Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kindergarten Core Curriculum in Reading

This year in Maryland, Kindergarten teachers piloted the Core Curriculum in Reading, Writing, and Math.  Truthfully, at my school, we mainly focused on the changes to the math curriculum.  We changed our writing a little but very little in reading.  The Core Curriculum doesn't represent a big change for our school (and I guess, our county and state) because it closely matches the curriculum that was already in place.

Here is a link to the Common Core expectations in Reading for Maryland.

The Common Core breaks Reading into several areas: Reading Fictional Text, Reading Informational Text, Reading Foundational Skills, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.  It is overwhelming to look at!  I will be spending more time this summer trying to read it all and translate it for my own classroom.

Personally, I know the way I am teaching reading is a mix of my experiences, the reading I have done, and the other teachers I have worked with.  I know Kindergarten expectations went up tremendously when we moved to full day six years ago.  We do still include the whole group reading experiences with big books, interactive writing and reading, games, and acting out stories but we also have reading groups every day.

Read to Someone
I discovered the Daily Five six years ago, too, happily.  I love it!  By the end of October, you can walk in my room at reading time and see my little friends all actively engaged in reading and writing activities.  It does take about six to eight weeks to teach all of the expectations.  I actually try to follow the book as closely as I can.  If you want to see my lesson plans for the beginning of the year, click the link on the left to my website and follow it to the teacher tab.

The other Kindergarten teachers at my school also use Daily Five but all of us tweak it a bit to fit our own styles.  I allow the kids to choose their centers, one of the teacher assigns the centers.  I only use the five activities listed in the book, some of the teachers include a reading response center (an art project that connects to the read aloud usually).  I think you can change the structure to fit what you want to teach.

Writing from an end of the year Kindergartener (written independently during Work on Writing)
The other part of Daily Five that people sometimes have trouble understanding is that you do as much as you have time for (not usually all five in one day!).  I actually let the kids choose two or three a day.  I keep the check off sheet and just keep checking off until everyone has finished all of the choices, then I start over (even if that is the second choice of the third day).  I don't worry about what they are choosing since I know they will get to all of the centers.  My kids all have other times during my day when they read to self and write in journals so I don't do the "must do" part.

I meet with small groups even before the kids are independent at all of the centers but I know I may need to go help out.  It all settles down and works like a dream, eventually!

Here are my reflections on Chapter 3:

1. Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks.

I have a cute froggy rug.  I call it the rug or the carpet (fun, right?).  Sometimes we sit around the rug so we can all see each other as we share and sometimes we sit on the rug to hear a story.  Some kids get assigned a letter but not all of them.  I prefer they learn to manage their own behavior but some kids need more structure.

2. Developing the concept of "good fit" books (There are LOTS of examples of different good fit lessons in blogland AND Pinterest) 

I used to do this in first and second grade but I feel that in Kindergarten,  I need to convince them that they are READERS!  I let them choose any book and teach them the three ways to read.  I also give them their books from reading group for their book boxes so they always have just right books, too.  This was a change I made a few years ago and I really like it.  They can read to each other with much more confidence from books they already have read with me.  They get lots of practice for fluency and expression, way more than just reading with me would give them.  And they love it.

3. Create anchor charts with students How will these be visual in the room? Where will you store them? What about small spaces?

I do create the anchor charts with them each year.  I laminated five or six 12 x 18 white papers with a different color of frog on each one.  We made the I charts and I post them on a bulletin board at the front of the classroom.  We refer to them many times.  Each year, I seem to make a different number of charts, though.  Some years we make it through all of them and some years we don't.  By the time you have made two or three, it all blurs together.  I truthfully can't review all of them very many times, either.  So the first ones have to serve for all of them, I guess.  Mine did stay up all year.

4. Short, repeated intervals of independent practice and setting up book boxes (How are you going to keep track of stamina? What will you use for book boxes? What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?)

Yes, I love our book boxes.  I use plastic baskets that I bought in the dorm set up section of Target a few years ago.  I think they are Stearlite?  I have them in several different colors.  They are very sturdy and have all held up well.  I have attached nametags (laminated) with velcro and I write their full names on there with a sharpie.  They can detach the nametag to help them learn to write their last name the second half of the year.  Before school begins, I put a few books in each basket.  I choose song books, board book, extra copies of books we read the first week, abc books, and non fiction books.  We add to each book box the first few weeks of school with little easy reader books from scholastic or Rigby.  I don't visually keep track of stamina.  I just gradually keep increasing it and let them know they are reading longer.

5. Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?)

I use music for all transitions in my room.  My kids know to clean up and come to the carpet when a song starts.  It gives them time to finish up, clean up their area, and be ready to share.  I think the sharing is one of the most important parts of our Daily Five time.  I use it to instruct and monitor their progress.  They know they will be showing what they got done so it motivates them.  
I let my kids choose and I check them off on a class list.  My special friend gets to choose first so I start in a different place each day.

I am linking up to the Daily Five Linky Party at Live Love Laugh Kindergarten.


Heather said...

I love your blog and I am your newest follower! I tried going to your lesson plans but when I get to your teacher site, it says it is not there anymore.. You gave me lots to think about!
Kickin' it in Kinder

Greg said...

Thank you for saying you need to "convince" them that they are readers. That's so powerful. We talk alot about becoming readers and writers and what that means and how we do it. I want to convince them that they can and will be readers!

I'm your newest follower! I hope you'll check out my "manly" blog!

Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten

TammySF. said...

Just found your blog!! great info:) I'm a new follower!
I wanted to invite you over to my site! I've got some great resources that I just posted and I know you would love to have them for your little ones....there's going to be a giveaway EVERY Day for the next 5 days!! WooHoo!!

1...2...3...Teach With Me

Heather said...

I'm loving your input!!
What do you do with the kids that come in knowing nothing?? (name, alphabet etc.)

Are the letters/sounds taught in sm group?


Heather said...

Oh -- my email is

Post a Comment