Monday, August 27, 2007

Skills Block Begins!

Skills Block is designed to be a 30-minute fast-paced, interactive time in addition to the Readers’ and Writers Workshop that immerses students in “skills.” In Kindergarten these skills include Phonics, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary and Spelling. At Chets Creek, Kindergarten teachers begin Skills Block with some of the following activities:

The Star of the Day
Star Names – This program was adapted from Lucy Calkins’ work with the New York City Schools (a similar program has been introduced by Pat Cunningham) and involves choosing a student each day to be the “star student.” Activities using the student’s name may include looking at the first letter in the child’s name and comparing it to other names in the classroom, counting the number of letters and comparing to other names, describing what the letters look like (a circle, two sticks, a cross), mixing up the letters of the name, etc. The idea is to teach children letters of the alphabet and their sounds using a context that is interesting to them. Their names are of high interest!

Nursery Rhymes – Nursery rhymes are the child’s first language. The rhymes offer rich vocabulary and the rhythm and rhyme that will be so important in early reading. At Chets Creek the teachers use a 12-week curriculum that introduces a new rhyme each consecutive week, emphasizing phonological awareness. The lessons also include beginning comprehension skills and shared reading. This curriculum was written for Chets Creek teachers.

Morning Message – Many Chets Creek Kindergarten Teachers begin posting a simple morning message the first week of school. The morning message includes text that is relevant and often includes student names! The morning message is used to identify letters and sounds, sight words, and punctuation.

Vocabulary – more about this later!

At the beginning of the year in Kindergarten, Skills Block runs a little longer than the 30 minutes that is intended, just as Readers’ and Writers’ run a little shorter until students build up stamina. Because Skills Block is fast paced and usually teacher directed, students can engage a little longer. As the year progresses Skills Block settles into it’s 30 minute time slot as Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop stretch toward one hour.

Skills Block is a favorite time of day for both students and teachers!


Mackarado said...

Literacy 101 would like to know more about Star Names. Could you list some of the activities and the words to the name song please?
Thanks, you rock!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am interested in finding out more about the 12 week nursery rhyme curriculum...i work at a reading 1st school with disadvantaged kids....i know that nursery rhymes are an excellent resource...please if you could give me more details it would be greatly appreciated. thanks!