I'm continuing to read Beginning Literacy (Pinnell & Fountas) and A Place for Wonder Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades (Georgia Heard & Jennifer McDonough). Both of these books remind me page by page that our students need to create their own environment, BUT it's our job to make sure that we provide the supports and opportunities for them to be able to do that. Kindergartners come in with a range of abilities; we need to create opportunities for all of them to feel successful. The poem, Straight Lines, in the first few pages of A Place for Wonder is awesome and really speaks to my beliefs about young learners (pg. 2-3). Georgia Heard says over and over that we must fill our classrooms with wonder. Ok, I totally agree, but how do we do that and all of the things that New York State is demanding as well. Even though I don't agree with a lot of what is landing in Kindergarten I still have a responsibility to make sure my students are meeting those expectations so they are prepared for what is facing them next. It's definitely not their fault that the educational system has become test bound. I'm confident that by providing opportunities for inquiry, exploration, imagination, and creation that Kindergartners will become successful readers, writers, problem solvers, and innovators! Curiosity is a great fuel for 4, 5 and 6 year olds. To start with, students need to get to know each other, Amy and me, and we need to know them. Of course, like so many other classrooms we will need to provide opportunities for that to happen. At the same time we need to give them lots of opportunities to work with their names and the names of their new friends to start our journey as readers and writers.
Great books for shared reading, independent reading, and interactive read alouds are hugely important. They need to believe they are readers and writers from the first day! Some of the books on my list to start with are:
Pete the Cat Eric Litman and James Dean (love the message that things happen--no big deal--go with the flow! I'm hoping some of Pete's logic will rub off in our classroom rules)
Our Tree Named Steve Alan Zweibel and David Catrow (I'm hoping this will get kids talking about their own families and things that matter to them!)
Mo Willem's Books (His books automatically make kids feel like readers. All readers can relate to these books. Some love Elephant and Piggie, some love the Pigeon and the Duck. These stories compel kids to create their own stories. These books make kids feel like readers and need to be included in our classroom library.)
No, David, David Goes to School, David Gets in Trouble all written by David Shannon (Kids relate to these books in so many ways. They understand David, defend David, Love David, and have their own stories about the David's in their lives. These books absolutely make all kids feel like readers and writers--these are a must in our classroom library!)
I will continue to add to this list and start to create the baskets that will find a home in our classroom library. The library really has to call to our kids! I want them to WANT to be in that library! This will be an important part to creating an environment that causes kids to wonder! To be continued...