How To Take Your Read Alouds Further

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I was at an amazing IB Workshop this past weekend called “Reading and Writing Through Inquiry” and I have many, many things to share. My workshop leader, Rachel, was fantastic and all of the workshop participants (myself included!) were excited to collaborate and really wanted to be there. Which makes a difference with professional development, you know?

One of the learning engagements Rachel led us through was a way add more language to your read alouds, or writing and reading workshop time, or ELA lessons, you get the picture.

She read the book “The Island” by Armin Greder, an incredible though slightly controversial picture book. I had never heard of this book before. After Rachel read the book she had eleven different writing prompts, differentiated for upper and lower level grades, as well as English Language Learners. She read the choices and let us choose which one we wanted to do.

Here were our options:

Theme- What is the theme of the book? Write about it!

Write a review of book 

Supporting character- choose a character you liked or didn’t like and write about why

Perspective- pretend you are a character from your book “the best life for me would be” from the viewpoint of character

Resolution- rewrite the ending of the story

Poem- compose poem

Plotline- draw plot line 

Setting- draw a picture or map of the setting and describe it

Emotional response- draw a picture of the funniest, most exciting or saddest part of the story write paragraph describing scene

Make a T-Chart- comparing physical and character traits through main characters eyes and in the eyes of others

Climax- write the climax of the story

Author- find four facts about the author and find titles of other books written by the author

I created a simple google doc with the prompts. The more language friendly ones are translated into Korean, Chinese, and Japanese for the ELL students in my class.

Printable Version of Prompts 

What are ways that you extend your read alouds in class? 

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Guest Read Aloud in Jee Young’s Class

In my previous post, I mentioned visiting Jee Young’s classroom in Singapore this past fall.

Not only was I able to observe a science lesson, I also got to read aloud ish by Peter H. Reynolds. During the read aloud, Jee Young prepared questions for me to ask her students based on things they were already discussing as a class.

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Each student sat with a pencil in hand and their Reader’s Notebook opened. Since I am used to working with younger students, I tried my hand at a few jokes, loving it when the students not only got my jokes but responded back… Or even when they didn’t get my jokes because of cultural differences, meh, it happens.

Throughout the reading I paused to ask questions and give the students time to “Stop and Jot” their answers.  It was great hearing their responses and listening to them connect what they wrote to what another classmate said.

This is something I do with my first grade students, only it looks a little different. Instead of them writing I model it for them during our read alouds, stopping to jot my thoughts on sticky notes. During their independent reading time is when they get to “Stop and Jot” on sticky notes which they keep collected in their Reader’s Notebook.  Since they don’t stop and jot during read alouds, I have them do the good ‘ol “Turn and Talk” with their partner. Then, they have to share  with the class what their partner said, to help them listen to each other better.

After my read aloud I took my own mini-tour of Jee Young’s classroom and here are a couple of things I really liked (out of the many!).

Jee Young giving her students book recommendations (thumbs up Jee Young!):

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The baskets she uses to organize her books, I love them!

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When I arrived back in Korea I shared the same book, ish,  with my class, and they loved it. A few other favorite read alouds of mine are:

the dot by Peter H. Reynolds
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems (I mean anything by Mo, you can’t go wrong…)
Press Here by Herve Tullet (Jee Young and I did a project using this book with our classes years back and wrote about it here!)

Read about Jee Young doing a guest read aloud with my class a couple of years ago here.

What are some of your favorite read alouds? I would love to know, leave a comment!

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Seeing Scientists at Work in Jee Young’s Classroom

For those of you who follow us, you know that Two Apples A Day consists of two elementary teachers, collaborating on one blog. We started this adventure in the same country, at the same school, with the same vision (haha, okay reeling it back). Since then, Jee Young has left Korea and moved to Singapore. Melody (me!) has stayed in Korea, but worked for several international schools. Jee Young was able to come back to South Korea and visit my classroom a couple of years ago and shared her experience here.

This past fall, I was able to visit Jee  Young’s fifth grade classroom in Singapore during one of my holidays. I observed one of her science lessons and took mental notes of things that I thought were so on point.

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Here are the top 3 ideas I took away from Jee Young’s lesson:

1. Wear a Lab coat. Jee Young instantly turned scientist when she slipped on her white lab coat. Such a simple thing to do that made a big difference. As an additional bonus to this look could be protective goggles, yes?

