Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ziggie Tales Book Review!

Guys, I am in awe of Kathie Wainwright. She's a teacher, blogger, and AUTHOR of children's books!! I was given the honor of previewing this lovely book and would love to share it with you!


Ziggie Tales is a charming story about a quirky little girl named Marley and her lovable cat named Ziggie. Marley took special care in selecting her cat and their bond is really fun to watch develop. Marley has a best friend named Layla! Layla is considered the voice of reason in this friendship duo. These characters are written so clearly and are perfect for teaching character traits. As Ziggie's owner and friend run off to play, he wishes he could tag along. As the story unfolds, Ziggie takes and opportunity to slip out of the house to find Marley and Layla! He has lots of adventures but his fun is quickly turned into fear when he realizes that getting home isn't as easy as he thought. This book would be an excellent story to enjoy and there are TONS of lessons that can be taught and learned. 

Follow along with the book tour to hear lots of excellent ideas that can be pulled out of this adorable text! 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mini-Lesson Makeover: Giving your Connection a POP!

Mini Lessons at this point in the run the risk of being a little....dull if we aren't careful! One thing I've been trying to do is raise the level of interest in my connection! Generally, most mini lessons start with the old...
"Yesterday readers, we..." or "We've been learning how to..." and we state the prior day's teaching point to review. And that is great. Normally. But I thought if I could actually make a "connection" in my connection, make the kiddos will stick with me a little longer??

Below I share some connections that I've been using lately...



* One time my family was driving out of town. We were going to see my friend. We’d never been there before but we looked online at the map to sort of get an idea where we were going. As we were driving, we were talking about all sorts of things. We weren’t really paying attention to the directions like we should have been. I started to look around and I just sort of knew something wasn’t right. The signs on the highway weren’t saying what I expected them to say. We had to finally admit that we were LOST. Sometimes the same thing can happen in our reading! You might be reading along and you sort of stop paying attention. Then you realize that you might be LOST in your book...

*My best friend in college was a runner. Every morning she got up early to go for a run. I noticed that she always got dressed, put on her tennis shoes and instead of leaving right after that, she always took a few minutes to stretch and warm up. She told me that she needed her body to wake up so she would have a better run. Today I'll show you how reading can be the exact same way! ...


*One time I got an email from a friend. We had plans to meet up over the weekend but there was supposed to be a big snowstorm. I emailed her to say that I didn’t think I’d make it because of the snow. She understood but in her email, she mentioned that she didn’t think the snow would be that bad and she told me that she cancelled all of her other plans. I had some inferring to do. Using the evidence that she gave me in her email, I was able to realize that she was really disappointed. She didn’t come right out and say that she was disappointed but I could tell because she made sure to tell me that she cancelled her other plans. Readers can do the same thing. Sometimes you will have to infer how a character feels by thinking about how they feel based on the words they say...

The really cool thing is- now that I've started to make my connections a little more personal- the kiddos are hooked in so much more quickly. They also started catching on to how my real-life examples apply to reading. Halfway through my story about getting lost and needing to stop for directions, I had some kiddos say, "that's can happen when you are reading!"

Happy end of the year push!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Clubbin' Away

Book clubs are giving us life in our classroom. We are pushing...crawling to make it to Spring Break and it hasn't been easy. But.
*book clubs.*

Today, we were chatting away in the Jigsaw Jones book club. We were sharing snacks and lounging on the floor chatting about the characters in our books. Sharon mentions that Jigsaw has a character named Joey that she met. She shows her character sketch and sharing some of the notes she took about him. Olivia proceeds to pull out her chapter chunks and character sketches and the neatest thing happened: the character sketches looked really similar! It was so clear that they had been studying the same character. The traits that they had jotted down across two different texts made total sense.


Another cool thing: I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted these sheets to be scaffolds so that when they get a reader's notebook, they can do these things naturally. Well, a student asked to take their club folder home for homework (yessss!) and he told me that he ran out of chapter chunk worksheets so he made his own. He was so proud! I was too.


