Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Digging Deeper with Noisy Bug Sing-Along

Just finding Noisy Bug Sing-Along was exciting because I LOVE John Himmelman!  I love Katie Loves the Kittens and found out there is a DVD available (yay!) as well as a another in the series: Katie and the Puppy Next Door coming out in a few weeks.  Then I started digging deeper into Noisy Bug Sing Along,  I also found a link that allows the kids to hear the actual insect sounds he teaches us about on each page. This idea of linking kids to extend their learning in a book is huge. I think when we show kids how to find more helps kids become aware how how they can be deeper readers. Talking about why digging deeper will help them uncover different types of texts and information and then how the information is different or the same has been our discussion during reading workshop the past 2 weeks. I think my kids are closer to making some realizations about why digging deeper benefits the as a reader but for now I am showing them my process.
Now, the book, at first glance I thought was it was a great mentor for young non-ficiton writers.  It has a thoughtful beginning, teaches kids about the sounds bugs make in one sentence, includes craft like descriptive language, bold fonts highlighting the name of the bug and sounds and a connected ending.  I feel like I need to thank him for creating a text that is simple enough for young minds to study but includes enough depth for stronger readers to learn more.  The last two pages in this book detail information about sound waves and what they really sound like.  He also gives us small photographs and paragraphs that teach us even more about each of the bugs featured in the book.

This book was a the focus for reading, writing and word learning yesterday.  I am anxious to share how this book is working for the kids in my class. Just yesterday, a little girl creating a How to Ice Skate book added sound words (SHH) to her picture of an ice skate stoping on the ice  and mentioned she is trying to write like John Himmelman. Again, thank you John!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Follow Follow: A Book of Reversible Poems by Marilyn Singer

If you are familiar with Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer, you will be glad to know she has a companion book out this month called Follow Follow, again filled with her amazing reversible poems.  Though the first book has more of the classic reverso fairy tale poems, I have to say, I think my first graders will be very familiar with many of the new poems featured in this second book.  I love the introduction poem called fairy tales as well as many of the others based on The Three Little Pigs, The Little Mermaid, The Tortoise and the Hare and The Princess and the Pea. This book will also be a great way to extend some of my stronger readers who have loved fairy tales like The Princess and the Peas and Carrots by Harriet Ziefert and Yummy by Lucy Cousins. Looking forward to hearing what the kids think of it today!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Non-Fiction Top Ten

Thanks to Cathy and Mandy for hosting today's Top Ten Non-Fiction Picture Books!  I will be honest and say that I was scrambling after school today trying to figure out which books kids have been loving and sometimes hoarding in their book bins. I came up with a simple list of animal favorites.

 I love, love, love this book : My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. I don't think you can go wrong with Steve Jenkins!! This sweet book tells about the first movements and experiences of animals just entering the world.   I think my favorite page is about Darwin's frog and reads: On my first day I hopped out of my father's mouth. The kids just oo and ah and want to know more about the special pouch the frog has in his throat to keep his tadpoles safe. 
What Happens Next?: I bought this book because I love pattern books and flap books and  young kids often have success with these.  I also love Nicola Davies and her non-fiction books are some of my favorites.  I will tell you this book was in the preschool section but I think it serves primary readers well and also gives them a structure to mimic if they were to try writing similar book on their own.  

My students this year seem to be obsessed with sharks.  The boys especially have collected just about every shark book and have created their own basket of non-fiction books they are using for writing their own books or posting on the blog.  Here are two that they are loving to read and learn from...
Amazing Sharks and Animal Lives: Sharks.

If You Were A Penguin: This book seems to be one of the most versatile non-fiction texts because it has pattern, descriptive language and non-fiction information embedded in it.  I use it during our pattern book study to help kids see how and why authors use repetitive language and then later in in our non-fiction study to see how an author can teach the reader information poetically. 

Farm: This series by scholastic has been a big hit in my classroom and I feature this book about the farm because it becomes a favorite as we go and visit a local farm in the spring.  I can preview some of the things they will explore at Stratford and also help them notice features of non-fiction that a more traditional non-fiction text uses.  

