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Friday, April 17, 2015

Informational Reports

This year our district adopted and implemented our new literacy curriculum, Benchmark Literacy.  Within Benchmark we have our Writer's Workshop and have three different writing genres that we are introducing in Kindergarten; Journals, Book Reviews, and Informational Reports.  Last week we started a three week journey to research and publish informational reports on animals.  I gave the students choice between three different animals each week.  Here are the animals that we researched:
Week 1 (April 6-10)-Zebras, Giraffes, and Elephants
Week 2 (April 13-17)-Snakes, Butterflies, and Sharks
Week 3 (April 20-24)-Bears, Spiders, and Turtles
Each week starts with each student picking which animal they would like to research.  It takes us a week to research the animal, write facts on the animals, and then draft up a report.  On Fridays, we share out the information.  We just finished Week 2.  Make sure and ask your kinder about our animal reports!  Here are some clips of students sharing their favorite part of their Week 1 report!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


As many of your kinders probably reported, Friday, April 10th was #LoveMySchoolDay.  Many different school across the nation celebrated what they love about their schools and posted to Twitter.  Van Horne Elementary (along with some of the other buildings within the district) participated too!  We started the day by writing what we love about Kindergarten or coming to school at Van Horne Elementary.  There were so many responses!  Here are our responses:
Carson-I love writing every day.
Owen-I love seeing my friends because they play with me.
Kasie-I love learning.
Mason-I love coming to school to see my friends.
Shaelin-I love PE because we run only in PE.
Katelyn-I like workstations.
Sage-I love Sam because he plays with me.
Shantya-I like Shelly and my teacher because they are the best.
Sam-I like my friends.

Jacob-I love Izzy.
Marissa-I like to play outside.
Cylee-I love Kindergarten because I have the best teachers.
Braedyn-I love my friends.
Izzy-I love school because I have a notebook.  And I like my friend Owen because he plays with me.
Graham-I like learning new stuff.
Ivan-I love my books.

It is so refreshing to see the smiles come across their faces and see how proud they were of their learning, their classroom, and their school.  We need to all step back and realize how great things are sometimes!  I am just lucky I get a room full of 16 6-year olds to help remind me!  
Make sure and watch our video from #LoveMySchoolDay by clicking this link!

We also had to end our day with a little Fun Friday action.  We invited Mrs. Rodman's class in to dance with us!  Here is our video of us dancing!  Enjoy your week and ask your kinder about #LoveMySchoolDay!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kernels Baseball Game with the PTO!

Please join us for Van Horne / Keystone Elementary Day at the Cedar Rapids Kernels! This fun and exciting event for students, staff, families, and friends will take place on Saturday, April 25th at 2:05 pm. Gates open at 1:00 pm and students who attend the game may be able to participate in on-field activities and contests. Discounted club section tickets at $8.00 are available for Van Horne & Keystone family and friends.
Tickets can be purchased using the flyer distributed at school, by calling the Kernels ticket office at (319) 896-7560, or online at the link below.
(Section 111 to sit with other Van Horne / Keystone Families.)

(Section 112 to sit with other Keystone / Van Horne Families.)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Positive Post-It Tuesday and a New Challenge

If you follow me (@Mrs_KFisher) on Twitter you will see that I am pretty active in #edchats and connecting with other educators and education leaders globally.  It has been addicting for me!  My husband just shakes his head when I have my earbuds in listening to a podcast, or when I am feverishly typing in the #edchat of the hour (my favorite is #iaedchat on Sunday nights at 8:00, thanks +Dan Butler +Jimmy Casas and other moderators!).  Ryan is very supportive and even will dive into topics with me when the chat is over!
Last weekend I was thumbing through Twitter when I read an education challenge posted by +Tony Sinanis (he is an elementary principal at #Cantiague in New York).  Obviously I have never been given the opportunity of meeting Tony, but I heard him speak on #iaedchat LIVE and starting stalking his Twitter feed.  What I stumbled upon was this, Positive Post-It Tuesday!  So I emailed all my colleagues at Van Horne Elementary and some other Twitter faithful ( +Jen Bange +Andrea Townsley) to see if anyone wanted to join!  In true Bobcat spirit the entire VHE staff, Jen, and Andrea joined!  We had post-it notes and positivity flowing everywhere!  Students were writing feverishly, staff were sneaking around so we wouldn't see who left anonymous notes for each other, buckets were not only filled; but were overflowing!  It was amazing!  The students were talking about it with each other at recess, staff were tweeting during lunch, parents were starting to respond with stories they were hearing from home!  Such great energy.

KF kinders working hard on their post-its!

My door, it is even exciting to get them as a teacher!

We put them on student lockers so we were surprised at recess to read our special guest's note!

Mrs. Bridgewater's student lockers...(side-note, aren't her locker tags the coolest?!?!) 

I walked away from school this week feeling very positive and recharged to keep pushing forward these next few months.  But I realized something very sad too throughout this challenge.  We don't spread the positivity enough.  I hear teachers saying great things to kids, but does it outweigh the redirections we give?  I hear students say things to their friends, but how about the new student that started last week...has his bucket been filled lately?  The biggest realization I felt and heard others comment on was that teachers don't fill each other's enough.  We talk all the time about our next endeavor, our reflections on how to make student learning more impactful the next time we teach a lesson, but when are we ever patting each other or ourself on the back?  This needs to happen every day...not just March 31st.  So my new mission for myself is to keep Positive Post-It Tuesday alive and well every day with myself, my students, and my colleagues (and probably my family for being so supportive) because I see how infectious positivity can be!
If you are new to Twitter, or are an educator that would like to start feeling the passionate charge of these education challenges, I encourage you to join in with the #LoveMySchoolDay challenge on Friday, April 10 ( @JohnWink90 ).  For more details check out this link #LoveMySchoolDay

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Exit Tickets and Compare/Contrast

Last week we included exit tickets into our daily routine.  Exit tickets are used by teachers to quickly assess a skill taught, survey students, or just gain general feedback.  We are using our exit tickets for in Kinderland for a couple of different reasons.

  • We are practicing publishing our writing for a greater audience.
  • We want others to read them and strike up conversations about the cool learning happening in KF.
  • Mrs. Fisher wants to know what learning was most impactful.
So every day at 3:00 each kinder gets their exit tickets (they are speech bubbles that hang on our lockers), and write what learning activity, subject, or skill they liked best that day.  Then we hang them back on our lockers for everyone else to read and ask us about!  I am looking for trends when I read them, so I know what to plan more of!  Student voice is something that I am really trying to hear more of when I sit down to lesson plan.  The more voice they have in their learning will usually produce more engagement and deeper learning.  When your kinder gets home, ask them what their speech bubble said and strike up a conversation about the awesome things happening every day in Kinderland!

We also have been working on comparing and contrasting texts.  The most common and visual way we have been doing this has been with the Venn diagram.  In this picture you can see my lovely assistants are showing you the texts that we used to compare and contrast.  We picked two Cinderella texts.  Marissa is holding Cinderella by James Marshall.  This was our traditional storyline that we enjoyed in our read aloud time.  Kasie is holding up one of our classroom iPads that has a YouTube version from Story Circle at Cool School channel that is retelling Cynthia (a Cinderella fractured fairytale).  We like to read different types of texts, and that includes audio.  YouTube has TONS of audio texts that are so enjoyable for kinders.  If you need more ideas, please check out my Pinterest board Online Books ( for more options, or search any book title or topic on YouTube!  Enjoy!