Friday, September 21, 2012

Bubble Maps and WW

What an exhausting and wonderful week!  Back to School Night really drained me with the wacky schedule, but we made it through another successful 5 days.  This week our focus was on bubble maps and what writers write. 

We worked on bubble maps all week long as a class.  Since we just started with HM, each day we did a bubble map based on the letter of the day (apple, banana, cow).  Thankfully for us, the Mobile Dairy Council came so we had a lot to say about the cow!  We ended the week with our first Big Buddies day, when our big buddies helped us make bubble maps about ourselves.  Those kids were SO adorable!  The big buddies interviewed the little buddies and they worked together using pictures and words to describe my kinders.  Here are the results.

 This is a great example because the big buddy used all adjectives (yay!) and my (kinder who is an ELL with Speech services) suggested "curious."  Love it!

 I love this one because it really shows the big buddy's opinion of his little buddy.  So sweet!

I love the pictures in this one.  We talked about drawing pictures so that the little buddy could "read" it later.

This one is great because my kinder wrote the words first (experimenting with letters) and the big buddy translated it.  Such great teamwork!

Next week is the dubble bubble, which we will of course use to compare big and little buddies.  I can't wait to see the results.

What do writers write?

This week's anchor chart was about genres.  I collected some from around the house and school, and posted them on the chart.  Then we worked together to label them (a previous lesson).  Afterwards, I chose one to model.  I made a menu.  When it was time to write, I put out post-its, blank paper, and paper bags.  The paper bags were the most popular.

The next day I chose the book.  I also took the opportunity to use a mentor text.  We looked at our HM big book, Mice Squeak We Speak.  We first looked at the front cover, noticing the different attributes.  We saw letters.  Some letters were the author's name, so I wrote my name in the same place on my book (a folded piece of construction paper).  We also saw letters that made the title, which I wrote too (bigger and in another color like the anchor text).  The biggest part was an illustration that showed what the book would be about.  My title was "The Day the Cow Came" so I drew a cow.  We also noticed a border which I added to fancy it up.

The following day we opened the book again (we read it much earlier) and took note of what we saw.  Pictures, letters, and little dots.  So I added an illustration for my beginning, words to tell the story, and one of those little dots at the end.  Yep, I introduced periods to kids that can't all write their name.  Our team usually reserves periods, space, and capitals for DECEMBER.  It was a brave (and some may say foolish) thing to do, but I stand behind it.  A third or more of my class added periods in their writing that day. PHENOMENAL!  I was so excited.  For those who were ready, they soaked it up.  For those who weren't, they will hear it a thousand more times before June.  I realize now that work samples would be great to post, so I'll update with some next week.  Yay for WW!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anchor Charts and Circle Maps

Surprise again!  Friday afternoon (before the long weekend, just before school started), my principal pulled me out of a meeting and told me that I was changing rooms and grade level.  I had spent the entire summer excitedly planning for a combo- a challenge I was eager to take on, and preparing my new room, and all was for not.  That afternoon, I took down the bulletin boards with tears running down my face, and packed up my stuff to put into a room that was already occupied.  I am now sharing the room with a teaching partner, teaching twice as many kids in a day, a day without a real break, and it's been a whirlwind.

I basically powered through that three-day weekend, staying busy to not only get everything ready, but also to avoid sitting still long enough to really feel upset.  I kept repeating to myself, "It is what it is," and soon enough, the room was ready and so was I.

The first two weeks of school have been exciting, exhausting, and exhilarating.  My new partner has been wonderful, and we're making quite the team.  My big focus this year is Writers' Workshop, and our school's focus is Thinking Maps.  Both have been amazing!  Here are some samples of each...

Writers' Workshop

We started on day 1 for this one.  I am using Jennifer Jacobson's model and loving it so far.
No More, "I'm Done!": Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades

We start with a mini-lesson, model, write, and conference.  One part that I love is the "Quiet Ten" time which is ten uninterrupted minutes of writing- for the students and me.  We've made two anchor charts so far, and I think I'll aim for one a week.

This is one that I copied from Laura at  I wrote the title beforehand, but brainstormed with the kids before writing the "rules."  Since making and posting the chart, this has become my students' mantra...and they are absolutely coloring better than any other first-week-class I've had!

This is our second anchor chart.  We talked about thinking of ideas, drawing a picture, and using labels to tell about your picture.  I asked students to look at my picture and think about what they noticed.  Then we stretched out the words to hear the sounds.  I chose a few students who I knew would be able to write letters, and others who I knew needed help.  My partner helped those who needed it.  The post-it notes worked really well because I could take them off and let my partner use the chart for her kids.  Later we posted it with all the labels.

Next week we will talk about what writers write.  I plan to bring in a number of things for examples and label them on our new anchor chart.  I will post it soon :)

Circle Maps

Our school's big focus this year is Thinking Maps.  I use a flow map every day for our schedule and each student has a personal one for rotations.  They are MAGIC!  Our implementation plan is to introduce one map a week, but we can also use the other maps during that time.  The goal is that by the end of the week, the kids know the specific map of the week, how to use it, and how to draw it.  We used circle maps all week.  Our first was about Pete the Cat, then Froggy, then me, and we ended the week by making one about ourselves.  Here are some samples (unfortunately in black and white).

All the kids had "Bobcat" because that is our school mascot.  I love how this student not only drew the paw print like me, he also added claws!

 This friend has some definite fine motor issues, but also a lot of clear ideas.  He told me about his car and how it was broken in a crash.  He drew as he told me and although it isn't the happiest memory, it is something important to him and shows that he understands what the assignment was.

This was done by one o my higher friends, and as you can see, there is more detail in the pictures.  I love that the kids included all parts of their lives...breakfast, family, wonderful!

Next week we move on to bubble maps.  I'm a little worried since not all of my kiddos can draw a circle let alone several, but I'm sure it be great.  This past week and a half has well-exceeded my expectations so I'm excited for more!