I've been modeling book club skills using Horrible Harry. It's been great to really dig deep into these characters. When a character does something, it's fun to hear the kiddos remark things like, "she just tattled on Harry again. That's so 'Mary'" This makes the transfer to independent book clubs so much easier- especially since I can't meet with every group everyday. 

If you want to pick up the book club scaffold sheets, click the photo below!! 







Wanna donate to my kiddos? Visit our Donor's Choose Page HERE

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Clubs- Week ONE!

SO fun. Seriously. Like I mentioned before, sometimes reading workshop can get stale. The kiddos robotically move from independent reading to partner reading and you can see the spirals in their eyeballs as they recite their partner prompts: “What did you read today?  What was the problem? What was the solution?” Blah. It was such a joy to hear them back in November- but we need a revival. We need something new and fresh. We need book clubs!  They have been super refreshing. I wanted them to feel like a real book club so I allow them to bring in snacks from home and a water bottle. They have been asking to form their own book clubs, which makes me feel like the most amazing teacher in America. So proud.



 We spent the last session chatting about getting prepped for book club success. You can read about that here. Now I’d love to share what I’ve been doing during the first week. I’ve included the scripting for my mini lessons. I usually type them out like that in my lessons so I thought I’d share! We are in a CHAPTER BOOK SERIES book club cycle this time.  For a lot of kiddos, this is the first time I’ve officially taught how to navigate through a chapter book.


The major teaching points for this 3 week cycle are:

Day 1-  Readers consider the order of books in a series.  How do we read them?
Day 2-  Chapter book readers use a different kind of book log.
Day 3- Partners decide if they will read the same titles or separate titles.
Day 4- Readers keep track of the characters that are introduced.
Day 5- Reading clubs reflect on their work as a group.
Day 6- Readers keep track of the story by using chapter chunks.
Day 7- Readers keep track of words and phrases that confuse them.
Day 8- Chapter book readers know when they’ve lost their way.
Day 9- Chapter book readers need to warm up when they read continuously.
Day 10- Readers keep track of their characters as they change over time.
Day 11- Readers focus on dialogue. It can get tricky. Follow closely.
Day 12- Readers infer how a character feels and uses text evidence to support those inferences.
Day 13- Noticing patterns within a series. Is there a rhythm to your book series?
Day 14 We notice the big ideas of a series. What does the author tend to write about?
Day 15- Readers are moved to take action. What would you like to do?

Reflections on book club so far:

I love them. I wish I had about 15 minutes a day to meet with each club to help scaffold their conversations and book talks but I don’t. At best, I see two clubs a day. I felt bad until I realized that I really only saw two guided reading groups during regular workshop. The most interesting thing is that I am so used to spending all of my time with my lowest readers to work on decoding strategies- and I still am...but I’m finding that my HIGHER readers need me the most in club! Listen in on this conversation that I scripted between three Magic Tree House Readers and myself:

Me: So guys, I have to be honest, I’ve never read a Magic Tree House book so I’m really hoping to learn a lot from you guys. Tell me what’s going on!
Student 1: Well, they____ and _____ are fighting a dragon.
Me: Wow so your characters names’ are __ and A___ - do those characters show up in any of your books?
Students 2 and 3- yes. We sketched them on our Meet the Cast sheets and noticed the same traits. This character is adventurous.
Me: So are they just good friends then?
Student one: no- they are brother and sister.
Student 2: (crazy look on her face like, “huh?!”
Me: Student 2, you look surprised- what are you thinking?
Student 2:  I thought they were just friends. I didn’t think they were brother and sister. I never noticed that they were siblings.
Student 1: Well, on this page (feverishly turning pages) they are talking to their dad and they go to bed in the same house. I was just inferring.
Me: Wow! This sounds like an excellent conversation. I love how Student One shared thoughts and used text evidence. That shows you are really paying attention. And student two- I was impressed at your learning. I noticed how you noticed that you were a little confused on your face and you didn’t just ignore it. You took the time to wonder and question. That’s what a good reader would do.

I might be alone here, but I cringe when I see kids with big chapter books and I know I haven’t had a chance to really work with them on the skills that you need to truly understand them.  Conversations like the one about give me joy because I know they are digging deeper and not surface reading.


