With the students, I create a circle map with "I like ___" in the center. I brainstorm with students some things they like to do at school.
I say: Boys and girls, what are some things you like to do when you are at school? I know when I am at school I like to read, so I am going to write the word 'READING BOOKS' on our circle map. I like to sound out 'reading' and see if kids can tell me any letters to match the sounds. It is an informal assessment for me and it models for kids early on how they will use sounds to write.
I say: How do I write /r/? (r) How do I write /e/? (e) And boys and girls, we are going to put a silent 'a' with our 'e' to help that 'e' say his name. We will talk more about that sound spelling later. How do I write /d/? (d) We write the -ing sound i-n-g and we will talk more about that sound spelling later on too. What does this word say? (reading) I sweep my finger under the letters as students say 'read.'
I continue in the same format for 'books' and as many student responses as time allows for. We will build on this map throughout the week, so I don't worry about filling it on this first day.
As I record ideas on the map, I illustrate each idea. The illustrations will help the kids find the words they want to write later in the lesson. I record as many as I can fit on my map.
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson
Activate Prior Knowledge
I introduce the story and say: This story is about the real experience of starting school, but the main character(the character we see and hear the most in the story) is a mouse named Henry.
I continue: Authors often use animals in stories to make them more interesting. Animals in stories often do things that real animals do not do, like talk.
I ask: Can you think of anything that animal characters do that real animals do not?
Because my students are second language learners, I introduce vocabulary that might impede meaning before we read the story. For each word I show the word and an illustration of that word. (counting, reading, listening)
I ask: What does this illustration show us about the word's meaning?
We pantomime the words and they ‘show’ me the word. This ‘total physical response’ (TPR) is a common strategy used with second language learners. I use pantomime to help kids 'see' what the word means.
I prompt: Show me 'counting.' We raise each of our fingers on one hand as if counting to five.
I prompt: Show me 'reading.' We hold our hands together and open, as if they were a book.
I prompt: Show me 'listening.' We cup one hand over our ear.
The first read, for the most part, is unencumbered. I stop on the first two pages to emphasize what is happening in the BEGINNING of the story:
I read page 1 and think aloud: It’s Henry’s first day of kindergarten. I remember my first day of school and I could hardly wait to go. How do you think Henry feels? Turn and talk and tell your neighbor how you think Henry feels. As students are sharing with a partner, I quickly sweep the room and listen to discussions.
I read page 2 and say: How do we know how Henry feels? Let students respond, but if they do not know, I address both text and illustration that show Henry is excited for school.
I continue reading the rest of the story. I stop and review the meanings for our vocabulary words: counting, reading and listening to cement student understanding. We look at the illustrations and I prompt: What in the illustration shows us 'counting?' 'Reading?' 'Listening?'
As I read, I run my finger or a pointer under the words to track words as I read them. This demonstrates print directionality and how we move from left to right when reading.
Write Off the Map
Talk Off the Map
Students are on the carpet with me as I talk off the map and model the writing.
We talk off the map to quickly review what we brainstormed earlier in the lesson. Talking off the map is when we read the circle map from the center out. This helps set the stage for writing and it allows students to hear and verbalize what they will be writing. It also builds a fluency in reading the map, which they will eventually do independently.
At this time of year, we use Echo Reading (I say something and students repeat) because their experience with the maps is limited.
I explain: Now I am going to think about and say what I like to do at school. I like reading books, so I am going to put my finger here in the middle of the map and read: "I like." Can you say that? (students repeat) I move my finger out to the phrase 'reading books.' I say: "reading books." Can you say that? (students repeat) I say the entire sentence: My sentence is going to be "I like reading books." Everybody say "I like reading books." (students repeat)
I say: Boys and girls, when we start writing we first need to put our name and date. I write my name and date on the first line.
I continue: Now I am going to trace these two words. What words are we practicing this week? (I, like) Watch how I trace the letters exactly on the dotted lines.
I explain: Now I am going to write what I like to do at school. I like reading books, so I am going to copy that from our map. What picture should I look for for those words? (books) I point to the words on the map and say: I am going to copy these two words onto my paper after 'I like.'
I copy the words as students watch. I challenge: What do we put last in a sentence? (period)
I explain: Now I am going to draw myself reading books at school. I model illustrating my sentence.
I direct: Now you are going to go to your seats. First, write your name and date. Next, trace the words 'I like.' Then choose what words you want from our circle map and copy it after 'I like.' Do you have any questions?
Students go to their seats and begin their work. While they are writing, I monitor and assist where necessary. This affords me the time to give students the 1:1 coaching that is so important, but I rarely have time to offer!
Reading Our Writing
After students write their sentence, they then draw a picture to go with it. When everything is complete they must read their sentence to me. My main goal at this time of year is to build print awareness concepts. Students must move their fingers and point to each word they read. If they cannot(which most of mine can’t) I put my hand over theirs and show them how to read with their finger.
If students are struggling, I have them echo me and I help them to track by using hand over hand and moving their finger along as we read.