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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Talking Shapes

We began a new math unit on geometry yesterday. Among other things, kinder scholars must be able to identify the 4 basic 2 dimensional shapes, describe their attributes and give real world examples of the shapes. Yesterday  I did a formative assessment using Nearpod and learned that while many scholars could name the 4 shapes, they had difficulty using math vocabulary to describe the shapes.
Today, I introduced each of the 4 shapes using a video I created using the app Chatterkid. This app is super easy and super quick!  The kids wanted to hear/see the videos over and over again. They can't wait to make their own shape videos...a great way to share their own learning.

I can see so many potential uses for Chatterkids as a platform for sharing learning.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tell It To Me Tuesday

Our 1:1 iPad initiative has allowed for many incredible learning experiences for scholars. They are learning new tools for gathering information, engaging ways to process content and exciting ways to share their learning. Taking iPads home each day has allowed for a new way to practice reading and reading fluency. We call it Tell It To Me Tuesday.

Each week scholars select 5 independent level books to take home for home reading practice...this is something we've always done.  Scholars are expected to read every night for 20-30 minutes. On Tuesday nights they have an assignment to be completed on their iPad. Each Tuesday night scholars make a screencast of their reading. They choose their favorite book, take a photo of each page, upload the photos into Doodlecast and record their reading. The Doodlecast is saved to the camera roll on the iPad and then uploaded into a personalized folder in Dropbox.

I can listen to each child read and because the screencasts are uploaded into Dropbox folders, scholars are creating a digital portfolio illustrating their reading growth over time. (This makes me wish that I'd started this back in September!)

Check out these reading screencasts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Making Words in Kindergarten

Making words has always been a part of my early literacy teaching. There a some great resources out there like Making Words, Words Their Way and Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use. I like Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use by Pat Cunningham for kindergarten.

Phonics is a necessary building block for reading and writing and an important part of any balanced literacy program so I try to spend a little time there every day during Reading/Writing Workshop. I try to make the lessons as engaging and participatory as I can and having iPads in the classroom has certainly made this possible. 
I used to have students use letter cards or magnetic letters to build words and then use paper and pencil for word sorting and transfer. This was time consuming for me from a preparation standpoint and a bit messy for the kids as they often lost word cards and letters or turned a d into a p by moving the letter card upside down. Now, I use a few iPad apps. 

The app MagLetters is used to manipulate the letters into words. Scholars pull the identified letters onto their screen then move them around to make each word. Below is an example.

For word sorting, I like the app Word Mover. Scholars create a card for each word then sort the words into groups based on attributes of the words.

Beginning Letter

 Ending Letter

 Word Parts

 Vowel Sounds

The Word Mover app is also great for transfer, i.e. building word families. This week we tried a little 'App-Smashing'. Scholars created the word families in Word Mover then read the words using screen-casting apps like the IPEVO app or the DoodleCast app.

Teaching Phonics has never been easier or more engaging!

Martin Luther King

On Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is a student holiday.
Ask your child what they learned about MLK.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mingling in Math Class

One of my favorite games to play in math class is Mingle. I learned about this processing activity through this video from Barbara McCormick on the Teaching Channel.  Mingle

Mingle is a number sense and counting game. When it is time to play Mingle, we review the rules then scholars walk around the classroom with their hands behind their backs saying "mingle, mingle, mingle" until I call out a number. Once the number is called, students quickly sort themselves into groups of the stated number. We count and check the groups together. When the number of students in the class cannot be made into an equal number of groups, I engage the students who are "remainders" by having them do something fun like do 5 jumping jacks or count backwards from 10 super fast.

The scholars (and I)  love Mingle so much that I wanted to continue to use the processing strategy to teach/practice other kindergarten math standards beyond counting and creating groups of a specific number. So, I began to tweak the game a bit. When we were learning about 1 more/1 less, I would question scholars: 'If your group had 1 more, how many would that be?' or 'If your group had 1 less how many would that be?'...2 more?/2 less?  I would record the equations on the board for modeling purposes.

As we began investigating composing and decomposing numbers, it was easy to see how Mingle could be used to demonstrate the composition of groups using small numbers. This game made investigating all the ways to make 3,4 and 5 very engaging! Once students were in groups we would decompose by boys/girls, again recording the equation on the board for modeling purposes. This week I even inserted myself into a group to model the idea of 3 addends in a balanced equation. 1 girl + 3 boys + 1 teacher = 5 people or 1+3+1=5.

As is true with all classroom games that will be used on a regular basis, it is important to take the time to teach procedures up front. I know, for our class, this simple game has provided many engaging learning experiences.

Friday, January 10, 2014


We had a great field trip to Legoland today.
Check out these smiling faces!