I've just added these documents to my TpT store if you are interested. These are meant to be scaffolds. I don’t want them going to the 4th grade and asking for their character sketch sheet. I want them just instinctively start sketching and tracking characters and words that they don’t know in their reader’s notebook. Hopefully with enough exposure, they will make this second nature and dig deeper into their books!

Click the photo below to purchase!





Oh and Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Wanna donate to my kiddos? Visit our Donor's Choose Page HERE

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Clubs- Prepping and Getting Started

{Book Clubs in a nutshell: A basket of books that go together in some way combined with kids reading, writing, and talking about their texts. Fits inside the reading workshop after mini lesson/independent reading and in lieu of partner reading. Lasts anywhere from 1-3 weeks.} -Adapted from Collins, Reading For Real. 

I decided that I would take the whole class on a journey though a chapter book in a series. I, of course have kids reading in chapter books anyway- but I have not had the chance to teach them how to navigate through one.The nice thing is that even my lowest readers can participate in this cycle because they are reading the likes of Henry and Mudge, Frog and Toad, Mr. Putter and Tabby, and Young Cam Jansen series books.


Series books. SO MUCH to consider! Using Kathy Collin's book, Growing Readers, I came up with a road map for this unit. I spent two weeks before this cycle beefing up and refreshing my students on how to work with partners, how to hold a conversation that goes back and forth, and how to share about books. We've covered all of that, but as workshops do- it got routine and stale. That usually means behavior problems- ammirite??

you know, #readingpartnerdrama
I also took those two weeks before I launched this to do sample readings from all of the series that I had selected. That would allow the students to be exposed to them before we just let them loose with it. This was also a great time to gather materials for club: baskets for the series books, sticky notes, work folders, etc... I selected the following series for this round of book clubs: (6-8 titles each)

Junie B. Jones
Henry and Mudge
Young Cam Jansen
Frog and Toad
Nate the Great
Magic Tree House
Jigsaw Jones

Day One: Meeting your book club and signing contracts.


Mini-Lesson Scripting:  

Connection: Readers, we've been working on making sure our partnerships are strong so that we have really amazing conversations and connections when we move into book clubs! 

Teaching Point: Today, you will be meeting with your book club for the first time. [I chose to put my students in certain books clubs based on reading level and comprehension skills. Other book club cycles might allow them to pick their own club.] Workshop will look the same as far as my mini-lesson and your independent reading. What will change is instead of going to your partner to read and think together, you'll meet with your club. I'll show you TONS of ways to track your understanding while reading your chapter books over the next few days. Today, you will be simply going to your book club basket and browsing through your series. You will also talk about the things that you think might make your club run smoothly. You'll agree on some norms and you'll sign your club contracts. 

Active Engagement: Turn to your neighbor and discuss your hopes and thoughts about book club. What do you hope to get out of it? How are you planning to grow as a reader? 

Link: I'm so exited about these clubs. As I listened in I heard students setting goals for their reading and thinking work- and I heard something really cool: "I hope to have fun with books!" That was my favorite one because we must always remember to fall in love with our books. You'll go off to read alone with your just right books. When the timer goes off, you will find your new book club and follow the directions on your club contract sheet. You may also get your snack to enjoy at that time, but not before. Off you go! 

Reflections: 
I think assigning the clubs was helpful. Less drama. The transition was really smooth. They were really excited to start and their contracts were filled with good ideas. I worry about my two lower reading groups- which are of course, my behavior issues groups. I generally give almost ALL of my time to them so behavior isn't a problem- but I so badly want to meet with my higher readers more during this unit. I need to figure out how that will work. There is so much thinking work that I want to do with my high decoder-low comprehension kiddos. I am also concerned with my speed-readers. I can hear them already claiming to be done but not taking the time to track characters and new words and phrases. Lots to consider- but I feel like we're off to a great start! 




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

now-ish

I'd like to be more reflective. I have a lot of thoughts about my teaching and forgot that I could use this blog as an outlet and some online PD. Blogging started off so strong and I think I stopped mainly because I didn't have a shiny new product to put at the end of a post.  I thought I'd take the pressure off of myself and just do some blogging for the art of it.

