Thursday, October 23, 2014

Phonics, Rhymes, & Sounds

I can't believe I have time to blog during the week! Well the TRUTH is, my hubby and kids are watching the Bronco, Chargers #football game.... (hip-hip-hooray! Yeah, Go Chargers!) And GUESS WHAT??? I'm not your biggest football fan, I'd rather be doing other stuff... like blogging or anything but sit there and watch a game.... bleh! Great opportunity or excuse for me to be in front of the computer blogging away (now this is HIP-HIP-HOORAY!! for me!! Yeah, Go Blogging!!!).

So tonight I want to give you a view of what my morning routine looks like in my classroom and share some ideas about our center routines with you. First, I'm a firm believer that every student/child, needs a strong foundation in phonemic and phonological awareness. These foundations and skills give all students the strategies necessary to decode, chunk, segment, blend, isolate, and discriminate sounds and text during reading and eventually become great readers. Comprehension and fluency strategies are secondary to these skills and are usually developed by the end of first grade beginning of second grade, although it is possible by the end of kindergarten.

We begin our "Letter of the Week" centers every morning at 8:15 and run to 9:50. The first 6 weeks of school, I front load the students with all of the alphabet all at once and they do tub and play activities to get them used to or routines and procedures and get us ready for learning. These centers usually revolve around, letter matching on alphabet charts, tracing and cutting practice, coloring (a lot of coloring), puzzles, and on the computers.
During this time I also begin to introducing more specific skill aligned centers that revolve around phonemic and phonological awareness, by the 7th - 9th week of school we are working independently and with some guidance.

I have 5 center rotations that are 12 minutes long and I'm included in that rotation. I introduce the centers whole group on the carpet by telling the students "Today we will learn about letters. Letters have to important parts that we need to know and understand in order to become good readers and writers. They are letter names and letter sounds."
We then sing 3 different alphabet songs, then I model and explain what their centers will be and look like. And here they go:

1. Letter Concept Map
This center revolves around initial sounds concept maps. Remember how the first 6 weeks of school I have tub/play centers? Well, during that time for a whole week, I do mini lessons on what the "independent" centers will eventually become. I teach, model, explain, scaffold, and then release them for practice and set clear expectations on how and what they are suppose to look like to work independently. A total of 5 centers that rotate every 10- 12 minutes. As they get used to them, I extend the time to a max of 18 - 20 minute rotations by the end of the year. 

2. Interactive Journal Letter Matching
Once again for a whole week, I work with them at this center. I teach them how to take out and put away their interactive journals. How to take turns taking them out and putting them away. How we actually use them, what the sections are for, and how we find the "next clean page." We color things that are not suppose to be cut off in RED, because RED means STOP, and they have a visual cue for it. Then we trace all the areas we are suppose to cut around and over in GREEN because GREEN means Go. Other wise kids will cut around every black line they see ( I learned the hard way.) To learn more about my interactive journals click HERE. 

3. Letter Sorting and Tracing 

This one is a student favorite! Students pretty much lead this one on their own and help each other out. They work in pairs or as group and teach each other letter names and letter sounds. I have 6 different letter sorting mats for uppercase and lowercase letters. I intentionally group students heterogeneously, high, lows, and mid's together for this sole reason. Student Collaboration at its best. This center eventually will become a build cvc words center.



Another student favorite and teacher favorite. This educational website is free for TEACHERS, and has tons of activities that re-enforce phonemic and phonological awareness skills, sight words, reading, number sense, shapes, science, social studies, and printables, you name it, it's there.  Not to mention the mouse tutor it has. It literally teaches your child how to use a mouse and computer! This website HAS IT ALL!! If you want to set up your classroom click HERE.  Because it has so many resources, I can actually create lessons, that go right in line with what I'm teaching in class. Once again for a whole week, I spend my time at this center, showing and teaching students how to find their Avatar, how  to "change user" and how to find their lessons. It is so WONDERFUL, I can  EVEN DIFFERENTIATE activities based on STUDENT NEED!!

5. Small Group Instruction

Finally me, During this time I do "RTI" or Conceptual Refinement. For 10 -12 minutes, I give students direct instruction on a daily basis. This is the time where I scaffold, differentiate (at the content level,) assess, teach, challenge, and get a real picture of where they are at. I get to know them, know and understand their needs, and what I need to do different. This is also the place where we learn all about rhyming, syllables, ISF, FSF, MSF, on-set rimes... Next week I will be devoting a whole blog post just to this part. I will include a lesson plan, sample activities, and "how to list" Here is a sneak peak...  

Good night everyone! Leave a comment or question below! :) 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Break is Here and Bats are REAL!

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons along with Spring! I love the smell of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin lingering and flowing through my kitchen air. Not to mention the leaves falling and the beautiful fall colors (I can see on Instagram posts from other states.) I live in the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert so it's rare to see full fall colors in effect, at the most we get yellow and orange. 
And now, Fall Break! I'm enjoying a whole 5 days off from school, students, administrators, and teachers! I was sure ready for this break and enjoying every single second :). Do you have a fall break?
My students and I kicked off Fall Break with Deanna Jump's Non-Fiction Unit on Bats. As usual and always so much fun with her stuff! I have to say my favorite part of this unit is when students discover bats aren't vampires, they are real, and they don't suck your blood! It's a perfect way to introduce the word "misconceptions" they just "click and get it." After our unit is complete, every single one of my students can explain why bats are indeed real, why they are not vampires, and can make a bat using shapes around us. Have a great long weekend y'all and here are some batty over bats pictures from our lesson!

On day one we make our KWL chart and add stick notes to the "what I learned section" every day. As we learn and discover that bats are real, we recognize and clear up any misconceptions and remove them from "what I know" to our misconceptions section. P.S. I let the students make those connections on their own, when we review, what  we know about bats, and what we have learned.
On day two we label our bat diagram and  talk about a bat's body parts.  We also discover that bat's are really brown not black, they have hair and are mammals.

Day 3 we make our bats during math. We compose bat body shapes from squares and rectangles.  And discuss how we can make shapes from other shapes.

We also gather all of our batty facts on a bat concept map and write a short paragraph together. I lead the discussion by guiding students to use bat facts in complete sentences, then I write them down.