1:1 Learning (1) 9/11 (1) ABC (5) Adjectives (4) Alliteration (1) American Government (7) Animals (1) Art (12) Artbotics (7) Australia (1) Author Study (1) BIG PLANS (16) Biographies (8) Black History Program (4) Blog love (18) Book Love (33) Boot Camp (2) Capacity (1) Celebrity Story Saturday (71) Charlotte's Web (25) CHEScompetition (1) ClassDojo (3) Common Core (6) Conservation (2) Contractions (2) Doubles (1) Dr. Seuss (8) Fact and Opinion (2) Family Night (1) Fiction and Nonfiction (1) Field Day (2) Field Trip (2) Food Chains (2) Fossils (1) Fractions (1) Friendly Letters (1) Garden (3) General Delk (5) George Washington Carver (2) Get It (3) Grammar (23) Guest Bloggers (1) Harriet Tubman (2) Health Fair (2) Holiday fun (9) Homophones (1) Inferring (1) Informational Writing (1) International Reading Association (1) iZone (4) Jan Richardson (1) Junior Achievement (3) Just for fun (36) Landforms (4) Lapbooks (3) Learning through play (7) Life Cycles (1) literacy centers (7) Literacy Night (1) Magnets (1) MakerSpace (1) Martin Luther King Jr (3) Math (34) Math Minutes (1) Mini Math Lessons (11) Mini Word Walls (3) Multiplication (3) Mythology (1) Natural Resources (1) Nouns (2) Parts of speech (1) Perimeter (1) Persuasive writing (1) Poetry (10) Power Points (20) Presidents (3) Printables (38) Professional Development (36) Projects (9) Public Library (1) QR Codes (2) Read 20 (6) Read Across America (5) Reading (28) Reads and Seeds (8) Reminders (15) Research Projects (6) Royalty (4) Science (38) Science experiment (12) Science Night (1) Sentences (3) Shapes (8) Shout Outs (35) Simile (4) SIOP (6) Small Groups (7) Social Studies (10) Solar System (3) Songs and Chants (6) songs in lessons (8) Space (2) Subject/ Predicate (1) Synonyms (1) Tall Tales (1) Tasty Text Tuesday (9) TCAP (2) Teach Like a Pirate (8) Time (1) Up-Cycling (1) Verbs (4) Vocabulary (19) Writing (15)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1:1 Summer Institute

Let me start by saying that my school is NOT a 1:1 school. (unfortunately)
My Principal saw an email for a technology PD go through his mailbox and thought, "Technology! Why, that's right up Delk's alley!" or something along those lines. I was called and told that this was a PD just for me. I was to attend and bring back valuable information for the rest of my building.

Challenge accepted.

What I love about HCDE is that their PDs are information packed. No, Clifton Hills is not a 1:1 school, but we are blessed with a plethora of technology. While we might not have an ipad in every hand, we do have enough that any technology PD would be found worthwhile. If you'd like to see what Hamilton County has available for 1:1 schools, check out their website:

Since I an ever the obedient worker (stop laughing!), here are some take-aways I had today from the different sessions I attended.

Introduction to IPADs in the Classroom

The instructor, Michael Stone, put all of his information for this session online. You can find his notes at:
His presentation was more geared toward middle and high school teachers, but I know that elementary teachers can utilize the information as well. You can follow him on Twitter @CoachStone12

