Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What's Wrong with Phonics Instruction?

PROBLEM: "One of the most fundamental flaws found in almost all phonics programs, including traditional ones, is that they teach the code backwards. That is, they go from letter to sound instead of from sound to letter. Such programs disregard the fact that speech evolved at least 30,000 years before writing. Alphabetic writing was invented to represent speech; speech was not learned from reading. Following the logic of history, we should teach awareness of the sound system (phonology) and anchor letters to it"
Louisa Cook Moats from Teaching Decoding

Prepare students for kindergarten by giving them opportunities for speech/ letter sound awareness. Watch this video and do with your child every day to give them a boost before kindergarten. Prepare your preschool child for the common core. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teaching Phonics with Sign Language

Watch this video with your kiddos until they are familiar with all of the gestures for each animal/ letter.
Warning! It is addicting for them.

See some example flash cards by clicking on the picture

     When students associate a picture with a sound and a gesture, they are unstoppable! I believe that Kindergarten has two Reading Goals, I call them "Unforgivables." They must learn their letters and sounds, capital and lowercase, and they must be able to read and write C-V-C Words. These are three letter words with a vowel in the middle such as, CAT, PIG, HAT, RED, GUM. 
     The full page flashcards will help students focus on these goals. I set the cards on my lap (print them on card stock and laminate to make them sturdy), then do the following routine (one of several). I say the name of the card, for example: BAILEY BEAR b…b…b,   COCO CAT c…c…c, as I do the sign language for each card. Students love doing this in my class and are engaged the whole time. 
Charlie Chaffin 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish and in Sign Language

     As a Dual Immersion teacher, one of the first things that I did was translate the Pledge of Allegiance to Spanish. I looked on the Internet for a translation that I liked but the varieties that I say had some words that I did not agree with. For example, some people use the phrase, "El Juramento," but to me that translates to The Swearing. So I chose the "Promise Loyalty" phrase since there is no direct translation of allegiance. I do not believe that there is an official Spanish Pledge.
     I was so proud to have learned The Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish and we said it every day in my Dual Immersion class but I was saddened to hear that some people think this is anti-American in some way. I understand that people should learn to say the Pledge in English and it is actually one of the first acts that new American Citizens perform, but I think that it is extra patriotic to learn the Pledge in another language too. Here is the Pledge in American Sign Language too. I found it at wallrain.com. I think it is a wallpaper site.

What do you think? Is it unpatriotic to say the Pledge in a different language?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Read Across America

Theodor Geisel's Birthday (March 2), Green Eggs and Ham, Read Across America, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, and Little Green Leprechauns…That is my word association for March. I found an official poster for Read Across America. I didn't even know they had a poster! I also learned that this event is sponsored by the NEA (National Education Association) The link will take you to the Web Address where you can download and print the poster. They also have free resources for your classroom. I got inspired to make this Keep Calm Graphic because I could not access the one they had from their official Pinterest Page. I used Helvetica Font in BOLD and it looks almost right.  

Awesome link for Top 100 books to Read in many categories.   

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template

Hello, and thanks for stopping by. In this post you will find a blank Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template as well as two tried and true sample lessons. There are 7 basic steps to the 
Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan. 
Step 1: 

Anticipatory Set - AKA "The Hook" -This is where you build excitement for the lesson students are about to learn. It can be as simple as reminding them about something the previously learned to getting them out of their seat like in the first sample lesson. 

Step 2:

Objective Stated to Students- While you definitely have your own objectives/standards that you plan as your focus, don't forget to tell the students what they are about to learn (in kid friendly language) and how they are going to show you that they learned it at the end of the lesson. This helps with the "What did you learn in school today?" and kid answers "Nothing." syndrome.

Step 3: 

Purpose/ Connection to Real World- How does this lesson apply to the real world? Why should students bother learning this? The answer should never be "to pass the test." 

Step 4: 

Instructional Input- Includes lesson specific Vocabulary. Some people think that the teacher should only talk for ten minutes and then let the students process for two minutes.

Step 5:

Check for Understanding- Can occur simultaneously with Instructional Input or can be the "two minute" processing time. Let students explain to another student what the teacher was trying to convey. You will be surprised how students will retain information better by adding this step to every lesson.

Step 6:

Closure- Close the lesson by restating what they have learned. If students can then explain to their parents or other students what the objective was then you know they learned!

Step 7:

Independent Practice- If students learned the concept, they will be able to independently work on a few problems on their own correctly.  This can also serve as an assessment. Make a SMART GOAL for yourself: If 80% of the students got 8 of 10 problems correct then the lesson was a success. If not, it is time to Reteach.

There are actually two full pages to each of these sample Madeline Hunter Lesson Plans. You can access them by choosing each image. On the second page there are the Check for understanding, closure, independent practice, lesson extensions and SENTENCE FRAMES elements.  
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     When I was interviewing for a teaching position at Hardy Brown College Prep, I had to do a sample lesson. I chose the Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template because to me, it is the best and most complete template. This was the hardest I have EVER worked to get a teaching assignment and it was just a temp substitute position!

     The lesson went so well that the Principal and Assistant Principal couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. They said it was the BEST they'd ever seen that batch of kiddos behave. Needless to say, I was hired for a long term position. This was good news since I was taking a sabbatical from my regular teaching assignment and I wanted to get to know a CHARTER SCHOOL from the inside. More on that in another post (but below is a little snippet).

     After being there a month, I know that I will never badmouth what the wonderful teacher's unions do for us. I felt like a slave in this charter school. I worked from 7:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.(4:30 officially) but I still had work to do when I got home AND I only had 30 minutes for lunch. 

     Those poor kindergarteners were on a full time schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with no nap time. I had been successfully teaching 1/2 day Kindergarten for 4 years. The extra 5 hours of class was not the magic key. Och! I could go on but alas, I just wanted to share my two Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan samples. I have also been working on a KINDERGARTEN CLOSE READING LESSON PLAN. 

     Please let me know how your lesson goes if you choose to use them. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Charlie Chaffin 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cute Valentine Tutorial

Are you still scrambling' to make your Valentine Cards? This is the easiest and quite possibly the cutest Valentine Card Craft ever! I made it a few years ago for my class and it did not disappoint. I promise it literally took me two minutes.

     First, I folded the pink construction paper in half, traced half a heart…and voila a perfectly symmetrical heart appears. You'll have to keep it folded to make the mouse body. I had two heart punches so I used them to punch out my heart shapes. I could have just as easy cut out my smaller hearts using the fold method. 
     The smaller hearts are for the ear, the lollipop label, and the cute little black nose that looks a little like a mustache. I used the black permanent marker to dot the eye on. I then glued the heart ear on, taped the heart label on the lollipop, and stapled the heart in half. I also made some adorable SPANISH VALENTINE PRINTABLES and if you are still into the MUSTACHE MADNESS, check out free printable for that as well. 

Rounding RAP

Teaching students how to ROUND was one of my favorite things to do as a 3rd Grade Teacher. When speaking with my colleagues, most did not feel the same. I was very lucky that my first year as a teacher, I came into contact with an awesome teacher, Mrs. Thomas. This is how it goes and it works with any place value:

Mark the place                   748     or     743
Look to the right                  ➳               ➳

Four or less,                       748             74_                    
It's out of sight                     ✘                ✓

Five or more                       748↶ 4+1=5       
Will buy one more                 ✓      

Before it too,                      75_
is out the door

In those empty                   75_              74_
right hand spaces

Zeroes mark                       750              740
the proper places

Please enjoy this awesome teaching strategy! If you have any question about how it works shoot me a comment.