Friday, June 24, 2016

Decoding Fix-It Strategies and Why I Don't Use "Fishy Lips"

Should we talk "kindergarten-talk" to kindergartners or should we treat them like all other learners? I think we should treat them like all learners and empower them with expectations, real-world vocabulary, and lessons that will last over time. What do you think?
So, I have to confess every time I'm on Pinterest I cringe when I see reading strategies with "fishy lips" and "flippy dolphin." Oh my, the gasping is audible. Let me explain.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE teaching kindergarten. It's my passion, as I'm sure you've discovered if you've read any of my posts or met me in person. I think kindergartners are A.Maze.Ing. and should not be underestimated. As a matter of fact, I think we should give kindergartners tools not excuses to create successful readers and lifelong lovers of literacy. BUT, I don't think we need to make everything "cute" for kindergartners.  I don't mean the classroom, but I mean the language we use. Honestly, some things drive me a little crazy...here are 3.
Should we talk "kindergarten-talk" to kindergartners or should we treat them like all other learners? I think we should treat them like all learners and empower them with expectations, real-world vocabulary, and lessons that will last over time. What do you think?

3.  Let's Use Editing Tape

If we are striving to create independent writers, we shouldn't be afraid of mistakes. The first thing I tell me students about writing is there are no mistakes in writing, because every mistake can be fixed. I don't want my students to be afraid of writing so I'm not sure why I would call it "boo boo" tape. Boo boo's make us cry.  I would never want students to associate writing with crying. Another argument against "boo boo" tape is wanting my kindergartners to know they are editing their work when they fix mistakes. Using this language will make them stronger writers - or at least more willing writers.
Should we talk "kindergarten-talk" to kindergartners or should we treat them like all other learners? I think we should treat them like all learners and empower them with expectations, real-world vocabulary, and lessons that will last over time. What do you think?

2. Let's walk down the hallway quietly...

You know what I'm talking about. Here's my take on this:  when you tell students to "put a bubble in your mouth," you are taking control of their behavior.  You are telling them...you can't be trusted to walk in the hallway quietly, so I'm going to make it impossible for your to do so.  BUT, what if we let them know our expectations and the reasons why we have those expectations.  Before walking in the hallway, I remind my students we will walk quietly in the hallway.  I ask the students why we should walk quietly.  Some responses might be, "So we don't disturb other classes," "So we don't ruin someone else's chances at learning," "We are respectful of others who are learning," or maybe even "Because we are responsible."  This dialog with students seems to empower them, not try and take their power.  (On a side note, they look really silly walking in the hallway with a "bubble in their mouth.)

Should we talk "kindergarten-talk" to kindergartners or should we treat them like all other learners? I think we should treat them like all learners and empower them with expectations, real-world vocabulary, and lessons that will last over time. What do you think?1. Let's Get our Mouth Ready

When I was first learning about fix-it strategies, I was taught with the language "get your mouth ready" and "flip the vowel."  I actually hadn't heard of "fishy lips" or "eagle eye" until a first grade teacher came to me.  It was at the beginning of year and she was surprised.  "I'm surprised your students don't know their fix-it strategies." I was shocked. What do you mean?  I teach all the fix-its, we practice the strategies, and I know THEY know the strategies.  She proceeded to tell me when she told my students to "use their eagle eye" they didn't know what to do.  So I asked a painfully obvious question, "What does "use their eagle eye" mean?" It was her turn to be shocked. "It means look at the picture for clues."  So, continuing this question filled conversation, "Well, why don't you just say "look at the picture?"  After our conversation, I was stunned.  She was right, my students didn't know about fishy lips, eagle eyes, or stretchy snakes.  I had taught them "get your mouth ready," look at the picture," and "slide and sound."  Once she explained to them the strategies I had taught them were the same fix-its she was using, they understood what she was asking.  My theory...and it's only my theory...is students will use fix-its beyond the "cute" terms.  

So, what are your thoughts.  I know I'm in the minority...because the majority of fix-it strategies on TPT, Pinterest, or google searches contain these "cute" titles.  I'm not saying one is right and the other is wrong, just sharing my opinion.

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8 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you about the reading strategies! Several years ago we had teachers print off pretty Pinterest posters that had fishy lips, etc. Our county had a standard reading strategies anchor chart and we had the teachers use that instead of the Pinterest one- we wanted common language throughout the school that everyone would be familiar with, from K- 5th grade. And of course, it's not enough to have the anchor chart posted, you have to explicitly teach what get your mouth ready means.

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    1. Patti, you are right! When students have a hard time with the strategies, I'll ask how the strategy was taught. I have one teacher says, "I put a poster up on the wall and taped one to the table." We have to be more strategic!

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  2. Hmmmm....my opinion - if we want them to talk, write, and read like 'big kids', then we better talk to them like 'big kids'! It's amazing the information that children in Kindergarten retain from even our simple conversations....I've heard lots of parents tell me how their child plays school at home and repeats a lot of what I actually say in the classroom. So, beware Kinder colleagues - if you want them to be successful speakers, writers, and readers, then you'd better treat them like successful individuals! <3 #kindergartenrocks

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    1. I agree...goodness knows they listen to all that we say, let's make sure we're saying what we want them to repeat.

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I completely agree with everything that you have posted here! I'm hoping that teachers that use these terms or speak to their students this way read your post. If they read it and give it a try this coming year they will become a more efficient and effective teacher! Kudos to you for saying what we've all been thinking!

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    1. Thanks, Heather. I'm glad you agree. I am passionate about giving kids tools, but not changing the language.

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  4. Great post! I will not lie, I am guilty of hip and lip and I use the cute strategies. But I don't focus so much on the cuteness as I do the fact that Stretchy the Snake reminds us to stretch our words. (I don't like to teach them to sound out or slide across words, because in their minds, a slide is on a playground. It starts high and goes down. We spend the first month or so of school learning that words go left to right and I don't want to mess with that! Lol) I think one of the biggest downfalls are those teachers that just give their kids a bookmark or point to a poster and never show them how to use these strategies. I created tons of resources for teaching and practicing these strategies because of that very reason. I think teachers will sometimes take it for granted that the students should know it and that many teachers just don't know how to teach the strategies.

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    1. I completely agree...it's all about instruction, expectation, and practice!

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