I started blogging after reading so many wonderful blogs out there with so many wonderful ideas. As teachers, we have always followed the beg, barrow, and steal mentality and blogging takes this to a whole new level. No longer can I only use the teachers in my building as a tool, but now I have access to so many new friends through the teacher blogging world. I have loved this!
Differentiation is such the buzz word these days in education, but it is also such a phenomenal idea for meeting the individual needs for each student. I am not a huge fan of following a strict basal series. Yes, they are excellent tools, but there are so many other ideas out there. Moreover, to think that every child in your class is going to be on one specific reading level at exactly the same time is ridiculous. It's one of the reasons that I LOVE Daily 5. Daily 5 is such an incredible framework for literacy instruction, allowing a teacher to tailor instruction to each personal child. And a huge planning benefit is that I never have to worry about center activities. I set up the framework of activities and expectations, and the kiddos take it from there. SO EASY! I have used the framework in my classroom for two years in the upper grades and seen amazing success. I can't wait to give it a try in kindergarten. I have to share my favorite success story. One child came to me in an upper grade reading less than 30 words per minute and on a pre primer reading level. By tailoring instruction for this child (we met daily and discussed different strategies- picking a good fit book was a big lesson topic for about two weeks- we aren't ready for Harry Potter when we are learning our sight words), this child left me reading more than 130 words per minute and growing five years in reading ability. I was a very proud teacher. Be sure to check out the "two sisters" at www.thedailycafe.com. The books (The Daily Five and CAFE) are easy reads and the website membership is so worth every penny. The resources are amazing. I can't wait to blog about my Daily 5 experiences in kindergarten.
Sight word recognition is a huge part of reading for our youngest learners. While looking for ideas, I stumbled across Marsha McGuire's A Differentiated Kindergarten blog and her ball words. The sight words have been separated into lists by sorts balls (Baseball Words, Football Words, Ping Pong Words...). The kids work at their own pace trying to earn each ball for recognizing all the words on the ball list. This is such a fun way to learn your sight words. Her ball word units on TPT are amazing and have so many ready to use activities. I have been a busy teacher, cutting, laminating, and putting together my ball word activities. Be sure to check out her blog.
A few summers ago, I read Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller. At the time, I was teaching third grade and wasn't able to implement the work stations into my classroom but loved the ideas in the book and tucked that knowledge away for later. Now that I am in kindergarten I am so excited to use math workstations in my classroom. Again, I started researching through my favorite blogs for how other kindergarten teachers have used math work stations. Marsha McGuire's A Differentiated Kindergarten blog and Erica Crowder's Sprinkles to Kindergarten were amazing resources. Be sure to check out these amazing blogs!
I've been lucky to be raised by an AMAZING educator. My mother taught kindergarten in Florida for years. Then, we moved to north Georgia for her to start a preschool in a rural area. She is able to serve more than one hundred of our youngest (babies through state funded pre-K). I can not stress how important having a great preschool experience is. It makes such a difference. These kiddos come to school ahead of the game; they know their letters, they know how to hold a pencil, they know how a classroom operates and how to take turns. It has been so much fun to each year to see my gifted/high achievers list and see so many former students of my mother's preschool among them. We have one high school in our county; this year at graduation two out of the three top GPA's were students of the preschool. My mom actually hates office work so she also teaches on of our Georgia State Funded Pre-K classes. This summer has been so much fun for me. We have done so much planning (and shopping) together. One thing that I love that she does is that she adds literacy and writing material to every center (dramatic play, blocks, etc.). I have been busy gathering cook books, building books, and more to add a literacy connection and learning link to every social center. I can't wait to share picture soon.
For number five I thought I would make it a funny, non-school related story. My four year old son cracks me up. He is so funny and has NO FILTER (we so need to work on this). When we brought Caroline home from the hospital last year he looked at her and said, "Is she a joke?" When we assured him that she was not his next words were, "Are you kidding me?" Fast forward 15 months, I really thought we were past this but listen to this conversation from this morning...
Eric "Mommy, I love you"
Me "Oh Honey, I love you too"
Eric "Yes, and I love Caroline because she is my sister"
Me "This is so sweet"
Eric "Yes but Mommy a question... I like her when she was in yours belly. When she going home there?"
His new phrase is "Mommy, a question" and let me tell you I never know what is going to pop out.
I hope everyone has (or had) a fabulous Friday! Think about me next Friday. I will be busy with teaching new routines! T.G.I.F. everyone!