I’m jumping on the Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites book study train this week a couple of days late, but I’m still delighted to be taking the time to re-energize and re-affirm my feelings and philosophies about teaching that start to get a bit hazy around this time of the year.
This book is a perfect fit for me, because so much of what it speaks to is what I believe about kindergarten, what is developmentally appropriate, and what is key to differentiated instruction. It seems to be a happy marriage between all the foundations of what defines me as a teacher. Lord knows, these are things that often get lost in the busy hustle bustle of planning and meeting CCSS but what is, nevertheless, so important. I really think it’s going to be just the ticket to my teaching motor going for these last 3 ½ months of school.
Elizabeth Peterson from Kickin’It in Kindergarten has the honor of starting the study off with Chapters 1 and 2 and even provided us with a handy dandy organizer to keep us focused.
Strategy 1: Brainstorming and Discussion
This chapter and this strategy speaks volumes to me, because I am constantly very self-conscious about the amount of ‘yakking’ that goes on my classroom. I have often walked into other classes and thought, ‘What the heck, it’s so quiet in here.’ I’m not saying that my classroom is out of control noisy, but I can pretty much guaranteeyou that, most days, if you walk in there is going to be some yakking going on. We work in pairs, groups, station teams, partners and collaboratively all the time.
Friends, we talk!
Think~pair~share? Yep. That’s a given.
Brainstorming . . . you betcha . . . We love making lists.
Classroom leaders? You know it. What teacher doesn’t love an assistant.
But even so, I think there is more I need to do. I really think I need to let go of my Bloom’s favorites and expand my higher order questioning. I also need to ‘butt out’ and let discussions go a little further than I let them currently go. Please tell me that I’m not the only one that hurries their class through discussion times, because I’m rushing to get to the next thing? I need to let it go and not be a slave to the clock everyday! I just HATE being late, but I will get over it.
Strategy Two: Drawing and Artwork
I think perhaps that in kindergarten, we present our students with more opportunities to express what they know through drawing and artwork than in other grades simply because at the beginning of the year especially, they can not yet write sentences or demonstrate their understanding with written words.
In my own classroom, students are identifying characters in a story they listen to, illustrating math problems and telling stories through pictures.
Snowmen Pattern by First Grade Blue Skies
|This art activity inspired by Deep Space Sparkle.|
We make connections to poems in our poetry books by illustrating a familiar or
use similar techniques as an illustrator to reflect on a favorite book.
During learning station time (These are not literacy or math stations but more open ended exploratory stations that I offer a couple times a week.) there are generally different kinds of creative materials available for students to use to create as they wish. Sometimes these end up being elaborate stories of knights with swords other times it maybe an illustration of a future playground.
For students who don’t always know ‘what to draw’ I also like to put out doodle book pages.
These are starters give students a general idea of where to begin and let them ‘finish’ the picture. I absolutely adore these books and have several that I use.
Here are a few of my favorites. Just click on the title to find out more about these books.
I know that I’m not doing enough though.
I really somehow, someway want to beef up my STEM (and now STEAM) activities and incorporating that ART component would be so AMAZING to me. I also know that offering these creative opportunities are so important to my students who have a learning profile that favors spatial learning.
So that’s the first two strategies! I’ll be back with my reflections on the next strategy this weekend when Deedee hosts. It’s gonna be a good one: GAMES!!!! I’m all over that one let me tell you!
I teach kindergarten. We are 1/2 day, so I have two classes. I am struggling with fitting in groups, daily 5, math, reading, and teaching “soft skills”. Plus my district is really pushing Project Based Learning. Any suggestions on how to make it all work and fit together?