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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Lessons

Well hello to a new batch of #KFkinders families!  I have had the best start to this school year.  Usually I feel like I am herding cats all day for the first few weeks of school (as you can imagine in Kinderland) but this year has gone SO smooth!  Thank you for preparing such responsible, caring, safe, and respectful Bobcats...I have enjoyed the first few weeks with them!
This year in #keyrocks we have decided to pilot a phonemic awareness program written by Michael Heggerrty, Ed.D.  You will hear me reference this program as "Heggerty lessons" throughout the school year.  It really prepares kinders with different phonemic awareness skills to be prepared to manipulate, segment, and blend words with ease.  This will help them become fluent readers and writers!  We are currently working in week 2 of the program and the kids are already rocking these skills!  I am excited to see how this translates to our  everyday routines, Guided Reading, Writer's Workshop, and our formal assessments such as the state mandated FAST testing of early reading skills.  Such an exciting time to have a #KFkinders in the trenches!  Thank you to the #bentoncsd administration for supporting this request to implement this program.  A couple of teachers from #keyrocks went to a professional development training last year that highlighted this program.  They brought the idea back to Mr. Junge too possibly use it in Kinderland, and now we are piloting it this year!
To give you a better picture of what is included in this lesson (because the term "phonemic awareness" is not a term I use outside of education...fancy jargon!) I have recorded a typical lesson for each workstation group.  This is just one of the lessons we do throughout the day, so this is not the whole lesson...just a taste! Click on the links below to watch your #KFkinders in action!
In these lessons you will notice that we were focusing on letter names, letter identification, letter sounds, rhyme repetition, beginning sounds, blending words together, final sounds, segmenting and (breaking) words.  You will notice that we do some fancy things with our hands when we are identifying beginning/ending sounds (we swipe our hand from left to right because that is how we read and write words, then we target either the beginning or the ending sound to identify it).  With the blending and segmenting words, we use our hands to either put the parts together to make a compound word (blending) or use them to identify the parts of the compound word (segmenting).  Please feel free to do some of these activities at home.  Good times that I like to fit these skills in are when I am cooking (or when Mr. Fisher is...I am no rock star in the kitchen), driving in the car, or before bed when we are tucking each kiddo in!  Find a couple minutes here or there to fit these skills into your routines and your #KFkinders will benefit greatly.  Doing them at school and home helps generalize these skills and allows them to transfer them to other settings and situations.
If there is ever anything you would like to touch base about, please don't hesitate to email me or pop in! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Nonsense Words vs Real Words

Happy Holidays!
As the winter break quickly approaches, I wanted to take a minute and explain the purpose for this skill within our curriculum and your kinder's learning progression to becoming a fluent reader and writer.  

Nonsense words are exactly what they sound like...words that are made up and have no meaning.  Real words are exactly what they sound like...REAL words!  We are practicing both kinds of words to work on the skill of blending sounds into words.  You might be asking, "why would you practice on words that don't make sense?" and that is a great question.  When we practice on nonsense words, we are controlling a sight word vocabulary students build up and focus solely on the identification and blending of sounds into words.  If you would like more information on why we use nonsense words, here is a link for a great article that might address more of your questions!

There are three different phases your kinder will go through when reading these words.  We talked about this progression at conference time revolving around the standard 
RF.K.3 : Apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills
The three different phases your kinder will work through while blending sounds to make words are:
1.) sound out letters letter-by-letter and then attempt to blend the sounds to make a word
2.) start breaking words into the beginning sound and the ending chunk (onset and rime) and then blend it into a word-this is more of an efficient way to blend words
3.) blend the word in your head and read it as a whole word-fluent readers (like you and I) read new and familiar words this way

We are going to administer our winter FAST (the state assessment we are required to give all students) within the first two weeks of January.  There will be an additional test we administer this time around that includes a 1-minute timing of nonsense words.  We have been working on this skill during our Guided Reading lessons and our workstations, but I wanted to give you all at home the background information and an additional resource to support this skill at home.  Coming home tonight in your kinder's folder there will be a sheet of CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words that are easily broken into onset and rime.  Please use these alongside of your Jolly Phonics flashcards and your sight words.  You can have your kinder read all of the words to you, you can time them (1-minute) to see how many they can read, or you can partner read them...just keep the focus on blending the sounds into words!  No need to chart this work or return the is a resource for you to use for your house!