iPad Tips
  1. Doceri (app) for presentations. This app works best with an appleTV, but can work with a Promethean as well with a connector.
  2. Invest in a productivity package like iWork, or Google Docs. Google Docs is free.
  3. Join Twitter. I am actually very new to Twitter (@generaldelk), but apparently it's a must have for educators. He shared that there are some Twitter chats that are very helpful: #1to1iPad, #edtechchat, #PBLchat, and #TNedchat (use to organize your tweets)
  4. Invest in note taking apps. Notability, Note Taker HD, Paper Port Notes, and Evernote are some that work well. 
  5. Dabble with apps! Most apps have some form of free trial, if they're not already free. Play around with them. See what they can do! If you're not a fan, then delete it and move on!
  6. Educreations (app) allows students to create and share lessons
  7. makes and shares web bookmarks. For those of you who like things color coded and organized, then this is the website for you!
  8. Invest in business collaboration tools- ones that allow you to control the iPads in the room. Make sure that students aren't playing games, they're following along with the lesson! Idea Flight Enterprise (app), Join Me (app), Near Pod (app)
  9. BookPress (app) allows students to create and share iBooks. Students also have the opportunity to buy hard copies of their work!
  10. Find video editing tools- allow students to create video presentations. Animoto, iMovie, Stop Motion Studio, Magisto, O Snap Time Lapse & Stop Motion Creator
You can check out to find app reviews before you buy.


Digital Citizenship

How do you use the Web? Are you thoughtful in your browsing?
  1. Access- to information. Google is my friend. :)
  2. Commerce- buying and selling. Find sites that you trust. Don't trust your information with just anyone!
  3. Communication- keeping in touch professionally and personally
  4. Literacy- knowing from where you get your information. Know if the site is reliable. Don't just assume that since it's online that it's true.
  5. Etiquette- mind your manners. Remember the Golden Rule
  6. Law- just because it's online doesn't make it yours. No stealing
  7. Rights & Responsibilities- Be a good digital citizen. Don't trample on someone else's rights while trying to keep your own
  8. Health & Wellness- not just using WebMD, this means to limit your technology time. Go outside. Read a book. Go to sleep. Don't let technology run your life.
  9. Security- Your business is your business. Don't put it all out there for everyone to see. 
Websites from this session:

Instructional Technology Tips & Tricks
Aslo taught by Mr. Stone

I chose this session because it was called Creating with Technology on the schedule. I stayed because I love learning new tips and tricks to use in my classroom. :)

  1.  Turn your tablet into a document camera. Allow your students to make/ take videos and pictures.  Students tend to be visual learners, so let them show what they have learned! (Doceri app was recommended for this)
  2. Todays Meet (website) for classroom collaboration, or 81Dash. 
  3. Create a shared folder for easy collaboration. Dropbox, Google Drive, or Sugar Sync were suggested. For schools with Chrome Books, Google Drive is the one for you!
  4. Make videos, lots of videos. It forces kids to think through pieces that make up the whole. How is everything in the video going to fit together? Let's plan it out...
  5. Own your own PD. Take time to read blogs and books that correspond to your grade/ subject. Participate in twitter chats. Mr. Stone added a list of Twitter chats that he finds interesting in his notes. Last summer I hosted a Book Study here on my blog. You can check out the book Teach Like a Pirate at the top of my blog in the labels section, or click {HERE}.
  6. lets you create, share, edit, and print rubrics from across grade levels and subjects. 
  7. Hour of Code- allows students to become familiar with computer coding. Our librarian, Mrs. Kapp, had each class participate in an Hour of Code last year and the kids loved it! Check out for age appropriate coding activities.
  8. Drawp for School (app)- for managing a 1:1 classroom
  9. Explain Everything (app) allows teachers and students to create tutorials. Imagine the creativity and information to be shared!
  10. Join a Public Learning Network- or create one! Last year I joined a PLC (Professional Learning Community) that was specifically for elementary science teachers. I loved it! If there's something that you're passionate about, and you can't find  learning group for it, make it yourself! Surely you can't be the only one in the county interested in whatever it is. Find some people, get some study material, and have fun learning together!

Performance/ Problem Based Learning

This is more than just research projects, or doing a culminating activity at the end of a unit. PBL is taking a topic and dissecting it until you know all its dirty little secrets. My students have done research projects in the past, and had a great time completing them, but this goes above and beyond. Honestly, I would like some more training with this. Maybe some planning time with my team and someone who has done this before. (hint, hint Hamilton County!)

