Reading & Writing Praises :)

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by Amanda, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. Amanda

    Amanda Administrator Staff Member

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    Nov 26, 2002

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to post because I am sooo excited about what I am seeing in my kindergartners. It has been a great year. I am seeing them already doing things my first graders were doing at the beginning of first grade. :) They are so smart (and they started out so low!!!)

    I started working with small groups about 3 weeks ago, and started thinking I should pull over individuals during this time and during rest time. So, that's what I did yesterday. I pulled out a DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) on one of my kids who seemed to be ready to read. He knows all his letters and sounds, plus he's writing complete sentences with both invented and conventional spelling. Anyway, I put the book in front of him, and he so quietly said, "But I can't read!" Of course, I knew he could, so we started off on our picture walk. He was SO not confident that he didn't even think he could tell me what was going on in the pictures! He even started getting me discouraged, but I knew this kid could do it, so I kept with the positive routine and by the end of the book, he was a little more into it and telling me what was going on in the pictures. Now it was time for the text.... He was SO surprised when he saw words that we had been learning - I, like, the. He even remembered 'apples' from when we did our I Like Apples predictable chart! He read the entire book to me. We pulled out another book, worked through it, and wa-lah! another book he could read. So then I said, "What did you tell me when we sat down here today?" He responded with "I can't read...." and I said, "and what did you just do?!" "I READ IT!!" :D He was smiling from ear to ear. He took the book home to read to Mom and Dad and then read it to the class today. He had even taught another student who struggles how to read it perfectly.. :) It's so exciting!

    To top this off, I also pulled some of my other students who had all their letters & sounds identified... They each practiced a book with me and took it home to read last night and to the class today. Now all the other kids want to read and they sit on the carpet before school reading to each other! With a week like this I almost wish tomorrow wasn't a half day. We are on a roll. Of course, I'm not going to complain about the break. We need it. :)
     
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  3. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Nov 27, 2002

    Amanda-

    It's so encouraging to hear such good things... kudos to you! Keep up the good work! :)

    With all my schoolwork bogging me down, it's nice to hear other people's victories! :)
     
  4. CeCe

    CeCe Companion

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    Nov 27, 2002

    Building Blocks

    Amanda,
    That's great! That's exactly why I want to teach Kindergarten - because it's so exciting when you see the lightbulbs start coming on for these little ones in reading & writing! It sounds like you are using Pat Cunningham's Building Blocks with your Kinders. I have read several of her books and I was thinking of using her strategies when I have my own class. (I'm not teaching now, just volunteering in K while I work on my Masters. I taught 2nd grade for 7 years before this.) Do you follow her framework with your kids (Morning Message, Predictable Charts, Shared Reading, Journal Writing, etc.)? Do you spend a whole week on one book during shared reading, as she suggests? I'd love to hear your thoughts on her program.
     
  5. AngelaS

    AngelaS Cohort

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    Nov 27, 2002

    Congratulations, Amanda! I really miss seeing the tremendous amount of growth in the little ones. It is just not the same in 3rd grade. I'm always wondering- am I really making a difference? Are they really getting it? It's not like that with 5 year olds. They will make a point of calling out to tell you their every thought- "Look! There's a 'P' like in my name! See, I made a pattern- blue, red, blue, red! That story's got the same bear like in the story you read to us yesterday! I can count these- watch me! Watch me!". Exhausting, yes, but with most kids, I could see huge gains by this time of the year. Enjoy!

    I am feeling frusterated (if you don't mind me venting) because I know my kids are making gains but they are being tested to death and the standardized tests are not revealing it. They took a test a few weeks ago in which they had to read a story and respond in paragraph form to four questions- in forty-five minutes! Half the kids didn't finish and got 0's. (They were graded with 2,1, or 0 on a rubric). All my kids had 1's or 0's, even my TAG kids working a year above grade level! They are so hard on these kids- they are only eight!

