Monday, November 28, 2016

Website Review

Last year I used many different math websites in my classroom before I started using Moby Max. This was one of my favorites. The website is broken down by grade level, and within each grade level there is a link to different subject areas. I really enjoy the math because it is broken down into each skill we teach and its so easy to put a student on the computer to work on the exact skill they are having trouble with. It is a lot like Moby Max, but I think it more specifically targets each skill. It also reads questions to them which is really helpful in first grade. It keeps up with the percentage they get correct and how many problems they have worked on. I will probably start using it again after Christmas on some of mine who seem to be getting a little burnt out on Moby Max.
IXL's skills are also aligned to the Standards of Excellence and the Georgia Pre-K Program Content Standards. You can also view student progress towards standards. The reports in the standards center allow you to see what standards have been mastered, and what standards students are still having trouble with.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Session 12

I found the article about skill and will very interesting. Students have to have both to be good readers, and its our job as teachers to help develop those things.
After reading the articles and slides on motivation the first thing I thought of at our school is Accelerated Reading. In first grade students are just starting to try out AR. They are not required to take tests or get a certain amount of points. In my class the choice is completely up to them if they want to take AR tests or not, and surprisingly almost every one of my students do take tests and love it! I think passing tests help them feel successful. They are awarded prizes after earning a certain number of points and I think this is a huge motivation for them as well.
I think giving them the choice to do this and not making it a requirement helps make it seem like something fun they are doing as opposed to something they are having to do for a grade. My kids come in every morning asking to take tests and they love checking out books to take home and read with their parents.

Session 4 & 6- FCRR

After reading the FCRR presentation I wish I would've saved my last post for this one. I just did not realize in pre-k how important those foundation skills are. If students don't have that foundation to build upon then they are really going to struggle. The presentation also gave me some really great ideas of things I could do with some of my students this year who still lack that foundation.
This year we started using Saxon Phonics as our phonics instruction. I know this program has been around a long time, and many of the teachers I teach with have taught this program before. This is my first experience with it but I do feel like I am already starting to see improvements that I didn't see last year. With this program they learn to code the words with macrons and breves, they also code digraphs, suffixes, etc. This is something I do not remember learning how to do in elementary school, so I am learning as they learn, but I am already seeing so much improvement in some of my struggling readers.

Session 3/ part 1

Not even going to lie, when I had my first child I was determined that he was going to be the child on "Ellen" who was fluently reading at 2 years old. I didn't purchase the "My Baby can Read" program, but I DID borrow it from my sister-in-law. I did however purchase the "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." I was positive he was going to be a genius by age 4. I worked with him every night on alphabet recognition (which he didn't love doing by the way) and I pretty much drove him nuts. He WAS able to recognize all of his letters right before his 3rd birthday but then I had my second child and kind of backed off. The summer before he started pre-k I started back working with him a little bit again and I was shocked when I realized he no longer knew all of his letters nor was he even the least bit interested in learning them again. It took me awhile to realize that just memorizing the letters was doing nothing for him. If he wasn't actually doing something meaningful and learning their sounds, how they work together, etc. then he wasn't going to retain them.
As a pre-k teacher I had a hard time seeing the big picture. I thought the most important thing was making sure all of my students left my class knowing all of their letters, but when I moved to first grade it opened up my eyes A TON. There are some kids who can memorize all day long but if they are not phonologically aware, then those letters they memorized mean nothing.
Sight words are another thing I struggled with as a pre-k teacher. I thought it was awesome when I would have a parent come up and tell me their child had memorized 10 sight words, but if they aren't reading those words in text, they mean nothing to them and they are going to forget them. I think its so important to teach kids these words because they make up so much of our texts and they aren't able to sound them out, but I think its sad and pointless for Kindergarten teachers to have to make sure the child has these words memorized before they go on to first grade. Half of them get to first and they don't remember any of them because they were not developmentally ready.

Session 2

Mrs. Nero's Kindergarten class seems to be set up exactly how a Georgia Pre-K class is. I taught pre-k for 7 years, and we pretty much followed the exact schedule as in the case study. Her classroom environment seems super organized, and it seems that all of the children know what is expected of them.
I feel like she did a great job incorporating literacy into each of her centers. Many times, when others think of "center time" they automatically think of playing and having fun. I think allowing children to learn through playing is SO important. It may look like they are just playing house in the home living center but they are also exploring and building on past experiences, comfortably testing out and picking up new vocabulary, and learning throughout the process. One of my favorite parts about teaching pre-k was swapping out my dramatic play center each month. We had things from grocery stores, to coffee shops, to pumpkin patches, to Santa's workshop. Giving them free reign to explore these things while also providing literacy rich materials to them such as pads for making lists, menus to order from, remotes with numbers and a "tv guide", catalogs, etc. to me is so important to their development!
I also read some things that made me think of ways to improve my own classroom. Journaling is something that I feel like was a big thing when I was in elementary school. My mom has my old journals and I loved looking through them to see how my writing developed each year. I DID do journals in my classroom as a pre-k teacher. They came in each morning and wrote their names twice, and once they mastered that they moved on to drawing pictures and labeling, but this is something I have never implemented in my first grade classroom. I feel like somewhere along the way I read a study, or heard someone speak negatively on this topic, saying journals are not an effective tool for literacy development. This is something I need to look and research more about. I would love to implement this into my morning routine, because I think it would be a great tool to use to show writing growth through the year. I am definitely going to give more thought and do more reading about journaling.