But I did come out of this session with more than just a desire to know more. I was introduced to the website Mrs. Kapp uses Blendspace, and even created one for our President Research Project, but I've never gone to the website to make my own. I think this site is amazing! You can put all your links, materials, and pictures about a topic all in one place! When it comes to PBL, I can imagine it would be very helpful to have your information all in one place and at your finger tips. I can't wait to use this site more!


More websites to check out:


(current events as leveled texts)


Thank you to PEF, Hamilton County, and you outstanding teachers who made this PD informational and fun! I can't wait to use some of these tools in my school this school year!

Monday, July 14, 2014

TNCore Summer Reading Training: Day 3

It was almost sad to see Day 3 come and go. By the third day of training strangers are no longer strangers. We become colleagues of a sort, all working towards a common goal, just miles (and counties) apart. On the flip side, we are all tired of sitting in the same chairs, looking at the same (amazing) posters on the walls. (Seriously, I'm in love with the posters she had in her classroom. I'll share the pics I took at the end.)

Day 3 was dedicated to Unit 5: Reading Standards: Close Reading of Informational Text

Close reading is just what the name suggests: getting close with the text. "Close reading requires us to go below the surface, analyze, reread, and create a mental model of our learning"... for each sentence, phrase, and paragraph. Sounds heavy. Sounds difficult. Sounds boring.

Let's break Close Reading down. When you think "Close Reading" I want you to think of a cowboy with a lasso.

The lasso is the Magical Lasso of Learning, just waiting to ensnare text and squeeze information out of it. How is the Magical Lasso of Learning able to squeeze information out of the text? Its power is in the weave, my friend. The power's in the weave.

Everyone knows that a good rope is made of different strands woven together to ensure its strength. This lasso is no different. The Magical Lasso of Learning is made of two sets of strands: Language Comprehension and Word Recognition. Each strand is made of different fibers, which we will now look at more in depth.

Language Recognition

1. Background Knowledge- learned concepts, facts, and experiences a reader brings to reading

In other words, what has the student already been taught/ shown about the topic he/she is reading? If the passage is about pandas, does the student already have a picture of a panda in his or her head, or should the teacher have one ready to show? Is the panda in a zoo? Has the student ever been to a zoo, or is that a new concept?
Students who have more reading and life experiences tend to have better background knowledge. Teachers should begin lessons activating (and sometimes creating) background knowledge so that students can be on the same page.

2. Vocabulary- words that enable thought and communication

How extensive is your vernacular? Are you comfortable with the word vernacular? Vernacular is your common, everyday language. Language that you are comfortable using. Students who are readers tend to have a more extensive vernacular because of the amount of words with which they are introduced. If a student's vocabulary is only based on what they have heard, that will severely limit their word intake. As teachers, we should keep this in mind and try to incorporate at least 2 read-alouds per day into our lessons. The read-alouds will add vocabulary to the auditory learners, as well as demonstrate proper fluency, diction, and pronunciation of words.

3. Verbal Reasoning- this includes logic, insight, abstraction, classification, and association

When I first saw the definition for this term, my first thought was of those logic puzzles that my little sister used to do. I hated those. I simply didn't have the patience for them, but my sister would sit for hours working out who lives where, had what pet, and wore what color shirt.
Verbal Reasoning is really much simpler. It's so simple that you probably do it without even realizing it. For example, when you read the words broccoli, carrots, and squash, your first thought should be.... ? Right! They are all vegetables. Or your thought might have been things that grow in my garden, things my children won't eat, or things that I need to get at the grocery. At any rate, you were able to put those words into a category in your head. That's Verbal Reasoning. 
p.s. You do it in science, social studies, and math too; not just during "reading" time. 

4. Language Structure- Word structure, sentence structure, paragraph structure... they all go together.

When I think of Language Structure, I think back to 7th grade English when we had to dissect sentences into their parts. (nouns, verbs, subject, predicate, etc) Language Structure is basically how we put words together in order for them to make a point. Sentences need 5 things in order to be complete: subject, verb, makes sense, capital letter, and a punctuation mark. Language Structure is knowing how to put those things in order properly.

