September 6, 2015

Smart Starting the Year with Kagan Strategies

         This week went by in a blink of an eye-literally!  I am so thrilled with my class and we have completed a lot of material, both curriculum based and team building, in the two weeks we have been in class.  I have to say, being in a new grade level, I was not prepared for introducing the Smart Start materials.  I was actually in denial, I believe, denial that I had to do it!  I wanted to really work with my students to get the best community that we could.  I know it is what I failed at last year.  Last year-stress over a new curriculum we didn’t receive until that back-to-school teacher week.  Stress over a new evaluation system.  Stress over a new email system! You name it, we got it, in the first teacher week back!  This year was so MUCH better!  But I still didn’t go for the gusto with the Smart Start materials.  I thought it would just flow.  Luckily, it did!
            Our focus story was The Lion and The Mouse, an Aesop’s Fable.  Here was problem #1.  It is a print and read story from Wonders Reading.  This is the thing I struggle with in this series.  Why would a company send 1. everything on-line and 2. expect teachers to have time to print it and use it!  Call me old fashion, but I want everything in my hands!  I can’t run to a printer down the hall all day, let alone print stuff all summer!  Then I also didn’t have an actual copy in my many, many book library!  That for me spells “disinterest”!  So, I put it off!  THEN…
            I actually found a copy and read the story!  LOVE!!  I really love that story!  I love the lesson it teaches, I love the pictures in the text that I found, and I LOVE that it is very versatile.  It not only teaches the moral of friendship, but it lends itself so much to Kagan Strategies!  This year that is one of my goals-to bring in simple Kagan, and other, participation techniques into my classroom.  I am really excited about this and can’t wait to see what I can do in my room!  So, here’s what I did with my kids!
            Our Standard focus for the story is Key Details. I pulled out my handy-dandy Kagan “cheat sheet” and discovered some great ideas to implement and tie into Key Details.  Our first one is “Find the Fib”.  

Our copy machine has some line issues!

I thought I would start with this one since it was an easy introduction to Key Details.  We discussed what Key Details were and shared some samples from the story.  Then I sent them to their seats and had them work on the page.  They created two truths and one fib.  It was also a great way to introduce team jobs!   Once at their seat, they could only work on the jobs given to them by their Team Leader.  Wow!  I have to say, cooperation increase, the interest level was high, and the product was pretty great!  Students also shared the outcome as a group, in front of the class.  This gave them their first exposure to presenting before a group!  Great start to get them ready for bigger presentation! 

            Next came Mix, Pair, Share with pre-made question that focus on the Key Details of the story.  Students got a card from their table basket that matched their actual table color!  How is this determined?  See my post here about how I found a freebie to help me use my tables to the best advantage that I can!  Each child then had a question.  They stood up, pushed in their chairs (an important manner procedure we are working on) and began to mix!  When I called “Pair, “ they found a partner to discuss the question with.  

It took a “Super Heroes Ready” a time or two to get this one down.  When I want my class’ attention, I call “Super Heroes Ready” and they call it back.  I had to explain that they had to listen to the question carefully AND answer.   A number of the kids didn’t realize they had to answer!  That’s why you practice so much at strategies like this!  The results-AWESOME!  It was even an opportunity for a student called “Super Heroes Ready”.  This is a strategy I learned from Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz.  Students should be responsible for sharing their own learning and discoveries.  One student taught me that when their team was finished, they would show thumbs up.  So I had him teach the class!  The kids really love teaching the class and sharing their ideas!  It is worth a try if you haven’t ever done it! I am so glad I tried this idea, both of them! 
            Another activity included watching a video I found on Pintrest.  It was a VERY well done version of The Lion and The Mouse.  Watch it here!  It was really great and the kids wanted to watch it first.  I did set a purpose of gathering Key Details that were the same and different in each version.  The students then worked in a team to complete a Venn Diagram of The Lion and The Mouse!  

So much fun!  We did do a class share out also!  This was a great activity because it gave me an idea of who struggles with finding details and who excelled!  I will use this information to further instruction within our class.  So much good stuff!
            Finally, I didn’t get to the last part activity, which are Key Detail Cards.  This activity is a game where students create their own flash cards .  The idea for these cards was for students to create Key Detail flash cards and then play a Go Fish type of games.  Students would ask, “Do you have a…” and then collect Key Details.  The idea would be that students find that Key Details are the same across their thinking because they are from their text.  I am looking forward to using this technique this year! 
            Where can you find them all?  Right here! 

The Lion and The Mouse is one of my newest products and lots of fun to use with kids!  A great way to Smart Start your year! 



            What have you done this year to get it off to a great start?  Let me know!


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