Reading. Writing. Words. Math. My goodness. To attempt to be masterful in each of these areas is a LOT. The things on my mind when I'm thinking about planning in the four areas...
What is the best practice?
What does the research say?
What is the most effective method?
Is there an ideal scope and sequence?
Is it rigorous? (has anyone else come to loathe the word rigorous lately?)
What if my team has a different set of beliefs? Planning gets tough...
How many books could I possibly read on each of those subjects?
What are the best books to start with?
Will this instruction equip them to pass the test become lifelong learners?

The battle. TESTING vs what we know is best for them.

{sigh.}

Currently, I am teaching:

Reading: My first round of real book clubs using Kathy Collins' book, Reading For Real. We're doing baskets of books that are in a series. They also happen to be chapter books- this is the first time my whole class is going to be navigating through a chapter book. It has sort of revitalized my workshop. I allow snacks and we are all reading different chapter books while I am able to teach the same lessons and strategies for all readers. It's been fun so far!

Words: I am still trying to figure out when I want to do here (Yes, I am aware that is is March) but I've never been happy with it. I started out doing a very close version to the famous Beth Newingham blog post on word study. I quickly found that I couldn't manage it. She had a smaller class AND another teacher to help her. It's just me and 25 babies so I had to adjust.  Words are hard because I go back and forth fundamentally. I know spelling tests aren't the best but then part of me wants the accountability that you can send home to parents. So, imagine the frustration I feel after grading a test where all of the spelling list words are spelled correctly but not a SINGLE transfer word is. Back to square one...never should haven gone with tests. But- for now, I'm using them. I need to read more on that...

Writing: I'm excited about writing! I am a total Katie Wood Ray fan and believe in her method wholeheartedly. If you're not familiar, she just believes that you can give children a stack of texts that are like the ones you want them to write. You study them and notice what it takes to make that sort of writing. Then, you make them! So simple but the work gets SUPER complex. Right now, we are studying persuasion books, reviews, letters, speeches, etc... This is the first unit that I've been able to make a packet of texts and pass them out for my kids to highlight and mark up with notes. Then, we notice the things that they all tend to have in common and we make sure we add that in our writing. They are having so much fun with this.

Math: I think I have a math block that I can live with, finally. It has taken me all year to get here but I feel good about it. I was fortunate enough to have an expert from a local college observe and give me some excellent feedback on my math workshop.  There is still so much to consider! We had a conversation today about the math version of a running record and what you can do with the data. I'll get into that a little later, though. For now, I am going to work on giving children the same problem with multiple access points so that all levels of children are being reached. I think that will save me and the children a lot of frustration!

Ok. I feel better! Thanks for listening to me do a little reflecting and clarifying.













Monday, September 2, 2013

We Do Math in PEN!

Yup, sure do. No pencils allowed. You see, neglected blog readers, I've been on a little mathematical journey this year. The challenge? To get awesome at teaching math. We'll get back to the pens later.

I will admit that this is the first time in my entire career that I feel pretty good about teaching math. It's always been my weakest area of instruction and I'm over it.  I would teach whatever the lesson from the manual was for the day and watch my "high" performers sit and either goof-off or not pay attention and finish their work in 2 minutes OR watch my struggling learners sit there and try to copy someone else.

i know. shame.

I've been introduced to the way the Madison Metropolitan School District does math instruction and I'm in the process of implementing this in my room.

I like it because the math hour is divided into four parts. I can totally wrap my mind around things that start like that. They even give time allocations! I was in love. The four parts are:

*Number Work (15-20 mins)
*Inspecting Equations (5 mins)
*Fluency and Maintenance (15-20)
*Problem Solving. (15-20)

Today I'm thinking I'll share out on just number work...then the others later.

I've been reading up on each of these sections but the gist is that:

*Number work is attending numbers to WITHOUT a story context. This is where you do function machines, patterns, etc... as long as it focuses on number concepts. This is where you also teach things like multiple names for numbers, number relationships, place value, computation strategies, etc...
I've actually moved this section into my morning meeting so that I have time to focus on the other three in the actual math hour in the afternoon.