Lastly, it is important to keep the academic skills a focus during the holiday break.  Your kinder has worked so hard these past few months to make huge gains in their learning.  Please enjoy your time with family over break, but enjoy some "lap time" listening to your kinder read to you, have them write stories and share them with family members, and continue to probe math questions with number sense (numbers 0-100)/writing numbers 0-20/beginning addition and subtraction concepts.  I attached an additional reading challenge to the nonsense words sheet to help spice up reading practice with your kinder.  Please feel free to use some of the ideas listed on this challenge! We will hit the ground running right when we get back in January!  Please let me know if there is any way I can support you and your kinder!--Mrs. Fisher

Resources to look for in your kinder's folder!
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Goal Setting with #KFkinders

This week your kinder sat down with me to talk about their FAST test results.  You will be getting these results on Thursday, September 22nd!  This test is hard for kinders at the beginning of the year because they aren't the most confident testers yet.  We take that in to consideration when moving forward with these test results and try to prepare them with the skills necessary to keep learning, and also the skills necessary to be confident with taking tests and performing for all types of adults!  If you have any questions or comments about the FAST results when you receive them, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I would love to give you my insight on these and how I use them to plan for your kinder's academic development!

The FAST results that come home will have what your kinder scored on each sub-test, what the benchmark goal was, and what the Winter Benchmark will be when we test again in January.  You will notice that there is a color coded graph, this helped your kinder start to understand what these numbers and goals meant.  We set some goals for our January testing date, and talked about ways we are going to achieve those goals.  It sounds crazy, but it is amazing how much even our youngest learners understand about setting goals.  Keep these goals fresh in your conversations...THEY ARE MOTIVATED!!

After we talked about our FAST results, we also spent some time looking over our priority standards and I Can statements for kindergarten.  Click on the hyperlinked text for a copy for you to use at home (Priority Standards/I Can Statements)!  These are posted in our rooms, we talk about them on a daily when we highlight our schedule for the day, and they will begin to become very familiar for your kinder by the end of the year.   Each #KFkinder picked one literacy priority standard, and one math priority standard (we will eventually mix in PBIS behavior standards, writing, and science standards).  We worked together to fill out a goal sheet that will be coming home in your kinder's folder tonight.  On it you will find what standard they picked, what their current skill status is, what we will do at school to practice this skill, and what are some things at home you can do to practice this skill.  Most of the writing was recording what your kinder was saying.  I want them to make the connections of things they can be doing at school and at home to practice their skills.  The description will only highlight one or two things you can do, please know that if you have your own ideas or resources to practice them, DO IT!!

       Here are our kindergarten Literacy, Behavior, Math, and Writing Learning Targets
with I Can statements.

This is an example of the Learning Target goal sheet that will be coming home weekly with your kinder in their folder.
Each week we will have one-on-one check-ins to access their skills.  At this check-in meeting we can continue the skill practice and talk about more ways we can practice it, change our goal, or we will see that your kinder has met their goal.  Please note that it may take a few weeks/months to meet a goal.  All the goals are different levels of complexity and some are not expected to be mastered until the end of kindergarten.  Please be patient with the process and encourage your kinder to keep showing growth in their skill, independence, and problem-solving abilities.  That is what goal setting is all about!  If you are needing resources to practice this skill at home, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can get you hooked up!

When you kinder meets a goal, that means they have MASTERED the standard.  We will celebrate that milestone by earning an "I Can..." crown.  These crowns will have the visual we use in the classroom for our I Can statements that are hooked to our priority standards.  It will also have a spot for your kinder to sign, for me to sign, and then they get a chance to walk down to Mr. Junge's office and celebrate/sign with him!  They are pretty proud when they earn these crowns, so please celebrate their learning at home too!

Here are some of our #KFkinders that met a goal yesterday and earned their first crown.  There will be many more to come for everyone!  Keep practicing!
That is our goal setting in a nutshell.  If any of this was not totally clear, please contact me!  Goal setting will continue all year long.  Please continue to look for these weekly goal sheets in their folders so you can encourage and support their learning at home!

Also, remember to follow our learning...
*Twitter  @Mrs_KFisher
*Hashtags: #KFkinders  #keyrocks  #BCmakers  #bentoncsd
*Instagram  @keystoneelementary

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcoming a New Batch of #KFkinders

