Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shared Reading with Mr. Squishy

We have been working on reading patterned texts in my classroom. I was having a lot of trouble finding texts that were both exciting for my kids and appropriate for the skills they needed to learn. So, I created this poem that is based on my kids' favorite classroom object: Mr. Squishy. I included some positional words as suggested in class (to touch on math standards). I broke the pattern at the end, as some of my students have can read patterned texts but then would have trouble recognizing when the pattern stopped. The next day, I turned the poem into a book so students could practice one-to-one correspondence by using fingerpaint and putting a print on each word as they read. The students really enjoyed it and thought the pictures were so silly!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


When reading the Before Play section of Serious Players in a Primary Classroom, I was in awe of how two teachers managed to create a productive and fun learning environment for 45 students. Not only did they have to make the space manageable, they had to take into consideration the different needs of children that ranged in age from five to eight. Although my "Breathing Out" part of the day sounds similar to this classroom's, I have half of the amount of students. Thus, simple logistical questions came to mind like: how do 45 students even fit together on the carpet? How do you allow every student to choose their center and length of time they stay in that center and keep all of the students satisfied? One important note addressed in the book was the teacher's response to student disagreements during play. Although I strive to do as they said and allow the students to solve the problem themselves with little interjection, I often find myself jumping in too soon due to time constraints or frustrations when certain students will result to the back and forth barking of "It's your fault! No it's your fault!". We have modeled problem solving skills and have a designated talk-it-out table to foster independent problem solving (which has definitely helped!), but unfortunately I still feel as though I do not always approach the situation without frustration or bias. I have two students who constantly create conflict during our center time and it is always due to the same reason (they knock someone's blocks down or intentionally take a toy away from someone). It is very difficult to remain non-judgemental or refrain from invoking guilt on these students, for it seems as though every time I turn around, I am having another student complaining of their actions. I would love to watch a video of the classroom of 45 students and see how two teachers successfully interact and question students at play while also maintaining a peaceful center time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Playing with Shadows!

Thanks to Katie Keier's great suggestion, we introduced our unit on Shadows and Reflections with the wonderful Shel Silverstein poem: Shadow Race. We then went outside and got to experiment with making shadows just like the poem said. We pointed to the sun and raced our shadows to see who would win. The kids absolutely loved it, and it really helped them conceptualize where shadows come from. Thanks for the great poem and activity idea, Katie!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Power Rangers in the Pre-K classroom

Recently three of the boys in my classroom have been consumed by Power Rangers. Almost every time they interact, conversation turns to a debate over who gets to be the Green Ranger (there can only be one, of course!). In their minds, it is impossible for there to be two green rangers because the show depicts only one of each color and that's how they must play it out. One student especially struggles to accept a new identity text for the rangers when the other student proposes they can both be green rangers. After many days of trying to help them negotiate an alternate direction of play, I find myself constantly getting frustrated as the discussion often comes to an inconclusive ending and then the saga starts all over again the next day. In reading Playing Their Way into Literacies, I admired the way that the children Wohlwend descripes as princess players were initiatially able to negotiate new roles for their dolls (88). Although they rejected Peter joining the play, they eventually found a way to trade dolls with him and give him a pre approved roll. This vignette has inspired me to spend more time with my Power Ranger students in helping them come up with new roles and standards of power ranger play so that they all can assert authority and power while still feeling accepted. Although allowing the children to write their own version of the Power Ranger Play could help, how can I best help my most "set in his green ranger ways" student branch out in order that he is comfortable allowing others to play green ranger with him?