5. Literacy Knowledge- knowledge of text structure and genre

Literacy Knowledge is being able to read a text and know whether it is informational or narrative. Informational text use different text features such as table of contents, captions, index, and glossaries to share information. Narrative text uses point of view, characters, voice, plot, setting, etc. Literacy Knowledge allows students to recognize the difference between Snow White and Queen Elizabeth II. 

Word Recognition

1. Phonological Awareness- the conscious awareness that words are made up of segments of speech that are represented by letters

Phonological Awareness can be done in the dark. No sight necessary. If you can hear the word, recognize that the word is made of sound, and know that letters make sounds, then you have mastered PA. Congratulations!

2. Decoding (and Spelling)- the act of translating a word from print to speech using sound-letter correspondence and syllable patterns

We discussed decoding and syllabication a lot on Day 2, so I don't want to rehash it here. Basically, decoding is seeing a word and being able to break it into pieces.

3. Sight Recognition- Recognizing words on sight

Otherwise known as Sight Words. With practice, more and more words will become sight words. Hopefully, through practice, most of the words in this blog post are sight words. Sight words don't require the reader to chunk or sound words out. They don't require context clues or the use of a glossary. We start learning sight words in Pre-K, if not already at home. You can find  list of beginning sight words just about anywhere. Most schools use the Dolch word list

With all these strands in our Magic Learning Lasso, we should have no problem Close Reading any text with which we are presented. 
In order to help my students with their Close Reading, we have come up with Close Notes. 

My students are expected to use Close Notes with any text they are reading. I even let them mark....(shhhh)... in their textbooks (gasp!) on occasion.  I simply point out that I am preparing them for college, where buying textbooks that have already been marked is a very wise thing to do. 

I start my class using Close Notes from day 1. Anytime we are reading a text whole group, my students had better have a writing utensil in their hands prepared to mark the text within an inch of its life. (You should see our science workbooks.) At the end of the lesson, students compare their notes with the notes of a partner. Did they find the same things interesting? Was there any new learning, or was it all review? Did you catch all the vocabulary words and definitions? Is there anything that needs clarification?

So you see, Close Reading isn't as boring as it might seem. In fact, Close Reading is possibly the most interesting reading you can encounter. When utilized properly, Close Reading can help readers delve into different worlds, different times, and a variety of different genres. Close Reading ensures that readers have an up-close-and-personal relationship with the text; the characters, plot, setting, and solution of a narrative text, and the ins and outs and new learning of informational text.
For those of you who know my personal genre of choice, that makes for a pretty wild ride. :)

So, the next time you find yourself reading, take time to reflect on the text. If you can't place yourself in the text as a character, or turn and talk to a partner about new learning, then you're doing it wrong.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

TNCore Summer Reading Training: Day 2

My backside hurts, my knees are tight from sitting, I'm sure I've gained a few pounds from all the chocolate I've eaten in the past 2 days, and my brain is pounding from all the new information shoved at me.

Maybe it was the company (thanks, Abby Roach Connally), maybe it was the topic, maybe it was the hands-on activities, or, heck, maybe it was all the free chocolate, but I had a great time today in PD.

Today we tackled units 3 and 4. (We will finish 4 tomorrow). The main focus was on the importance of  decoding, spelling, and word recognition. In fact, the title of unit 3 is:

Unit 3: Reading Foundational Skills Standards: Teaching Decoding, Spelling, and Word Recognition, Part 1

Fancy that, huh? 
As you might know, decoding is basically the sounding-out of words. It's a reading strategy with which I'm sure you are familiar. You've probably been doing it since kindergarten, and might even be using it even now when you read the newspaper. (Maybe it's just me, but some countries' names are a little tricky.) 

