Sunday, September 16, 2012

Letter of the Week: Ee

Ahoy there friends! Last week my class roster grew to 21 students and I have one more on his/her way. That means we've reached maximum capacity in Room 13. I can't believe how quickly my overflow class filled up. Well actually, I can, and with it came a whirlwind of new challenges. Having that many new students enroll in the last couple weeks completely threw off my classroom dynamic! Honestly, it caught me a little off guard. I had a very difficult time managing my class last week and struggled to have them follow even the most basic of directions. After careful deliberation, I decided that I'm going to scratch stressing the curriculum this coming week and focus more of my attention on gaining my students' trust and having them trust each other. With all the new kids added to the mix, I feel my students really need to learn to work with me and one another. Therefore, this week we will be doing a lot of community building activities in hopes that this will help set a better tone for our classroom as well as classroom expectations in the future. If you have any good resources or ideas for community building activities I would love to hear about them! I think this is apt timing as we will be on our fall break starting next week. It stinks to lose my kids for two weeks, especially the new ones who are just starting to get accustomed to school, but that's beyond my control isn't it?

First year teacher tip #52 - Things like testing, assemblies, hearing/vision screening, IEP meetings, vacations, etc. will get in the way of your teaching. Push through, try not to be overwhelmed, and don't be too hard on yourself.

This past week our LOTW was the letter E, the tricky little letter E. My thought process in introducing this letter before the break was to give my students at least one more vowel in their repertoire so that they can start doing some word work/reading word families when they get back from the break.

The target sight word last week was 'like' and we also added the color 'yellow' to our word wall. Here are some student samples and pocket chart story from their Make-a-Book center activity, I Like Yellow!:

The Letter E Art last week was a capital Elephant and lowercase egg. I forgot to take some snapshots of student samples so I'll just post the ones I modeled for the kiddos.

E is for elephant/egg.
As usual, we also had letter E cut and paste and My Ee Book to round out our core center activities. I found a great site with sound cards for all letters in the alphabet here. I did modify the template to meet my needs by using some of the pictures and adding a few of my own that do not have the LOTW sound. For my learning objective, I didn't want students to just solely be able to identify the Ee sound. I also wanted them to be able to recognize sounds that did not belong to the LOTW.

Last Tuesday was the 11th anniversary of 9/11. I debated whether I wanted to do a mini-lesson on it or not, but decided that teaching my students about 9/11 was the right thing to do. Of course, I made the content appropriate for my kinders explaining that 11 years ago a very bad and sad thing happened. A lot of people, everyday people like you and me, died because some very bad people did not like our country. I reassured them that we are ok now, but summarized the events of 9/11 in a kid-friendly way, illustrating on our Promethean Board as I spoke. Students were very engaged in the mini-lesson and at the end I explained that we are Patriots - people who are proud of and love our country. We did some interactive writing and I had students use their hands and some paint to help create a classroom flag. I was very impressed with the maturity level of my kinders and their ability to comprehend and be respectful. It was a wonderful teaching moment.

Reflecting on 9/11 personally, I remember waking up that September morning in 2001 and watching the looped footage of the Twin Towers going down in my sixth grade algebra class. It's hard to imagine a pre-9/11 world now. I thought it was interesting when I overheard a teacher in the copy room saying that 9/11 is such an ingrained part of our history now that there are college courses being offered on the very same topic. I was a little shocked that our school did not have an announcement for the anniversary or take a moment of silence. I would venture to say that we weren't the only school to forget. With the recent attack in Libya and death of Ambassador Stevens along with three other Americans, it's important to remember that although we might consider events like 9/11 'history', I can still find parallels and ways that they manifest themselves in our every day lives even today. I believe we should to continue to help our students understand and make meaning of these happenings, history or not.

Lastly, with only about a week left before the official start of Fall, we managed to get our Summer Mural finished! It's a great way to introduce nonfiction and hit science standards all at the same time. Over the last couple weeks I read some nonfiction books about summer during read alouds and had students identify some facts. We talked about facts and defined it as something that is always true. This helped students to make connections to nonfiction, which we simply defined as stories that are real. The facts that we chose from our nonfiction texts were: the days are longer, it is hot, some people like to travel, fruits like melons and berries ripen, and some people like to go to the beach. It was really easy to slip in our word wall words like 'the' and 'like'. After we chose the facts we did interactive writing, stretching and listening for sounds (one fact a day or every other day until we were done). Finally, we did some interactive painting as I haven't started painting as a center activity yet. I felt it was a great way to introduce students to the center and expectations for when they are painting independently. We read each fact beginning with the stem "It is summer because" every day as it provides wonderful familiar reading for the students. I especially love the airplane that looks like a boat, the umbrella that looks like a palm tree, and the three-eyed beach boy. :)

This week we are sacking the letter Ss and adding the word 'my' and color 'purple' to our word wall. Happy teaching!

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