Encouraging Writing for Kindergartners

encourage writing at an early age
Encourage writing at an early age.

Our Kindergarten student has no school today.  What shall we do?  She’s reading above grade level; but have we written any stories lately?  Nope! Encouraging writing, here we go!  Today we will be authors!

Encouraging Writing: Where Do We Start? 

Young children love to write because it makes them feel like a grown up.  Encourage their writing at very early stages of development even before they understand letters, words or sentences.  Adults play a very important role in all stages of a child’s writing development.

Encouraging Writing: Before Writing Starts:  

  1. Encourage writing by modeling your own writing by “thinking aloud” when you are making a list of things to do or a shopping list. Show your child how you use writing throughout your day.
  2. Try to find a reason for your child to write at least once every day. Suggest ideas to write about such as: a note to a friend or family member, an addition to a list, labeling a drawing, copying a word, copying from a book, adding to a list of things to do, writing a word to evaluate a book, labeling or adding details to a story illustrations, dictate to them something they can write down.
  3. Encourage them to role-play familiar jobs that involve writing. (e.g. restaurant, store, doctor, library, pharmacy).
  4. Provide a variety of writing materials to use that include different types of paper and markers (paper, pencils, crayons, chalk, easel, post its, index cards, scraps of paper, markers). Along with traditional materials, allow them to be creative by writing on napkins, paper bags, sidewalk, driveway, old mail or cards; whatever and wherever they think would make writing fun! (with limits of course). Tip: Make it portable by storing in a zip lock bag.  Ready to go when they are!

Encouraging Writing During Writing: 

  1. Let children create picture books by stapling 4 or 5 pieces of paper together. Once they start drawing and writing words you can guide them to creating a 5 page story. Cover page, what happened first, then what happened, then what happened and what happened at the end.  Beginning authors can use “the End” on the last page to complete the story.  Writing is a process that takes time.  Be patient and rejoice for each page.
  2. Be available to answer questions that they may have or provide additional materials to support their writing.
  3. Let children invent their spelling. By eliminating the stress of spelling everything correctly while writing, children will learn how to express their thoughts in writing. Writing phonetically, (the way it sounds) will help build their confidence as writers and help them be better able to read their writing back to you. Don’t worry, they will begin to ask you how to spell using conventional spelling when they are ready.

Encouraging Writing After Writing: 

  1. Ask children to read to you their writing. After they finish reading, congratulate them and take the opportunity to repeat their accomplishments.  Suggest one or two ideas they may want to try next time.  Allow them the opportunity to make additions if THEY want to during the reading.  RESIST the temptation to make MANY suggestions.
  2. Celebrate their accomplishments by giving them opportunities to share their writing with others.
  3. This sharing time can easily become a teaching time by asking questions about their writing. Questioning will help them expand their thinking for future writing. Encourage their writing by asking questions such as:
  • “Emily, why did you decide to put Abby in the story with you?”
  • “Lowyn, I see that you put your animals in a park? What other animals might you see in the park?”
  • “Teagan, I like how you drew a blue dress on the little girl. A good color choice.  I like blue dresses too.  Do you have other colors that you like?”
  • “Meghan, how did you come up with the idea for your book?”
  • “Declan, why did you decide to add that detail to your picture?”
  • “Connall, I noticed you reading your story, while you were writing. Can you tell me why you were doing that?”

Finally, young children love to write. Keep reminding yourself that writing is a process that takes time. Sit back and ENJOY your new author’s journey!

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Reading, Writing and Preschool?  Oh MY!

 

Understanding is in the Questioning

Understanding is in the Questioning

Good questioning is asking the right questions that will help you know whether your child understands a new concept. The trick is to find ways that allow children to apply their new knowledge.  The bottom line is to ask the right questions.

Blooms Taxonomy

Good questioning should be in every teacher and parent toolbox. For deeper understanding questions children should be asked questions that shows they can apply their knowledge. Often  children can recall information but are not able to explain their answers. Using question stems based on Blooms’s taxonomy helps strengthen children’s thinking skills.

REMEMBER (Level 1) Knowledge recognizing and recalling

  • What do you remember about _____?
  • When did ___?
  • Where is ___?
  • Why did ___?
  • How would you define_____?
  • Who were ___?
  • Which one ___?