Number work looks a little like this in my class:
side note: this is just ONE number work activity from ONE day- the activities vary!! 
1. Teacher draws three cards from the deck and writes the numbers on the board. Teacher then asks the students to add these numbers in the most efficient way possible. (side note, I totally have a need for a math word wall this year! "Efficient" was the first word to be added!

2. Students offer up their strategies and the teacher helps them notate their mathematical thinking on the board.

3. We discuss the various strategies...which ones were the most efficient?


As you can see, Mrs. Tabb DID offer a strategy. This wouldn't normally happen but we were getting into our number work routines and they needed a nudge. 

Here are some scripts from this lesson: 

Pierre: "I know that 14 is 10 and 4 and 9 is almost 10. I can easily add 10 to 14 to get twenty four. But then I have to take one away since I added 1 to the 9. Then it's easy to just add two more." 
Safiyah: "Another name for 2 is 1 and 1. I can give one of the ones to the 9 to make a friendly number 10. then I can break down the 14 to 10 and 4 and I'll give the other one to the 4 to make a friendly 5. Then it's easy to add 10 and 10 and 5."
We DID have kiddos offer up the traditional algorithm too and that was great. I just don't want to teach that algorithm as the "be-all end-all" for adding numbers because there are tons of ways to add numbers. 

Another strategy that was offered was the beloved dot-drawing.  There are kiddos who always want to draw a picture- which is fine, but what happens when the numbers get too big? I, on purpose, select bigger numbers the next time and drawing a bunch of dots isn't so appealing! We learn to become efficient very quickly.

The hardest part is not giving them answers or affirming them. Everything else we teach is the polar opposite. We want to scaffold, direct, model our thinking- but I'm learning that in math, it's important for them to go through the process of mathematical thinking...and not always worry about the problem being RIGHT.

It's hard for the kids, too! 

It makes me chuckle because we all have this desire to know if our answer is right immediately but when we think about it, we take tests not only in school, but to get into college, and even some jobs ask you math questions before your hired...and you DON'T get to know if you were right! It's much more important to be able to think mathematically and to be able to explain your thoughts and the process for how you arrived at the answer...right or wrong. But we hope it's right!

So- this brings us back to the pen. I ask my kids to use pen during math because I want to see the tracks of their mathematical thinking. I am used to seeing homework turned in with tons or eraser marks and just a nice clean answer on the line, and I make a HUGE deal about not EVER erasing your notations! (The kids think they are awesome because they are making "notations," by the way. Soon they'll making CONJECTURES....now that'll be sure to please!)
SO anyway, during math, we come to guided math groups with our math notebook and a PEN. Because I want to see what's going on in those brilliant minds of theirs.

Hoping you had the happiest of Labor Days.














Monday, July 8, 2013

school year goals

i've had quite the summer where professional development is concerned. i sit here on a lunch break during a week long conference i am attending regarding esl strategies and thought i might pop in for a quick post. i've been learning some staggering facts about student learning that make me wonder about my own instruction. in an effort to not forget them, i made myself a little goal sheet reminder that i'll frame on my desk:


the only other goal that i will probably add (and i didn't because "top 5" sounds awesome and "top 6" sounds stupid) is parental involvement. i'm usually so scared of parents being in my classroom because i don't know what to do with them. not this year. this year, i'm determined to get as many parents in as i can! i realized this when i had a co-teacher for the first 6 weeks of the school year when i was pregnant. i had someone in my room 24/7 and i thought i'd hate it but i lovvvvved it.
i mean it takes a village, right?
my eyes popped open when looking at the calendar and realizing that i go back to work in a few weeks. weeks.  glad to be getting busy on some foundational things now.
so other than that, i've been playing with my daughter, enjoying the summers, and catching up on pretty little liars on netfilx. (i know, shame! but seriously who is a?)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Homework Sucks.

