Sunday, February 26, 2017

100th Day: A School-Wide Event

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
I know, I know...I'm late again! The problem with "special days" in school is I think of things at the last minute, and then I like it, and then it's too late to post it.

But this time, I'm going to post it anyway.

First and Second Grade

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
We decided to have a 100th Day School-wide Idea. There is a bulletin board on either side of the student bathroom outside our school cafeteria.  I posted the title: "How many words can you make out of GREAT BRIDGE PRIMARY? on a Friday afternoon. Monday morning, I added 10 words to the board. First and second grade students received a hand-out with the same question. Tuesday morning, I added 10 more and added 10 more each day until the 100th day of school (ours was February 21st). On the 100th day, I added the rest of the words. Students who completed the paper, were given a homework pass.

Kindergarten Alternative

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
I thought the idea would eliminate most of our kindergarten students, so we sent home an adjusted assignment for K. They needed to write 100 letters or words. The explanation told students if they wrote each letter, upper and lower case, they would be more than half-way there. They could write color words, shape words, word wall words, names in their family, and more.

Students were also allowed to dress up on the 100th day...as 100-year-olds. They were super cute, but I don't have pictures, sorry.

This was fun. If you'd like to download and save this 100th Day idea for next year, click the link or picture below.
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Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Raising the Expectations - Half-Way Through

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.It's time to up the game. BUT, that doesn't mean changing the game.  You know I'm a "process center" girl. I believe in centers where we can teach a process and then change the product. That's exactly what we do half-way through the year. We don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, but we do have to raise the expectations.

Read it, Write it

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is certainly a great process center, especially at the beginning of the year. It helps with reading, writing, and ordering the words. It is also great for making connections with illustrations and meaning. However, this is way too easy now...and it will take them two minutes to do it. How can we up it? Require more than one sentence. Require they write a new sentence. Require the illustrations be more detailed. There are lots of ways to up the game. I love this illustration. The cookie is on the fox's back and we know that won't end well.

Labeling

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is another process center where the expectations can be increased. Students can be asked to write more sentences, label additional items, and more. They can be asked to add an new picture to the paper and label the new object. 

CVC Boards

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
I LOVE CVC boards. I believe in this center. Students must be able to stretch and slide their way through words as they read and write. This center helps with encoding and decoding. As students get quicker with this skill, up the game. Choose a word and write about it. Choose two words and write about both in each in one sentence. You can also increase the word choice adding blends and digraphs to the center.

Stencils

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is a "throw away" center. I call it that because my students did this center as a final center. It was "just a fun" center. Students have to trace the stencil with a pencil and add details, then they have to write sentences. They can use more stencils, but they have to write more sentences.

Don't forget the 4 Square Center, Squiggle Center, and Listening Center should also be upped. Each of these centers could demand 4 or 5 sentences at this time of the year. 

If you would like to have a sample of Raising the Expectations, click the link or the picture below.
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We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

5 Ways to Create Independent Children - Home/School Connection

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.
I am starting a Home/School Connection series on here. My intention is to empower parents to help their children by building a strong Home/School Connection. One of the biggest concerns I hear from teachers is about students who rely on the teacher for everything. We have to build a sense of independence in children, but we also need to build a sense of desire to be independent in children, as well. Parents are partners in this. I am often surprised by the parents who are surprised their child is independent in my class. For the most part, I think that's based on expectations. I expect independence, create routines to support independence, and a praise and reward independence.

Organized for Success

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.I'm not saying EVERYTHING in your life needs to be completely organized and scheduled. Life is messy and unorganized and, well, life. BUT small steps in keeping your child organized can help them become independent. The bookbag always goes on the table. The shoes always go by the front door. A friend told me, "The weekly homework goes on the front of the refrigerator under a certain magnet until Friday. When we work on it, it comes off. When we're done, it goes back in the folder.  Everyone knows where it is and what we do. We all know the routine and no one gets upset." This is a great plan. Children are upset when they don't have what they need, but organizing things like homework helps them be independent. When my boys were young, we bought a 5-drawer plastic cabinet for their rooms. Sunday night, we picked our clothes for the week. They had to put socks and underwear in each drawer. Then, they had to make 5 piles on their beds with shirts and pants. My husband and I would double-check their choices, then one outfit went in each drawer. This was a life-saver for mornings. We didn't have to debate what to wear, but more importantly, they could dress themselves without my help. Teaching small steps in independence, encourages larger ones.

Let them Collaborate

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.Children can do so much more independently than they think and sometimes, more than we think. Let them help you make list of what they are in charge of independently. When we let them make the list, they will be more apt to do it. Look at small parts of your day to make the list. When it is breakfast, ask them what they can do for themselves. Let them help you decide. Don't do everything for them. It will work against everybody in the end.

Have Accountability

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.If you are making an Independent Chart...make them do it. You can't expect them to be independent when YOU want them to be. They need to be held accountable. Here's a biggie: there isn't necessarily an award for doing what you are supposed to do. It's just what you are supposed to do. You can compliment them and brag about them. BUT allow that to be the reward. Help them take pride in their work. Here's the other part: Don't make excuses for them either. Sometimes, they need a consequence to build a need for independence. We tend to want to protect our children from consequences, but we're teaching them how NOT to be independent.

Give Choices

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.Another part of being independent is not always "getting your way." The world isn't that way, so creating a world that is will be doing you and your child a great disservice. Giving choices is a perfect way to allow them input, without allowing them to "rule the roost."
"Would you like to pick up your clothes before or after your both?"
"Would you like to help with cleaning the kitchen today or tomorrow?

Build Stamina

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.You can't expect independence all at once, but you also can't expect to go from relying on you to completing large tasks independently over night. Start small and build on success. Tell them to write their name on their homework while you are out of the room, and expect it done when you go back. "You complete the first row of math problems, then we'll check it." Another idea for reading time, is giving your child time to preview a book before you read it. When your nighttime reading begins, ask them to predict what will happen or ask if they have any questions before your start. A fun way to start the story is with an "I wonder..." statement. "I wonder what will happen to Jack and Annie tonight." They need to have time to themselves to become independent.

Now, parent-to-parent, this is harder on you than it will be them. I understand the mom-thinking or the dad-thinking, "This is my baby. I don't want to rush him/her to grow up." This is sabotaging talk - for you and them. If you do everything for them, they won't build problem solving skills, won't need to be self-reliable, and they won't become independent...and that should be your goal.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

I don't know this word...Now What?

When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.
I talk a lot about students becoming decoders and readers. A LOT. I know I do, but I am so passionate about giving students the tools to become independent and successful readers. I have a student who is new to me and our school and she is behind in reading. Really behind. I would like to make the most of my time with her. I have been using LLI and our fix-it strategies, but I needed something else in our tool belt.

Labeling and Coding

When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.
I have been spending more and more time thinking about the "rules" of reading. You know, all those things you teach like, "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." Except it isn't exactly a rule. It only occurs 47% of the time. 47%. That's not a "rule." So what can we do instead? With "Mallory," I want to make sure she has tools that will help her. She is reading on a Level B and we are working hard with decoding cvc words. We have discussed how cvc words have a short vowel sound. I asked Mallory to label the words with c and v, if the word had a cvc pattern, she should circle the word in green. If it did not have the cvc pattern, she would x it in red. After she was done, she would read the cvc words using sound and slide.  ***By the way, we are only looking for "cvc" at this time. We aren't looking at words that are cvcc with a digraph, like "fish." We'll get there.***

We're getting there.

I am really proud of Mallory. We are making progress.

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When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.