UNDERSTAND (Level 2) Showing comprehension by stating the new information in own words.

  • How can you describe ___?
  • What would happen if ___?
  • What is the main idea?
  • How would you express _____?
  • What can you infer from _____?
  • How would you compare/contrast ___?
  • What did you observe ___?

APPLY (Level 3) Showing how the new information can be applied to solve a problem

  • What other way could you choose to ___?
  • How would you demonstrate ____?
  • Why does _____ happen?
  • What actions would you take to solve ___?
  • How would you change ____?
  • What examples can you find that ___?
  • How would you modify ____?

ANALYZE (Level 4) Breaking down an idea into parts to show relationships among the parts.

  • Discuss the pros and cons of ___?
  • What explanation do you have for ___?
  • What can you infer_____?
  • What ideas support/validate ___?
  • How would you explain _____?
  • Why do you think ___?
  • What is the problem with ___?
EVALUATE (Level 5) Making informed judgments about ideas based on information learned.
  • Can you state the most important idea of  ___?
  • What criteria would you use to assess _____?
  • State your opinion of  ___?
  • Data? Did you use data to evaluate _____?
  • How could you verify _____?
  • Looking at information, how did you use it to prioritize _____?
  • Rank the importance of ___?
CREATE (Level 6) Information is synthesized or brought together to build relationships for new situations.
  • Create a song that explains ___?
  • Thoughts on how you would revise _____?
  • What would happen if ___?
  • Can you devise a way to ___?
  • What could you invent? ___?
  • How would you create a plan to ___?
  • What alternative would you suggest for ___?
  • How would you explain the reason ___?

Source: Vanderbilt University: Center for Teaching

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Add Effective Questioning to Toolkit

Highly-abled students need attention too!

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Print is ALL AROUND!

environmental print
Road signs are great examples of environmental print

Three of my granddaughters live 30 minutes away and visit quite often.  Buckled in their car seats, the 4 and 5-year-olds, can do little more than observe the many signs and stores they pass along the route. On a recent trip, I was amazed at the number of places and signs they were able to “read” along the way. After boasting about their Environmental Print awareness and getting quite a few blank faces from my family and friends, I realized I found a future blog topic!

What is Environmental Print?

The term Environmental Print (EP) refers to the signs and logos kids see every day in their world. It is one of the earliest exposures to written language that sends the message that print has meaning. Kids can make connections with some of the images because they may have visited the stores or seen them on TV.  What child doesn’t’ recognize the “golden arches”?

4 Benefits of Environmental Print?

  1. Helps to make connections to the world around them.
  2. Gives kids a “reading experience” before reading print in books.
  3. Builds confidence in young children and gets them excited about reading
  4. Requires no preparation and is FREE! Can’t get much easier than that!

Examples of EP All Around Us: Signs: (Speed Limit, STOP, Slow, Railroad, WALK), labels:(food boxes, bags/ bottles, signs: familiar stores/restaurants, logos for favorite toys.

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5 Parts of Reading: Completes the Puzzle

 

Fluency in Reading: 12 Ways to Increase

how to increase reading fluency
Model fluency when reading aloud

Reading fluency is the ability to read with accuracy and expression when reading aloud.  Fluent readers read more quickly and smoothly, allowing them to focus on comprehension.  Since fluent readers gain more meaning from text, they seem to enjoy reading and therefore may read more often.

Students struggling with fluency sound hesitant when reading aloud. This could be due to struggling with the meaning of text or decoding words. Therefore, addressing fluency difficulties is important in learning to read proficiently.

