Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's Okay to "Just Read" to Your Students!


I wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't want to teach, and in all those years, there was this image in my head of sitting in a big ole rocking chair reading to my students while they hung on every word, eyes lit up with excitement and wonder, and smiles as wide as the room!

Fast forward to the actual job of teaching, and often times, we see children sitting on the carpet for Story Time and that sparkle and curiosity is dim.  Not at all like in the idealistic pictures of my youth.

Some years ago, I was calling my first graders to the carpet for a lesson using one of my favorite books.  I hear a collective "ugh" from several of my kiddos. Now, this wasn't a groan I heard very often, so I had to investigate.

I asked, "Why the groaning? You don't want to listen to a great story?" 

The response?  "Every time you read to us, we have to DO something".

My first reaction was to assume the kids didn't want to do the work.  And then I really got to thinking about it.  Why is it that every single time we, as teachers, bring a book out, it's followed by an activity, a test, or some other assignment?  When did we stop JUST READING to our kids?


I realized that there are children that view books and stories negatively because there was always "work" attached to it. 

There was always a catch!  "I'll read you a great story, but you're going to have to work when we're finished!"

Many children had never had the opportunity to just listen to and immerse themselves in a story.  It made me sad, and I knew that as much as I loved my teachers reading to me as a kid, I wanted to pass that along.

I know with all of the standards we have to teach, and the push to maintain the integrity of our instructional time that we are left with very little "extra" time.  I also know that there are those who believe that read alouds with no assignment are a waste of time, or "fluff" as I was once told.

I disagree. 

How can teaching children the love of reading and books be fluff or a waste of time?  As a first grade teacher, that is one of my most important jobs...to instill a lifelong love of learning. 


A gift.  Don't you just love the thought of that?  With each story read, you are giving a gift to your students.  That idea just makes me happy.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of incorporating literature into every area of my teaching and into all subject areas.  Most of the books in my classroom library are tied to a lesson that I will teach at some point, and all of those lessons involve an activity or assignment for my kids. Close Reading is one of the best things I have done in my classroom, and I am a huge supporter of teaching kids to THINK about text; however, I think we need to find some balance, too.

I read this quote by the wonderful Mem Fox, as she was talking about speaking to parents about reading. She said "When I say to a parent 'read to a child', I don't want it to sound like medicine, I want it to sound like chocolate". 

 I want that too.  I want kids to think of books like I think of chocolate... perfect and wonderful...and something I can't wait to get my hands on!  

So, I say, it's okay to JUST READ.  

Because it teaches children to JUST listen, JUST imagine, JUST dream, JUST wonder, JUST think, JUST love books.

 What do you think?


 




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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Penguin Prefixes & Suffixes

Hi Y'all!
   Happy New Year!!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and the new year is already off to a great start! I've been MIA for a little while with the craziness of the holidays and then I moved over the break, which just added to the mania.  I'm back, though, and excited to start sharing with you again. :)

   We started back to school on Tuesday and we've spent the last few days reviewing material and...if we are keeping it real here... doing some of the things that honestly just didn't get done before the break. 

    In language arts, we have been working with prefixes and suffixes. Our standard is to be able to identify root words, and use inflectional endings appropriately, but I always like to go ahead & introduce prefixes  during this unit.
 The kids helped me make the anchor chart over a couple days after we had really gone over the material in depth.  The inflectional endings we focus on are -s, -ed, and -ing for verbs and -s, -es, and -ies for nouns.  We also look at -ies for one syllable verbs that end in y like "cry", "fly" and "try".
   Here is our flip flap book for suffixes -s, -ed, and -ing.  The kids circle the root word and highlight the suffix. Then, they cut and paste them under the correct flip flap.

Root words and inflectional endings are always a little tricky for my first graders, so I like to keep our weekly activities pretty consistent. It helps with reinforcing the material, and it makes my job of explaining the activity even easier!! 
 So, we did the same kind of books each day to go with our focus.  
The kids really loved them & I noticed how much better they understood the material.  
If you would like a copy of all three flip flap books, click {HERE} for the FREEBIE.

Since we've been studying penguins this week, I had to incorporate them into our little unit, too!
 For our Ticket-Out-The-Door summarizer, I passed out sticky notes with words using all of the suffixes and prefixes we have studied this week.  They had to circle the root word, box the suffix or prefix, and then come up to the board and stick it under the correct penguin.

They did such a great job!

To assess the kiddos, they did like quick little cut & paste activity.  
Circle the root word & paste it under the correct heading. Easy peasy!

 I have updated this document & you can grab this little assessment by clicking the picture below.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0oeFcRnEpI9Z091YnhaSURVd0E/view?usp=sharing


So, that's it folks. Just a regular week in the classroom just trying to get back into the swing of things! I hope you can use some of these resources and, as always, thanks for stopping by!! :)

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