I just got back from the Oklahoma 2011 State Superintendent Regional Curriculum Conference here in Lawton, OK. The keynote speaker was Janiel Wagstaff who had some interesting information to share about the Core Curriculum State Standards (CCSS). As a kindergarten teacher, the CCSS does not seem like a radical change from the Oklahoma P.A.S.S. especially in math. I can see that I'll have to beef up my instruction in place value, but other than that I think I am already meeting the Math CCSS for kindergarten!
The Language Arts CCSS is a bit more difficult, one of the things that interested me the most was the push for more informational texts. In my classroom, the majority of the books that I read aloud are fictional. I do of course have some nonfiction, informative texts available, especially in my Science Center, but most of those are nature related. Since the majority of college texts are informational, in order to prepare students for college and/or the workplace, we must expose them to more informational texts and give students the strategies to comprehend them. Thus I will have to really look at my future book purchases to make sure I am including a greater proportion of informational texts. My challenge this summer will be to find informational texts to go along with each of my theme units.
The best part of the day was a presentation titled "Make Language Arts Memorable - Make it Multi-Sensory!" by Charlotte Wheeler. Multi sensory instruction (engaging 2 or more sensory modalities at the same time) is most effective method of teaching. I think we all know this, but it's so easy to get into a rut and not include enough multi sensory experiences. I came away from this presentation with a renewed commitment to brain-based learning. One of the things I am going to focus on is incorporating the appropriate music with our activities. According to research by Eric Jensen, students should listen to music in the range of 55-70 BPM for maximum productivity while they work, while energizers should have 100-160 BPM. Mrs. Wheeler recommended Whistle While You Work and Wake Up the Young Brain and I will be checking those out soon!
Something else I walked away with was this idea for a Very Hungry Caterpillar snack idea. Its made with green grapes, a long toothpick, 2 mini chocolate chips with a little bit of frosting to hold them on.
For writing prompts, (CCSS really emphasizes writing throughout the curriculum) this website has some neat ideas to start simple stories.
So, all in all, it was an informative day and I enjoyed getting a little 'grown up" time after being out of school and at home with my 4 kiddos for over 2 weeks now!