Hello!  I am so excited to welcome another batch of #KFkinders to you all!  We have had an awesome start to the school year.  I have enjoyed learning their names, personalities, and their families.  All around some great Bobcats to take on the 2016-2017 year.
As you may know, but some of you may not...we have a set of Priority Standards that we will use to assess your kinder's skills throughout the year.  These Priority Standards will be reflected on the report card, and will be communicated with you through activities, emails, conferences, Twitter messages, blog posts, Instagram pictures, etc.  Here is a snapshot of the Priority Standards that we will use in #KFkinders this year.
Along with the Priority Standards, there are Learning Targets.  These are written in a student-friendly version to explain what the Priority Standard is stating.  Your kinder will be learning these Learning Targets and will use this language throughout the year to communicate their learning.  We will begin short-term goal setting after a few weeks of being in school.  To do this, students will meet with me on a weekly basis to discuss what Learning Target they would like to focus their learning around.  We will have time throughout the day to work on these goals, but your kinder and I will also talk about what they can do at home with you to be successful at growing within this Learning Target.  If there are resources that I can help provide to accomplish their goal, I will address that during their goal setting meeting.  You will either get an audio clip of our goal setting meeting or a paper copy of what we discussed so you can help support their learning needs at home as well.  We are all really in this together!  As we roll out this goal setting process in a few weeks, I will write another blog post explaining (in further detail) how it will look!  And I will use email to distribute the link each time that I write a new blog post to make sure it is easy for you all to check into our learning!

That's all for now!  Please let me know if there is ever ANYTHING you would like clarification on, have questions on, or would like to just talk about.  I'm here WITH you!  Keep rocking the home front because you all have obviously done a great job with raising such fun kiddos!  I'm excited to see all the growth ahead of us!  Here's one more picture for you all showing our letter today...LETTER A!  They are too cute not to show another picture!--Kim

Monday, May 16, 2016

BC 50 Years-Madison Weekly

This year Benton Community is celebrating 50 years.  Curriculum Director, Jo Prusha, has really taken the reins with the celebration by writing several blog posts about some influential Bobcats. You can read her posts by clicking this link! It wasn't long after one of Jo's first blog posts came out that 1st grade teacher, Anna Upah, decided that her class was going to continue learning BC history and conduct some interviews of their own.  Anna shared with the Keystone Elementary staff her ideas, and invited the rest of us to join in on the fun!  Thank you, Jo and Anna, for getting the ball rolling with this...#KFkinders had a great time learning about BC history and hearing from some memorable Bobcats!
One Bobcat that #KFkinders invited needs no introduction to any Bobcat sports fan.  She was a pivotal part of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 State Qualifying Lady Bobcat Basketball teams.  These were the first girls basketball teams to qualify for the state tournament in Benton history, and Madison Weekly was the point guard that lead us there.  Madison currently holds the records for most points in a single game (34 points), points in a season (433 points) and career points (1,146) at Benton Community.  She was a great basketball player, but she continues to be an even better Bobcat by inspiring Bobcats through her studies, actions, and time on the court.  Madison now wears the purple and gold of the University of Northern Iowa while she plays these days, but she will forever be a Benton Bobcat!  Please enjoy the video that the #KFkinders helped create below.

Thank you, Madison!

Madison Weekly's poster inside the McLeod Center

Madison and her BC cheering crowd of future Bobcats

Madison does a great job of using her platform to continue to inspire other Bobcat hopefuls to pursue their dreams.  Here she is at the Lady Bobcat Summer Basketball Camp

Madison never has forgotten her roots and continues to cast Benton Community in a very positive light.  Here she is at an alumni basketball scrimmage with some of her State qualifying teammates; Becca Bridgewater, Sara Petrzelka, Kelsey Brecht, and Kelsey Ettleman

The 2011 team made BC history as the first Lady Bobcats Basketball team to qualify for the state tournament!
click for larger image and more info
2011 Qualifiers
2012 Qualifiers
2013 Qualifiers

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Earth Day

If you live on Instagram or Twitter you couldn't help but notice that #keyrocks (Keystone Elementary's hashtag) celebrated Earth Day on Friday.  I know your #KFkinders probably came home telling you everything we did, but I wanted to make sure you had all the facts (that may have been hidden in their excitement!!).

Mrs. Happel (1st grade teacher) and Mrs. Bishop (guidance counselor) got together and got us a bunch of trees to plant for our campus.  They are part of the outdoor learning team, which is a team of teachers that are looking into activities, maintenance, and overall organization of the outdoor learning area we have at Keystone Elementary. This is a new space that was implemented this past fall and we are continuing to find new additions and uses for the space.  Here are a few pictures of their recent work day!

The new raised beds are ready for planting! 
Always thankful for great volunteers to provide more learning opportunities for our students.
This is an old picture of our upper deck garden area!
Teachers are encouraged to chase their own passions and interests to help create more authentic opportunities for students.

We even had one of our own #KFkinders lending a helping hand!  Thanks, Kaiser!

