Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Do We Know About Books And Stories?

An important step in any project is identifying what the students know about a subject.  This often helps us define what they need to know and what interests them most.  This week we began a discussion about what we know about stories and books.  We revisited this again, on a second day, so that the students had more time to think and to collect data, by having this lens when they listened to stories.  Below you can hear that they know a lot!  I am excited to see where this leads us, as we set up a field trip to visit a publishing house and connect with other experts in the field!

Have a great night, Jennifer

January 28th, 2013

What Do We Know About Stories and Books?

Rowan: Stories are fun to read. And sometimes I chose harder ones, so I get a challenge.
Amelie: Sometimes books are big, and sometimes they are small.
Brianna: Books let you learn new words.
Lukas: Stories take place somewhere and it is called a setting.
Mathis: You get books in the library.
Mason: It's short, and maybe it's long.
Evelyn: There's an author in every book. An author is someone who thinks up the story.
Lia: There's a main character in a story or a book.
Joshua: Some books have pictures and some don't.
Lukas: Some books are real and some books are make believe.
Jennifer: Do you know the names of those kinds of book?
Mathis: Non-fiction.
Lukas: Fiction and Non-fiction. Non-fiction books are real books and Fiction books are make-believe books.
Mathis: Longer books might have chapters.
Haden: Longer books might have more pages.
Joshua: Longer books might have more words.
Kai: Longer books might have more letters.
Kayla: Longer books might have more pictures.
Mathis: Short books have, usually, no chapters.
Demetri: Big books have more pages than little books.
Evelyn: Some books have numbers on the back and then you can find what page that you're looking for.
Mathis: And it's called the index.
Natalie: The dictionary, you can look up stuff, and it's a big book that has a lot of pages.
Amelie: A book has a title.
Haden: A book has a cover.
Lia: Some books and stories can be scary and some can't.
Haden: Some books can be not fair.
Mathis: Books have spines.
Amelie: Sometimes they have real paper and sometimes it's cut in pretty ways. I saw one in the library, just like, not cutted out, but just like scribbly.
Malaya: Sometimes books can have pretty pictures in a book.
Kai: There's always, every book has a title.
Katie: Some books have real characters, like Obama.
Kayla: Books, they sometimes have people that are not real.
Katie: A type of book is a kind of science book, to learn about stuff. A research book.
Lia: The illustrator is the person who draws the pictures and the illustrator helps the author with the book. Or, just one person can write the book and draw the pictures.
Mathis: Sometimes, books have information on the back. Like from the book.
Natalie: It's informaiton for what the book has in it.
Jennifer: It's also sometimes a summary.
Natalie: What's a summary?
Lia: A summary is a short version of something.
Malaya: Some stories write about submarines.
Amelie: Books have pages.
Kayla: Stories sometimes have some parts that you have to fix. Like a problem.
Rachel Lee: Often, in most stories, there is a problem and you find out what happens next and then it gets fix.
Rowan: I think Rachel Lee means it gets solved.
Joshua: Or there can be a problem at the first page, and then at the end the characters figure it out.
Kayla: Like the story that a person copies somebody.
Natalie: It's, “Ruby, The Copycat”.
Jennifer: What was the problem in that book?
Evelyn: Ruby keeps copying people.
Joshua: And she never stops.
Natalie: She did stop.
Joshua: She stopped at the end.
Mathis: So, first she always says the same, and then she said her own idea, what she really did. She said, “I skipped”, and that was true.
Joshua: Then everybody started copying her.
Amelie: And then everyone skipped.
Rachel Lee: And then the way home, the person who she kept copying, she hopped home with her.

This leads us to identifying more parts of a story.  Previously, we were looking at setting, character  author, illustrator and summary.  Now we add the problem, solution and the book's message!  Each time we read a story, we will be trying to identify these!  More soon!

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Is Interesting Us Right Now?

Hello Kindergarten Families!