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2. Call your students “Scientists”. Every time she spoke to them as a whole, or to an individual, Jee Young used the term “scientist(s)” and you could tell it made the students take themselves more seriously… they felt like scientists, they were scientists.

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3. Use lesson/learning time wisely by setting up routines.  In the course of 45 minutes, Jee Young gave the students their task, had the students observe their experiments and discuss their observations with their small groups, create a post on their blog using their iPads (pictures included!), and then had a couple of students share a few posts with the class as a whole. While this was happening she moved around to answer questions, mentally made notes of students’ work, and gave instant feedback. It was amazing. Yes, it takes time to set these routines up at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of a unit. But the effort is well worth it.

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Observing colleagues is a great way to share ideas and grow as a teacher. I know we all get busy, but take the time to do it and you will not regret it.

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Thank you for welcoming me into your classroom Jee Young, I hope I can come back soon.

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Telling Time in First Grade

Learning how to tell time. We’ve all been there.

Since telling time is something we do throughout the whole day I wanted to integrate it throughout all of my lessons. The way I decided to do this was by having my students create their own clocks and keeping it on their desks. Randomly throughout the day (at the beginning of a lesson, right before or after lunch, etc.) I asked the students to look at our classroom clock and mirror the time on their desk clock. Then they have to tell me the time.

When first creating our clocks I  used our classroom clock as an example  and explained how the numbers are placed in order around the circle, I used a template from this website (which I found on Pinterest!). Some students started glueing the numbers counter-clockwise, which I found interesting and made sure to correct quickly. The clocks were laminated and the hands attached with an envelope pin. Having each student color and decorate their clock gave them a sense of ownership and pride and they absolutely love having them on their desk. I thought it might be a distraction for them, but most of the time they forget they are there. Then they will randomly ask me if we can change our clocks as a class when I haven’t done it in a while. I started to encourage them to do it even when I don’t bring their attention to it.

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Sidenote: I am currently teaching New Zealand’s math curriculum called, The Numeracy Project. If you teach this at your international school I would love to hear from you! It’s completely new to me and I am curious if other school’s outside of New Zealand are using it.

Top *Other Websites I used in 2014

We all know about Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest… and we usually have those grade level appropriate blogs bookmarked, blessing the names of those individuals who are insanely good at writing and sharing their ideas—on a consistent basis. (Pointing finger at myself and shaking head.)

I decided to reflect back on 2014 and look at the websites I used that strayed from the go-to ones on my list.

1. Kahoot– This website allows you to create an online quiz, survey , or discussion on anything. I have used it weekly or bi-weekly to create a comprehension quiz on read aloud books. Once the quiz is created students log into kahoot.it (another kahoot website, but different address than the first link) on an iPad/laptop/desktop. My school has a one-to-one iPad program which makes this activity really convenient. It’s free to sign up. Make your own Kahoot today! You can also search kahoots other people have made for public use.

2. Google Images and Pixabay– I know, the first one listed here sounds weird, or like “duh”. But what I have recently discovered on Google images is that you can refine your searches to use pictures and images that are labeled for reuse, and I didn’t know that until a few months ago (oops). Once you search for an image you can click search tools, usage rights, and then labeled for reuse. There is also a site called Pixabay that has a lot of really beautiful and interesting photos, all available for use.

3. Handwriting Worksheets– I am not a huge fan of all the advertisements on this website… but it’s free! I believe that handwriting will never die, but man— do my students need a lot of help in this department. This website allows you to make several different kinds of handwriting worksheets. You can choose Print, D-Nealian, or Cursive for your students to practice. You can create letter, word, or paragraph form worksheets and you can include characters from languages other than English.

4. Sparklebox.co.uk– I am pretty sure I have talked about this website before, but I still think it is a hidden gem for some. I haven’t used this one as much this year as I have in the past, but it has a LOT of resources available.

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If you have some hidden, or not so hidden, websites you use for resources, please share in the comments. 

Back-To-School Door Decorating Ideas!

Most international schools have already started school within the past couple of weeks, or if you’re school is like mine, you are almost a month into the new school year!

I am really excited to work in a Christian school environment again (mainly because I love praying with my students, there is nothing wrong with non-Christian schools, I like them too) and so when I saw this idea for a door on Pinterest, I asked my TA to recreate it. She did an amazing job, right?