If it's a strategy with which you're comfortable, then I'm sure it comes as naturally to you as breathing. Hardly worth a second glance.... unless you understand the behind-the-scenes of decoding. It's not as simple as it looks. In fact, the first step in reading and decoding has nothing to do with your eyes, and everything to do with your ears

Let me throw two vocabulary words at you:

Phoneme: the smallest unit of sound
Think of phonemes as being the atoms of words. All spoken words are made up of phonemes, some more than others. The word CAT had 3 phonemes (sounds): C-A-T. The word RAIN also has 3 phonemes, since it is created with 3 sounds: R-AI-N.
Grapheme: a letter or group of letters representing a phoneme
Graphemes are how phonemes are created. CAT has 3 phonemes, so it also has 3 graphemes since it took 3 letters to create it. RAIN also has 3 graphemes since it takes 3 letters, or groups of letters, to create it.

Once you can hear a sound (Phonemic Awareness), you learn to recognize the letter that makes the sound (Phonics). Once you learn the letters and their sounds, you learn how letters can be combined while still hearing the individual sounds (Blends) or when the combined letters make a single sound (Digraphs). Combine all those, and now you are ready for SYLLABLES.

6 Types of Syllables
1. Closed Syllables- a syllable that ends in a consonant sound or sounds. (cat, top, brisk)
2. Open Syllables- a syllable that ends in a long vowel sound spelled with a single vowel letter. (be, no, he)
3. Vowel-Consonant-e Syllables- includes a vowel immediately followed by one consonant and the silent letter 'e'. (ate, rope, bike)
4. Vowel-r Syllables- vowels immediately followed by the letter 'r' in the same syllable
  • er, ir, and ur are pronounced /er/
  • ar is pronounced /ar/ in an accented syllable (argue) and /er/ in an unaccented syllable (dollar)
  • or is pronounced /or/ in an accented syllable (orbit) and /er/ in an unaccented syllable (doctor)
5. Vowel Team Syllables- includes vowel sounds spelled with more than one letter. Vowel teams are made of two or more letters to represent a vowel sound. (ai, ay, ee, igh, oa, ow, ue...etc)
6. Consonant -le Syllables- ends with a consonant immediately followed by -le (bundle, giggle, uncle, able)


When I was in school, I was taught to "clap out" syllables. Words had beats, my teachers told me, and clapping them out helps you to hear just how many syllables each word contained. 

Well that's all fine and dandy, but inevitably there would be that one student whose southern accent is so thick that the word "hi" sounds like it has 5 syllables. Or the jokester of the class who thinks he's in a rock band and starts clapping to the beat in his head.

Instead of clapping, might I suggest Duck Lips? To successfully accomplish Duck Lips, one must purse their lips, then pinch them. Once you have done this, then hum the word whose syllables you are counting. Students will be able to hear and feel the syllables with their Duck Lips. 

Here's an example of Duck Lips:

What a wonderfully astute and brilliant child. His parents must be so proud! :)

What's next? Ah, yes. Now we must practice.
As we learned yesterday, teachers must share information through Explicit Instruction if they really expect their students to learn. Simply follow these steps:

1. Model/ Demonstration (I do)
2. Guided Practice (We do)
3. Individual Practice (You do)

But to this we must add something more. Something to really get our lesson across and stick with our students for the rest of their lives. Get ready, everyone. We're about to get crazy up in here.

Multi-sensory Instruction
1. Manipulate objects- allow students to use things like magnetic letters or index cards, tap their fingers, slide chips or tokens; anything that lets kids manipulate and move things. Let students know that the items represent letters or letter sounds (of they are blends or digraphs) in order for them to make words. 
Check out these websites for letter tile printables:

2. Movement with Verbalizing- build associations through movements

It's like when teachers taught their students the months of the year using the Macarena. Movement with a purpose helps students learn information. 
Many teachers now use Whole Brain Teaching, which has students use hand motions to help them remember words, facts, and details. 

Whole Brain Teaching: Kindergarten

3. Engage all senses- see, hear, tough, and talk. 
Move it ------> Say it -----> See it
The more your students are engaged, the more they are learning. Better yet, if they can teach it to a peer, then you know they have full comprehension. Give students opportunities to manipulate, explore, and move. This can be done in whole group, small group, or in pairs. 


One more question before I leave you alone.

