Thursday, April 5, 2018

Writer's Workshop

During the last couple weeks there has been a new whirlwind of excitement around the subject of writing. I have really been working hard to create a Writer's Workshop in my class that was student-centered and driven by student choice. We have transitioned away from teacher-led writing prompts which we were doing throughout the year to a time during the day where students are focused, busy, and excited to be writing books of their choice. Yes, your 5 and 6 year olds are indeed writing books!

We began this shift with a question..."What do writers write about?" This led to a pretty thorough brainstorm around what the students have noticed about the books we read in our classroom and the topics that surround us: animals, sports, gymnastics, fishing, family, friends, etc. The children had no problem identifying what writers can write about and they quickly took on the role of "author" themselves.

Children were busy each day writing books about sharks, fishing, their families, pets, legos, anything they were excited about. With this new, invigorating motivation, we then began to discuss what authors do throughout the process of writing which only pushed to expand their own pieces.

So what DO writers (and illustrators) do?

  • They keep on working the entire time, even if that means they start a new book.
  • They add details to their words.
  • They had details to their pictures
  • They read to others to get feedback and questions
  • They strive for accuracy and fix mistakes when they notice them. 
  • They reread their book.
  • They check all their work before it goes to publishing. 

The students have been working on exploring ALL of these tasks and because it's a book that THEY want to write and THEY are excited about, I have never seen such independent writers during our writing block before. We now have kids asking, "Are we going to get to work on our books today?" or exclaiming, "YES! It's writing folder time!!"

And to be honest, it's been a blast for me too seeing their faces light up for Writer's Workshop.

Currently, we are working on How To books and we already have quite a few published! Please come to "Celebration of Student Work" to read them on April 12th.

Standards addressed:

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

100s day photos

Here are some old fun pictures from our 100th day of school celebration with 1st grade!

Counting out 100 Fruit Loops for snack.

What can you build with 100 polydrons?

In the afternoon, we did a number hunt for all the numbers to 100!

They worked together to sequence all the numbers.

Standards addressed:
Count to 100 by ones and by tens.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Our Force and Motion Unit

This week, we kicked off our Force and Motion unit. We are learning about push and pull forces. I love this unit because we get to do a lot of awesome hands-on activity to explore these different forces. This week, we learned that the heavier and object is, the more force it takes to move it. We also learned that objects cannot move on their own unless there is a push or pull force acting on them. We read a great book, "Move It" that helped explain different examples that we then got to act out in the classroom.

One of activities we did was a marble race. The kids had a relay race where they had to push a marble down a track using nothing but a straw and the air they PUSHED through it. Here is a video:

We also learned about the PULL force of gravity and the PUSH force of friction. To explore these concepts, we built ramps to try and move certain objects down: a rubber eraser, a toy car, a smooth rock, and a cube block. We discovered that the rubber eraser needed a higher incline which meant there was a greater force of friction acting upon it. Meanwhile, the car needed less of an incline to move because there was less friction acting upon the wheels. We also learned that gravity is the force that pulls these objects down the ramp and it's the same force keeping us on the ground.

Another video:

To understand gravity a little better, Ms. King found a great video of an astronaut in space. The kids were amazed at her floating because of zero gravity.

Ask your kids about what they've been learning about in science.

Standards this unit is addressing:

K-PS2-1.Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.  [Clarification Statement: Examples of pushes or pulls could include a string attached to an object being pulled, a person pushing an object, a person stopping a rolling ball, and two objects colliding and pushing on each other.]
K-PS2-2.Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of problems requiring a solution could include having a marble or other object move a certain distance, follow a particular path, and knock down other objects. Examples of solutions could include tools such as a ramp to increase the speed of the object and a structure that would cause an object such as a marble or ball to turn.]

January Self Portraits

The first week back to school, the students drew updated self portraits, using mirrors. They did a great job! We will do one more self-portrait in June and all three will go home with students at the end of the year to show how they have grown in their drawing abilities throughout their kindergarten year. Here are some pictures. If you would like your child's picture, let me know via email and I can send it along.

Gingerbread Fun

Before Winter Break, we did a little Gingerbread unit. We read a lot of different versions of the Gingerbread Man story:

It was a great unit to practice retelling and we got to compare and contrast the books. With this unit, also came some fun crafts and activities. After reading "Gingerbread Baby," by Jan Brett, we built our own little graham cracker gingerbread houses.

We also made some awesome Gingerbread ornaments

We wrote our opinions about which book was our favorite. We are learning that when we give our opinion, we need to give a reason why. The students are practicing using the word "because" in their writing. Overall, "Ninjabread Man" was the most popular.

And, of course, we got to make some gingerbread (really just sugar cookie + cocoa powder recipe) cookies!

It was super fun.

Standards this unit addressed:
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).
With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.