Monday, September 24, 2012

Letter of the Week: Ss

It is officially the start of a glorious and long awaited two-week break. Since I pretty much got hired a week or so after graduating, I haven't had a chance to really lounge around and do nothing. I'm going to take the first couple days of my break to do just that. Then I'll be out for a week visiting my boyfriend's family in North Carolina. It will be my first time meeting them and my second time visiting North Carolina. (I have aunts that live there). I offered to make home visits to help my students over the break, but I haven't received any call backs in regards to scheduling them from families showing interest. I'll have to get more proactive when I get back from NC.

Last week we studied the letter Ss! We had longer Circle Time sessions throughout the week to use for community building. Students primarily learned to take turns with one another and listen to others speak. I know I said I wasn't going to stress the curriculum as much this week, but I found it hard to deviate too far from my plans because I wanted to continue to give as much exposure of the center activities as possible, especially for the new kiddos. The overwhelming feeling of falling behind was certainly looming as I have yet to start my center rotations. I'm still struggling to find the right balance and move with my students and their needs, but I know that it will all come together. Maybe not soon, but eventually.

One thing I noticed this last week was that I found myself comparing my class to the kinder class I student taught last year. It added this unnecessary pressure and to a certain degree, an inappropriate expectation for my students. First year teacher tip #37 - Don't compare classes or students. What's the point? No two classes or students are the same. Also, keep in mind that everyone struggles with the beginning of the year - it's not just you.

Last week we studied purple and I introduced the sight word 'my'. By making the nouns plural I was able to easily integrate the letter of the week into this center activity AND have students start listening for sounds at the end of words, not just the beginning. Here is the pocket story and student samples of our Make-a-Book:

Students were also responsible for their letter Ss cut and paste activity which looked like this:

For a quick review of this center: Students trace and say the name and sound of the LOTW. They stretch all of the sound cards and cross out pictures that don't start with the letter S and color all the pictures that do. Then they cut them out and paste them onto construction paper.

Here is a student completed 'My Ss Book':

'My _ books' are a great way to raise letter recognition skills and review old/new sight words at the same time. I always have my students go on a LOTW hunt. In this case a Ss hunt. Then they go back and color their book and finally read to a teacher placing their finger under each word as they read, helping to build their concepts of print and awareness of word boundaries.

For the Letter Art center last week students created capital Snakes and lowercase spiders!

S is for snake/spider.
The prep: Outline a capital S on green construction paper and have students decorate the snake however they want. I kept it simple drawing an eye and a tongue. For the spider, I outlined a lowercase s on black construction paper using a white crayon and drew the eyes. I folded leftover black construction paper back and forth (like you would a paper fan) and cut them into zigzag strips for the legs. Students got to practice counting, making sure to grab 8 legs for when they were creating their spiders.

Lastly, I'd like to highlight our wonderful interactive writing story for the month of September.

Every month, I intend to have students write a story about something that captures a moment. I printed out pictures that I took of the students on the last day of dance class to get students excited about writing their story. For September, I really loved the way students progressed through the 6 weeks of dance classes. I saw many come out of their shells and I saw others really expressing themselves through their movement. I think it was a great time for my students and really helped them to develop awareness for their bodies and motion. I clearly have a love for interactive writing. I feel students get a lot out of it and it gives writing a less stressful vibe when students are writing together while giving you the flexibility to guide them and assess at the same time. Before we wrote our story I did a brainstorm with the students of things they learned. Ideally, I would've had students do a think-pair-share, but with all the new kids I haven't had time to explicitly model and practice it with the current roster. So, we did a whole group share out instead. I was impressed with how many things students learned/remembered and really tried to pull rich vocabulary words from them. This was our final draft which we completed by writing 1-2 sentences a day: In September we learned to dance. Ms. Christina was our teacher. We learned about three levels. They were high, medium, and low. It was fun!

Admittedly, I haven't been updating much on my math lessons. That's because I've been sticking to the pacing guide (UGH!) and find those lessons incredibly dry and boring. I'm going to start putting more energy into my math teaching, but for now... I'm sticking to the manual. Forgive me! I will most likely not be updating during my NC trip so I hope everyone is staying healthy and for all my teacher friends happy teaching!

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