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Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You Notes with a Twist

While some people expect them, to others they're a welcome surprise! Either way, right after the holidays people love to receive them! Thank You notes!

However, most kids hate to write them!  I know it's a battle with my own two children.  Since they were very little they have been (reluctantly) writing them.  I think they don't enjoy it because "it takes too much time." Regardless, it's important to show appreciation for a gift received.

In school, my students have occasionally written thank you notes to their parents as a way to recognize all that is being done for them at home.  This year I will have them write a note for one of their Christmas or Hanukkah gifts.  Of course, an accompanying lesson will be  'How to Write' a thank you note. and "How to Address an Envelope.

To make it less painless I will give the students a choice when creating their notes. They may choose one of the following: 
  • Use blank construction paper to create their own.
  • Use a recycled holiday card (I remove the fronts of the Christmas cards sent to me and use them as part of the thank you card.)
  • Create your own Printable Card from "Got Free Cards". Choose from many covers and don't forget to add some stickers. 
  • Send an e-Card:  Choose from an array of different cards from Yahoo and email them to relatives and friends. (this is a fun, easy option but this site does not allow you to add your own words).

    It's never too early (and although the above video says to be punctual - I think it's never too late) to write a 'Thank You' as it will surely warm the hearts of the recipients knowing their gift was valued and treasured. (And as writing Thank You's is often a form of Art it will make the writer feel good about adding personal touches and sentiments as well).

    I must hurry now and get my own notes out!

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Check for Understanding-10 Reasons Why Kids Don't Do It!

    'reading response prompts minioffice right side' photo (c) 2009, Jimmie - license:
    According to the National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC), "Reading is an activity with a purpose."  Understanding the author's purpose for writing a selection helps the reader adjust his reading rate to focus on comprehension. To discuss  author's purpose for writing we use PIE (persuade, inform, entertain).  Understanding the purpose seems easy, but when it comes to understanding the main idea it's often a different story.

    Last year I polled my students to see exactly WHY they read WITHOUT summarizing, which we call, Checking for are the results (in no particular order)

    1.   To be the first one done 
    2.   Forget to do it
    3.   It's too much work
    4.   Takes too long
    5.   Don't feel like it
    6.   Don't think it's important
    7.   Just want to get the reading done
    8.   Story is boring
    9.   Don't like to read
    10. Just to get it done

    What to do about it?  Since I compiled that data I felt I needed to do something with it.   Ultimately, I needed to figure out a way that was sure to help my students understand the importance of reading for meaning,  right? So this past summer I did some reading. which led me to the discovery of the Daily5 and CAFE.

    This year I decided to try the Daily5 and CAFE are during our literacy block.  The Daily5 is the structure (Read to Self, Writing, Word Work, Listen to Reading & Read to Someone) that students follow during our literacy time, while CAFE is our focus (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, Extend Vocabulary).  "Check for Understanding" is the first strategy (& most important in my opinion) that is introduced.  Students are taught to frequently 'Check for Understanding' by asking Who it's about, What's Happening & to predict what will happen next.  Through modeling & practice, more modeling and practice students learn how to 'check for understanding'. To ensure students make connections which will aid their comprehension, we start by activating Prior Knowledge. Pair these with reading books that are appropriate for the student and true meaning is sure to transpire.

    I decided to poll my students this year to see why they are not checking for understanding and the results are as follows:

    1.  Takes too long
    2.  Story is exciting I don't want to stop
    3.  Don't understand it
    4.  Can't find a connection
    5.  Takes away from my reading time

    It's rather interesting that there were only 5 reasons from this group. I wondered if it had something to do with the Daily5 and CAFE.  Is it just possible that more students are 'Checking for Understanding' on a regular basis?

    I noticed a difference in the types of answers given by both groups of students.  Do you see how the second group looks at reading differently than the first?   Would love to hear what you think - please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Edublog Awards 2011 - Nominee

    The 2011 Edublog Awards are now in progress!  What a surprise to find out I had been nominated for "Best Ed Tech/Resource Sharing Blog" by Denise Krebs.  Please read her nomination blog HERE!

    While I have no expectations of winning, I am thrilled, honored and humbled to be nominated alongside so many wonderful educators.  To be listed among the ranks of educators like Richard Byrne (Free Technology for Teachers), Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (Langwitches), Lisa Nielsen (The Innovative Educator), and so many others whose blogs and resources I often use in my own posts takes my breath away.

    Why it was only just one year ago that I really began my blogging journey.  The post at that time was reflecting upon an experience my students had in the classroom.  In that post I shared one or two links for my readers.  From that time forward I have tried to include a host of resources that enhance the topic of my posts. 

    Should you feel compelled to VOTE for me (no email required), please visit the Edublog Awards Blog and select the category Best Ed Tech/Resource Blog and find Teaching is Elementary.  Please vote for my friend, Denise Krebs, for Best Teacher Blog, Dare to Care, while you are there as she is a wonderful teacher who inspires so many!

    Even if you don't vote, please visit the Edublog Award site anyway, as you are sure to find several new and interesting blogs to follow!