Once again, I am elated to be involved with this amazing group of teachers, bloggers, professional developers and, most of all, friends. We at Freebielicious all have the same philosophy when it comes to teaching and blogging: we present ideas, freebies and discussions based around the best interest of children and involve others in the educational realm who have the same idea. This time, I'd like to tell you about a professional development opportunity for PreK to 1 educators. We are reading this book and attacking it from a primary level perspective. Please join us by reading along, commenting, and, of course, grabbing Freebielicious Freebies along the way!
If you haven't already read, heard or seen:
I am looping to first grade!
(and, yes, the big, bold letters do represent my excitement with this adventure)
I had THE BEST class EVER this year. As I've told everyone, I always love all of my students individually, but, sometimes the mix and dynamics of the class together just doesn't jive (gasp...I know.). After 175 days together, it is often best for us all to have a new opportunity and visit in years to come. This year, there was something different in my class that I can honestly say I have never had before. It is just a great mixture of love, laughter, learning and balancing each other out! Knowing that we had a bulging-at-the-seams kinder class this year, I went to my principal and said I would be more than willing to loop with this group and he agreed that it would be a possibility. The hardest part for me was keeping my excitement to myself as I had kids breaking down thinking they were moving onto a new teacher, parents worried about how their child would adjust in a new class, etc.
Well, now, there are some adjustments to be made within my blogging business. Kindergarten teachers, have no fear, I won't be dusting you...my expertise continues to lie in the area of 5 and 6 year olds and that is what I can speak to. My shift to working in a first grade classroom will consist of building on what I know and seeking assistance and ideas from my 1st grade teacher fans. If you have followed me, you know that I am huge on teaching to the needs of individual children, so the work I share with you will continue to fit the needs of a range of learners as it has in the past. So, bear with me as I take on this new adventure be ready to share your best advice and hints as well!
Chapter one, Preparing for Guided Reading, in The Next Step in Guided Reading was chocked full of information. My friends Crystal at Kreative in Kindergarten and Tammy at Live, Love, Laugh are hosting this chapter and have done a fantastic job in dissecting it (click below to check out their posts), so I am going to focus the part I know best which is Independent Literacy Activities (aka Reading Workshop, center time, etc.) because I LOVE the way it works in my classroom and want to share that with you. I am hoping to gather information from the other bloggers, particularly about Reading Notebooks (anyone with experience with these, please comment below!).
Independent Learning Activities
|Click on the picture for more info about how I set up my Independent Learning Activities|
board and the materials I use to do it.
Here are my biggest tips for those of you who haven't perfected this process:
1)Start slow. As you can see my board above only has a few choices. This picture was taken at the beginning of the year. I introduce independent centers (what I call Basket Work a.k.a. must dos) whole group, then let the students explore with a few different choice centers afterwards. I keep going with this process until all major/staple Basket Work activities and choice work has been introduced and then I can begin TRUE Reading Workshop.
3)Make Choices Meaningful, Engaging, and Effective (and part of the curriculum). One mistake (well, in my eyes) I see teachers do is planning, gathering, manufacturing new centers week after week. Use what is already a part of your classroom and the students will automatically differentiate to their level. An example is reading the room: students may start by just "reading" the alphabet chart, but as time goes on, they will be reading charts, signs and more. Keep the centers the same, just change the goals. An example would be writing the room...if your phonics focus is digraphs, have them find 10 words somewhere in the room or books with the particular digraph you are working on! Work smarter, not harder because Lord knows we already work hard enough!
4) Create STAPLE centers: If you are a longtime reader of mine, you have heard me use this term frequently. This is what builds your independent learners quickly and effectively. You have STAPLE types of work where the activity stays basically the same, but the goals change. That way, your students already know the expectations of the center (stamping, I Spying, Pokey Pinning, Directed Drawing, Magazine Hunting, Writing the Room, etc...) but the material is easily changed out on a regular basis.
|Click on this picture for more detailed information about these staple centers!|
Readers' Notebooks are going to be new to me this year and I am thrilled about it. Click here to go grab the freebie I created for easy to manage, independent reading responses! They are differentiated to start with kinders and move up as they advance!
One more thing, I am SUPER, EXCITED about is the newest center I created to "amp" up my Pokey Pinning Literacy Center! I created Dolch Fluency Phrases for my students to poke at! There is no way my little friends would let me stop doing Pokey Pins and, let's face it, even firsties still need to strengthen their fine motor skills!