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Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapters 1 & 2 LOTS OF PICTURES & EXAMPLES


I'm linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It in Kindergarten for this book study post.
As I'm reading this book I constantly find myself nodding, Yes!  and writing in the margins of the book.  So far this book is really solidifying my Teaching Philosophy.  I've always been a HUGE believer in giving students the opportunities to turn and talk.  When students are given the opportunities to put what they've learned into their own words it solidifies their thinking and learning and they stand a much better chance of remembering what we want them to know.

Assign kids partners and have them turn eye to eye and knee to knee to think-pair-share.

Sit on the floor with your kids and have them sit around the perimeter of the rug so that you can all see the face of the person who is talking.  Notice my little guy playing with his shoe laces.  Do you think the fact that he is sitting right next to me is a coincidence? ;)

Here are a few things that I've always done in my classroom to give the kids opportunities to brainstorm and discuss.

1.  SCHEMA Charts-  I first blogged about these charts in 2010 after  I read the book,  Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller and she talks about how she uses schema folders with upper grade students to track their learning.  I wanted to find a way to use these in a grade level appropriate way with my Kinder babies so I started creating them on large charts as a whole group activity with my students.
This is how they work:
When we are going to start a NEW topic we first start by recording our Schema (What do we THINK we already know about this topic?)
The students tell me their Schema as I record it on a post it note.  ALL Thinking is valued so everyone's thinking is placed on the chart even if I know it isn't true about what we're learning (you'll understand why in just a bit).  Next,  throughout the week as we read and learn new things we record our NEW LEARNING on the chart.  I like to use a different colored post it because sometimes our New Learning connects with our Schema and I like to tag them together so we can see that.  
As we are reading and learning new things we might find out that what we thought we knew isn't true so it gets moved to the Misconceptions box.  Are you still with me? :)

The key to this is to make sure that the first few times you do these YOUR THINKING ends up in the Misconceptions Box.  This sets the tone and lets your students know that it is okay to take RISKS.  Even the teacher doesn't know everything!
These charts are so powerful!

This is a fancier chart I did when we learned about Bats.
For some reason I didn't use two different colors to chart our learning.
Do you see the difference?
 Being able to SEE the connections is really important.
Note to Self: Don't make that mistake again. :)

Another thing that I love to do is THINK MATH.  I started doing this sometime in 2009 and my kids love it every year!  I start by giving them the answer to the problem and they use Mental Math to try and come up with as many problems as they can.  I want everyone to be successful so there are two lifelines built in:  Ask a Teacher or Phone a Friend.  So, if I call on a student and they aren't able to generate a problem they can use a lifeline.  If they use a lifeline the helper can give them ONE number to help get them started.  I want everyone to do their own thinking so they aren't given the answer.  They are just given a little bit of support.

Bloom's Taxonomy Visual

 I've also always been a firm believer in the creation of art work and projects.  Many times other teachers and administrators see this sort of thing as "fluff" because they don't realize that there is research that supports the importance of giving students  opportunities to create.  I'm not talking about cookie cutter craft projects.  I'm talking about projects that require students to use shapes to draw or create and  think spatially.

Directed drawing of the Statue of Liberty

Cutting shapes by listening and following directions

Drawing and writing in response to Literature

Haha!!  No!  Everything that is a printable doesn't automatically fall into the worksheet category.  
Let me show you the difference.

These are WORKSHEETS.  The Learning is at the lowest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.
Don't be fooled.  Using a spinner and dice on a worksheet is STILL a WORKSHEET.
Worksheets have a place (I usually send them home for homework) but they shouldn't be used in a classroom too often because they don't really require the kids to do very much thinking or creating on their own. Your struggling students probably wouldn't be able to be successful with some of these worksheets independently and your higher level learners would blow through them so fast! Worksheets are at the lowest level of learning on the Bloom's Taxonomy list. Their main purpose for the higher level students is just to keep them busy.   Think about it.  Most of these would take all of about 5-10 minutes to complete and in the end have your kids had to really do very much thinking?