Last week flew by with our holiday and the field trip!  Here is a little glimpse of some of the things we have been investigating.

Estimation Jars:

We are now in the phase of counting the items in our jars.  There are only a few jars left to count.  Here you see two friends working on the corks.  A tricky part of this is figuring out how to move to counting the remaining items when you are skip counting.  For example here, the two were counting the items by tens, but after 10, 20, then they pointed to each of the last five.  What is the next number after 20?  It it 30?

Skip counting takes time to internalize, and also it takes time to realize where you are in the numbers when you are counting so fast.  The two used the number chart to try to see what number comes after 20 when counting by ones again.  They found 21, but then were wondering if this is called 12 or 21?  These are all the hard work of a Kindergartner for sure!  There are so many math concepts we are connecting together.

Social Studies- What do you know about the states in our country?

The students have been sharing what they know about a state and then we are researching more about these.  It has helped to have the personal knowledge and connection to a peer, first.  I am hoping more parents will be able to come in to share their photos or a story of a state you have been to...


Have you checked out our story wall?  There are so many students who are adding more to this.  Each day, a new friend has become inspired to begin one.  Some are writing it all first, while others are writing a little at a time, with illustrations.  The class generated a list of words they would like to know how to spell, to help with their story writing.  That, in itself, makes me interested in seeing how these stories will unfold!
We are beginning to explore more about editing and understanding deeper concepts of what makes a story intriguing.  More soon on this!

Three Dimensions!

Also, Friday we had a game day.  These are fun challenges for students to practice skills or to practice thinking in new ways.  We had an activity that involved paper coiling.  I challenged the students to see how they could change a paper strip to look different.  Each group that joined looked at the previous work and tried to add new shapes and twists.  I was hoping that these students would begin to see that although paper is flat, it doesn't always have to be used in that way.  It can be important to remember to turn things on their side to see them in a different light.  Today, the students saw the potential of paper in it's three dimensional form.  What will this allow them to explain and show in their work?

Well, I hope each of you were able to hear so much more about the week, than this!  
Have a great day, Jennifer

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mariachi at the Balboa Theater!

Our field trip to listen to Mariachi music at the Balboa Theater was a great time!  The students were so entranced.  They were respectful listeners all day, which made it such a beautiful day.

The presentation was a great way to continue our exploration of the different types of musical instruments, and the sounds they make.  At one point, they showed the three types of guitars at the performance (Guitar, Vihuela and Guitarron) , and we were able to hear how different each one is!

I want to thank Leslie, Amy, Ans and Kara for joining us.  Each of your vigilance in caring for your groups helped me so much!

Have a great day, Jennifer

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Homefun" Ideas For Your Three-Day Weekend!

Hello Kindergarten Families!

Since it is a three-day weekend, I thought I would make this blog entry's theme "things you can do to extend the learning at home"!  Here are a few ideas that either were inspired by the things the students have been interested in or go along with them.  As always, if you do any of these, then please have your child bring it in to share with the class!

1) Martin Luther King Jr.Day

What does this mean to your family?  Investigate, discuss and or even journal about the history surrounding Martin Luther King Jr.  

This ties into the types of conversations we have been having at school about using your worlds to work things out and being open minded instead of jumping to conclusions and being mad at others.  We have also been revisiting our class agreements, and many of them go along with a community-minded mentality.  Here are some from this week:

I also wanted to include a few quotes of Martin Luther King Jr. that inspire me...  (Since I love quotes!)  The first one goes nicely with the ideas we began in Kindness week!

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.  

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

2) Math Problem Solving

This week we began brainstorming different ideas on how to solve the problem of our snowballs from the winter party.  My challenge to the students was, "If each student will take home some snowballs, how will we go about knowing how many to give each student?"  I had a few goals in mind when I set up this question:

To challenge the students to think of more than one way to solve a problem.
To get the students predicting the pros and cons in the processes of the different solutions.
To support the students to take risks in sharing ideas before knowing for sure that they may work.