12 Activities/Strategies to Promote Reading Fluency

  • Give students many opportunities to read different texts at their reading level. This builds confidence along with fluency.
  • Encourage silent reading where students can practice their reading without judgement. However, silent reading alone does not increase fluency with struggling readers. Adult supervision is necessary to assess progress.
  • Remind children of the characteristics of fluency so they understand what it means and how they can improve.
  • Allow children to use a whisper phone so they can hear themselves whisper read. The ability to self-correct is important in learning to read.
  • Model fluent reading when reading aloud to students so they can hear what it sounds like
  • Emphasize to students that fluency focuses on accuracy rather than speed.
  • Let students use a ruler or their finger to follow the words across the page while you read. This strategy helps students stay focused on reading, guides story rhythm and helps teachers identify hearing or vision (tracking) issues.
  • Encourage children to reread passages multiple times to build confidence.
  • Drill sight words to make children more familiar with common words in text.
  • Try different genres and book lengths to motivate students to learn.
  • Experiment with different font and text sizes. Students with visual difficulties may find larger text or text on different colored paper easier to read.
  • Preview new or challenging words prior to introducing a new text.

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5 Parts of Reading: Completes the Puzzle

 

ThreeRingsConnections Blog Content Sept./Oct.

I was recently talking to a friend  about some of the posts on the blog and realized that it would be good to create a Table of Contents for quick access. Yeats quote So here it is!  All the postings for the September and October in a single post. One Stop Shopping!  Enjoy!

Topic Link
Grants Keats (Ezra Jack) Mini-Grant Opportunity

Trips for students from Target Due: Oct. 1st 

Grants for Trips in Hudson Valley

FREE Pet for Pre-K -Grade 9 Classrooms

Student Teaching Student Teacher Characteristics

Student Teacher Refs: Are VIP

Math Numeracy in Early ChildhoodMath Activities for Young Children for Under $10.00

100 Chart for Math

“Math Walks”: Time to “Walk the Talk”

Math Problem Solving and Young Children

Literacy Why? Reading to Babies?

Picture Walks Promotes Reading

5 Parts of Reading: Completes the Puzzle

Concepts of Print Support For Parents

Library Suggestions for Preschool Classrooms

Reading, Writing and Preschool?  Oh MY!

phonological-and-phonemic-awareness-6 (8)

Early Literacy and Common Core in Preschool: How Do they Fit Together in Our Classrooms?

Books Before Kindergarten: 1000?

Good Resources Early Learning Newsletter: U.S. Dept. of Ed.

Magazines: 2 Free for Educators

Best Reading Resources for Teachers

Video Resources Every Kid Needs A Champion

Change Happens… Now What?

Gifted Talented/ Enrichment Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

2-Minute-Mysteries: November

Highly-abled students need attention too!

Teaching (General) Add Effective Questioning to Toolkit

Use Your Words Daniel Tiger

3 Words to Help Expression

Fostering Creativity in Kids

Behaviors (7) Predict School Success?

Special Education Resources Fostering Creativity in Kids

Speech Language Pathologists

Fine Motor Activities for Kids: Less than $10.00

What are Fine Motor Skills and why are they important?

fine motor activities kit for toddlers
DIY Fine Motor Activities Kit for Young Kids for Less than $10.00

Fine motor skills are those that involve using muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. With the development of these skills, a child is able to complete important tasks such as feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering and writing.  These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of activities.

So this month I decided to create a GG Fun Kit to to strengthen fine motor skills.  As many of you are aware, the kits are my attempt to create unique Christmas gifts for my grandkids.  My goal is for each kit to support learning, be reasonably priced and full of GG/grandkid FUN!  Last month, I created a Math Kit and this month I’m off to the Dollar Store with a $10.00 bill to find materials to support Fine Motor skills.

Fun Activities to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills

Materials Activities
pompoms
  • Sort pompoms in ice cube trays by color
  • Pick up pompoms with tweezers and put in ice cube trays
  • Put pompoms into storage containers
beads
  • String beads using wire
  • Roll post its and put through beads
  • Build structure using beads and post its
wire
  • Use clothespins to hang post its, baggies, rubber bands on wire
  • Wrap wire around ice cube trays
small pencil Write with small pencil on small post its
Post its Use to make connectors between beads
Rubber bands Wrap rubber bands around fingers and practice picking up small items
tweezers Use to pick up small items in kit
tongs Use to pick up small to medium items in kit
Ice cube trays (2)
  • Use trays to sort items by color, number and to make patterns
  • Use the bottom of the tray as a geoboard stretching rubber bands over the shape
  • Stretch rubber bands over the trays
Baggies with zippers
  • Store items
  • Use as a container and take out items using tongs or tweezers
Clear plastic containers
  • Use for storage
  • Put hole in lid and put small items from the kit through the hole using fingers
  • Put items from kit through the hole using tweezer or tongs.
clothespins
  • Use to pick up beads, rubber bands, small pencil, post it.
  • Use to hang items on the wire
Plastic cupcake holder with lid
  • Used to store all items in the kit.
  • Ideally one with a handle is best so it can be carried by children.

