Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kiss your brain!

     Last week I joined the linky party at Clutter Free Classroom about how I spent my winter break. (You can check that post out here.) I blogged about a song book that I made using the Dr. Jean songs we sing every morning. I attended a workshop by Tim Rasinski right before break and he was a big fan of singing everyday. But he said the kids needed to see the words for it to be reading. So I got the idea to create a song book. Camille at The Open Door suggested that I just email Dr. Jean and ask her if it would be ok to share it on my blog. So I left Dr. Jean a comment on her blog and with my email address saying I wanted to contact her. She emailed me that day and gave me her email address.(Thanks for the suggestion Camille) I was so excited to get an email from THE DR. JEAN! I'm going to back up and give you a history of my love of all things Dr. Jean. When I did my internship (year long student teaching) in first grade, my mentoring teacher was all about Dr. Jean. I think she had attended a workshop led by her. This was the beginning of my love of all Dr. Jean. When I taught 3rd grade, I didn't use her music as much but in kindergarten and first grade I use them all the time. I love Dr. Jean's blog as well and all her other ideas. I've been dying to meet her and this past fall she was in Tennessee for a conference but I couldn't get the money to go. Hopefully this summer I'll have another opportunity. Ok back to my story at hand. So I emailed Dr. Jean my song book and my reason for creating it. And she emailed me back the very same day. The subject line read Kiss your Brain. She told me my songbook was adorable and that when I posted about it on my blog to let her know so she could link up. I was so excited that I texted Chris all about it (He does such a great job of understanding all my crazy kindergarten teaching blogging self) and called my sister to tell her. I was dying to blog about it but I already had posts planned for the next few days. (The emailing occurred on Monday but this won't post until Thurs.) I'm super excited to share my song book I created and even more excited that Dr. Jean emailed me and was a nice as I would have thought she'd be.
    I 've been wanting to share some of the ideas that I learned about from Tim Rasinski. The workshop was all about fluency and word study. It gave me a ton of ideas and was very developmentally friendly. So I'm going to try sharing an idea a week and how I'm going to use it my classroom.
       I spent a lot of time last year when I was teaching first grade, working on fluency with my class. It was nice to here that it was a research based method I was using without even knowing it. I can also see some places that I can improve in. Mostly about the sources that I'm using to practice fluency. Rasinksi talked a lot about reader's theater and having kids perform things they are reading. I really like this idea. I don't think my kinders are ready for Reader's Theater but I can see using Nursery Rhymes to work on fluency. This was the routine he suggested for working on fluency:
Monday - Introduce material and read it to the kids
Tuesday - Choral reading of material
Wednesday - Read on their own
Thursday - Dress Rehearsal
Friday - Perform
Right now I do phonemic awareness activity everyday using poetry. Right before Christmas break, we worked on one poem for the whole week doing different activities with it. I got the idea for what I was doing everyday from Leslie at Kindergarten works (You can read all about her wonderful strategies here. If you haven't read her routines on poetry, you should. ).I think I add in the reading on their own, and performing the poem. I'm thinking maybe part of their homework might be to work on a poem every night at home. I could start out with nursery rhymes because kids don't have as much exposure to them anymore. One of other strategies that Rasinksi talks about is having kids read along with recording readings. I'm exploring what I could do with that. I have 6 out 18 kids in my class are ELL and this strategy is suppose to be good for ELL kids. I'm not sure how to make this accessible to my students. I'm thinking if they have access to the internet then maybe on my website or some kind of podcast.
So this is a long rambling post. For sticking it out with me you can download my song book from google docs.
Click here to download the file

Please leave me a comment if you download. I love comments and the diaglogue created by blogging. I would love to hear your thoughts on fluency instruction. I'll give an update on how these strategies are working and an new strategy next week.


  1. I have an idea for you that might help- it goes right along with the strategy that you mentioned that Rasinksi said about following along to recorded readings. I also do poetry in my classroom and I wanted to take it one step further. Here is what I did with my poems (nursery rhymes) to make the accessible to all and to work on fluency. Each student has a poetry notebook (3-ringed binder) poems are introduced on Monday. The Friday before I record myself reading the poems onto a cassette tape. This tape has a running recording of all of the poems we have in our binders. I just add the new one onto the end of the recording each week. Then during workstation time I have 2 or 3 students assigned to the poetry notebook center (just like the listening center). They have their binder open and follow along with the recording. They are to point to the words and follow along with the reading. Sometimes you can hear the students signing along with the poems! With headphones on they never realize how loud they get at times! They are always very engaged. After the tape is over they are to go back and do any instructions that are at the bottom of the poem (it is usually circling a letter of the week or sight word) they also illustrate the poem! It has helped with fluency a lot!! Hope this helps. I am very interested in reading more about Rasinksi ideas. I too use Dr. Jean and I have made books on my own to match some of her songs. I have my students listen to these songs with individual CD players (found nice cheap ones at garage sales!) and they follow along with the books that I made.


  2. You have inspired me to look more into this!!!!

    Thanks so much for blogging about it.

    Thank you too for entering my giveaway! :)

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

  3. These sound like great ideas! You should check out Fast Start for Early Readers. We use one page a week for our homework. It has easy poems, songs, nursery rhymes, and suggestions for parents broken down by levels. You could use those talking spots to record yourself or the kids saying the poems to send home with your ESL kids.

  4. Thanks for the songs! I love Rasinski's work on fluency. I have almost all of his workbooks that were purchased from Teacher Created Materials. He uses poems and songs in his books. Fluency is the most overlooked part of reading instruction! My current post has 2 poems for little ones but an older post has Fry Phrases!
    Love to hear from you!

  5. That's so cool!!!!!!!


  6. I am so happy that my idea worked for you! I had no idea you loved Dr. Jean so much. I will be writing a blog post about her soon. Make sure you are sitting down when you are reading it!!!!

    I awarded you the Liebster Award, but see you already got it once. Keep up the good work!
    An Open Door

  7. Can't wait to hear about how this turns out for you as you give it a go and make it your own! I'm now trying to revamp the time I use poetry to work in smaller groups and use differentiated instruction. It's a evolving process, but writing out plans for each day of the week again is a big help. Keep us updated.

  8. What a great idea to use a song book and how generous of you to share!