I cannot...can. not. stand the homework conundrum. i mean i hate packing it in their little folder during prep. i hate taking it out of their little folders in the breakfast-attendance-book shopping-lunch count foxtrot. i hate when it's 2:45pm and you see the busses pulling in the lot through your window and you realize you forgot to run the friggin' copy because you had something else to do during prep.

you know what's next don't you? one of two things:

1. run to the nearest file cabinet and hope to the lord on high that there is a stack of extra copies from a copier mishap from the past or

2. have the kiddos pull out a workbook while you do a five minute mini-lesson on "perforated page lines" and hope that they don't rip the page clean in half while trying to tear it out.

have mercy. it's june and i've been on an 8 month maternity leave and i'm already over homework.

must. do. something. new.

at a training last week, we were given an article by richard allington and it was all about what he has learned after studying exemplary classroom teachers for an entire decade!. the part that we all took away from it was the fact that in the thriving classes where the students were growing and performing, the kids were reading and writing as much 50% of the day and not doing the other "stuff" as he states.  he says that in the ineffective classrooms, it wasn't uncommon to find the children reading and writing (but like, really reading and writing- not worksheets, not "building background" for a half an hour, just reading and writing) for as little as 10% of the day.

shut. up. tenpercent?

so i naturally started to look at my school day and ask myself about my reading and writing versus crap ratio. not real sure i'm giving them as many opportunities as i can to read and write in the classroom. we do a full readers and writers workshop but i could probably get in even more if i tried...

which brings me back to homework. i got to thinking...how can i transfer that research to homework? how can i get the kids to read- really read and write at home? how can i keep homework simple and predictable because now that i'm a parent, i can only imagine having to fit homework in our already busy schedule- and i only have one kid at the moment!  i know a lot of parents appreciate predictable.

so i'm thinking i'll give this a try and see how it works. this will be dependent upon how well and how often i model these activities in front of students. the more i model it, the better they will come back. i'm even thinking about unrolling one skill at a time and building them up to being able to have a choice.


I'm envisioning this in a sheet protector...maybe laminated...at any rate, the idea is less photocopying because we would use this everyday.

check it out and let me know what you think. i think this plus a math practice sheet (no real easy way out of math homework....amirite??) will be an easy way to get kiddos reading and writing at home every night. parent and teacher opinions welcomed.

cheers.

xo




















http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Write-About-Reading-Homework-733039

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flash Giveaway! TWO Black History Units!!

quick! we are half-way through the short month of february...have you covered any black history?? it's not too late!! mrs. amy lemons was nice enough to share her unit in this give away! you could win...

amy lemons' amazing black history pack

mrs. tabb's "let's celebrate black history" 


and all you have to do is simply "like" us on facebook to enter!
you can also follow us on GFC, and tweet about it daily for extra entries! 
the winner be announced next sunday and the units will be emailed immediately. 

good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beyonce Concert TpT Sale! 28% Off!

if you're like me, you might be shopping during the game and pausing to watch the halftime show...


i'm joining the fun! everything in my store is on sale, yeah! 



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Black History Highlights!

i know. i know. i'm never here anymore. it makes me sad too. i feel extra irrelevant as a teacher on maternity leave. it is wonderful being at home though- the little lilly bug is nearly 4 months now. i can't even deal. anyway...

i am so bummed that i'm not at school to teach this unit. it was so much fun last year. so much fun that i am going to share some snap shots of the babes doing it last year. 

i love teaching this unit because it's exciting and celebratory! i know black history can feel like "segregation, SLAVERY, BUS BOYCOTTS BLAHHH!!!"  letsbehonest. it's a bit harsh. it's no wonder why primary teachers stop with mlk day! no, not this unit. this unit it fuuuuuun. this unit does this: 

a) celebrates famous artists...poets, musicians, and dancers- all with corresponding books and activities! 

 {dancing with bill "bojangles" robinson}


{marian anderson, opera singer: comparing and contrasting music!}

b) celebrates famous inventors- did you know the inventor of the "super-soaker" was an african american? (me either!) this unit gives your kiddos a chance to be inventors! 

here is what you do...
1. explain what an "invention" is and how to make one. make a fancy teaching chart because y'know...that's what we "do". 