Math Activities Kit for Young Children for Under $10.00 

Math Activities in a Kit for Less than $10.00

Math Kit Activities for Young Kids
DIY Math Kit for Young Kids for Less than $10.00

The holidays are a few months away and I’m already struggling to find something to get the grandkids.  I don’t want it to be just another gift.  I want something that they will remember came  from me and of course, BE FUN!

Math Activities Kit made by GG! 

So, this year I decided to make “Fun Kits” that would support learning and of course full of GG/grandkid FUN!  I chose to make it portable to travel back and forth between our homes.  I also wanted to keep the cost under $10 so that teachers, parents and other GG’s could make their own! So, off I went to the Dollar Store, full of optimism and a $10 bill to create the perfect Christmas gift.  The Result My First Fun Kit: Math!

Other posts related to this topic

Numeracy in Early Childhood

“Math Walks”: Time to “Walk the Talk”

100 Chart for Math

Math Problem Solving and Young Children

math problem solving is important for young kids
Kids need to learn to be good problem solvers

Young children are naturally curious and therefore are great at problem solving.  They can also be great math problem solvers with some simple guidance from adults. There are some common strategies that young children can learn to help them solve problems.

The BIG 5 Problem Solving Strategies for Young Kids

  1. Guess and Check– This is one of the simplest strategies to solve problems. It allows students to respond and then check to see if their guess was right. Although easy, kids sometimes think it’s a game and guess any answer.  Since guesses can be done without much thinking, you can support their guessing by asking them if it is the best guess.  Encourage them to think about their guesses and ask do you think that’s the best guess?
  2. Act it Out– Have kids pretend they are actors and perform the information in the problem. Ex. John went to the store and bought 3 apples. Mary also bought 3 apples.  How many apples did they have all together? In this example John pretends to walk to a store to buy 3 apples. Mary does the same and then they put their apples together to solve the problem.
  3. Use Manipulatives– Using items to represent numbers can help kids make a problem concrete. Manipulatives can be anything that can be easily moved. (counters, dice, money, beans, chips, fingers, money, paper clips) Be creative!
  4. Draw– Drawing pictures gives students the opportunity to create their own manipulatives. This is a perfect strategy to use when there are no manipulatives nearby.  Drawing helps to keep kids focused on the problem and it also creates a visual representation of the problem.  This can be used to show their thinking.
  5. Think It Through– Encourage kids to be thinkers. Teach them to think (remember) things they already know.  Prompt them with questions and hints on ways to solve the The following questions can be used to guide their mathematical thinking: What did you do to get the answer?What did you do to get the answer?
  • Can you show me how you figured that out?
  • What happened in the problem?
  • Why do you think that is the correct answer?
  • Where do you think you should start?
  • Do you think that will work?
  • What did you do to get the answer?

Enjoy the Math Journey!

Children’s ability to solve problems will improve with experience and practice.  Parents can engage their children in math by pointing out math concepts that surround them every day. Guide them to see the patterns, shapes and numbers in their world.  Engage them in cooking, card playing, puzzles and different types of board games. Enjoy your math journey together.

Other posts related to this topic

Numeracy in Early Childhood

“Math Walks”: Time to “Walk the Talk”

100 Chart for Math

2-Minute-Mysteries: November

2 minute mysteries to support critical thinking
This month’s 2 minute mysteries help support critical thinking for young kids

2-Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.

