Thursday, February 15, 2018

A week in review 2/12

Greetings!

It has felt great to get back to work this week! Between my broken foot and snow days, I feel like it has a long time since I have gotten quality time with our group!

This week has been awesome!! Tons of great learning and a lot of pride in our work!


Reading

This week, I needed to assess students on their letter/sound I.D. phonological awareness, and their sight words or snap words for our report cards. Report cards will be going home Friday, February 23rd. This will give you a chance to look it over before we meet for confrences on the 5th and 6th of March.

Phonological awarness and letter/sound I.D. were a big part of our work in first trimester and kids have made a lot of progress in their recognition and understanding of these concepts. As we have been spending our time in reading groups and decoding grade level text, sight words have been a big importance for us.

A note about sight words- you will here these words called by many names. Basically, we use the Fry Sight Word list at PPS. It is a list of over 600 words that are frequently in print. Readers should be able to recognize these words and not need to sound them out. This is why, in our classroom, we call these words "Snap Words". Sight Words is not a very friendly kindergarten phrase, sight does not have a lot of context for many kids, whereas, knowing something "in a snap" is a bit more concrete. For kindergarten, we have a list of 40 words we hope students are able to memorize. We understand 40 words is a lot of words! For the end of the year, if your child memorizes 20-40 words they are considered on grade level. At conferences, I will share with you the words your student still needs to learn so you can practice these at home.

Writing

Oh my gosh-writing! We also had our writing assessment this week. We have been learning how to write opinion pieces this trimester. Our assessment gives us an idea about the independence of our writers. In a typical writing workshop, teachers float around the room offering advice and feedback to writers. We prompt students to use strategies, like stretching out words or using a snap word list, to spell. During an assessment, I tell students that I am "spying" on them and can not help them!
I read students an article that was a debate about what makes the best pet, a cat or a dog. From there, students wrote their opinion of what makes the best pet.
For grading purposes, I look for students who are able to clearly state an opinion, provide reasons that supports their opinion with relevant and sufficient facts from the provided article, to have purposeful organization, provide a sense of closure, and to have developmentally appropriate spelling and conventions.
If you are thinking to yourself- "that is way to much for a 5/6 year old!" take my word for it, your students are very capable of all this rigorous work!! I was absolutely blown away in the growth each student made this trimester.
While were setting up for writing one day, we were talking about "because sentences" or reasons and how important it is to give a lot of reasons if you want to convince someone of your opinion. One student piped up and said, "Because is like a famous word! You have to write it so many times!" Every kid really latched on to that explanation of why you need a lot of reasons. They were so thrilled to show me all the times they wrote the famous word, "because".

Math

Math lessons this week were centered around equations. We dug into understanding the symbols in an equation and their meaning. At this point, most students have a strong understanding + is adding to and makes a number bigger and that - is taking from and makes a number smaller.
Where many misconceptions are for mathematicians is the = sign! Most students see the equal sign to be the ending of an equation. That it tells you the answer. However, we want our students to have an understanding of equality and balanced equations. If students become rigid in thinking all equations are written 2+2=4, with the = coming before the answer, they are completely thrown off when equations are formatted differently. In higher level grades, it is very common for equations on assessments to be written ____=3-1. It is one of those "gotcha" moments where assessors want to see if students are paying close attention. I want kindergartners to have exposure to the idea that the equal sign simply means the amount on each side is the same. This is algebraic thinking they will need to solve things like x+2= 3+1.
We spent a lot of time this week playing games to represent amounts on either side of an equal sign and checking to see if they were the same amount. Check out my Twitter for some visuals about this work!

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