Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The pussywillow patch is always a hit...

We bundled up in extra toques and mitts and started our walk in the less than pleasant Alberta weather. We were on our way to the pussywillow patch to see what we could find. Our first discovery... when we crank our arm up and down when a BIG truck goes by, the driver will honk his really loud horn (always a big hit.) Then we found a giant ant hill, someone just happened to step in it and we found millions of ants scurrying about, we watched those ants for along time. Then we found them, the pussywillows. We found them in all stages, just bursting out of the pod, fuzzy, silver and gray. We found them brilliant lime green ready to burst into leaf, and finally some that were already in leaf form. We formed a circle and explored them, we squeezed, smelled, squashed, tore, ripped, broke and finally decided that pussywillows are amazing. A five year old exploring his or her world is always an amazing and somewhat humbling experience to witness.
It was then back to the classroom to whip up a pussywillow craft to display beside our real ones. You just can't go wrong with exploring our physical world in Kindergarten.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fun site for our little ones...

While looking around the internet looking for emerging reader sites, I came across Cbeebies. I am thinking our little ones are going to like this. I have added it on the sidebar in "Links for Little Learners."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Create...we are at the top of the ladder now!

The final level of Bloom's Taxonomy in the Kindergarten classroom has to be the most challenging. The whole process, climbing all the rungs of the ladder has taken us quite a while. I needed my students to create a project to show that he or she knows and can use the material I have attemped to teach effectively. As a whole class our project was going to be a letter chain, below are the steps we used to get to the final product.

1) We had to choose 10 letters from our sound farm, write each on on a piece of paper and and glue each on a different link of our letter chains.

2)This took lots of time and admittingly, sometimes it was complete chaos!

3)Upon completion of the letter chains, they needed to find a partner and guide their partner through their letter chain while their partner told them the name of each letter and the sound that it makes. They were advised to correct their partner if they made an error. They were being the teachers.

4)Next we pulled in our beloved Smartboard to take the learning further. The students use the magnet board on our Smartboard to pull up each letter on their letter chain and point to it while the class gave the correct answers. This was completed in both whole class setting and smaller groups for students who did require extra practice.

5)The final product and some final thoughts...Was Bloom's easy to implement in the Kindergarten classroom? Yes and no, it took me a while to get my head wrapped around it and it was not easy to find information about Bloom's in Kindergarten on the internet. Once I was able to take the time to sit down and combine it with what I am already doing in class it did come together easily. Do I see Bloom's Taxonomy as a useful tool in the Kindergarten classroom. Yes, I believe much of my teaching is on the first two levels, knowledge and comprehension and I needed to be pushed to take it to a higher level. Will I implement Bloom's into all lessons in my classroom? No, there are some basic areas in Kindergarten that require basic knowledge learning, but there are areas where Bloom's can and will be utilized.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Climbing Bloom's ladder....

Our class has completed the first two rungs of the Bloom's Taxonomy ladder, we completed the knowledge and comprehension areas as mentioned in a earlier post. To continue our climb to higher level thinking we now need to explore application, anaylsis and synthesis. Below are examples of how we have taken simple letter learning to a level that requires much more "thinking" on the part of my students.

We used our nifty wipe-off boards and the students would print a letter from our sound farm and say aloud what sound it makes. They had to "use" their knowledge of the the letter to tell the group the letter's sound.

Next, my students needed to do some "comparing". They needed to choose two letters to write on their wipe-off boards and tell the small group how their sounds were different. We had many responses like, "One sound is longer than the other" and "Your teeth show when you make this sound and your lips are together when you make that sound."
As a whole class we now needed to do some "hypothesising", they needed to give me some educated quesses. I held up a letter card with a "M" while making the /E/ sound. I then asked them if that was the correct sound and if not could they explain why is was wrong. This was hard for a large portion of my class, they were not able to articulate why it was wrong. Many simply said, "because it is not the right sound." A few students were able to say articulate that mouth shape and air movement was different for the various sounds.
The final rung of the ladder is "create", we will need to "construct" a project that shows our letter learning.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

For the Mother's of my students.....

Girls, find a quite spot, grab a Kleenex and give yourself this little gift...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bloom's Taxonomy....What in this world????

As part of our school's professional development and our AISI project (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement), our staff is going forward with a school goal to create 21st century learners. One method we are using to do this is to promote higher order thinking skills by using Bloom's Taxonomy.
There are six hierarchal levels, you must start at knowledge, then to comprehension, then to application and on to anaylsis, synthesis and evaluation/create. The levels at the beginning (knowledge and comprehension) are considered the easiest levels. Some argue that many teachers teach to these bottom levels. In our school, we are being challenged to go further up on this pyramid of learning, thus promoting higher thinking skills in our students.

As a staff, we have been divided into groups for each of the cognitive domains of Bloom's Taxonomy and my group is at the top of the pyramid (evaluation/create). My group includes myself, our Gr. 4 teacher, and two jr/sr high teachers. I am going to document each step of Bloom's domains, both to further my knowledge and to provide a portion of a presentation for our whole staff.
I have chosen language arts to focus my lessons on....
First we must identify our letter person (Mr.C) and be able to recall this letter in numerous situations. We meet him, discuss him, figure out where he comes in the alphabet, discuss his sound then cut him out, glue him in our ABC books and color him. He is then placed on our "Sound Farm" to be utilized in further activites.

Next, we need to know if the student understands what Mr.C's purpose is. How and why is the letter used. We compare sounds and determine beginning letter sounds, we then use our knowledge to print letter C in addition to letters we have already learned about.