Who's Looking At You: This book is lots of fun because each of the flaps inside the book is a close up of an animal's eye. When the flap is lifted, there is information that you can read and another picture of the entire animal. It is playful and informative and always in someone's book bin.
The Life Size Series is VERY popular with the kids. Life Size Zoo just invites kids to love non-fiction. They love to read the small cartoons that feature more information about the animal.  They also love to read about each animal's name. It seems to bring them closer to understanding and appreciating the type of animal they are learning about.

Each year I have kids who fall in love with Zoo Borns. They love the animals names and to find out which zoo is home to each sweet small animal. The animals narrate each page and you feel like you know them. This year I picked up ABC ZooBorns to add to our room. There is also a website we visit for videos.

So the last picture book is the exception to the top ten non-fiction books about animals. But, See A Heart Share a Heart is about how Eric Telchin is finding a little love around his world.  I checked this book out from the library because I loved the cover and Eric's story. He quite simply finds hearts in his everyday life and photographs what he sees. Eric has a blog featuring his heart sightings. 
  I shared it on Valentine's Day with my kids. If we could all be focused on finding and seeing the best in others wouldn't our days be filled with more love than hate and jealousy. It seems like such a simple yet complicated quest as humans. This book brought me closer to helping young kids begin to think about it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Primary Digital Creating and Reflecting

Last week after listening to a webinar presented by Franki on Tech Savvy Teaching, I set a goal to use some of the tools she shared in a new way.  As she spoke about digital reading and how digital reading can be a place for kids to deepen their learning, I thought about creating some places that my students could learn more about owls after our  local Metro Park Naturalist shared a ton of cool information and games with our first graders.  
So I set up a symbaloo on our class website with links to owl learning sites I thought would engage them. Here is what I came up with:

I found a page about how to draw an owl (knowing they would enjoy creating digitally on pixie), I found a site featuring virtual owl pellets that the kids could take apart and them puzzle back together the bones of what was inside.  I also found a video at National Geographic Kids the students could listen and learn from and an owl cam we have been checking of some live owl boxes in Colorado. I decided to just let the kids go for 2 days exploring and later ask them to create digitally about what they learned.  Most kids chose to create in pixie and I taught them how to upload these into the blog so we could see everyones creations.

I think the most powerful part of their reading, creating and sharing was the reflection of what they can do as digital creators. As we finished up on the second day (we often go upstairs to our computer lab...though I am really wanting to have more tech in my room for more just everyday creating alongside of traditional work we are doing). They came back thinking about their learning as digital creators and we compiled this list.
I only had about half the class ready to respond with what they were learning but the range of their abilities were fascinating.  Ruby feels stronger using the little camera that comes up when taking a screen shot. Thanish has a better understanding for how to put a picture in kidblog and Jude realized that he can see whatever he publishes on kidblog anytime. The kids have been blogging since November but need time to practice, digest and understand the capability they have as digital creators.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Finishing Up Opinion Study

After spending time immersing kids in figuring just what opinions are and how kids can voice them, we have some pieces that have evolved over the past month here in first grade. To look back, I think the following ideas helped kids find their choice and voice for their pieces along the way...
 -Students jotted down some ideas for opinion topics that they care about like toys, family, friends, sports and reading. 
-We decided to investigate toy reviews a bit more deeply as a class.  Then, we used interactive writing as a place to make a list of toys students love afterwards choosing a toy to write a review about (Anna's Princess Cadence (my little pony) was the topic for review) together. 
-Later, in workshop, we studied how writers begin and end pieces to help get kids thinking about the choices they have as authors. 
Here we are after time and choice with some pieces that students have accomplished:

What I take away this year :

1. Time again is so huge. Some kids found their idea and created a meaningful piece two weeks into our study while another student had her piece created day one. 
2. Studying what other kids do as writers was the best mentor for opinion writing. Here's the thing, there are not any perfect mentors for first grade writers because each of them needs something different. When the kids in the room next door to us wrote toy reviews, we studied their endings because 3 of them had such natural ways to end their pieces. My kids weren't there yet. Studying other pieces from writers at the same developmental level was most helpful.
3. Using technology alongside opinion writing opens up audience as a choice for writers. This year we voted on who the kids would like to share their pieces with.  Next year, I want to help them think about how audience can be a choice as well...is it a piece you want the world, our blogging community or just our class to read?  I think it will impact their choice of topic and motivation for creating a meaningful piece.