Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Math Game Day!

Yesterday, I enjoyed spending quality time with our first grade teachers during their weekly teacher meeting. They were curious about what else they could do during the fourth nine weeks to prepare their young mathematicians for second grade. They learned through vertical conversation that students coming into second grade needed to be fluent with their combinations of 10 (1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5), needed to automatically know their doubles (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4 etc...), and needed to have automaticity with doubles plus one (6+6=12. Add 1. 13). Being fluent with these skills, in addition to knowing how to use the strategy of an open number line were among second grade teachers top suggestions for an easy and successful transition into second grade.

The first grade team wanted students to be able to practice these necessary skills in an engaging way, so they asked if I could find math games to address these skills. With the help of Michelle Ellis, I turned to Catherine Twomey Fosnot's text, Games That Promote Early Number Sense, and looked for games to address the target skills. I gathered all necessary materials and set up five stations.

I began the meeting with a quick introduction of five games Rolling for Tens, Hide-and-Peek, Doubles, Doubles More or Less, and The Shoe Game, and then teachers paired up to rotate through each of the stations. They played the game, discussed student strategies, talked about ways to modify the games to differentiate instruction, and talked about what challenges their students may encounter. I circulated to each group, listened to the conversation, and answered their questions. After teachers played each game, we met for our closing session to share ideas.

The teachers left the session eager to implement these games in their classrooms. And, I can't wait to hear how it goes with their young mathematicians. I'm sure second grade teachers will appreciate their efforts!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

East Meets West

A bilingual one of a kind standards-based bulletin board.

The Kindergarten co-teach duo, Michelle Ellis and Debbie Cothern, have done it again and produced a one of a kind standards-based bulletin board. In 2001, as part of the America's Choice School Design, we were taught to compare student work against standards, and make our students' work visible. At first, we simply stuck to the template they gave us, but gradually the CCE teachers embraced the boards and began to push themselves each month to think outside the box. The boards, especially Debbie and Michelle's, morphed into not only posting student work, standards, and teacher commentary, but began to transform and capture the true essence of what was occurring inside the classroom. Also, early in the design, we learned to post student work over time. Generally, the last board of the year showcases a student's academic progress throughout one school year.

So, how was this particular board born? Earlier this month, Debbie was reading Eric Carle's, Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, to her students when one of her young learners, A., politely corrected her pronunciation of a Japanese word. The correction began a conversation between the teachers, A., and A.'s mom. They discovered not only was A. eagerly learning how to read and write in English during the school day, but in the evening she was learning to read and write in Japanese! Debbie and Michelle asked to see A.'s work over time, and the idea for their one of a kind, over the top, April standards board was born!

Kindergarten Reading Performance Standards

Kindergarten Writing Performance Standards

Growth in Kindergarten

Listen to A. Read in English and in Japanese

Japanese Skills Block

Japanese Writers' Workshop

Samples of Work Over Time

Japanese Readers' Workshop

English Skills Block

English Writers' Workshop

Writers' Workshop Work Over Time

Beginning of Kindergarten Sample

September 29, 2008

Mid-Year Sample

January 28, 2009

End of the Year Sample

April 16, 2009

Making Connections Between Japanese and English Stories

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Eat well, my pretty chicken," he cried. "Get nice & fat for my stew!"

Creative teachers never cease to amaze me. Just when I think the dynamic duo, Debby Cothern and Michelle Ellis, couldn't possibly come up with another unique standards-based bulletin board, a new idea magically appears. This Kindergarten co-teach team offers an endless supply of fresh ideas when it comes to boards, and each time a new one is due, I wait in anticipation. It's not only in their superb content, but in their unique presentation that inevitably captures my attention. I read their students' work, revel at their imaginations, and eagerly show all visitors that walk into our building the work of our youngest learners.

I fell in love with their board last month, a Response to Literature on The Wolf's Chicken Stew. The black felt background and felt characters are props used by their students in the classroom to story board and orally retell the story, A Wolf's Chicken Stew. On the board, they include photographs of the children working on their story boards in the classroom. They highlight four student's responses in an easy to read color-coded format. The standards, task, and next step are displayed across the top of the board. The one of a kind presentation certainly made it a favorite of mine. And, just wait until you see what they put up this month--It is OVER THE TOP!

Amy's Response to LiteratureOnce upon a time a wolf was eating meals. The wolf liked always rising eating meals. He began to think for the next. He wanted a chicken stew so he searched for a chicken. He spotted one.

He crept to the chicken and stopped. He had a good idea. He thought I will fatten him then bake a little more. Then he began to cook. First he make 100 scumptious pancakes.

And put it on the porch and said be fat. Next he made 100 donuts and put at the porch said be fat. And made 100 pound cake.
And put at the porch and said be fat. And it was the night and the wolf pecked at the door. And the door opened and the chicken said it was not Santa Claus. It was Uncle Wolf.

And the wolf had 100 kisses and that night he didn't have chicken stew. But Ms. Chicken fixed a good dinner and said I will made 100 cookies.