Thursday, August 3, 2017

Academic Vocabulary in Kindergarten

   Academic vocabulary and accountable talk have always been an important focus in my classroom, but this past year I was forced to grow even more in this area. To be honest, last year was all about growth for me. I took a leap of faith and left an environment that was unhealthy for me - mid school year. GASP! Being the teaching addict that I am, I didn't miss a day of work. I moved into an interim kindergarten position which led to me spending December - May as a 3rd grade special education teacher. No, I had never taught anything but kindergarten. No, I was not licensed to teach special education. Yes, it was to date my best experience as an educator - but it PUSHED me. Many of the students that I had the honor of serving struggled with language. Retrieving vocabulary words like "zebra" could be difficult, so I fought hard for my kids to succeed with academic vocabulary. Visuals, songs, gestures, object lessons. I was pulling all of the tools out of my box and then I created an interactive academic vocabulary word wall that I just LOVED!

The growth I saw using these visual aids was incredible. My students were constantly interacting with these. When they weren't yet able to retrieve a word, they were going up to the poster and asking me to remind them of the word!!! YES! The kiddos added their own illustrations, synonyms, etc. using post it notes. Writing was totally transformed because the kids loved being able to get up and tear off a word strip from the vocabulary posters. Motivation is key and kids love to move. 

This year, I am heading back to kindergarten and I will be using similar posters to teach academic vocabulary! If you would like to use them too, you can grab them in my TPT shop. They are black and white, easy to prep, and allow for differentiation. 


Click the pictures below to find these resources on TPT! 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 Tips for Teaching Main Topic and Key Details in Kindergarten


     My school requires me to spend the majority of my whole group literacy instruction focusing on the CCSSs for reading informational text and reading literature. All of my whole group lessons must follow EDI (Explicit Direct Instruction) format. This means that I am expected to teach the majority my reading lessons using short passages and powerpoint presentations. Just 3 weeks into kindergarten and I was taught main topic and key details to my students! I had to assess my students on this standard before the end of the first month of school. Last year was my first year to begin focusing on these standards and the academic vocabulary (main topic, key details) so early in the year. It was overwhelming at first, but it has become much easier with time. Here are some tricks I have found to build success with this standard during the first weeks of kindergarten!

1. Make a connection while engaging your students. 

      Start off strong! I begin my first lesson on main topic by selecting a simple informational text and reading the title aloud the the students. I get all excited and tell my students that I know what the book is going to be about.... then I give a completely ridiculous answer. They are quick to correct me and tell me what they think the book will be about. I also begin my main topic lessons by playing a guessing game. You can do this with a circle map (leave the center blank) or with a bag full of pictures! Students love drawing the pictures from the bag and trying to guess what the pictures tell about! 


2. Don't be afraid to model with passages. 

I won't lie. Overall, I believe that using passages to teach kindergarteners can lead to major engagement/management problems. I also believe that reading authentic texts with engaging illustrations gives us a greater chance of creating real readers, not just test takers. However, using very short passages to model reading skills on occasion can be truly beneficial. You can find some of the passages that I used to teach main topic and key details here. Passages are also a perfect check for understanding! 

3. Begin with simple books or passages on already familiar topics.

   We read informational text to learn new things. Many kindergarteners, however, begin school with little to no exposure to informational text! Use texts on familiar topics to introduce the reading skill first. Then put the skill to use with texts on less familiar topics! I found this series of color books in our school library this year! They are so simple and perfect for introducing main topic and key details to kindergarteners. I created a web to go along with the Blue book. You can download this main topic and key details graphic organizer for FREE by clicking the picture below! 

 (You can find the Colors All Around Us books on amazon if you do not have them.) 

4.  Provide students with sentence stems to help them tell what they know and how they know it! 

      Model using sentences such as, "I know _____ was the main topic because the text was mostly about _____. I heard _____ in the title and I heard the word repeated many times." Model non-examples as well. When students are identifying the main topic or the key details provide them with a sentence stem for support: 
"The main topic is _____ because _____."
"I know that this is not the main topic because ______."
"_____ is a key detail because _____."
"______ is not a key detail because ______," 

5. Create anchor charts with fun visuals! 

Here are a few that I have used in the past:


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trick or Treat!

   Well, I can't smell your feet, but I do have a trick AND a treat for you!!! I am so excited that this blog hop is finally here. Make sure you don't miss any houses along the way... when you are finished with my post, hop on to the next blog for more tricks of the trade, freebies, and giveaways! A BIG thanks to The Classroom Game Nook for hosting this amazing event. When you hop over to her page, please show her some extra love for making this hop happen! 

      Here is a little trick I am using with my ABC puzzles this year. This trick could easily be used with other alphabet puzzles that you may already have in your classroom! During the first month of school I was unsure how to store and use the puzzles in centers. My K kids were still learning letters/ sounds, and some students were still learning how to put together a puzzle. I wanted to utilize this resource, but I knew I couldn't just toss the pieces into a bin and expect the littles to sort the pieces and put them together on their own! So... easy fix! I made an extra copy of the puzzles, but never cut them apart. I glued the puzzle images on the outside of manila envelopes, laminated, and used an exacto knife to reopen the slit.

