Friday, February 26, 2016

March is Reading Month!

Well, every month should be reading month, but March is our official Reading Promotion Month at Cascade View.  Here are some special things we have planned:

*Author, Annie Crawley, will be visiting on March 16th, with assembly presentations.

*Reading Logs are coming home in your child's book bags today.  Please keep these in your child's bookbag and keep track of their reading for the whole month.  You can count the minutes that your child reads to you OR the minutes that you read to your child! 

*There is a special Whale Board in the courtyard to keep track of the collective minutes our class reads.

*Dress-up days will be:  March 2nd - hat day and March 25th - book character dress up day.

*We will be making special bookmarks for our study buddies to promote friendship and reading.

*Mr. Stonich has agreed to do something silly if we meet our school wide goal of reading 241,231 minutes (last year's time).

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Take Home Reading

Good news!  Our Take Home Reading books are coming home today.  

We have several different classroom libraries in our room, but this one is reserved for "leveled" reading books.  While most of our books are organized my author, genre, or topic, this section is organized by level of difficulty.  I use the Fountas and Pinnell leveled reading system (if that means anything to you).  In this system, books are leveled according to word count, number of pages, and difficulty of text.  Although I really love this system, there is a wide range within each level.  An "A" book could have one or two words on a page and it could also have full sentences on a page.  There certainly isn't a science to leveling these books, but I've tried to be as close to the Fountas and Pinnell system as possible. 

Kids will move quickly through the levels.  Kindergartners are expected to be at Level D by the end of the school year, but if they go past that level I will just keep letting them go on up.

The books kids take home are meant to be EASY.  These are the books that kids can read with 95%-100% accuracy without adult help.  So, yes, they should be able to fly through these books.  We want kids' first experiences with books to be positive, and let kids feel like, "Hey, I can read this whole book by myself!"  The books kids read during our in-class Guided Reading groups will be the books that kids can read at 90%-94% accuracy.  This is the time that I will be able to guide kids in their reading and help them move to the next level.

Today, kids will be bringing home their reading books.  Most kids are starting at Level A.  Kids will take home their book each afternoon and return the book the following school day.  Every single day, they will get a new book and you will probably notice that they are able to progress quickly.  Please, please, please, help your child keep track of their Take Home Reading Book.  I have had to purchase almost all of these books out of my own pocket, so please help them get returned each day.  

This is the letter that is coming home with your child's homework packet tonight:

Today your child will be bringing home their TAKE HOME READING BOOK!  Each student will bring home a book from our leveled reading library. Most of these books are my own personal books, so please remind your child to be extra careful with them and return them to school every day.  We are starting off very easy, with most kids in level A or B books.  Our goal is to have children reading at level D or higher by the end of kindergarten.  Children should be reading material that they can already read or will easily learn to read. As emergent readers, the students should not be reading material that is too difficult or frustrating for them. In our program it is crucial to build confidence in these young readers and make reading a positive experience. Please note also, that there are varying levels of difficulty within each level- if your child’s book seems too easy or hard today, it is possible that the book tomorrow may be a little different, even though it is the same level.
You may want to start by taking a “picture walk” through the book with your child.  Talk about what you think might happen in the story and “plant” a few of those key words into their vocabulary.  You can also read the entire book to your child to start out, then have them read the book to you.  Please know that ALL kids will memorize these books at some point.  They will zip through them and appear to not be reading at all.  To some extent, this is a good thing!  They are gaining confidence and feeling good about the process.  I usually let kids do this a few times, but then also slow them down and ask them to point to the words individually as they read.
The reading practice at home should take no longer than 10 minutes, but that time is imperative to their development. We hope that you will make time each night to listen to your child read.  Daily reading practice and lots of encouragement will help your child as they learn to build and improve their reading skills. 
Please be sure to send the book (in the bag) back to school each day.   

Thanks for helping!

Valentine Party

Many kids told me that the day of our Valentine party was the best day of their life.  We keep things pretty simple in kindergarten.  We make pretty, heart shaped, pockets to store our treasures in.

The kids spend time passing out their treats, cards, and goodies.

There's cookie decorating.

And that's pretty much it!  The kids had a great time.  Thank you to the parents who donated to our party and sent Valentines for their kids!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tell Me More - A Kindergarten Writing Prompt

I absolutely love teaching writing in kindergarten.  When they walk in the door, most kids know how to write their names and some can draw recognizable pictures.  By the time the leave kindergarten, they are authors!  Today's writing lesson was encouraging kids to add details to their stories.  If you tell a student to go back to their work and add more detail, they will usually look at you with a blank stare.  They really don't know what that means.  

We started this lesson a few days ago.  I prompted the kids to write about something they have at home.  I wrote about my rabbit that lives at my house.  Today, I re-read my story to the class and told the class that their job was to say, "Tell me more."  When they said that, I took a second to think and then I kept going with my story and told them all about how my bunny hops around the house and that she actually likes baths.  I passed the kids' papers back to them and partnered them up.  With their partners, their job was to read their current story and then encourage their partner to, "Tell me more."

Here is an example of a student who had done a nice picture with a label and a speech bubble. His initial sentence was, "I have a lightsaber." When his partner prompted him tell him more, he added, "I like my lightsaber.  I like to play with it.  The end."  The sentence he added directly connected to his speech bubble.

In the next example, the student wrote, "I have a bunny."  After some prompting to tell me more, she added. "It was at Christmas.  I was excited."  I loved this one because she added an emotion to her writing.

As you can see, our kindergartners are become excellent authors!  If you are writing or your child is telling a story at home, try prompting them with, "Tell me more!"  It's a great way to encourage language development and get kids to add details to their stories.

Happy story telling!