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Here are other ways I have decorated my door:

IMG_2621IMG_2770And as I was walking around my school I saw other doors I admired. (Picture below!)

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Then a friend posted a link on my wall to these 29 Awesome Classroom Doors for Back to School. It’s not too late my teaching friends. Decorating your door is too much fun to pass up!

If you have any more links to door decorating ideas, please share.

Up next, Jee Young and I are going to share how we set up our classrooms for the school year. I love seeing all the different ways people can transform a square or rectangular room. Until then, have a great first (second, eighth, fifteenth) day of school!

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Classroom Management: Behavior Chart

Working with Kindergarteners can be a tough job. It is full of constant reminders. “Do this.” and “Don’t do that!” and “What should you be doing right now?”

At the beginning of the year my grade teaching partner and I decided to establish the rules and routines, but we did not set up a behavior chart like all of the grades above us, because we felt we would be punishing our kindies for… well, being kindies!

Now, the year is more than halfway done and my students have a solid understanding of our expectations, rules, and routines. Because of that, we felt comfortable putting up a behavior chart in each of our classrooms. My teaching partner decided to go with an Olympic theme one because we started it at the beginning of the Olympics and who doesn’t love, THE OLYMPICS (how many times can I say Olympics in one sentence).

This is what it looks like:

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There were two more after “Make Better Choices” and before “Parent Contact” but we took them out because we needed to make sure all of our students could reach the top of the chart to put their name (on the clip) up by themselves. At the end of the day if a student is at “Outstanding” we give them one of our school “Bear Paws” which is a piece of paper showing their parents that they were following our school rules, the students LOVE THESE. (Our mascot is a bear).

I have noticed that this behavior chart works REALLY well. The behavior chart is from the amazing and incredible TeachersPayTeachers and comes with the option of printing it out on colored paper or printing colored versions of the pictures on white paper.

After the day is over we e-mail parents when their child made it to “Outstanding” (parents LOVE it when you compliment their children!) and if they got down to “Parent Contact.” Once we implemented this the parent response has been extremely supportive.  Also, when the student comes back the next day they move their name back to green, “Ready to Learn” and start the day fresh. It’s a good reminder if they didn’t do so well the day before to do better, or if they did do well to keep up the good work!

What are some classroom management systems you set up in your classroom?

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Kindergarten Centers

I love center time. Wait, let me make that clear. I love center time after the first two months of school. When you teach the youngest students in the school you literally need to hold their hands for the first several weeks/months. This is why routines are so important at the beginning of the year. Because once they get those routines down, it’s amazing what a five-year-old can do.

Our kindergarten program has center time in the morning where they are rotated through the seven centers we have set up (three centers per day for about ten minutes)  and then in the afternoons at the end of the day they have 15-20 minutes to choose their own center for “free-play”.

I love hearing about the different centers other teachers have in their rotation and gleaning ideas from them. In my classroom the seven centers are:

Construction Zone: Outfitted with a Lego table and a ton of foam blocks for students to build with!

Imagination Station: Where there is an actual wooden treehouse/fort (we never know what to call it as it’s not actually in a tree), tool bench, kitchen, puppet stand, and dress-up clothes galore.

Reading Center: Books, books, books! (This is obviously our classroom library corner as well)

Technology Center: We are blessed to be able to have three iPads and two Mac computers to deck out our tech corner. This took time to integrate into center time as the other Kindergarten teacher and I had to work one on one with each student to teach them how to properly handle an iPad and how to log into their raz-kids account.

Writing Center: The students use what they learn during writing workshop and write stories, we usually give them a prompt or ask them to finish a story they started the day before. Our most recent guest blogger, Mark, gave some great ideas to add sight words and such into this center. I am going to add Jewel King!

Math and Science Center:  At the beginning of the year it was lame, but after a couple of months we were able to get some great pattern block pages and other math games, as well as magnets for science (though, admittedly it’s more of a math center) . Later, I will do a separate post on some of the great activities we have been able to put into this center.

Art Center: Depending on the season, I will assign different activities for the students to complete during the week in art center. This includes creating fall pictures, making snowman to decorate the classroom with, cutting and coloring hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc. A friend told me that she has a cutting center (which I love) and since then I try to incorporate scissors into the art center regularly.