2. pull out all that crap stuff in your cabinets that have been there for 10 years and put it out. watch how excited your kiddos get. it is really funny.


3. have them sketch out their invention.


4. after they sketch and build...they get to apply for a patent! these may be approved or denied. 

5. if approved, then they are awarded with an "official"  patent! 

this day is my favorite day in the unit! 

c) celebrates famous african american scientists! 

i love this day because you also get to pull out all of the cool science materials that your district spent thousands on but you never get to use.  you read cool books and profiles on famous black scientists and you let them go-to-town. 






and d) on the last day you can create a mini-book that includes all of the awesome black americans that you've studied all week. you can even write a mini-biography on them if you're feelin' researchy. 

honestly, i know that in the busy schedules we all have -what with all the testing, report cards, and ongoing assessments, there just isn't time for a lot of "extras." if i'm really being honest, when i taught this unit it got  about 30 minutes a day for a week. it was all about being set up and ready to go when the kiddos came in so they could spend time learning. i stuck the unit read alouds in shared reading and interactive read aloud time in order to maximize the time spent in this unit. it doesn't have to be lengthy to be awesome, in my opinion anyway. 

thanks for reading this lengthy post- hope it helps you this february! 

click the image below to purchase!



oh. and one more thing. march is women's history month. i'm thinking of creating a similar unit only with you know...women. 


i'll give one free black history unit to the first three people who leave a comment (with an email address) telling me if you think you think you might be interested in a unit like that! 

xoxo

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions: Posted With An Hour of 1/1 to Spare.

I spent far too much time making this cute...but that is usually how I roll. Happy 2013! 

Elaborations found here

Get Your Students to Discover Dr. King: Inquiry

So. I'm still on maternity leave and it is friggin' awesome.
 I mean...who wouldn't love to stare at this little darling all day?

stop it. if you could eat babies...nomnomnom. is that weird? yeah it's weird. sorry.
I've been spending most of my time over at my other piece of e-estate crafting and cooking but I would be remiss if I didn't do my best to share the things we did for our Black History unit last year. Sadly, I won't be able to teach it this year so I'll have to recycle some photos! 

So. Black History. 

There is something to be said about teaching kiddos about this sort of thing when they've never heard of it before. Part of me feels like I'm putting this heavy burden on them. I mean, I look at my little daughter who doesn't have a clue about anything and think about what it'll be like for her to realize how things were in our country. I wonder how she'll process it all.  I wonder if she'll really get it. Looking at a class full of cute little faces is the same. Hard. I don't believe in not teaching it at all though.  It's important to know that we should celebrate and not be afraid of differences. I just believe that you really have to teach this with care and thoughtfulness. 

I knew that I could easily read a book about Dr. King , make a rainbow craft and call it a day but I thought I'd see what would happen if I laid out some books and photos of Dr. King and let them inquire. 
I did this in Kindergarten last year and I was amazed at what they figured out without me saying one. word. After I let them explore, I charted their statements (shown below). Then, I finally read aloud Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King 
After reading, we verified what they had gathered from their inquiry. If it checked out, we put a check mark next to it. We also added things that we learned after reading. 

The most interesting conversations came from the page in the book that shows Black kids and White kids in a park and there is a sign that says "WHITES ONLY." I asked the kindergartners what they thought about that and it was really interesting to hear their thoughts. They initially said that they should change the sign to say "WHITES AND BLACKS ONLY" but see...I teach in a pretty diverse school. When this was suggested, one of my little Hispanic kiddos spoke up with a resounding, "what about me?" 
Heavy
They quickly realized that there didn't need to be a sign at all-- and that all people should be allowed to play. Lovely. 

Kids are so smart. 

The cool part? They learned that on their own. I didn't do a whole lot of teaching. 
We then did a poem about Letting Freedom Ring and made "Freedom Bells." It was nice because the materials needed to make the bells are things that nearly every classroom has tucked away in a cabinet. 

I'll be stopping by for the next few weeks to share some other items from this unit. I hope you'll join me! 

Below is a preview of the unit, which includes the Dr. King activity. 


Happy 2013.