Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kindergarten Writing: Labels

     Ya'll,  I am already achieving one of my goals for the school year! I am letting the students direct more of our learning and activities and it is working SO well.When I got to school today, I was planning  to follow some curriculum plans for my first labeling lesson. We were simply going to discuss labels in the classroom and do a fast write the room activity today. Then I realized I had the perfect opportunity to teach a truly meaningful lesson on labeling and it was staring me right in the face.

     I bought one of these awesome shelving units for my classroom two summers ago at Ikea. I loved using it so much that I went back to Atlanta this summer and got another. I had planned on making some cute labels with clip art and such to go on the containers before school started. Yep. That just never happened. So half way through the first week of school my students had noticed me rummaging to find what I needed during our calendar time, lessons, etc. One of my students even said, "Ms. Peden, you sure do need to figure out where you keep yo stuff, because you really don't know! You need to put something on there like you put on our literacy centers." When I turned the lights on in my classroom this morning, I glanced at our shelves and realized they set the perfect context for a meaningful labeling lesson! I grabbed post it notes and a pen and I was ready!

Best things about this lesson: 

1. My students LOVED it! They were INVOLVED and FOCUSED the ENTIRE time! I'm talking about my always-distracted  la-la-landers too! Yes, I just called my la-la-landers involved and focused! Everyone was anxiously awaiting a turn to stick a label on, check the bins for what was inside, or spell the word for our label.

2. This lesson taught my students how to use environmental print when they are writing. On our third bin I pointed out that we could use the label on our Mr. Sketch scented markers to help us with our label. I had a student take the marker and spell Mr. Sketch aloud for the class. "M-R-polkadot - Capital S-K-E-T-C-H!... Oh wait, no, Ms. Peden, I think I meant period, not polkadot!!!" Polkadot - how cute is that?!?! A few bins later we were trying to spell "Base 10 Blocks." The same student who had helped me with the marker pointed out that our blocks center had a label on it and we could use it to help us spell the word "blocks" for our label. She proudly got up and pointed the label out to the class. After that, other students used classroom labels to help us spell calendar, glue, and scissors.

3. My students got to practice using kindergarten writing. We don't have to spell everything correctly! I am so glad they are catching on to that early this year.  I have had some kids in the past that just would not participate in emerging kindergarten writing. These kids were trying their best and really working to get the sounds in the right order. We were writing "counters" on the blue bin shown above. If you look closely you can see that the "n" was originally an "r." A few students had suggested I write "r" after the "a" because they could hear the "r" at the end.  When I followed this students directions a few students looked closely at the words and suggested I change the "r" to an "n" then add "t" and "r" to the end. I love how they acted as a group on this!

4. This will be an ongoing project for my classroom. I know that we teachers are all about perfectly organized rooms with color coordinated, themed labels  everywhere. I'll be honest, I don't like the vibe or look of these yellow post its in my room. But I do LOVE the hard work my students put in, and I know I would get questions if I replaced them anytime soon! I am also excited to remake the labels with my students as we learn new phonics rules, like adding "s" to the end of words. 

Instead of just teaching students about labels, I was teaching my students some important skills that are vital in the early days of writer's workshop. We were working on stretching sounds and identifying beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words. It was a great afternoon. I snapped this pic when we were finished and one of my students  asked if I would post it on facebook! They wanted me to add a caption that said "K5ers did most of this work. K5ers rock!" Sharing our work with an audience that extends beyond the classroom! LOVE it!

I think this was an extremely successful because there was a true need for these labels and the students were already aware of the need.  I do not think it would have been as successful if I had just had my students making labels for things in the classroom (window, blocks, door, book shelf, etc.) A few of my  "K5ers," as they are calling themselves, were talking about things they were planning to label when they got home. Loved hearing that in the dismissal line today!

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