Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Wheels in My Brain Go Round & Round All Summer Long...

I knew it wouldn't take long before my brain kicked back into school mode, but I didn't think I would be crazy enough to let it happen this soon. HELP ME TOM CRUISE! (Talladega Nights anyone??) I'm positive that it's because I missed my dose of Kathy Lee & Hoda Woman this morning because instead of laughing like a hyena for an hour I was stuck in a training all day learning about what we're expected to teach next year. Apparently we're getting paid for going (I think...or maybe I made that up) so I'll take it! I'm also positive that I stared open mouthed at an assessment that is supposed to be given pretty early on in the year. I'm all for pushing my kids to push themselves to be the geniuses that they are, but if Miracle Grow doesn't produce a "Growing Geniuses in Half the Time" formula I'm up the creek without a paddle. The assessment is supposed to determine if the students can gather information from a picture/illustration. This is similar (if not identical) to the diagram that the kids are given.
They are then supposed to write 3 facts that they gathered by looking at the diagram. Call me crazy, but "wing membrane", "calcar", and "tragus" are some pretty intense words for firsties to swallow. Granted arm, eye, and ear are also included in the diagram, membrane, calcar, and tragus are still pretty scary && if I noticed them before eye, arm, and ear I'm pretty sure my kids will too. I'm willing to bet the last Twinkie in the world that atleast 1 kid cries out of frustration...or I do...whatever comes first.

Not all of the training made me want to switch careers and become a bank teller though. Most of it reminded me of all the fun stuff that I get to teach in first grade. It also reminded me of how many fabulous teachers our county has that are devoted to making learning fun and memorable for their kids. Needless to say the wheels in my brain are spinning about the beginning of the school year and I can only pump the brakes for so long. I figured if I limited myself to a small portion each day I could still enjoy summer break without jumping into lesson planning like I'm all jacked up on Mt. Dew.

There were a lot of things that I wanted to get do last Fall and just didn't get the chance to. One of those things was a center activity for the beginning of the year. I have 5 different center rotations in my room that my kids rotate through on a daily basis. Word building is something that my kids do every Monday at the "Yellow" center. The yellow center is my word center where they build words, sort words, put words into ABC order, etc. Back to word building--the words that the kids are building change each week according to what spelling pattern we happen to be learning about. This gives them extra practice with their spelling words (reading/spelling them & using them in sentences). At the beginning of the year we haven't officially started a spelling list yet and they're definitely not ready to jump right into independent center work so as an introduction I have word building lists of a couple different things. I had big plans last summer to create a huge word building packet for the beginning of the year with several different themes, buuuuuut it didn't happen...well not all the way. I did manage to finish 2 word building center kits: Names of Friends and Color Words. My kids loved, loved, loved them...especially the packet where they built their freinds' names. &&&& it just so happens to be the one that I'm focusing on in this blog...(I could go on and on forever about the different possibilities of packets, but until I have an actual product to show for it I'm not trying to put anyone to bed early out of pure boredom). Since I'm not trying to get fired and I don't know who is in my class for next year yet I had to doctor up a few to make this post worth while.

Directions are simple: pick a name card, build the name on your card with the letter cards, write the name down onto your recording sheet, pick a new name and repeat the process. I laminated all of the cards (name and letter) to make them last through the glue stick covered fingers. Then I punched a hole into each name card to put them on a ring. The recording sheet has a spot for 6 names. I chose to put all of the name cards on a ring and to make 4 sets of the cards (4 kids are in each center at a time). You could put 6 cards on each ring too if you wanted to save some paper and ink. Either way your kids will only be making 6 names...It sounds like a really easy assignment, but it's the beginning of the year and they're learning how to get things done before the timer goes off. We focus a lot on letter formation at the beginning of the year so this is an awesome time for them to take their time and write neatly. As the year goes on I add more words (typically 8) and a bonus box that requires my loves to use one of the words that they built in a sentence. I'll include both versions in the packet so you can differentiate for what your babies are capable of doing (not everybody gets the same mix). At the end of the week I take the name cards off of the ring and store the name and letter cards inside a labled (&& laminated) manila envelope. I'm a little OCD so I attach velcro to the lip to keep it closed inside of my monthly tubs- -completely unnecessary, but I love me some velcro and organization.

My goal is to have a huge packet of word building throughout the year ready by the end of this week (meaning Saturday). We're in for tons of rain so next to laying out, making stuff is my next favorite thing. Until next time, live each day to the fullest and love with all you have. :)

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