Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reflecting at the end of the year

The last week of school usually finds me reflecting on the previous year and asking myself what changes I can make for the following year to better my instruction. As I begin packing up my classroom for the big move to Moffat County, I find myself organizing books in a fashion inspired by Susan Kempton. I am pulling all of the non fiction books out of my units to make them accessible for the children to use as discovery tools during morning opening. I am hoping it will spark excitement and curiosity that will set an enthusiastic tone of learning for the day.

I am also anxious to begin the year focusing my read alouds around schema, visualization, questioning and schema. I was hoping Susan could bring a list of her favorite titles for each area when she comes to Craig this summer. I really believe the discovery of nonfiction paired with the power of good read alouds will set a positive tone in which children will be excited to learn how to read.

I was so happy to hear my new teammate state the need for leveled readers. We have used Rigby PM books for the first time this year and the children's reading levels surpassed our expectations.

I am very excited for the possibilities of next year. Thank you to Susan for inspiring us all to be better teachers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another sick day....

With two weeks to go, no more sick days of course I had to get the flu! In return I have sat in bed for three days sipping on Pedialight and reading two extremely empowering books about kindergarten instruction.

Three fourths of the way through Susan's phenomenal book, and Pat Lusche's No More Letter of the Week arrives. Had to dig into it too! I hope that Zach ordered some more books for me to read or it's going to be a long summer ;) I ordered Pat's book after Kathy's visit to another kindergarten school in Denver, and also reading that it is listed under Susan's professional books and articles. It gave great ideas on introducing letters and sounds, incorporating parents, and a ton of ideas for writing and reading centers. I really hope that my fellow colleagues will get their hands on this book :)

Pat Lusche, much like Susan really emphasized leveled readers. From her references and suggestions I see that she uses a lot of Rigby material, maybe the entire series? I saw that Susan also suggested some leveled readers in her book to. Hopefully you are reading this Susan and you could give me a direction to head. We are looking into leveled readers and knowing that all 9-10 kindergarten classes have very, very limited leveled readers where should we start? I have looked into a few reading programs that you can get leveled readers from, but I would like to order non-fiction texts that my kids could get more meaning from. Any suggestions?

I thought that I would throw out one idea I looked into and would like to hear what others think, or what else they have found I could look into....Scholastic: You can get a variety non-fiction leveled readers to go along with our units of study, (insects, our earth, ocean, animals, ect....)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blogs - How to

What are blogs? This is a helpful video to introduce you to this technology.

So... you've read the blog posts here - now what?

Was there something you had a question about or a thought you had in relation to the post you just read? Or, do you want to read the comments others have left. To do that, you will need to click on the "comments" link at the bottom of the post. If there is a number in front of the comments link that means there are that many comments to that post. -------------------------->

Do you have your own question or reflection that you want to post? Click on "New Post" (in the upper right hand corner of the screen), type your post, and click on "Publish Post". ------------------------->

Do you want to see the original post and the comments to that post at the same time? Click on the title of the post.

Give it a shot and post a test comment to this blog post. Happy blogging...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why Do You Read?

I had two ah-ha moments this morning. One about teaching reading and the other about blogging.

I just spent two days watching some full day kindergarten programs. Both programs were pretty different in terms of their curricular programming and instructional delivery, but both had their kids reading at high levels. I saw a lot and took many notes. As I was rereading my notes and reflecting on what I saw, I took a break to catch up on some of the blogs that I follow. On Stephanie Sandifer's blog Change Agency, she wrote a post titled Love of Reading… and my fear…. In her post, she was actually reflecting on another blog post by Angela Maiers. In her post, Angela describes a scenario of watching her son “get through” his weekly reading assignment, after which he tells her:
“Mom, I hate reading. I did not want to tell you that, ’cause I know that it’s your job and reading is a big deal to you, but I really really hate it. I dream of the day when I will never have to do reading again. If I was on a dessert island, I would rather die of starvation, than read a book. And, if you think I am weird or something, you gotta know, all my friends feel exactly the same way.”
Stephanie reflected on this quote and wrote:

My beautiful 15 month old twins are voracious “readers” right now. They LOVE their books and will spend a great deal of time every day “reading” as many of their books as they can. Not only do they love to crawl into my lap with a book and demand that I read it to them, they also sit by themselves, flipping pages, and babbling as they stop on each page. They point to the pictures and tell me the story in their own words. Of course they aren’t reading the words on the page — but they get the concept and most importantly, they LOVE the concept of reading a book.

My biggest fear is that someday, somewhere, some teacher will destroy their love of reading by giving them “reading assignments” that make reading feel more like a chore rather than a pleasurable activity.

I have never met Stephanie or Angela. Neither of them know who I am or that I am currently trying to digest my observations of two full day kindergarten programs. Nevertheless, their reflections based on their own experiences help me to crystallize my first ah-ha on what I had experienced.

Although both programs we visited had their students reading at high levels, I am not sure that the levels of intrinsic interest to read were the same. I think if you asked the students from both classes "Why do you read?", the answers would be different. How would you want your students to respond to that question? Would you want your students to say "to discover new things" or "because Mrs. So-and-so thinks it is important". The boy in this picture is my son Evan at age 4. He already loves reading. I would be devastated if he came home and told me what Angela's boy told her.

In education, because of the length of time it takes to achieve our final product (13 years) and student motivation being an integral part of achieving a quality result, the processes we employ to achieve each step along the way are critical to achieving our long term goals. I wrote a post titled Long Road Trips & Education: An Analogy on my other blog "blogkhead" back in August where I take this issue into more depth.

The other ah-ha about blogging... I'll leave for you to "infer" from what I've already written.

...Cross posted at blogkhead.