Our friend Sam
Miss Pana discovered Star Name from the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. It is a program which aims to use students names as a way for them to learn about letters and phonemic awareness. Using student names allows for the children to make real connections to the letters and sounds, and the experience becomes personal and more meaningful. During each child's turn as Star Name, they get interviewed about some of their likes, then we look carefully at the letters in his or her name. We make a list of words that start with the same sound as this child's name and sing songs such as:
(Sung to the tune of "Bingo")
What is the sound that starts this name?
Sam, Sam, Sam
/s/ /s/  /s/ /s/ /s/
/s/ /s/  /s/ /s/ /s/
/s/ /s/  /s/ /s/ /s/
                                                 Sam, Sam, Sam
We also try to describe the letters in order to study to features of it. For instance, for 'Sam' we said:

1. The 's' looks like a snake.
2. The 'a' looks like an apple or a sun.
3. The 'm' looks like two hills.

After this we all drew a picture of Sam and practiced writing his name. Below are the different portraits of Sam created by his friends. Stay tuned for the next Star Name!

Miss Pana recently showed a video of a song for the letter 's' on YouTube. The children enjoyed it so much that they asked her to find the songs for all the letters we had learned so far. Many of the children described the music as "cool". The songs have catchy beats and lots of repetition which is great for their learning! They all asked Miss Pana to post one of the videos here on the blog so they could sing and dance at home as well. Here is the video for the letter 's'.

If you would like to find all the videos, visit the following YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/havefunteaching
We have started on the letter 's' this week and there are so many things that begin with this sound! It has been very exciting! In K1 we do a lot of singing because it can help us remember our learning better. Today we learned to sing "A Spider Spins a Web" and while we were singing we all sat in a circle and created one big spider web together by throwing a ball of string around. Look at our spider web! We had so much fun we did this three times in a row!

You can sing this at home with your child too and do it with hand actions. Here are the lyrics and below a video so you can hear the tune (to "The Farmer in the Dell")

The spider spins a web (Move hand around in circles)
The spider spins a web
Round and round and
*Up and down
(point up and then down)
The spider spins a web

*Second verse instead of  "up and down" use "side to side"  and in the third verse change to "front and back"
On Thursday, September 20th 2012, the K1PA students spotted some children in Ms. Hima’s class making a ROBOT! They quickly rushed back to class to tell Miss Pana that “robot” began with ‘r’, our letter of the week! Everyone wanted to make a robot too, but we only had ONE day left for our work on the letter ‘r’! Miss Pana said that if we really wanted to make a robot we would have to TAKE ACTION! We brainstormed some materials we could possibly use right before the end of the day and everyone went home. Miss Pana nervously wondered all night whether or not the children would remember to bring something...

The next day…

…SUCCESS! The children of K1PA had brought in so many types of materials to use to create our robot! It was time to begin! Watch our journey as we created our friend Rex!

This year K1PA is buddies with G3SS! Over this year we will meet on several occasions to share our work and read books together. We met with them for the first time this past Wednesday, September 19th! Some of us were a little nervous but we all tried our very best! We shared our books about someone we love with the grade 3 class. In these books we chose someone we love and wrote about the different things that make them special. Grade 3 were very prepared and really made an effort to make us all feel welcome by complimenting our books and asking quesWell done K1PA for showing such confidence and being risk-takers!
It was a hot and sunny day where we showed moms and dads the different games we had been learning in P.E. From tug-of-war to the bean bag toss, everyone put in their best effort! Good job K1PA!
K1PA has been talking about what it means to be 'balanced'. They thought carefully and said that it is when we spend time doing all the activities that happen in school and don't spend too much time on just one activity.

The computer is a fun center for everyone, but it can be easy to get carried away and sit there for a very long time. We realized that this is not balanced. So, to help everyone be more balanced when using the computer, Miss Pana decided we could work together in pairs and use some data handling skills! A sheet of paper with everyone's name and ten circles under it is placed next to the computer. Only two children are allowed to go on the computer at a time. One child gets to do the activity on the computer but only gets ten tries. His or her partner then has to monitor and cross out one circle every time a turn is taken. When someone has had ten tries, they swap places. After both children are done, they must get up and go choose another task. Another way we did this was by using tally marks and drawing a line each time a turn was taken. After ten lines they had to swap (this was still a little hard for some but it was good practice!) The children did a great job monitoring each other!

Teaching Ted (Through Interactive Writing)

Meet Ted, our K1 bear who is not very well behaved. He has been seen doing things that children shouldn't be doing in school such as opening up everyone's school bags and going to the playground all by himself! Well, K1 decided that we ought to teach him a little bit about the Learner Profile, so we are making a book together to help him become a better bear.

This week we worked on the page teaching Ted to be 'balanced'. Together we thought of the words that should go on the page and Miss Pana drew a line for each word. Then we decided together what should go in the picture so that Ted understood what being balanced meant. Finally, we worked together to write the words in on each line. Some children helped out by writing some initial sounds of words that they could recognize. Others remembered that the words could be found in places such as the page before (for the world 'Ted' and 'the') and we looked at those pages to help us remember how to spell these words.

Next week we are going to teach Ted to be 'reflective'!

What is Interactive Writing?

Interactive writing is a time when the class learns writing skills together and they take part in the process of creating a collaborative piece of writing. Another main aspect is that the entire writing process is guided.

Interactive writing...
  • Allows children to see the process of writing
  • Can be used to model a text structure
  • Shares the teacher's pen with the children
  • Can serve as exemplars and checklists for our own writing
During this particular piece, all the children reinforced the idea that writers are like teachers and sometimes writers write teaching books. They were exposed to the idea of a "word" by drawing the lines to represent each word and seeing spaces between them. Then as we figured out what cluster of letters went on each line they pulled on strategies such as initial sounds. Finally, they thought carefully about how to match a picture to the words and to see how we could best draw images to illustrate our message.

Over the first month of school we have slowly been building up our reading stamina! By learning more strategies, we can now sit with books for a longer period of time.

As we were having Reading Workshop one day, Miss Pana noticed how wonderfully everyone was talking about what they saw and what was happening in the pictures. But for some reason, it didn't sound like the children were reading one fluid story. The class discovered that when we listen to other authors and how they put words together to tell stories, they use certain words that pull the story together. So, we added on another reading strategy that we can use which is to connect the pages by using words such as "first", "next", "then", "after", "last" and "finally". We learned that when we use these words, we sound like real storytellers reading a book!

Here is a video clip of Jan and Aina M. reading hip-to-hip. They are working together to connect the pages of a book.