Saturday, January 25, 2020

Classroom News

Welcome back! I was so excited to see all of my kindergarten friends and hear all about their winter break fun! We have hit the ground running in 2020, and I am looking forward to all we will accomplish together. Some of the highlights of our first few weeks back are below:

When we returned from break, we wrapped up our study of fiction books. We focused on story maps to recall the main parts of the story, identifying the character, setting, problem/solution, and events of the story, along with the message or lesson the author was trying to teach us.

We also carefully examined the characters to determine their character traits. We learned that character traits can describe how a character appears on the outside, as well as how they act or feel on the inside.

As we identified characters' feelings, we learned that we can use clues from the story along with our own personal experiences to help us determine how a character is feeling. We practiced with the books in our book bins, looking for clues the author and illustrator gave us about the characters' feelings. We are working hard to use descriptive words to describe characters' feelings, beyond saying they are "happy", "sad", or "good".

As we practice our independent reading skills during Reading Workshop time, we work on building our reading stamina. We have chosen a few sessions to set a timer and see how long we can stay focused on our reading. We are making nice progress toward our class goal of 20 minutes!

Our guided reading groups are coming along nicely, and it has been so exciting to see the enthusiasm and feelings of success all of the students are exhibiting in their groups! When I meet with the small groups, we work on a variety of skills, such as word families, vowel rules, reviewing letter sounds and blends, sight words, identifying beginning, middle, and ending sounds, and so on. As we decode our new text, we work together to read and discuss the book. After we have read through the book as a group, we read it independently to practice reading with fluency and expression. Guided reading is another time that we reinforce the comprehension strategies we have learned about during reading workshop time, and apply those to the text at our individual reading levels. Be sure to check the blue book bag in your child's backpack for their reading group books. These books will remain in their blue bags so it is always available for additional reading practice until the next time I meet with their group. 

We also read a special book, The Crayon Box That Talked, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The crayons in the story did not get along, but eventually learned that they each had unique and beautiful qualities that, when joined together, could make amazing pictures that they could not make on their own.

Students also took some time to set personal goals for the new year. Each student wrote about something they would like to try, a goal for school, and a goal for home.  It was so neat to see the thought and effort they put into writing these goals!

During writing workshop time, we spent time writing about what fun things we did over winter break, what we enjoy doing on a snowy day, and our New Year'ss Resolutions, as well as our weekend writing each week, and practiced making lists. The students were excited to try out another form of writing!

"I want to get better at eating healthy food."

"My New Years resolution I'm trying to get better at lacrosse."

"This weekend, I went to the dentist. I got a Minion toothbrush. I got a squishy at the dentist."

As we are getting closer to finishing up the correct formation of our lowercase letters, we are placing a greater focus on using capital letters only when necessary, at the beginning of sentences or for proper nouns, and not in the middle of our words or sentences. We are also working on writing both our first and last names on our papers.

During our most recent math unit, our focus has been on building concrete knowledge and number sense of the numbers 0-20. Through rhymes, whole group activities, and hands on work with math manipulatives, we are building a stronger understanding of one more and one less. We have worked on putting numbers in order, and determining what number is missing if there is one that is not included in the lineup. Another concept we have been working extensively with is the ten frame. We use ten frames to help us group numbers by fives and tens, and to make a visual representation of a number. This method helps make our thinking about numbers more visual and concrete. It also helps us explain our thinking when we identify numbers as greater than or less/fewer than. Digging deeper into these simple math concepts and explaining the why helps us to build a stronger foundation for upcoming math lessons in the days and years ahead. 

We also organized groups of objects by counting the items, labeling them with number cards, and then ordering them from least to greatest. Perhaps a favorite of the crowd was a guessing game in which we had to give clues to our friends about the secret number by telling them if the number was greater than or less/fewer than the number they guessed. We use the words "fewer" and "fewest" frequently in the program, although less than comes more naturally to the students. The terms used now will continue to be built upon in first grade, second grade, and so on, so it is important that we learn all of the possible terminology now! We try to use a few different terms to describe- for instance, if a student said the collection of erasers was the smallest collection, we may ask ourselves, "What's another way we could say that?", and identify other words like fewest or less than.

All About Me Weeks & Guest Readers

Thomas enjoyed being the first student to share his me bag in 2020! He brought in a racecar that he built himself, along with one of his favorite toys, his Playmobil figure. He shared that his first favorite book was Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, and a few adorable Christmas cards with pictures of him with his brother, Yanni. We loved having his dad join us to read two stories, When I Grow Up, and a story with a lesson to learn, Let's Talk About Needing Attention!

Next up was our friend, Liam, who brought in a crane he made all by himself using tools with wood, plastic, and screws. Building is a hobby of Liam's, and he was so excited to tell us about it! Next, he shared some funny pictures of himself eating chicken and ribs with his dad in Disney World! We know that Liam loves Tae Kwon Do, and he brought in his belt to show us, and explained what each color means- he explained that they stand for board breaking, knowing words in Korean, breaking blocks, Poomse- which means form in Korean, and points for things you do at home. He also shared a sweet picture of his family in Disney World, a Boxcar Children book because he loves mysteries and reading, and a remote control Battle Bot that he drove around the sit spots! We loved having Liam's mom join us to read Randy Riley's Really Big Hit, which is a story that combined two of Liam's favorite things- robots and baseball!

Finally, we learned more about our friend, Oliver! He was eager to show us his favorite Pokemon cards, and his race car bus with spikes on the back. He also brought his favorite bouncy ball, because not only is it one of his favorite toys, but it's also his favorite color- blue! Oliver and his brother love to play with Hot Wheels cars together, so he shared his favorite- the X car racer, and his brother's favorite, the Scorpion. He also showed us a Rescue Bot that can turn into a boat! When Oliver's mom visited to read to us, she also read a Rescue Bots book about Firefighters!

Six Flags Read to Succeed Program

This fall, we sent home a reading log for the Six Flags Read to Succeed Program. Please note that they changed the way this program is structured, and starting this year, parents must be the ones to enter their child's information and reading time on the website, rather than the school. Here is the information again if you still need to sign up! 

Book Fair

This week, the Book Fair will come to Dryden! We will not have our regularly scheduled LMC classes, but we will visit the Book Fair on Tuesday for our preview day, and Thursday we have a designated shopping time if anyone wants to bring money in or load their e-wallet to shop! Don't forget to join us in your jammies for Family Reading Night! The book fair will also be open on Family Reading Night from 6:30-8:00 pm for shopping. Please see the email I sent earlier in the week for the directions on setting up the e-wallet, and more details about the Book Fair and Reading Night!

See you there!

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