Sunday, March 19, 2017

Math Pathways

Ahh...Number Sense... a phrase I have written about before... when young children see how numbers have a purpose in their everyday life and they can think flexibly about numbers, they begin to develop Number Sense.  

Number sense refers to a child's ability to use and understand numbers by:
*knowing their value
*knowing how to use numbers to make judgements
*knowing how to use numbers flexibly when adding or subtracting
*having strategies for counting, measuring and estimating
*being able to explain their thinking for solving problems and comparing numbers

In the pictures that follow you will see how children are building those numbers sense ways of thinking and developing strategies for solving numerical problems.  

Strengthening counting skills as a basis for early addition practice.

Representing numbers in various ways, comparing amounts and the importance of forming numbers correctly.

Teen numbers and place value...understanding how the digit "one" means "one ten and some more" in a teen number and numerical patterns on a hundreds chart.

Addition is a way of putting two amounts together...represented by numbers...growing when more items are added.

Learning to use tools for solving addition and subtraction is critical to being able to explain why, for example, 2+3=5.  We learn to tell the "story" of an addition problem in a way that tells how two amounts are put together to create a new total amount of objects.

Measuring to explain terms such as "longer/shorter" and "taller/shorter" and applying those to solving problems posed such as being tall enough to ride an amusement park ride.  How does one prove that with numerical thinking?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Internships and Student Teaching

We are fortunate this year to be able to form learning relationships with young adults growing as teachers.  In the fall semester our high school intern from Colchester High School taught alongside teachers once a week, honing her skills and developing lessons to enrich our curriculum.  Starting in January our student teacher from UVM has been with us everyday and has become an integral part of our classroom teaching staff.

Read aloud and an activity to support understanding family connections as part of All About Me social studies unit.

Using our daily weather graph as a starting point for experimenting with just how temperatures really feel using water that matches those degrees.

A celebration of learning with our intern and dreaming of what is ahead in our lives.

UVM student teachers are awesome and this year ours has been exceptional!  Whatever the focus, reading, writing, math, science... individual, small and whole group work... our student teacher enhances the learning experiences throughout the day.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Winter Writing Workshop

In the first trimester our writing focused on narrative writing, drawing from personal experiences in order to learn and practice the mechanics of writing.  In this last trimester we focused on opinion writing; learning to convince others of what we believe in our heart and think in our brain.

We learned to state our opinion, give three reasons to support our opinion and close the piece with an ending that restated our opinion.  We began with solving problems we observed around the school, letting others know our reasons for believing how we could improve what we saw.

We moved to reading an informational story and then forming an opinion based on what was written in the text.  For example, we pondered what we thought was the best season after reading a passage about seasons and gave convincing reasons why we thought one season was better than another.  We read about living in the city versus living in the country and used what we learned to write why we thought it better to live in one of those places... we used some of our own background knowledge, but also cited what was written in the text to support our opinion.

Narrative writing earlier in the year gave us an opportunity to add dialogue to what characters were saying... moving to opinion writing was very different as we began to tell people what we believed and why.

We still use good writing strategies learned earlier in the year... planning out our writing ahead by tapping out the words and rereading over and over again to be sure we write all the words we intend to and asking, "Does that make sense?"

Word work focused on sight words during other parts of our day support the writing we do in writing workshop... confidence in write exact words and using the word wall to be sure we spell words we know correctly.

We use sight word lists, the word wall and even words we know in our reading books to spell and sound out words.
Closing an opinion piece by restating what we believe so the reader can understand our reasons and the purpose of why we are writing.
Self-assessment: Students can now use a checklist to check their work for elements that they should include in their writing.  Rather than saying they are done and asking a teacher to check it they can be responsible for their own work and assess what they need to add and how they can make it the best it can be.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reading Workshop Continuum

Reading Workshop this year began with mini-lessons focused on purposeful reading skills. Using familiar "old favorite" and fairy tales, we learned strategies for private reading and partner reading, carrying them over to more formalized reading groups.  During our literacy block we follow a structure known as The Daily Five.  Students use these same reading strategies when reading independently (Read to Self in Daily 5) and reading with partners (Read to Someone in Daily 5).  We moved from narrative and fictional texts in the first trimester to literary non-fiction texts in the second trimester.  No matter what type of book or genre we read, these foundational Reading Workshop skills are tools kids use to understand and comprehend what they read.  We continue to use them now as Super Readers who can solve reading problems confidently.

"Anchor Charts" made with reading strategy post-it notes are used to introduce a tool, gradually adding more and referenced almost daily in newer lessons.

We remember to "add a pinch of you" by telling what we are thinking throughout the story, giving our opinion, making comparisons and connections, forecasting predictions and retelling the story events in our own words.

We may not be able to read every word in a published trade book, but we know how to "read the illustrations," predict story events, describe the action we see to help understand what the author is writing about. 
We look for words that match the illustrations and sight words that help us understand the story or nonfiction book.

We practice reading like a teacher; instructing what we have learned about a text.

We practice storytelling fluency; making our voice match the intent of the character.

Reading like a teacher, listening and asking questions of the "teacher reader."

Punctuation is a tool for writers and readers... here we mesh learning how to write and read a sentence, closing it with a punctuation mark.  This tells the reader the intention behind a sentence and how to read it with the appropriate emphasis.

As we learn to recognize familiar sight words and the structure of a sentence, we use our reading finger to keep pace with the exact words on a page.

Reading and writing connect... learning to keep spaces between words helps us read individual words, matching our pointing to the exact words.  We created class made books with repetitive text, reading them multiple times for various purposes.  This helps strengthen more reading and writing skills...stretching all the sounds in a word, using upper and lowercase letters, spelling sight words exactly, and adding punctuation.

Sight words are a powerful tool for increasing reading accuracy... but most importantly for kindergarteners, recognizing sight words automatically builds confidence!