Sunday, November 25, 2018

Yomitan no Sato

We took a field trip to Yomitan no Sato to sing and give gifts to the residents to celebrate Grandparent's Day in Japan. The students had fun on their outing and did a great job singing. There were a lot of positive comments also on how well the students approached the seniors without hesitation. The residents really enjoyed the visit! There were a lot of happy faces. 

Here are some photos of our field trip.

 Thank you for donating so much food!

One last rehearsal before departing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Reading Fluency Strategy: Eagle Eye and Stretchy the Snake!

The biggest goal in K.1 and K.2 is to have all the students reading at or above grade level by the end of the year! I believe this is achievable and we spend a lot of time in the kindergarten day on reading strategies.
The first one that I teach to the students is to use the "Eagle Eye" strategy and look at the picture. Looking at the picture is fun! Kids at this age don't want books without pictures and the illustrations are the number one reason they choose a book. Kids who think reading is fun will want to read. Kids who want to read will become good readers. Good readers become good academic achievers all the way through school! So I want them to develop a pleasure connection with books and reading.

I do hear from parents occasionally that their child has difficulty reading the words "without looking at the pictures". That's a natural stage and there is absolutely a place for assessing word skill independent of relying on pictures. I test them at regular intervals and most of the time when we read a book in class I focus on the positives each student demonstrates. 

Besides, all of us need to rely on pictures sometimes when reading. I'm a great reader but if you ask me to comprehend university-level biology textbook I will definitely need illustrations. If you've put together anything from IKEA you know what I'm talking about. 

Here's an example of how I teach "Eagle Eye" in class. One of the 'A' level books is "Bat Facts." 

Each page on an 'A' level book starts with the same sentence fragment and then introduces a new word which the students have to figure out. So on each page I first ask the students what the bat is doing in the picture. Page two is pretty easy and almost all students will tell me that the bat is flying. 
Then we check the word to see if the sounds match. When we see that the sounds match the word we think then we know we got it!

Page three is harder.
I get a lot of answers when I ask what the bat is doing, including 'eating' and 'catching'. We check the sounds and that's when we use Stretchy the Snake!
We take each letter and check the sound one at a time, stretching it out, in this case hhhh-uuuu-nnnn-tttt. Then the students can get it! We check the picture again that it makes sense and we can turn the page.

The students are doing great and all of them are improving their ability to notice important things in pictures and sound out words!

Learning Centers in Kindergarten!

K.1 and K.2 students have been doing learning centers for two months now and they are getting very good at them!

How it works is that the students have been placed into groups of 3-5 and the groups rotate through a series of centers every 15 minutes or so. OCSI follows the Daily 5 routine where centers for "Read to Self", "Work on Writing", "Read to Someone", "Listen to Reading", and "Word Work" are set up and the student groups are able to rotate through all of them every two days. As the students improve in shortening transition times and increasing stamina, they are able to get on task more quickly and stay on task longer. 

I also like to add a unique center category "Speak in English", since every family at our school is getting exposed to two languages more than in a traditional public school. For that, I often have a board game or survey. 

I'll be posting more information on centers as the school year progresses!

Learning Centers: Read to Self

Students are building reading stamina! We have a little "Read to Self" time at least every two days and the students are doing better and better. They can now choose a good book, find a spot to read and stay in it, read quietly for 3-4 minutes and not talk to a friend for that time. 

Here are some photos of students reading in class!

English Activity: Talk to a Friend

Students love to talk to each other! I encourage students talking in class, so long as it's academic and on task. :) 

I like to give students a question to ask each other. Students meet a friend and go through the steps:

Step 1: Hello!
Step 2: Rock, paper, scissors
Step 3: Winner asks the question, i.e. "What's your favorite food?"
Step 4: Partner asks the question
Step 5: Goodbye! i.e., "See you later, alligator!"

Here are some photos of the students asking each other questions!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Thank You for Coming to Open House!

It was great to see so many new and returning families at Kindergarten Open House last Friday! I am looking forward to school starting this Tuesday. The students will learn a lot this year!

 Thank you for bringing in the school supplies. If you have more to bring, just bring them in with your child on Tuesday. Please remember to label everything with your child's name (except the tissue and soap) as things that get misplaced will possibly not get back to the correct owner.

 A reminder that the first week of school is full days for kindergarten, not half days. It may be hard for your child to adjust after a long summer break! Also, there are no nap times at school this year. 

We do ask that students wear the name tags to school every day. It helps teachers and staff know the students quickly and this year it reflects our class identity as only K.1 has apple name tags. So we are Apple Class! K.2 is Strawberry.