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What are your favorite centers to do?

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Guest Blog Post: A little Creativity goes a Long Way

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Our first guest blogger of the year is Mark Yu, a Kindergarten Teacher  at Korea International School – Seoul Campus. Mark is an amazing teacher whose ideas I am constantly stealing from Instagram. I am absolutely thrilled that he was willing to write-up a guest post for Two Apples A Day. More guest posts in the future? Yes, please!

Sometimes repetition is necessary. Especially in a  Kindergarten classroom.

To add more flavor to my literacy centers, I sometimes come up with games to help my kiddos have more fun with the  activity. Where do I come up with these ideas? I really have no idea; my ideas come up at random!
So instead of this:

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Which is a game, but it’s just taking turns rolling the two cubes and then reading and writing the word on a dry erase board… not too exciting.

I came up with a game called, “Jewel King,” which looks something like this:

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As you can see, just by changing and adding a few things (including the name) it makes the activity seem much more exciting than it really is.

I let my students use my “special” colored pens and choose one color to be the “king” or “queen” of. So if a student chose light blue, for example, he would choose to be the “King of Light Blue.” They will be using their pens to write the words they roll on their kingdom’s “scrolls.”

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After they decide which pen color they want, they can start the game. The point of the game is to get as many jewels as you can for your “kingdom.”

Now, to earn jewels, you have to make a correct prediction of which word you are going to get. So the student has to pick letters to make a CVC word, and hope to actually roll that word. For example, let’s say before I roll I choose “d” and “ot” to make the word, “dot.” If I roll and actually get that word, I get a jewel for my kingdom. It may sound complicated, but just modeling it a few times helps the children to catch on pretty quick.

This game actually gives all the students more practice in decoding and reading CVC words because they must choose a word they want before they roll, and then they have to read the word they actually roll, as well as write it down on their scroll.

Not to mention this game allows the practice of social skills in learning to cooperate with others and following game rules as well as taking turns!

I also did the same thing with a sight word graphing activity. Before “Jewel King,” it looked like this:

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Just rolling and graphing the word.

Then after making a few changes… and voilá!

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Same concept as the other game, the student picks a word on the cube and says it out loud, and if they get the word, they get a jewel for their kingdom! Whatever word they get, they fill out their graph.

And you can differentiate with your students.

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I have some of my center groups simply graph by making Xs over the words they roll, and I have other students practice writing the sight word in the graph. And others, I have them write a few sentences on the back about which word they rolled the most and which word they rolled the least!

And you can always change it to “Catch the Dolphins” and use little dolphins instead of jewels or with whatever you would like to use! And it really didn’t take much time at all to make these changes to my centers, but it made a world of difference to my kiddos. Who doesn’t love pretending to be a king or a queen? ^_^

How can you add some flavor to your centers?

Mark

Follow Mark

twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kismryu 

class flicker site: http://www.flickr.com/kismryu

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas!

As a teacher, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. It’s true. I LOVE IT.

This year I had my Kindies cut out hearts (making the hearts from the heart shape in Word) and I asked them a simple question, “What is love?” I told them to write “Love is …” In the middle of their hearts and then color it. I tried very, very hard not to lead my students. We talked about the word love and the different kind of love you can feel. Love for your parents, your brother or sister, your classmates, your teacher, and so on and so forth. But I really didn’t want to give them examples because I wanted to see what they wrote.

Some of my favorites (though all of them were my favorites really):

“Love is my mom’s love.”

“Love is fish and cake.”

“Love is good.”

“Love is friends.”

“Love is hearts.”

And one student said, “Love is BCC [name of our school], KTX, and Frozen.” The KTX is our speed train here in Korea. You can go from Seoul down to Busan in three hours. I also think Love Is KTX. And another thing, Frozen is SO WILDLY POPULAR here in Korea. My students have seen it up to 6 times in the theater.

Here is a picture of our final board:

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Don’t make fun of the background and border of my bulletin board! You work with what you have when you don’t have a Teacher’s Center around the corner/around the nation.

Another idea I found that I am having the entire elementary class do this Valentine’s Day is a project called “Inchies” though I made my squares 2″ by 2″. I found the idea on That Artist Woman and I LOVE IT.  Check out the link.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

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