  1. Chris was enjoying a bowl of chili at a restaurant in Montreal.  Looking into the bowl, he saw a fly.  He informed the waiter and asked for a new bowl of chili.  When the waiter brought him the new bowl, he tasted it and accused the waiter of bringing him back the same bowl.  Why did he think that?
  2. Uncle Bug’s baseball bat company sells baseball bats for $25.00 each. This month there is a sale 2 baseball bats for $36.00. He said he makes the same profit either way but that it is a good sale.   How much profit must he make on each bat when he sells them at the regular price of $25.00.
  3. Kelly is walking down the street dressed in black.  There are no lights on anywhere and no moon.  A car without its lights on comes down the street and avoids hitting her?  How did that happen?
  4. You walk into a room with only one match.  You must light a lantern, a stove, the pilot light on the water heater and a fire in a fire place.  What do you light first?

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Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

Answer Clues:

  1. What else did Chris know about the soup?
  2. Use the problem solving strategy of making a table.  Be sure to include examples of buying the bats at the full price.
  3. When is the story happening?
  4. What 5 items do you know you have in the room?

 

Answers:  (Well you asked for the answers, here they are!)

  1. Before Chris found the fly, he had put salt on his chili.  When the chili returned, it was bland.
  2. The profit on each bat must be $14.00.  Since he makes no extra profit on the second bat, he must be selling it at cost.  With the price of each bat $25.00 the cost is $11.00 with $14.00 profit.  Selling 2 bats at $36.00 means that the total cost of 2 bats is $22.00 leaving $14.00 as the total profit.
  3. Kelly is walking down the street during the day.
  4. The first thing you have to light is the match.

FREE Books for Adults and Kids

 

child reading on tablet Please share the resources below to give someone the “Gift of Reading”.
• Overdrive is a database of books that allows you to borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks from your local library. Just use your library card for your one time registration.
• Tumblebooks is a collection of audiobooks and ebooks for kids. Books are leveled and the site also includes activities. Once you register using your library card, you will be given access information.
Happy Free Reading! woman reading

Fostering Creativity in Kids

Fostering Creativity in Kids and Love Doing it!

When I was a teacher of the talented and gifted we administered the Torrance Tests of Divergent Thinking as one of the admission tests. Points were given if kids expanded some basic squiggles into creative drawings.  Kids loved the test and always wanted to do it over. IF they did take the test again, they probably would have done better.  Why?  Because after the test I had shown them how they scored Therefore, they learned how to score better the next time.

Talented and Gifted Admission: A Good Idea?

A Torrance retest would be a perfect example of learning, but could I use the results to test creativity? I’m not sure.  The example showed that creativity is a skill can be developed. So, what about the kids who scored high on the original test?  Was that inborn talent or had they had opportunities to develop their creativity prior to testing?  Perhaps they had experiences that gave them the confidence to try different challenges where there was no right or wrong answers.

Bottom line is that parents can foster creativity in their kids.  Fostering a child’s creativity through art and music is a common idea.  However, creativity and problem solving can be seen in all areas.

10 Ways to Promote Creativity in Children

  • Give kids lots of unstructured playtime to let their imaginations be unlimited.
  • Provide resources to let them explore. (Ex. paper, pencils, boxes, old clothes for dress up, straws, newspapers, blocks, Legos) Let them look around and find things to use.
  • Give them flexibility to make choices and think of solutions.
  • Help them learn words associated with creativity by asking questions. Ex. What would happen if? What could you do with that?  Any ideas that might be possibilities? Let’s think of possible solutions.
  • Applaud their creativity! Remembering that there is no right or wrong.  Allowing kids to express themselves with acknowledgement helps to build confidence to try new things.
  • Allow them to make rules to a game. They’ll experience whether they work or not. When they don’t let them change them again.  Problem solving at its best
  • The focus of creative activities should be on process: generating (vs. evaluating) new ideas.
  • Remind them it’s ok to make mistakes. You don’t want them to be afraid of failure. Adults make mistakes too!
  • Encourage divergent (different) thinking. I used to challenge all my first-grade classes to find 100 ways to melt a snowball. It was a struggle, but they always did it.  Wow, those kids were creative!
  • Show kids creative ideas. In other words, something that will trigger “out of the box thinking”.

The photo attached to this post was taken by my husband on a golf outing.  He thought it was unique and knew I would share it with some of my grandkids. But he didn’t know that I would use it as the focus photo of a post on creativity!  Who would ever thinking of carving and painting  a scene on a tree?  So, maybe, you won’t paint on the next tree you see, but I bet you’ll think of this photo the next time you see an entwined tree trunk.  Now, you’re being creative.

