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Meaningful Classroom Learning

It’s that time of the year when the beginning of the year excitement has worn off a bit. We are all in the, what I would like to call, nitty gritty part of the year. The weather is starting to turn colder so all the feelings of summer are long gone. It is just time to hunker down. Our creativity juices might be flowing a little slower as we start to feel the pressure from all of the varying aspects of our “job”. I say “job” because as we all know, it’s so much more than a job. That is an entirely different kind of post.

I wanted to write this post to give you and I both some inspired momentum. While we all know that standards and scope and sequences are important, it’s even more important that we find ways to make learning meaningful and an experience for our students. Of course, I am a huge RCA fan and I have read both “The Essential 55” and “Crash Course”. I am just now starting “The End of Molasses Classes”. I had the opportunity in May to go visit RCA with Cheryl Saoud {Primary Graffiti}. Our very own Hope King is teaching at RCA and I couldn't be more proud of her.

It has really turned my view of how I teach and I have really made and effort to bring that enthusiasm and creativity in to my own Kindergarten classroom this year. I am going to share a few ideas with you that I’m hoping you can take in to your own classroom…no matter what the grade level might be!

At the beginning of the year, we are in ABC boot camp. I have to get these little brains to soak up letters and sounds so we can get on to reading. It’s crazy because they all come in at varying levels. I don’t want to bore the kids that already know their letters and sounds and I don’t want to stress out the other kids by moving too fast.

This was how alphabet football was born. I was able to do this activity outside because it was still warm. You could set up the “football field” in your classroom. I printed out numbers that were 10-100 and set it up by yards. After I did the first post, a lot of people were confused about me putting students on teams and counting points…etc. You can make it as complicated at you want. I try to keep it as simple as possible. I made red and blue strips to make it feel like they were on a flag football team. I cut out strips of construction paper because they liked feeling like they were on teams. However, I didn’t really keep any kind of score.

I created a binder with upper and lowercase letters. Then, I would ask students questions about the letters depending on their knowledge of the alphabet. The students that already knew their letters and sounds would get a question like, “What letter comes after/before?’ or “Give me a word that begins with this letter”. Students that still needed practice with letters and sounds would just get asked what the letter was. If they got it right, they got to move to the next yard line. I really loved this activity because I was able to differentiate on the spot and it got the kids up and moving. You can read my entire post about this activity if you want more details.

Another activity that I did this year was vowel surgery. This is not for the faint of heart…let me tell you. I turned my classroom in to a hospital room for vowels. Students dressed up like doctors and had to keep patient charts on all of the words. This is a HARD concept for students to grasp, but it was incredible to see the little light bulbs go on over their brains. You could adapt this concept for anything that you are trying to teach that you think is difficult for students to grasp. I have seen it done with contractions and math concepts. I’m not going to fully explain it here but you can read about it in full detail here.

One other way I have been engaging my students is through popular songs that they all know. At the beginning of the year we sang, “You know I’m All About That State” to the tune of “All About That Bass”. So it went something like this "You know I'm All About that State, About that State...Oh Tennessee!". One of our standards is that students know what state they live in. 

Last week, while we were studying fewer and more, I played “Shake it Off” and the students had to “Shake Off” the number that was the smaller number as I wrote it on the board. They "shook it off" by shaking their hands to the side of the smaller number. 

If you can stomach “Let it Go”, then play it to do thumbs up thumbs down. This was something I saw Ron do at RCA and loved it. He would write an equation on the board while playing the music. Students would either give it a thumbs up or thumbs down if it was true or not. This is a quick way to see if students understand the concept because it's a pretty quick moving warm-up. 

Thank you for sticking through this post with me! I know it's a lot to digest, but I am hopeful that you are able to take away some helpful ideas!

Come visit me anytime! 

1 comment:

  1. Ah! I love this Elizabeth! How fun!!!! You are da best!