Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Destination Common Core with Kim Adsit!

Typically as any southern teacher when you wake up and look outside and see this....
you then turn on the TV and see all the school closings you would be excited. Typically I would be excited. BUT NOT TODAY! I was supposed to go back for Day 2 of Destination Common Core with Kim Adsit! Today, was the day to figure out everything I was doing wrong and how to make it right in my math block. I was and still am so disappointed that I am not there right now! Everything is closed down here...schools, daycares, businesses, pretty much the whole town! If you are from the South you get it. If you are from the north you will never understand it! (I promise I am originally from Cincinnati so I have seen both sides.)
However I cannot be too upset when I get to look at this sweet face all day!
I am pretty sure any working mom would be thrilled at spending an extra day with their baby. So no complaining here for that reason. Richard will be busy working...oh the joy of being married to a full time firefighter. It will be a me and Andrew day. Love this kid!
But hello! I am missing Kim Adsit!!!!!
However, I did get to spend a full day of laughing and learning with Kim Adsit yesterday. Lots of laughing! She is hilarious. Makes you feel good. Backs up everything with standards. And most importantly keeps learning FUN!
I got there bright and early with Carrie, one of my teaching buddies and was stoked to get personally greeted by  The Kim Adsit, see my name tag and my very own book! EEK I just knew it was going to be a good day!
We got settled in and every where we looked it was like fabulousness everywhere. Hanging up were all the awesome anchor charts and work samples that I have drooled over from seeing on her blog, facebook and of course my many TpT purchases (shh don't tell my hubby!)
Go ahead and drool! :)
We got started promptly around 8:30 and was very shocked to find that only 25 teachers were in attendance. It was like we had our very own private session and were really able to ask questions and have a better understanding. I am beyond blessed that my school district believes and invests in quality professional development!
We started with diving into Writers Workshop. I was feeling good with this topic. I have a solid 45 minutes WW block in my classroom. We write. We write A LOT. They share. They have their own journals. And then it was like a smack across the face! Adsit was talking about the parts of WW and what should be going on and all I could think big dummy!!
1. Mini lesson: A quick 5-10 lesson. Connect to Prior Knowledge (check!) Teach new concept (Check MINUS!) Active Engagement (Lots of Room to Improve!)
2. Work Time: Check! My students go off and work for approx. 20-30 minutes  by themselves.
3. Share Time: Check! My kiddos LOVE to share!
So here is my plan!
  1. I feel very good about connecting to prior knowledge. (Remember yesterday how we...) I would say most of us have that handled. Now the teach new concept part. Yes, I have a plan every day of what concept/skill/strategy I am focusing on. HOWEVER, I am very guilty of allowing myself to get more hung up on the mechanics of writing instead of the craft. For example, last week my kiddos did some outstanding fact writing about our country's symbols. After reflecting, I realized my kids did great on the mechanics. We triple dog checked our capital letters, finger spaces and periods. However, did I really do a good job of explaining why writers write facts, the purpose. Being honest, no I did not. Teaching the mechanics is important but should that overshadow what you are teaching? No. I promise I will do better! 
  2. Kim also said something that was like DUH!! While talking about your mini lesson, your students should have an active engagement part where they are able to practice on the carpet! DUH!!! Now my students do some major practicing but they spread across the room, talk about major management issue and how am I able to really see the kids that need help? I can't! Okay so from now on before we spread out, we need some active engagement right on the carpet. In FRONT of me. I am completely smacking myself across the forehead right now!
Then we got into Reader's Workshop!! Ahh Anchor Chart time. LOVE anchor charts! I have them in my room. Posted on pretty poster boards for all my kids to see.
I have been using some not all of my anchor charts as more of a poster than an anchor chart. Your anchor charts should be in a place in the room where students always know where to look. Have an anchor chart wall. This will provide the student's with predictability. They LIKE predictability! Build the anchor chart in front of the students but you are the one giving them the information. You could cover up the pieces and reveal the parts you want for the day  or add to the laminated poster board using Velcro. Whatever your fancy! (I have always built my anchor charts in front of my students so at least I get one thing right!)This is a great way to close a lesson. Remember how we... this chart will remind us to....
Time to get back to my room and do some fixing, apologizing to some kiddos and get back on track! :)
Hearing Kim said this really helped validate what we all do in our rooms every day. Principals, administrators and other teachers may look at our "crafts" and say well that is cute. THEY HAVE NO IDEA!! Our kids need this. Their brains learn this way. They need to be able to have a connection to their learning. So by creating a fun little book cover craft, it allows their learning to be anchored in their brain.
Kids (heck me too!) are naturally interested in eye catching material. Hello! They can sing every word to their favorite song and spend hours on their favorite game system. They need and want something eye catching!
So as educators it is our responsibility to use the tools that will engaged our students while still teaching the standards. Do not back down from adding novelty to your classroom just be prepared to defend your reason (if you teach in a school that does not understand the brain of a primary student).
For example...My students need to make these character puppets because they will be able to retell the story by having the character travel through their writings or pictures. This will anchor their learning. 
I could go on and on about all of the fabulousness of Kim Adsit and the wealth of knowledge I gained but it just wouldn't be the same. If you are not a fan of KinderGals on facebook hop on over! Make sure you are also following her blog!! Don't forget to check out her TpT store!!
Rub some elbows with your District Office and convince them in buying some school licenses! I promise your her Writing and Reading Workshop Units are better than any curriculum guide you have seen!!
Thank you so much Kim for sharing all of your experience and knowledge. WE LOVED IT!!!!!
(myself , Kim Adsit and Carrie)
I hope to come back to a workshop or seminar soon!!!! Still kicking myself that I am missing the Math portion!
Now to figure out how to get to Vegas for the I Teach K conference....


  1. D'oh! The First Grade teachers are always telling us K teachers we are so strong in teaching writing. We have even had other K teachers from our district come observe our lessons. But we are need to remember some of these steps. I like my anchor charts to be as cute as possible... because like you pointed out, their brain needs it! BUT... when I co-create the charts with my students they turn out sooooo sloppy and disorganized. The teacher next door to me has a solution I will try... she creates the chart with the students on the whiteboard (so as to not waste paper because we are VERY limited on supplies) and then creates it on chart paper later. Also, I'm happy to hear that some of you have big enough classrooms to have an anchor chart wall. WOW! I'm truly jealous. We have a calendar section, a small sight word wall (regular word walls with A-Z are no longer allowed in our district and haven't been for many years), student writing, and two coconut trees for tracking student progress on ABC's and Sight Words. We're out of room. We can really only have one chart up at a time. :( We do have some charts hanging on cabinet doors but they aren't in prominent areas of the room and don't fit so well... they are often destroyed quickly. Sigh. Anyhow, I linked here via a TpT thread. Thanks for sharing! :) I bookmarked this. I don't have a blog yet or I'd follow you. (Luvs2TeachinCA)

  2. WOW loved reading through all of your comments and thoughts with anchor charts. Please keep me posted when you start your blog!!


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