Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pie Graphs!

Hey Kinder Friends,
I was excited to start the week knowing that I would be introducing pie graphs to my class. Since most of my class did not attend prek last year I was equally excited to tie these lessons to some kinder favorite books. The best part probably was that not very many children had actually heard of the books that we would be reading.
We started the week by reading about pie graphs and learning how they are used. And considering it was the beginning of the year we started off with pie graphs with small numbers which made it simple to understand. At the end of the week I wanted the children to understand that we could use a pie graph to gather information and draw conclusions from graphs. The small numbers kept this pretty simple.
I picked and old favorite to start off our pie graph fun. For the first time out the children did very good and asked a lot of questions. I had to help a lot at first as we discussed the pie graphs which I had expected. By day three they were well on their way to working to complete the pie chart on their own and they had a lot more to add to our discussion as we discussed our pie graphs.
Each day of the week the children really looked forward to the math book. Funny thing is that the books are just classic favorites that any teacher has on hand and paired with a math focus lesson on pie charts. It is fun to read to a class that hasn't heard even the most popular children's books. After 17 years I have not had that experience before. I usually hear how they have read every book I pick up in prek!
I guess it is safe to say throughout the week I read every Pete book I could get my hands on and they loved every one of them. We sang a lot too! Math was so much fun this week and we learned about pie graphs and that we could draw conclusions from them and answer questions. I know I will look forward to working on more pie graphs with larger numbers in the future.
Giddy For Graphs!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Flexible Grouping!

Hey Kinder Friends,
Flexible grouping has been on my mind since late last year. In the spring I was able to try several group strategies with my easy going class. I liked the idea and I learned it was not only engaging but highly motivational for my students. I was even able to branch out and try flexible grouping with a bilingual class and the results were the same...we loved it. We used flexible grouping mostly in math and science last year.
But this year I wanted to use this grouping strategy a little more and try some new things. I knew from experience that when I started in the spring last year I had already established many things in the classroom that made trying different strategies easy. Since I wanted to try flexible grouping this year at the beginning of the year I wanted something that would be simple to understand and easy to use. As I was on an internet search I came across these.
I knew when I found these that these would be the perfect start to my flexible grouping because they are simple to use. These are from Learning Resources. I bought them on Amazon cheaper than buying them direct and I paid no shipping since I am a prime member. I ordered them late on a Friday after ten days in school because I was thinking my class was ready to give it a try. I am excited that I have them in my hands on Sunday ready to take into the classroom this week and put them to work. I love that about Amazon Prime.
So, how am I going to use them?
In the beginning of the year the children can get familiar with them by selecting a stick and having them group themselves together and answer simple questions or even introduce themselves to each other. These can be used as a grouping tool for those first day ice breakers and you could establish flexible groupings from the first day of school...I love that!
The pencils can be grouped in a few simple ways. Cooperative groups can be grouped together by color, shape or number. It is simple and I especially love that at the beginning of the year. You can determine how the groups will be grouped or you can also allow the class to determine the grouping.
These pencils are made of think plastic and are very durable. These will last a long time and will survive Kindergarten. You will be able to use these again next year for sure. Additionally, you could use these if you happen to change grade levels. They could be used as call sticks for random calling but you would need to put a sticker on them and then write the name of the student. The sticker could be peeled off at the end of the year. I like keeping them as is and not marking them because I know I will be able to use these for years to come!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Handwriting!

Hey Kinder Friends,
As the school year approaches, I am starting to think about the essential items that I need to have on hand in order to be prepared for the year. Over the years I have noticed that the children that come to me need a lot of help in the area of handwriting. In the past, I have been able to get by with simple lessons and materials but over the last few years I have been faced with some serious handwriting challenges. For the past several years I have noticed a huge increase in the children that either wear or need glasses. Last year one third of my class either wore them or needed to wear them and didn't. In addition to that, I have also noticed that the children entering my classroom either cannot write yet or very little and if they do write their letter formation is poor. And I also know we have no formal curriculum for handwriting. Furthermore, this year I am faced with another challenge. Last year our prek at my school was cut and the children were sent to another school. The problem is many of the parents decided to keep their children home instead. So this year my classroom will more likely be filled with children who may not have had the benefit of a prek teacher or program.
Based on the needs of my class last year I needed several different things when considering each lesson. Some children needed large print, some needed very focused and repeated instruction and some just needed a little practice.
With the slide show I was able to focus on a particular letter each day or week and revisit a particular letter as needed. I was able to save the original slide show, delete the slides I did not need that week and keep the ones I would be working on. We focused on letter formation for about ten minutes per day and it was needed. It did not take long for the kids to catch on. The blue dot in each slide shows the proper path of motion for each letter. When I made my personal slide shows I made 3 copies of each slide so we could see the path of motion 3 times.
After the slide show focus lesson we all had plenty of opportunities to practice what we learned. We had fun with it. We went from weak handwriting to strong handwriting. I had to eventually create some large print handwriting pages for a few of my students who struggled.
Providing the larger format for practice really helped my strugglers. These would also be great in plastic sleeves with dry erase because they are large enough for the width of the marker. These pages can be found in the Handwriting Practice above.
I almost forgot my favorite part... One of my favorite teaching tools is my presentation pointer. I was able to walk around the room with it in my hand advancing the slides and pointing where needed from anywhere in the room. I found this on Amazon and would not want to start the year without it! So with a few basic tools on hand I feel ready to conquer and handwriting challenges I face and I know we will have fun doing it!


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