The examples below are RECORDING SHEETS rather than a worksheet.
The students are working at a Higher level of Bloom's Taxonomy and they are recording their own drawings and thoughts on paper.  Do you see the difference? Even though the students are working on a higher level of Bloom's  All students can be successful because they are recording their own thinking and learning.

Whew!!! I'm not usually so wordy in my blog posts! I've covered a lot of information but I hope it was somewhat helpful!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts so please feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to respond to each and every one of them!

Join us for the other chapters in this book by following the list below.

Link up (click on the blue button) and prepare for your chapter 3 discussion over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten on Tuesday! Here is the rest of the schedule and you can join in at anytime!

Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First  Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump’s Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
The Inspired Apple Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
If you are not a blogger (which is totally fine!!!) we still want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to let us know how you are incorporating this book in your classroom!

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites

Get Ready to do some on-line professional learning with some of your favorite bloggers! After visiting the Ron Clark Academy, so many of us are so inspired to find ways to reach our learners in fun and exciting ways! Starting February 28th, we are going to be hosting a linky party each Tuesday and Saturday with chapters from this book:
Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 &2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.
We hope you will join! Here is a YouTube video where you can hear a little more about what the book is about.

Castle Blocks from Lakeshore & a 20% off coupon

These two little sweeties love all things princess and castles so when Lakeshore gave me the opportunity to review their Castle Blocks I jumped on it. 
I tried to get the girls to let me get them dressed and fix their hair before I took pics but they were too excited about playing with the blocks to worry about that.  :)

Above my 5 year old granddaughter  is checking out the ideas on the box and picking out the one they are going to build together.

Two sisters hard at work.  


The 7 year old decided she wanted to build one that looked like a cat on top.  

So proud of her castle!

How about a Rapunzel tower?
(I told her I didn't think this was a very good idea but she didn't listen.)

How high can she build it?

OUCH!! TOO HIGH!  I don't recommend this because as you can tell by her face it didn't feel very good when those blocks came crashing down.  I had to resist the urge to say, "I told you so."

They LOVED these blocks and they played with them for hours.  

Description from the website:
 With our enchanting hardwood blocks, kids can create a fascinating fortress, spacious palace & more! Our durable, stackable blocks come in 12 unique shapes & are printed on every side with a fun medieval theme—so kids can construct castles from all directions!

Lakeshore is offering a 20% off coupon that can be used on any purchase.

Click HERE to view the coupon.

March Guiding Readers Posted and ON SALE!

Guiding Readers for March has been posted and it's on sale.
Scroll down for the links to the books that were used in this unit.

Click on the cover to order or read about the books.
NOTE:  I'm also including the links for the books that are available as online read alouds.
However, you will also want to purchase the books so that you can refer to specific pages and illustrations as noted in the lesson plans.

The Three Billy Goats Fluff

There are two versions of Jamie O'Rourke available 

We wrote an Informational Text piece about Koalas to pair with this book.  The Informational Text is included in the unit.

The Easter Bunny's Assistant

We wrote an Informational Text piece about skunks to pair with this book.  The Informational Text is included in the unit.

Happy Reading Y'all! 

American Symbols

American Symbols are one of my FAVORITE units to teach.  There is just something about teaching kids about our history that fills me up with pride.  I think it is so important for kids to know about some of the unique statues and symbols that symbolize freedom, strength, and hope.
I LOVE seeing some of the projects from my America unit in other people's classrooms and the display above and below took my breath away.  These pics were found on the Rainbows Within Reach blog and they are pictures of the projects from my America unit.  I LOVE how they turned out.

The flags are my favorite and they go perfectly with the book and song,  Red, White and Blue by Debbie Clement.

Below our a few more pics from my America unit that can be found on TPT.
Note:  I'm in the process of updating the unit and the price will probably go up to $12.  so if you are interested you might want to grab it while it's $8.50  

P.S. I also have a new Chit Chat American Symbols unit out.  You can check it out below.


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