Do you ever feel a little.... irregular? Feel that something just isn't right? You're going along in life, feeling like you're on top of the world only to realize that those rules by which you ran your life were all... lies?

Welcome to the world of Irregular Words, my friend. 

Remember the rule "I before E, except after C"? That is a load of malarky. 

So, you see, they're really more like guidelines anyway. :)

The reason we don't have any real tried-and-true rules in the English language is because our language isn't really ours. Relatively speaking, America is a young country. We were settled by peoples from different nations and language backgrounds, who were, in turn, founded by peoples of different nations and languages... and on and on back through history. Here are some examples:

Anglo- Saxon Words
  • short, commonly used words
  • basic colors, basic body parts, numbers, compound words

Latin Words
  • follow strict structure: prefix+ root+ suffix= in-vis-ible
  • often include schwa (flat sounding vowels like the 'a' in adapt)

French Words
  • "ge" = /zh/: barrage, genre, beige, rouge
  • "ch" = /sh/ : charade, chic, parachute
  • "que" = /k/ : antique, critique, unique
  • "ine" = /een/ : machine, limousine, marine

Greek Words
  • "ch" for /k/ : chorus, technology, Christmas, anchor
  • "ph" for /f/ : graph, sphere, epitaph, phase
  • uncommon vowel split" chaos, create, poetry, zodiac

Is it any wonder why foreigners find English so hard to learn? Add syntax, accents, and slang and you've got a recipe for confusion. 

All the more reason for teachers to be explicit in their instruction and parents to be diligent in their concern for their child's education. 

I'm exhausted now. Time for me to get in my Drop Everything And Read time before bed! Tomorrow is the last day of training!

Reads and Seeds: Week 6- Special Visitors!

Let's welcome Mrs. Kapp to the blog today! Since I wasn't able to attend, Mrs. Kapp graciously agreed to fill us in on everything that happened!


Mrs. Delk is allowing me to guest post to her blog about this week's Reads and Seeds.  We missed her while she was away at training. Can you believe that we have already had 6 weeks of Reads and Seeds?

This week we hosted a very special guest, Justin Hoenke, from the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. He tweeted:

We learned that the plastic comes on a large spool and that is threaded into the printer. You have to select a file to print and send the file to the printer (this is very similar to printing on a regular printer).  The computer sends the selected file to the printer and the printer prints the object.  The amount of detail in a 3D printed object is amazing.  The amount of time that a print takes is dependent on the complexity of the design and the size of the object. The 3D printer that we were using only prints one color at a time.

After Justin shared the ins and outs of 3D, the kids were able to choose an object to print.  Justin created a great menu of items from that could be printed in 15-20 minutes so that each participant could leave with a 3D printed object.  Go check out some of the amazing things that you can print.

Once the design was chosen, and the print was started, kids were able to choose from our available maker stations while they waited for their turn. Today, we offered weaving, legos, play dough, and mask making.  We recycled last week's green paper from the Photo Booth by turning it into a mural.

The kids were amazed by the printer and several watched and waited while their objects were being printed.  Justin stayed by the printer and answered questions about the process with with the students.   We are so grateful that he brought the printer to our school for us to use.

Here are some pictures from this week! We had Playdoh, looms, and masks for students to play with while waiting for their turn.

Here is a sampling of some of the things we printed today:
Photo courtesy of Jenny Wells

A bracelet!

If you are in the Chattanooga area, you can check out the 3D printer on the 2nd floor if you have a teen or tween.  Adults are welcome to print on the 4th floor.  You can find more information on the Public Library's website.

Thanks again General Delk for letting me write on your blog.  We look forward to seeing everyone for our last Reads and Seeds on July 29th.

Mrs. Kapp

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TNCore Summer Reading Training: Day 1

In Tennessee, Hamilton County in particular, we are bombarded with... blessed with opportunities for professional development. In fact, last year alone I completed over 100 hours of professional development. (reading, math, writing, and science combined)

This week I am attending 3 days of Common Core PD for English Language Arts. This PD was offered last summer,  but I was unable to attend. I was very happy to learn that it was being offered again!