Thanks to Griffon Ramsey, for the creative inspiration from “Bad Day on the SS Normandie” (2017)

Reading to Babies? Why?

One of the groups that I  volunteer with is the Poughkeepsie branch of  the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  One of our recent projects was to create a brochure about the importance of reading to babies. I’m happy to announce that the finished product, in both Spanish and English, is now available throughout Dutchess County in libraries and pediatrician offices.  Thank you to the graphic designer, the translator and the Poughkeepsie Library System for all their efforts to complete the project.  The information below is included in the brochure.  Enjoy!

Reading to Young Children

Reading aloud to children from an early age is the best way to raise a child who enjoys reading and does well in school. Therefore, why not start with reading to babies!

Why Reading to Babies is Important

  • Your baby’s brain triples in size by age 3. The brain develops as your baby interacts with the world and learns new things.
  • Reading aloud exposes babies to the sounds of human speech and lays a foundation for learning to read.
  • By age two, children know between 300-500 words. Children who are spoken to and read frequently have larger vocabularies and develop into better readers. Therefore, let the talk begin!
  • Communication with your baby helps to make sense of the environment. Whether its smiling, laughing or talking, your baby is starting to realize the value of communication
  • As your baby’s first teacher, you can help nurture a language-rich environment.

Other posts related to this topic

https://threeringsconnections.org/why-read-and-babies/

Speech Language Pathologists

As a building principal for many years, I had the pleasure of working with National Hearing Month many classroom teachers and special area teachers.  There was not a day that went by that I didn’t learn something from one of them!  One group of teachers that I found to be an amazing source of information was the Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). Our SLPs were exceptionally helpful in our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) process.  As part of our RTI process, they worked to find different ways to include language interventions to strengthen student skills.  Collaborating with classroom teachers they were able to explain a child’s limitations based on testing and suggested interventions.  Partnering with parents they explained test scores, program   recommendations and shared progress reports.

Thank you, Holly and Connie!

The 2 sites below are good resources to support teachers, parents and caregivers looking for information on any speech concerns.  Both are active sites with the Main Page having multiple links and search engines to ask specific questions.

Helpful Links

American Speech Language Hearing Association

National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDC)

 

Use Your Words Daniel Tiger

“Use Your Words”: Learning Kit with Daniel TigerDaniel Tiger Neighborhood

The technique “use your words” encourages children to talk about their feelings. Being able to use words to describe what they are feeling gives children power over their feelings. Giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting or scary. The Use Your Words Learning Kit with Daniel Tiger is a FREE resource has many tips for parents and teachers for helping children learn to use their words to express how they are feeling. Great resource that kids will love!

Use Your Words: Learning Kit with Daniel Tiger

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3 Words to Help Expression

 

Minute-Mysteries: October

Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of mystery detectivethe clues in the story.

Emily and Connall were playing checkers at GG’s house. They played 5   games.  Each of them won the same number of games and there weren’t any ties.  How could this happen?

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was the youngest person elected to the presidency.  However, he was the second youngest man to hold the office? How could this be?

On Monday, the teacher asked Teaghan how old she would be on her next birthday.  She answered that in two years she would be twice as old as she was five years ago.  How old is Teaghan today?

A photographer went for a walk in the woods to take pictures of nature.  That was the last time anyone saw her alive.  Three days later she was found dead in the woods.  The story says that she died because of a pack on her back.  What was so deadly about the pack?

Other posts related to this topic      

Mysteries to support critical thinking

Answer Clues: 

  1. How many kids were playing checkers?
  2. Are presidents always elected?
  3. Use a chart or a table as your problem solving strategy.
  4. Is there anything else special about the phrase  “pack on her back” other than it rhymes?

Answers:  (You asked for it, here they are) 

  1. Emily and Connall were both playing checkers but they were not playing each other.
  2. When President McKinley was assassinated, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt became president..  At that time he was only 42.  President Kennedy was 43.
  3. Teaghan is 12
  4. The pack that was on the photographer was a “pack” of wolves.