    It makes it look (and me feel) that I'm not doing my job. They are coming out with 2 new tests for third graders this year, given two weeks apart, a week long each. One of the test tests the kids on percentages, which we don't even teach until 4th grade! I feel like they are being set up to fail (and me too). And the hardest part is, if we don't pass two years in a row, we'll be considered 'failing' by the No Child Left Behind Act, and if we pass, we'll be inundated by out-of-boundary children from poverty schools (and we are already Title I!).

    I am very discouraged right now. I don't feel appreciated and I feel like they are expecting miracles I can't make the kids perform.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 29, 2002

    Third grade is a tough year! So much to learn (so much to teach!!) - Have faith, you are making a difference! You may not see it on a day to day basis, but over the long haul, you will. You always have great ideas on these discussion forums, I know that's carryig over into your classroom! Hang in there! :)
     
  7. Amanda

    Amanda Administrator Staff Member

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    Dec 5, 2002

    Hang in there, Angela :) It's harder to see their progress, but they are learning, too. You're exactly right about the little ones. My kids this year are really sharp, so it's even more exciting.

    CeCe -
    I do use some Building Blocks strategies, but I really use a combination of lots of things. :c) If you follow Building Blocks month-by-month, the kids wouldn't be reading as much in November. I used Building Blocks as a guide my first 2 years and then taught first grade. Now that I'm in Kindergarten again, I realize that they are capable of a lot more. Our district's and my expectations are much higher. I have done some predictable charts that we turn into class books they read again and again. I started the year with learning about names, but took it a step further. Instead of just writing their name, we also wrote a story on a half sheet of chart paper...

    Rachel is 6 years old.
    Rachel has 2 brothers and 1 sister.
    Rachel lives in Marshfield, Missouri.
    Rachel likes ____________.

    We talked about sounds in words when we wrote and I invited them to find words like "is, in, and" from previous charts each day. They learned correct letter formation for each name. I hung up the charts as we finished them. After we were done with the names, I took them down and put them into 2 books, The Book of Girls, and The Book of Boys. They love to read these.

    Another big thing that has really helped them learn letters and sounds is that we chant our alphabet chart every day! (This is the alphabet chart I made--it is available @ store.atozteacherstuff.com if you want to see a picture of it.) We say the letter and the sound... A, a, apple; /A/, /a/, apple -- B, b, bat; /B/, /b/, bat -- etc.

    Lastly, we make sure to do a lot of writing. They use their student-sized alphabet charts to help them find sounds. I model writing every day. We learn a lot about high-frequency words at this time.

    I do some shared reading (big books, songs, poems)--we always reread, but I do teach a lot of reading in small groups or one-on-one during literacy centers or rest time. It seems more effective.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 5, 2002

    Reviewing the sound/letters daily is great! I still do it with my second graders about 2 times per week. I find it helps with everyone's spelling/reading! Everyone knows the key words for each letter so instead of telling a child they need an'i', I'll tell them /i/ like in insect and then they figure it out! I also have a blend chunk chart (sh, ch, etc) and a rimes chart which we'll start on soon!
     
  9. Margo

    Margo Devotee

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    Dec 5, 2002

    I love using parts of Building Blocks. I don't use it all and I don't use it alone. But I always start my year out with the Getting To Know You activity. I find that my kids learn their letters and sounds so much quicker this way. Other teachers that don't use Building Blocks are always amazed at how quickly my kids learn their letters. This year we started using a new reading program and I don't have as much time to do Building Blocks now. When I have time, we do predictable charts and Amanda is right, the kids love to go back and reread them. I think Building Blocks is a wonderful supplement to any curriculum.
     
  10. CeCe

    CeCe Companion

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    Dec 5, 2002

    Amanda, gerbigc, & Margo,
    Thanks for the wonderful teaching tips on using Building Blocks! I love the idea of chanting with the alphabet chart everyday and the Book of Girls & Book of Boys is one I will definitely remember to do.
     

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