On Earth Day our students were given areas to help pick up trash.  These areas had to branch off of campus because Keystone is a VERY clean town!  Our students had to really search for trash (kudos Keystone residents!!).  Here are some pictures of students showing how to be"Earth-friendly"!  We also talked a lot about how this project practices caring and respectful Bobcat Behaviors! 
#KFkinders ready to clean!  They look pretty cute in their Earth Day headbands too!
Don't worry, we gave them gloves so their hand wouldn't get too dirty!
Adisyn provided a helping hand!
Mrs. Townsley and Haddie are showing the true definition of teamwork!
After cleaning up the town and campus, we headed to our planting spot.  If you go look behind Keystone Elementary, you will find our 3 lilac bushes between the windows of Mrs. Kimm (3rd grade) and Mrs. Bonewitz (3rd grade).  I don't know about them, but I would be so excited to have these beautiful bushes bloom right outside my window.  It will take a couple years to bloom, but they smell and look so is definitely worth the wait!  Here are some pictures of #KFkinders planting their lilac bushes!

#KFkinders taking a well deserved break prior to planting!
Kaiser, Kira, and Kenna are showing how our lilac bushes looked prior to planting.  They were shocked they were so little.
We talked about the importance of worms to plants and soil...these were returned after we were done digging!
The ground was a little hard for the kids to dig, so the teachers had to help out a bit!
So curious, and so helpful!

It was such a great day to be a Bobcat!  I love how passionate our teachers are to provide authentic opportunities for our students.  Our students banded together to make a difference in our community and a lasting improvement on our campus.  I can't wait to enjoy these plants for years to come and recall all the fond memories I have of this class.  I am truly thankful that you let me spend my daylight hours with your awesome kinder each day.  This has definitely been a class for the books!  So many memories made, and more time to make a ton more!!  Let's make the final weeks of the 2015-2016 #KFkinder year fantacular (a word my brother in-law uses all the time, but somehow sums up my feeling perfectly!).
2015-2016 #KFkinders

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

An Email Coming Your Way!!

Hello all!
I am so excited to show you another trick up my sleeve!!  I will be emailing you soon.  I have recently sat down with your kinder to have them read into an app that I like to use.  The app is called LevelBook.  It is amazing on so many levels...(I know that's corny, but hang with me...I hang out with 5-6 year old humans all day, I get excited easily!!).  This app records a student reading with an audio clip.  It will also allow me to monitor any miscues (mistakes) and self-corrections the student has in their reading.  Since you can't see the text, you will get an email of stats on each reading.  You will notice that there is an accuracy level, a self-correction level, and words per minute (WPM).  For the accuracy level, we want books to be between 100%-95% to be considered INDEPENDENT.  This would be books that are under their independent control.  When books are between 94%-90% is considered INSTRUCTIONAL.  This would be books that students are able to read, but they are doing so much word attack (decoding) that it could be affecting their comprehension of the text.  If your student's accuracy level is between 90%-0%, this would be considered FRUSTRATION.  Obviously, just as the name would reflect, we do not want students to be reading at this level.  The book might be too hard and/or they might not be monitoring their own reading.  In the end, the student's comprehension will most likely be affected at this level.  So when you get this email, pay attention to the accuracy level to give you a picture of what your student's reading ability looks and sounds like on a grade-level text.

Next look at the self-correction and error ratio.  If students are making miscues, we ideally want them also self-correcting.  If students are not self-correcting, then that tells us that they are not monitoring their reading as closely as they could.  We don't want a ton of self-corrections, because that still serves as an interruption in their reading.  But, if they are making errors, we want to continue to encourage them to self-correct with their reading strategies.

Lastly, you will see a WPM stat.  IGNORE THIS STAT!  I do not measure words per minute in Kindergarten.  Research will say to start measuring student fluency with WPM after January of 1st grade.  So instead of using this stat, I have left the timer going after the student is done reading.  This allows me to continue to record our after reading conversation!  I will highlight positives from their reading, reading strategies I either saw them use or ones that I think would have been beneficial for them, or ask comprehension questions.  Make sure and listen to this segment because it will allow you to reflect on how your end of the story conversations flow at home.

So...with all of that, please enjoy listening to the audio clip of your kinder read.  Listen to it with them, ask them about their book and reading strategies.  JUST ENJOY IT, because I know I enjoy listening to them read and reflect on how far them have come this year!  If you have any questions or did not receive an email with an audio clip, email me back.  I may not have all the correct email addresses and I would gladly change my contacts to make sure you receive one too!!  Thanks--Kim