Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Skills Block in February 2009

We had about 35 teachers and administrators from Hawaii, Oregon, Georgia and Pennsylvania visiting Chets Creek today. I had the honor of escorting a group to Maria Mallon and Cheryl Dillard's first grade classroom to watch their Skills Block. They begin just like they do every morning, with the Class Promise, led by one of their students.

Then it is on to a choral reading of a letter combinations chart which is also led by a student.

Next comes the morning message which is a review of the skills that the children have been learning including vocabulary, punctuation/ capitals, misspellings, and contractions. Maria holds up each child's name as they silently get in line to make a correction to the morning message. As the correction is made, each child turns and tells the class the rule that he is using to make the change. This ritual and routine is well embedded. The children are on a timer and after 10 minutes, Maria finishes showing the children the corrections. While the children find many of the mistakes, Maria identifies 4 more that they have not found. She then turns that into a number sentence of 100-4=___. Each day the children try to beat their score from the day before!
Next the children review antonyms and synonyms before they play a game. The game involves calling several children forward. A word is clipped on the back of each child. The class sees the word but the child doesn't. The class then gives the child clues such as antonyms and synonyms until the child guesses the word! What a fun review of vocabulary!

The final game is a review of ur, er, ir using Jeopardy. The Jeopardy game is set up beside a chart of words that the children have been studying using the specified letter combinations. A child's name is called and he gets to decide on the category, such as "er for 20". Cheryl then reads a clue to help the children decide on one of the words. Each child writes the word on his white board and holds it up. Cheryl then pulls the yellow cover off the chart to show the class the word. If it is spelled correctly, the child gets the points. Each child keeps a tally of his own score. The children really seem to love this game and can't wait to tell the teacher their scores!
In just 30 minutes, Skills Block is over, the children are cleaning up quietly as Cheryl begins reading a read-aloud as a transition to the Writers' Workshop. What a joy to watch this duo share their Skills block! I hope the visitors enjoyed it as much as I did!


Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

We are constantly working to improve these first 30 minutes of the day. By slowly adding new skills and reviewing old ones, we see the student's confidence levels grow as they apply these skills to Reader's and Writer's Workshops. Our goal is to make Skills Block fresh, challenging, and of course, fun. We were so happy to have you and our guests visit us this morning. MM/CD

Our Family said...

Great ideas! I can't wait to share the Jeopardy game with the teachers that I work with. I am hoping one day to get the chance to come a tour CCE myself! :) Lana

Suzanne said...

I love this post. It demonstrates the consistency of the ritual and routines in Skills Block but also how important introducing new activities are to change it up and keep kids interested. I always enjoy watching instruction in this classroom because it has such a joyful and loving atmosphere. And, one that truly prepares students for the next step in their educational journey.

Denise Evanko said...

This skills block is OUTSTANDING! I love the use of variety in teaching methods. The students are getting such a well rounded review of all the learning going on in your room. Kudos!