     I taught the students how to work one puzzle at a time and return the pieces to the manila folder before moving onto a second puzzle. Modeling activities and teaching procedures first is a key component for successful literacy centers! As students began mastering letters and sounds I was able to differentiate the activity by giving students who were ready a tub of mixed up puzzle pieces - no manilla folders involved. 
      I have a special little in my classroom this year who is not yet ready to begin writing. These puzzles were a lifesaver during our letter/sound/handwriting lessons. When other students were practicing writing it was easy for me to pull the letter puzzle for the letter we were learning. My student loved completing these puzzles and was independently successful with them!

      Now for my favorite part.... the TREATS! For this week ONLY I have made my Trick or Treat! CCSS Math and Literacy Centers FREE... and that's what I like to call VALUE. Be sure to grab this while you can. After Saturday, October 31st, this will be a forever PAID item on TPT. 

    Beginning sounds, word families, blending/segmenting sounds, identifying more/less, number sense, counting, and graphing are all included in these halloween themed centers. I created each center in both color AND black and white, so you can choose what to use based on your ink levels. 

BUT WAIT... there's MORE! I'm also giving away a $5.00 TPT gift card and one of my very FAVORITE resources... my Spider Centers! 

     You can click here to see/read more about these centers! Just don't forget to come back to this post and enter to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Math Without Numerals

     This year, my school is working with Math Perspective's Kathy Richardson to ensure that all of our students are thinking and reasoning mathematically. (Kathy Richardson developed the idea of  "Number Talks.") Today I want to talk about how Kathy's approach is changing instruction in my own classroom! 
     In her professional development session and books, Kathy reiterates the importance of developing number sense. I have always known that it was important to teach quantities before rote counting or numerals. In the past, I began math instruction in my classroom by teaching the concept of one. For example, I might drop a counter into a coffee cup and count "one" aloud to my students, I would have students repeat the activity. We would count out one of different objects, clap once, etc. and I would introduce the numeral 1 toward the end of the lesson. Kathy Richardson believes that students should not begin learning numerals until they can successfully touch and count objects to ten! So here we are at the end of September... and I am yet to formally introduce numerals. I am excited to see how this change in my instructional practice impacts learning in my classroom. 
   I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but the first thing I thought when I made this switch to no numerals (until late September)...... What are my kiddos going to work on in math centers? I figured it out pretty quickly and I wanted to share with you where I have started with my little ones in math center this year.

    My students work on differentiated activities with mixed ability partners in math centers. I place 1 high, 1 mid, 1 low student in a group together. These groups are posted on my blue chart and the numbers let them know where they are working/ what they are working with. I group students by ability on the colored papers above my chart. Students work on the same activity, but work with different quantities based on their ability group.  Here's what my kids have been up to... 

Dough Center

Cars Center

Roll-a-Tower Center

 Count and Graph Center

I did not differentiate this center, because I took it for a grade... but we will begin working with the other levels soon! 

Show Me Center

     I LOVE this center activity! It is perfect, because many of my students were able to touch and count to ten but needed practice counting out a given number of objects. I have been utilizing this activity at my small group table. The different manipulatives keep my kids engaged! Soon it will move to centers. I have black and white cards ready to print on orange, green, and purple cardstock so that I can differentiate the quantities my students will work with. 

Roll and Color Center

I did not differentiate this activity, because I noticed that ALL of my students needed to touch and count the dots on the dice. I wanted all students to learn to recognize the die faces without counting! You can click on the pic to grab this and the early finisher puzzles for FREE! 

     I am so thrilled to report that ALL of my littles are working successfully with these math centers! Sometimes they get off task, but they are quickly learning that it is more fun to use center activities appropriately than it is to spend center time practicing writing their names. In the past, I have always had at least 1 student who struggled in math centers because they weren't yet recognizing numerals...and most of my math centers involved some kind of numeral work.

     I taught my students to touch and count to ten at the beginning of August. We spent some time working on other skills after (counting to 20, sorting, adding, etc.), so that I could give my struggling students some extra time to perfect counting to 10. This week we will begin working with numerals! Switching centers should be a breeze because I created them with a natural progression in mind! 

You can find these math centers in my TPT shop by clicking the pictures below! 


You can read more about my math centers here: 

Friday, September 18, 2015

FALL Into Great Savings and FREEBIES!

     My sweet friends Jessica Plemons and Melissa Dailey are hosting a Fall Sale Link Up and I have decided to join in on the fun. My ENTIRE TPT store is on sale 20% OFF until Sunday!  This is the perfect time to get ready for October. Here are a few items from my TPT shop that I will be utilizing again this Fall:

And here are a few fall FREEBIES to grab while you are at it! 



An InLinkz Link-up