I was thinking the students would want it to be "fair", and thus an equal amount for each student, but as you can see, the second suggestion opened up another whole math problem, if we chose that one!  Here is the list of ideas the students came up with so far:

If your child would like to practice this at home, then they could easily find a large quantity of things(rubber bands, paper clips, cotton balls, rocks, etc) and try to see how many each of your family members could get of these, before you run out of that item.  This leads me to my next challenge...

3) Skip Counting Practice

Create a collection of an item, out it in a jar and bring it into class!  We are almost finished with counting the quantities in our estimation jars.  The kids are practicing counting large quantities faster using grouping and skip counting.  Many of the students are great at counting by tens, but twos and fives can before tricky.  If you bring us some new collections, I know the students We'll be excited to count them all up!

4) Story writing

Write a story together as a family.  We are trying to practice adding more details, using descriptive words, and also incorporating action.  At this age, some students are prone to write a story that is really a list of places the character goes, without mentioning what they do there, before having the characters move on to another place.  By writing a story as a family, our Kindergartners can get new ideas and lots of modeling for creating interesting and in-depth stories.  (Also, come into class next week and check out our budding story wall!)

Well, I hope that gives you lots of fun ideas if you run into a, "What should we do?" type of moment!  Have a beautiful three day weekend!   Love, Jennifer

Monday, January 14, 2013

Welcome Back and Happy 2013!

Happy 2013!  What a beautiful way to come back together.  The group was so happy to see each other and we also had a new student join us named Alicen.  Even after only two days back at school, we already had a long list of research topics that came up in discussion, in our songs and poems or through student inquiry.  This cycle of research and then asking more questions is never ending and also so much fun.  Here it is so far (We have looked up some of these already!)

The Alps
The second song in this photo mentions the Alps and the students wanted to research this.  Before we had a chance to, one of our friends had done some research of his own because he knew his dad was from a country that is in the Alps: Switzerland!  He brought in some large post cards so that the other students could see what this region looks like.  He was also able to bring in a rare flower that his grandparents had saved.  Many  of you may know the song "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music.  This flower is white and precious, like the German words that make up it's name.  It is the national flower and is also called "the star of the snow".

As often happens, the information brought up more questions for the class.  We wrote to our friend's family and his family wrote back quickly!  Below you can see how interesting this was!

We also made some great beginning of a new year brainstorms.  The topics were: 
Ideas for open choice time 
Things we are getting good at or know
Things we want to get better at or learn about

We looked at them each day so that we could make sure we added more things that came up. These lists will help us to reflect and plan for the rest of our year together.  They are very impressive and reminded us that another thing we are getting good at is sharing ideas and reflecting!

Beat Dancing

This week we also continued noticing patterns in our lives.  I will be writing more about this, since the even odd pattern discovery was so special.  To go along with this, I had planned some music activities to begin listening for the numbers and patterns in music and dance.  The kids were really alert and many were able to anticipate when a beat would happen.  It was a lot of fun, and one song the students wanted me to share with you was "Disco Science".  This has a count of 8 in it and the whip sound happens on the 1.  The students were very creative with thier movements while we counted!  Below some of the students shared their thoughts after.

Natalie: Music has different layers of instruments.
Mathis: The beat is like, one two three four five six seven eight, and then it goes again.
Jennifer: Oh my gosh, is that a pattern?
Evelyn: It's like there is one two three four.  And there's one two three, one two three.
Kayla: The waltz!  It sometimes starts all over again, and it says a number and then that number again.
Natalie: The second beat dance we did was there was one side who did the stuff with their hands and the other half (of the kids)did something with their arms, because of the different layers of the music.
Joshua: It was kind of hard because we had to remember which team we were in.  We were going fast, and you were going slow.
Mathis:  It was hard to know where the beat was going to start.
Jennifer:   So you had to really listen, huh?

I hope you each are having a great start for 2013!  Have a lovely week, Jennifer