And so it begins…another summer book study! Chapter 1 of The Next Step. Today’s host is Crystal from the one and only Kreative In Kinder and Tammy from Live, Love Laugh Everday in Kindergarten. Make sure you check out their posts.
The reason I’m so excited about this book is that so much of it can be directly tied into what we are already doing with Daily 5.
You remember our Daily 5 book study from last year don’t you. If not, you can click HERE to find my first chapter from the Daily 5 and it will lead you to all the other contributors and their posts as well. There are A LOT of good things you can find so I’d check it out if you get the chance. And this study will be full of a lot of goodies too I’m sure.
So to get started Tammy from Live Love Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten, posted questions to think about as you’re reading the chapter:
And also questions posed in the book by the author:
The area that really struck me about this first chapter is that you need to have a plan (literacy stations, Daily 5 etc) of how your literacy block is going to work. How long it will be, how students will rotate through and for how long. She gave us lots of examples in the book so if you still don’t have a plan, there are some ideas that might help you.
And once you have that idea, you need to figure out how, especially when talking about kindergarten, you will set up teaching routines and procedures.
Since independent stations are a huge part of this, expectations, rules and routines are a must (him…sounds a lot like what we talked about with Daily 5 huh?)
Ok, so let me tell you how my literacy block is set up. Remember I’ve only been doing Daily 5 (we call it Daily 6) for a year so I’m still learning as well, . . .tweaking and finding what works for me.
Having a Plan for How it’s Going To Work
Last year I ran six stations with anywhere from 4-5 students in each station. Now I also ran an average of 28 students in my class so going to any few stations would have meant way to large of numbers.
Each day, every student would travel to 3 different stations. For ease, I just labeled my groups here as numbers. I choose the station and order for the day, students were able to have other ‘choices’ within their designated stations. Each station lasted 20 minutes and then students would travel to their next scheduled station.
This allowed me to spend extended amounts of time with students which I love. I didn’t pull students from other stations to come to mine. That just didn’t work for my kinders. They never wanted to leave the station they were currently visiting and I just had alot of kiddos that had a real problem with sudden and unexpected changes in the schedule. Knowing where they would be made things much easier on them and me.
Even though a student might not visit a ‘teacher’ station’ each day, they would work with an adult (volunteer or an aide), on their off day. So essentially, they worked with some kind of an adult each day.
I’ll talk more about what they do at each station and how I handle independent work and choice later, but for now, this is what it ended up being, but not at all what it was or will be the first 6 (or even longer) weeks of school when students are learning routines and expectations.
The first few weeks:
Those first several weeks HAVE to be about exploration, practice, practice and more practice of the routines and expectations that will guide them through the rest of the year. So, just like in the book, I will introduce two new stations to students each week (or depending on their readiness it may be less). The other stations will be exploratory in nature. There will be things like pokey pins, magnifying glasses, playdoh, beads, letter cars, cut and glue (can you believe how many kids have never held scissors-YIKES), Things that will give them time to ‘try out. I have a post from last year that might give a better example visually of what I’m talking about. If you’re interested, click on the picture below and it will take you there.
Build Stamina and Expectations for Read To Self
And during this same time frame, the class will be working at a separate time to build up stamina for reading to self (Daily 5) as a whole group. I have to know that they can master read to self as a group before I make that a literacy station. That’s just my own preference.
The best advice I have for helping to achieve this is to do all the things that they tell you in the Daily 5 book, of course, but to also pre-load your students’ book boxes with some teacher selected books based on what you know about your students.
I know, I know . . . It takes time to know your students, so give yourself a break and cheat a little. Send your parents an interest Inventory for your students. (If you need one, go ahead and click on the picture of this one. I have used this and had this as a FREEBIE forever, but there still might be a few of you that haven’t grabbed it yet. Just click on the picture.)
Even though students LOVE shopping for their own books, sometimes we can help them with sustained reading when me offer them books WE know will be of interest to them.
Finally, when they meet that goal of sustained reading…celebrate. A little reading in the dark under tables with flash lights and a snack goes along way for setting the stage for the rest of the year. (Yes, I really turned my classroom into one ginormous tent village! They earned it and loved it.)
The author also has us considering how we will eliminate interruptions, keep on time and know what our students are reading…again, you need a plan.
For staying on time, I use a big honking timer. I freely admit, I am in love with my timer. It was given to me by one of our district specialist because I had a student that needed to know when we would be transitioning before we transitioned. This thing was big, visible and it worked like magic. She could see it from where she was, and so could everyone else, I didn’t have to remind them that stations would be ending…they knew it with a simple glance.
Having a place for everything and everything in it’s place will also eliminate students interrupting for needing items, for when they find misplaced items or for when something is broken. Just a little planning ahead, can save you heaps of time.
I have a place where students can find extra items such as dice or game markers so that they aren’t interrupting me for those items. When they find items on the floor (don’t you hate hearing “Teacher, I found a paper clip.” or whatever they have picked off the ground.), there is a container for that, and there is always a torn or loose page from a book that needs fixing, so give them a ‘book hospital’ to put it in. BOOM!!! You just avoided a boat load of interruptions.
These labels are free so click on the picture and it will take you to the post that has their link.
Make items readily available for your students, teach them the routines for getting things out and taken care of stations as well. This is going to help you help them foster greater independence and will get you that valuable time with your reading groups.
This is so difficult in my small space, but the best thing that I do to help combat noise level besides modeling modeling modeling, is to spread my students out whenever possible. Most stations are mobile.
My listening stations are in individual bags (I always have one extra bag so that if a cd player has dead batteries a student doesn’t need to interrupt me. They just get another bag). And my most used tools in my class are clipboards. Students can grab whatever they are working on, listening to books, read to self with book boxes, or word work, find a spot where they are most comfortable and work.
Ok, I think that is enough for now. I’m anxious for the next chapter which talks about grouping. I’m a big flexible grouping fan so it should be right up my alley.