Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February Calendar

Please note the changes from the February calendar that went home last week. The allied arts days have switched to reflect January's snow day. Thanks!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Author Study: Jan Brett

This week we focused our attention to the famous author/illustrator Jan Brett. We discussed how she is from New England (Massachusetts) and that she travels the world looking for inspiration for her books. We read The Mitten and did a large retelling on this story. If you are not familiar with the story your kindergartener definite will be able to help! 

We used mittens as our muse this week. Students learned how to describe a mitten in detail so that if the mitten were missing someone could easily find it. We turned this writing into a mystery book that is now in our class library. We tried to find the mitten the student described in our bag of mittens. 

Through the week we read different Jan Brett books, observing her detailed illustrations and borders. The students were so enthusiastic about the details in both the words and the pictures. On Friday we read The Hat. This book has a lot of similarities to the The Mitten and a lot of differences. We created a venn-diagram to help us outline the comparison. I was incredibly impressed by the observations the students made! We then watched a "how-to" video by Jan Brett herself. She was teaching us how-to draw a hedgehog like her character, Hedgie! We then did our very own Hedgie by following the how-to steps/directions. It was a challenge for many spatially but the final product turned out awesome thanks to fork painting! 

2D Shapes

While most of kindergartners recognize the five shapes required, we started to look at shapes in a new way. We unpacked what it means to be 2D (2 dimensional). We said that 2D means it lays flat -- you can't pick it up or hold it. We used that to help guide us through a shape hunt through magazines (thank you to those who contributed). We made four posters for square, rectangle, triangle, and circle. Students hunted through magazines to find an example of each 2D shape. We also discussed what 1D means -- it is just a line! But without a line, we wouldn't have any shapes at all. 

On Thursday we read the book Shape Capers and created our own class book. We used the words: 
"A (shape) is just a (shape). When you add (______) then it is a (________). " The creativity flowed as we created our own creations out of shapes! We had rocket ships, snowmen, houses. The class book now adds a lot of excitement to our library. 

On Friday we explored the trickiest of all, the hexagon! Students played a game called "fill the hexagon" with a partner. We also made a poster detailing what we know about what makes a hexagon a hexagon. 

Writing With a Partner and Checklist

Our writers have been hard at work on "how-to" writing! I am so impressed by how our writers are cranking out piece after piece of things they know how to do, make, and play! This week we used a checklist to help guide our writing and to help us figure out when we are "done" and ready to move on to a new piece. We also conferenced with partners so that we could see if our pieces were easy to follow with detailed steps.

Next week we will be using a mentor text to help guide our writing. We will be adding a cover, materials list, and bold writing.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. -- Kindness Matters

This week we spent a great deal of time reading and learning about Martin Luther King Jr. Through a variety of mentor texts we read about this historical figure in American history and his importance for creating fair and equal treatment of all people. We also talked about how he always led with love and kindness above all else.

On Friday we used our Scholastic Let's Find Out to talk about similarities and differences. We also listened to parts of MLK's "I have a dream" speech. The students were in awe of his powerful speaking and the black and white video. Then, through a science experiment, we explored how people may look different on the outside the inside is the same. We used eggs as our tools. With one brown egg and one white egg partners examined the eggs and recorded their observations. We then cracked the eggs open to find that the insides (although slight different shades of yellow) included the same things! We then equated that back to people. Just because we are all different, we are made of the same thing.

We also watched this video by Kid President (click the link for the video) about Martin Luther King Jr. Kid President is the greatest and a relative of MLK! 

We then did a great guided drawing of Martin Luther King Jr. and wrote our own dreams just like MLK. These will be showcased in the kindergarten hallway for all the enjoy! 

Wild About Quality

This week we unpacked the term "quality" and what that looks like as a kindergartener. We matched up my writing samples with what would be green, expected work and then two other examples of not so "green" work. The students told me what made the work "quality" and we used their words to make our rubric. This type of transparency holds kiddos accountable it also gives them a measure for their own work. Rather than me constantly asking them to "add more detail", now we have a specific talking point. Students can also use the quality work board to see if their work is what is expected as described by them. Students also created their own green work that is now on the board. The work is exceptional -- and just by making the expectations clear and student created!

Launching How-To Writing

This week we began our brand new writing unit, How-To. This is an explanatory style writing where students are writing to teach. Our writers were psyched to start a new style of writing. To begin we explored a fiction book about a dinosaur and a book about how-to draw a dinosaur. We used a venn diagram to compare/contrast the two texts. We then explored how-to books on our own and then with a partner. We found that all how-to books have certain components:

1. Tells what to do in steps.
2. Number the steps.
3. Has a picture for each step. 

The next day we brainstormed a list of things we know how-to do. Students came up with some great ideas that they consider themselves experts on and could teach someone. We then selected one idea that we can all do; hand washing. We started a class piece to get the hang of how-to writing. Our writers were amazing! We did the first step together and then they were off on their own! 

On Thursday we brainstormed our own personal anchor chart to keep in our writing folders so that we always have some ideas handy. We brainstormed things we know how to make, do, and play. We chose an idea that we will use as our first piece on Tuesday! The enthusiasm for this unit is fantastic! I am so excited to see what is produced!

The Power of Yet

When we returned back from vacation and it was the start of the new year, I was tempted to have the students write New Year's Resolutions. Rather I took the opportunity to work with students on growth mindset. We discussed all the things we can't do. While the students found this to be kind of strange we listed a bunch of things from driving a car to tying laces. We then read the book Giraffes Can't Dance and talked about the way Giraffe just needed a different song. It wasn't that he couldn't dance, he just couldn't dance yet. With that we created our own goals around something we can't do yet but if we make a plan we will be able to get there!