in their catch. After we catch the ball and tally, we analyze the data. We come to the conclusion there is more water than land on the earth. To get an earth ball, Here's a link to get an Earth Ball.
4. Map Features
Another anchor chart distinguishes map features, specifically land features v. water features. AFTER making the anchor chart, make them use it. Add a student chart to the Social Studies Center or Sorting Center the following week.
5. Maps v. Globes
Students can distinguish between a map and a globe. This is a perfect hands-on exploration activity. Give the students maps (you can get some from AAA for free) and a variety of globes (I love looking for these at thrift shops). Oriental Trading offers a dozen blow-up globes for $13.99. They can see the differences. Making a T-chart is a natural progression. I have also cut a blow-up globe to show students how they can lay flat and show the earth.
Let's do an easy 4 square. Students can use the aspects of a map or a globe, to write a Non-Fiction Essay or Expository Writing.
7. Poetry Center
The following week, putting the poem of the week in the poetry center helps review the poem. There are different ideas for the Poetry Center. In the example below, students will circle and color the word wall words.
8. Art Center
The following week, students are also given the poem in the Art Center. Giving them 4 strips of black construction paper, a piece of chalk, and a map key, students can make a map. They can also be given a paper plate, a black triangle, and a black outline of the earth to make a globe.
Anyone can tell you, keeping all our skills separate isn't the way to get it all done. Integration is the only way to expose students to all the standards.