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Hooks and Assessments and A FREEBIE!

I am a few chapters behind in my Pirating so I am going to share some insightful and world changing thoughts from chapters 7,8 and 9.  OK…we all know that I’m really just gonna ramble aimlessly for a bit!  True story.
The thing that slapped me silly was this single quote from my buddy Dave (we’re friends, ya know?!  OK…in my altered reality…but that’s what matters…right?!)
Now, I can honestly say that I LOVE teaching all things teachery and teaching.  It’s my career but it’s also my hobby.  I love finding new resources, ideas, strategies…I love creating resources and games…I love talking teaching to everyone who will listen…I think I have the attitude part to be a successful teacher…but I need some tools…My BFF Dave has that figured out too!
Chapter 7 is all about creating engaging lessons!  You can’t teach ’em if they’re not engaged.  Dave says “You have to turn up the heat!” and bring energy to your lesson if you want to sell it.  Teaching kindergarten can be a double edged sword when it comes to selling it.  People, they’re 5 years old.  All it takes to sell a lesson is this:
Nothing gets 5 year olds engaged like seeing their teacher come out of the bathroom dressed like this.  Now that I have them engaged, I have to keep them engaged for the whole lesson.  For 5 year olds, this means a whole 5 minutes.  Trust me, that is much harder than it sounds!  One of the biggest struggles I face as a teacher and an area that I fail in frequently is transitions.  Dave talks about how important smooth transitions are to keeping your students engaged.  I am guilty of stopping momentum to find supplies or power on technology or speak to a visitor.  This is an area I MUST improve on.
Chapters 8 and 9 talk about different types of hooks:  kinesthetic, people and safari hooks!
Kinesthetic=movement!  Get up and move!  Children are not designed to sit still.  Research proves it.  They will not learn if they’re sitting for 8 hours.  If you come into my classroom duirng the day you’ll see a lot of movement!  We dance…we exercise…we write the room…we use gestures from Whole Brain Teaching.  We move as much as we can.  Why?  It keeps them engaged and focused and is a natural state for 5 year olds.  And honestly, my butt hurts if we sit too long…ain’t nobody got time for that!
People Prop=Use the kids as props!  Use them as models, or manipulatives and get them involved.  I also use MYSELF as a prop.  I have been known to walk into walls…throw tantrums…dance…jump on tables…been written on and glued…and yes, I’ve been know to wear a silly hat or two.  Use the humans in your class to hook your students.  After one kid gets to be a prop, they’ll all want to be involved!
Safari=Get out of the classroom!  Take your students outside or into the hallway.  Change the environement step up the engagement.  When I was in school I remember that feeling of being super cool when the teacher let me work in the hall.  The same thing happens with my students.  They beg to work in the hallway.  Why?  It’s different…it’s risky…it’s fun and new.  If it keeps them learning, then I’m all about going on a safari!
And finally, guess what?
IT IS OK TO HAVE FUN!  I know it’s hard to grasp, but really, it is.  I know there are people who look at me and my class and just shake their head and mutter under their breath.  Guess what?  The data supports what we’re doing.  We might be having fun and being crazy silly, but we’re great readers and writers and we’re great in math.
I am also reading The Next Steps in Guided Reading with my friends at Freebielicous!  Chapter 2 is about assessment and grouping!
I had a major AHA moment when reading chapter 2.  The author says that once students know most of the letters you no longer need to assess them on letter knowledge.  BAM!  People, we have always tested their letters for every report card.  WHY?!?!?!?!?!  By the end of October most of my students have mastered a majority of the letters, so why keep assessing them???  Old habits die hard!
Something else that stuck out was the assessments that are recommended for early readers.  At the beginning of the year, I administer a skills assessment that includes letters, sounds, name writing, word writing and sentence writing.  I am happy to be on the right track.  For students who do well on letters and sounds, I never would have thought to assess sight words so early in the year, but I will definitely be adding that in for the students who are ready!
Finally, I must stop correcting the child when they’re reading.  It’s sooo hard not to.  As a teacher it’s hard to sit there and let them struggle.  But we need to let them work through the word so they can become a better reader and build confidence.  Also, by letting the student figure out the word on their own, we gain some powerful insight into their strategies for reading!
Here is a freebie:
Click the picture to download your freebie!

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