The training is sponsored by TNCore and is being held at Walker Valley High School.

2nd and 3rd grades were grouped together and each attendee received a lovely workbook and packet of "teacher goodies" such as index cards, highlighters, post-it notes, etc. Today we covered units 1 and 2 in the workbook. Here are some of the highlights!

Unit 1: Reading Development and the Common Core State Standards

  • Reading comprehension is dependent on two major domains- decoding and language comprehension.

  • Decoding includes- phonemic awareness, phonics, morphology and syllabication, and automatic recognition of words by sight

  • Language comprehension includes- background knowledge, vocabulary, understanding language structure, verbal reasoning ability, and text structure knowledge

  • How teachers teach is important! To be systematic and explicit in their instruction, teachers must:
  1. Have a clearly stated purpose
  2. Model the instructional sequence
  3. Have instructional routines
  4. Conduct regular and cumulative reviews
  5. Use engaging techniques to earn high student response
  6. Give corrective feedback
  7. Have an intensity that matches the needs of the students
  • Conversation with your student(s) is important! A child in a high-verbal family would hear eleven million words; a child in a low-verbal family would hear just three million. (Hart and Risley 1995)
  • Language is stimulated through conversation and shared experience.... (Hart and Risley 1995)
  • ... children learn the form of language that they have been loved in. (Hart and Risley 1995)
  • Vocabulary use at age 3 was strongly related to reading comprehension scores in third grade. (Hart and Risley 1995)

I'll tell you why the last few points hit the hardest for me. As a teacher and a parent, I am surrounded by children 24/7. Young minds are like sponges, they will soak up whatever is around them. As an adult who is responsible for the molding and shaping of young minds, I need to make sure that what I am giving them is worthy of being soaked up. 
  • Am I talking with my kids, and not just at them? 
  • Am I using appropriate language and introducing new vocabulary
  • Am I actively taking time out of my day to have an (at least) 30 second conversation with them individually?
  • Am I reading with them daily?
I encourage parents to try to do at least 2 of those points a day with their child at home. I'll do my part as a parent with my 3 kids as well.

Unit 2: Oral Language, Vocabulary, and Speaking and Listening

What are some ways to have a "Language Rich" classroom or home?

1. Conversation

Teachers- do what you do best- get organized. Make a chart of your students and make sure you have a 30 second conversation with each student every week. This could be you talking to a chid during morning work or unpacking time, calling a child over during recess to have a quick chat, or having a small conversation while the class is waiting for the bathroom. It doesn't have to be deep or philosophical, it just needs to happen!

Parents- Talk to your child! Ask about their day, read a story, or talk with them over their homework. When giving directions, try to explain why the direction is being given, not just a quick order. 
Example: (DON'T SAY) Sit down!
(DO SAY) Please sit down, you are in your brother's way.
By adding an explanation, you are adding to your child's vocabulary!

2. Stretch It

Teachers- I also call this "speaking properly". I am a big fan of British movies and tv, and my students will attest to my addiction! I love Doctor Who and Sherlock (I mean, doesn't everybody?) and I can pretty much quote the entire 6 hour BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. So, in an attempt to make my classroom just a little more "high brow", I adopt a British accent when teaching new words. 

Example: When grading a partner's paper
Normal- Give the paper back to who it belongs to.
Properly- Please give the paper back to the person to whom it belongs.

When reprimanding
Normal- Pay attention and do your work.
Properly- Cease being idle and focus on the task before you.

I've found that when I adopt and accent it makes my students pay closer attention, and when they try to emulate my words, they over enunciate and end up sounding they way they should. (without the overly southern twang) I don't do this for all new vocabulary, but it's nice every once in a while!

Parents- The next time you take your child to the grocery store with you, play a naming game. Tell him or her an item on your list and ask them to describe it using every word they know. Or, play the game in reverse and describe an item on your list and have your child guess what it is.

