Here are my answers to the questions asked in this weeks books study.
How do I introduce my students to read alouds? Shared reading? Independent reading?
I actually start with reading Junie B. Jones: The Stupid Smelly School Bus. This helps me know what kids can hold on to information about characters, setting and plot from day to day. I find that the kids are fascinated to listen to a story about another child going through the same feelings/thoughts that they are experiencing during the first few weeks of Kindergarten. It is also a nice transition from lunch/recess back into the learning part of the day. I also get to see who can sit and listen and who is "antsy". Shared reading is usually introduced by reading alphabet poems. Our whole team uses these poems and all of the kindergarten kids are introduced to the same poems in the same order across our school. This year I am starting Reading Workshop the first week of school, starting with how to turn the pages safely and how to read "the whole time". I use a chart to track our stamina and I really will be teaching into procedures the first few weeks of school (reading the whole time, staying in one place, looking at the pictures, how to turn the pages, how to get new books and how to use post-it notes to mark interesting parts they want to remember). We use high interest books (such as David Shannon, Mo Willams) to keep them interested. We have a set of Sulzby book to use as well to teach reading strategies that they can use during independent reading to try to help them stay engaged during independent reading.
Do I have my schedule set? Do I set up my literacy time in a reading workshop format? What does my RW shop time look like?
Yes, we do have a schedule set. I am lucky that I work with a great team and we set our schedule together (more to accommodate Special Education services and Specials). We all use the Lucy Calkins Units and we are very devoted to the Reading Workshop format. I was lucky enough to attend the New York Teacher's College this week and I have so many changes I want to make regarding guided reading this year. We are still tweaking our schedule so I am not exactly sure what it will look like but we pretty much start our reading unit in the morning starting with morning meeting (speaking and listening in the common core), shared reading comes next (Sulzby work), mini-lesson, independent and partner reading, share and then we move into word work. Read aloud with accountable talk is usually after lunch/recess followed by writing workshop. Guided reading, small group instruction and conferences are done during independent/partner work time during reading workshop. We have built in some RTI time after read aloud in the afternoon before writing workshop.
Teachers from my school at the New York Teacher's College with the amazing staff. I am the second one from the right (as you look at the picture) on the back row.
What activities will I have set up during the first six weeks to teach independence? Literacy work stations? Daily 5? Others?
I do lots of hands-on literacy work while they are building their stamina. I use my smart board to death during the first six weeks to engage them in letter recognition and letter sound work. I love to use the Alphablocks series (you can find it on YouTube),
songs from Have Fun Teaching
on YouTube and Harry Kindergarten
is another favorite. I find they stay engaged in letter sound work when I use these videos during the first six weeks. They tend to transfer that knowledge during independent reading. I have lots of STAR books available and I do tons of read alouds of those books so they are familiar and comfortable with those books during independent reading (which keeps them engaged). I also put copies of their poems we use during shared reading and copies of familiar songs in their reading bags with lots of pictures cues on them to support their ability to stay engaged in their reading independently. I do add lots of literacy work stations during this time to fill in the time that they will use for independent reading later in the year as their stamina increases. I love using play dough literacy mats, letter stamps and personal alphabet charts for them to read. We also do King and Queen of the Day work to support letter recognition and to talk about illustrations (which they do). It helps them get to know each other and to start to recognize beginning letters and sounds. I use this packet from Kindergarten Lifestyle. You can go here to get it. It is too cute and the kids love it!
Reading Notebooks. How will you use these? What do you use these for?
The first six weeks I am not sure that I am really going to use them much. I have so many procedures to teach I am not sure that this will be a priority for me at first. I do know that I want to use them possibly after the Winter Break. I will teach them to use post-it notes to mark interesting places in their books and to "jot" or sketch basic markings to remind them of their reading very early in the year. I use the notebooks more for journaling during the first part of the year to introduce them to how to use notebooks. I will read everyone else's responses to see if maybe I need to change my thinking on this topic.
How do I get everything done in the allotted time?
Attending the New York Teachers College really helped me figure out how to get everything in in the allotted time. I also think our schedule (as stated above) also helps to figure out how to fit everything in during the school day. I also have to give myself a break, especially during the first six weeks to know that some days I just will not be able to do it all. I have to pick and choose the most important things to teach at first, and procedures take the forefront. Without good procedures and a predictable schedule you CANNOT get everything in. I have developed a forgiving attitude toward getting everything in every day. I try, but I also understand that developing positive relationships with the kids and creating a safe, responsible and respectful learning environment is the most important thing during the fist quarter of kindergarten. I put more pressure on myself to get everything into the day after the first six weeks are over.
How do I keep the noise level in my classroom to an appropriate level during guided reading/independent reading time?
We do PBIS at our school and our PBIS team does an amazing job posting expectations throughout the school. We have a uniform voice level system and we practice using a level one voice (no voice), a level one voice (whispering), a level two voice (normal talking) and a level three voice (outdoor voice). We spend a lot of time practicing our voice levels during the first few weeks of school. We read our poems (shared reading) in all four voice levels. We practice whispering by touching our throats and making sure we cannot feel any vibrations in our throat when we whisper. This is a really hard skills for some of the kids to master so I even send "homework" home to sing the alphabet in a whisper! We then transfer that skill over to working times during the day. I give lots of gentle reminders when kids are using a level two or three voice when they are supposed to being using a level one voice. I also create an anchor chart with independent and partner reading expectations including voice level. I let the children model for each other as well.
How do I keep children from interrupting me when I am working in small groups/guided reading time?
I have a marvelous crown I used to wear when I did not want to be interrupted but the most effective tool was when I wore my Cat in the Hat hat. It was big and bright and they could not miss it! I also actively ignore them when they talk to me when I am working in small groups. They eventually get the hint. I also teach them the sign for "I need to go to the bathroom" in sign language, that way they can let me know that they need to go without having to talk to me or me having to talk to them.
How do I know that children are reading self-selected books?
When it gets loud I know they are not reading. I also have book baskets they can self select from during the first few weeks so I know they are looking at and reading STAR books and emergent readers. For those kiddos that come to me already reading I start them out with leveled readers in their book bags before I make book bags for the other kids. I also walk around A LOT during the first few weeks of school and observe and take notes on their reading habits. We talk about "just right books" to introduce the concept long before they are actually in leveled reading bags. I just keep a sharp eye and ear out for what the kids are doing and redirect when they get off track. We start out all reading at the tables together so it is easier to monitor their reading habits this way. When I see they are on task at least 80% of the time I let them start picking reading spots in the classroom and allow them to read away from the tables. They are desperate to be able to have a "reading spot" with pillows and such so that is a great motivator to keep them reading.