 

Add Effective Questioning to Toolkit

 a map with text

“Bloomin” Questioning: The Basics

My knowledge of questioning was limited prior to being hired as a teacher of Talented and Gifted students. I vaguely remember hearing something about Bloom’s Taxonomy.  But honestly, it didn’t sound important to me at the time.  My new position put it front and center of my teaching. However, I was WRONG not to have used it in my prior placements. Good questioning should be in every teacher’s toolbox and used often in both instruction and assessment.  It is a great addition to a parents’ toolbox as well.

Most questions are used to ask students to recall and check for understanding.  For deeper understanding, we should ask children to apply their knowledge. Often my students could recall the information but could not explain their answers.  Most of today’s testing requires students to explain their answers and gives partial credit to validate thinking.

This is an excellent topic for discussion.  Therefore, look for future blogs on effective questioning for different age students that will include questioning stems to help in the classroom.

Blooms taxonomy map

Remember: Being able to recall or recognize ideas and information.

Understand:  Understanding the main idea of new information and being able to summarize.

Apply:  Applying an idea to solve a problem.

Analyze: Breaking down an idea into parts to help understanding.

Evaluate: Using reasons to support your idea.

Create:  Create a new idea using new information.

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Highly-abled students need attention too!

Behaviors (7) Predict School Success?

Last week, my oldest granddaughter excitedly started Kindergarten.  We all knew she was ready, but our eyes still welled up when she climbed the bus stairs.  She is growing up so fast!  So, how did we know?  Well, GiGi’s and daughters JUST KNOW but research on behaviors that predict Kindergarten Readiness also gives information to consider.

report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of behaviors.  Some of them give kids a big advantage. The study tracked  students from kindergarten through third grade, to  determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:

  • Pays attention well
  • Learns independently
  • Persists in completing tasks
  • Organizes belongings
  • Adapts easily to change
  • Shows eagerness to learn new things
  • Follows classroom rules

Looking at the list and Little Miss M, a couple of items make us raise our eyebrows but OVERALL, she was ready.  Have fun Miss M! School is  ready for you!

Helpful Link: Entering Kindergarten: A Portrait of American Children When They Begin School 

Picture Walks can promote reading

Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!

As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.

Before you read with your child

  • Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
  • While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)
  • Think about what YOUR child will like about the book. (illustrations, characters, ending)

While reading with your child

  • Model how to read
  • Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
  • Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
  • Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
  • Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
  • Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)

After reading the book

Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations.  This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.

 

Mysteries to support critical thinking

mystery detective Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun

Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal.  I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and  I shared with them a few mysteries to solve.  It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.

The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious.  The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.

Steps to Solve:

  1. Read the story slowly.
  2. If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
  3. Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
    • Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
    • What tricks could be in the story?
    • Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
    • Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
    • Something about the setting? (weather, time)

Mystery Stories

  1. In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
  2. A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
  3. Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested.  How could that be?
  4. There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
  5. Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.

Clues:

  1. Friday is not a day of the week
  2. Some careers have both men and women employed
  3. Howard is not a man
  4. Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
  5. The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.

Answers:  (You asked for it, here they are) 

  1. Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
  2. The surgeon is the boys mother.
  3. Howard is a fish.  He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
  4. The items were the remains of a melted snowman.
  5. The man with a mask is a catcher at home plate.

Other posts related to this topic

Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

Highly-abled students need attention too!

magnigying glass Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled.  At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area.  At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability.  Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.

  1. has an excellent memory
  2. has a large vocabulary
  3. Uses complex sentence structure for their age
  4. reads earlier than peers
  5. enjoys problem-solving
  6. demonstrates logical thinking
  7. concerned with social and political issues
  8. asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
  9. has original ideas
  10. enjoys and initiates own learning
  11. is organized
  12. can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
  13. tends to be persistent and motivated
  14. can be impatient and intolerant
  15. has a wide range of interests
  16. may have an extreme focus in one interest
  17. has a deep knowledge base
  18. often highly sensitive
  19. has sophisticated sense of humor
  20. transfers learning to new situations
  21. makes connections between different activities and ideas
  22. works well independently
  23. enjoys spending time with  older students or adults

(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)