Example: apple
round, red, yellow, green, crisp, crunchy, fruit, sweet, tart, healthy, from a plant, has seeds in the middle, tastes good in pies

Stretch their brains for words, and give them new ones when you can!

3. Kindness Counts

Teachers- Create a classroom where affirmation is the norm. Whether it's teacher-to-student, or student-to-student, kids need to know that what they do matters and is appreciated. 

In low-language families, children heard they were right about 120 thousand times and they heard they were wrong about 250 thousand times. Their linguistically advantaged peers heard they were right about 750 thousand times and heard they were wrong 120 thousand times. (Hart and Risley 1995)

I've seen teachers make Compliment Chains, keep Warm Fuzzies Jars, have Bucket Fillers, earn compliment parties... you name it! It's all good! Just make sure that you're not the only one giving the praise. Students need to feel comfortable giving as well as receiving compliments. 

Parents- Praise your child. Often and with great gusto. Praise them.
I know they're not angels. I know they get loud and obnoxious. (I have 3 of my own, remember?) But when you find your children doing something well or right, praise them. 

If your child is being even more of a pain than usual, (Which would be my kid right now. I'm surprised you can't hear her whining through the computer.) then take whichever disciplinary action is right for you, but come back when the tantrum is done and talk it out. Once my daughter is done complaining over whatever wrong she believes has been done to her, I will talk to her about the problem, ask what she should have done instead, and praise her for being able to talk things out using her "big kid" words. 

4. Practice What You Preach

Teachers- You want your students to have an extensive vernacular at their beck and call? You want them to have brains like thesauruses and impeccable diction and enunciation? Then step up to that plate yourself and show them how it's done! 
I've read that in order for something to become a routine it takes 7 days of practice. (or something like that) If you want your students to learn new vocabulary, it's going to take more than having then write the words in different colors, writing the definition, and putting it on a sentence. (I'm guilty of it too, but no longer!) Here's the new and improved way to teach new vocabulary:
  • Say the word, teach pronunciation
  • Have the class repeat it
  • Read the word, and say the definition using a complete sentence
  • Have the class repeat the definition
  • Write the word, and have students read and write the word
  • Add a gesture to the definition, and repeat the sentence with the gesture
  • Have student partners take turns teaching the word to each other
  • Have partners turn back to you and repeat one more time

I'm not going to lie, I still plan on having my kids do things like rainbow write the words, and illustrate the word when used in a sentence, but I'll be doing those things after teaching them the new way!

Parents- Follow up with your child. Ask him or her what they learned in school, and insist that they be able to tell you a new word. We all know that a good education is worth its weight in gold. Take a little time out of your day to let your student know that you value their learning, and they should too. Remember, you are their first teacher. Make it count!

Here are some websites that were mentioned in PD today. Check them out!

Reads and Seeds Week 5: Around the World

For Week 5 of Reads and Seeds, Mrs. Kapp and I decided to take the kids around the world! I wanted to show the kids a few episodes of Doctor Who (who better to show the world to the kids?) but Mrs. Kapp thought that the kids might like a more hands-on approach.

Our stories for this week were:

Did you know that Waiting for the Biblioburro is based on a true story? Watch this video for more!

Here are some of the activities we had this week:

Mask Making
Students got to make-and-take masks. They had a choice of coloring patriotic masks or making their own design using a craft book that Mrs. Kapp found.

US Puzzle
Do you have what it takes to assemble a nation? These kids do!

The Japanese art of paper folding. Mrs. Kapp mastered the pinwheel and duck, while I made a box and a hat! The kids mastered being creative, which is all that matters. :)

Still one of our most popular stations. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Flags of the world, and Doctor Who! (he represents all of Great Britain)

And last, but not least...

Dress up
I brought some articles of clothing that I got from some of my travels, and some super hero costumes my kids got as Christmas gifts. Kids were welcome to dress up how ever they wanted. Of course, they wanted to dress up in as many different ways as possible. :)

We can't wait for week 6! The Public Library is coming and is going to bring some really cool activities!