Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Friends - Kindergarten Smiles

Hi all!! I am Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles and I am so excited that Randi gave me the opportunity to guest post on her WONDERFUL blog!! I am going into my sixth year of teaching Kindergarten and I wouldn't have it any other way! I think I drive my friends and family crazy because ALL I do is talk about my class!! But, with that said...I am going to talk about how I start all of my thematic units!
I always, always begin by using some sort of graphic organizer. A KWL is something we have all probably done while we were in school or learned about in college. Well, my students LOVE starting every unit this way! On my whiteboard in the front of my room I make a KWL chart. 
Before I start every unit I have my students tell me everything they 'think they Know' and I add it into our K column. I make sure to add everything they say, even if I know it is incorrect information. This way I can revisit it later and correct it or label it has a 'misconception.' Then we move on to our W column. I also do this column with the students before we start our unit to find out everything the students Want to know. I have found that this gets the students SUPER excited to read and learn! It also helps focus them--they all want to find the answers to their questions as I am teaching.
Before I start reading I always have the students come up with a goal-this gives them a purpose. Usually their goal will be something like, 'Our goal should be to fill up our 'L' column.' I will stop half way through the book and tell the students to turn to their 'carpet buddy' and discuss. They have to ask their buddy 3 questions: What have you learned so far? What do you think will happen next? and Are you confused about anything? Then, I will ask them if there is anything I can add to our L column. When we are finished adding new information I will continue reading and repeat the same process at the end of the book. The KWL will stay up for the entire unit! This way students can refer to it when completing activities and when they are writing. I have seen a HUGE difference in their non-fiction writing because of our graphic organizers!
One of our first units is Apples (one of my favorites!!) and I am planning on starting with a great Apples Tree Map (like the one below) that will help us stay organized throughout the unit.
I would love for you to stop by my blog and grab your FREEBIE!! All the materials to start your apple unit off right :) Thanks again to Randi for letting me share with you today!!


  1. I enjoy using these charts in my classroom too. It really is engaging for the students and feels like it keeps my lesson organized.

  2. Great tips Caitlin! I think it's important to use KWL charts when beginning any theme so we can establish how much they know about a given topic and what direction we need to take our lesson/theme in. Thanks for sharing!! :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. Caitlin, I am already one of your followers (great post btw) and now I am a follower here, too!
    Randi, you have an adorable blog! I actually said, "wow" when the page came up, it is just so great!
    I can't wait to read more from both of you ladies!
    Kindergarten Schmindergarten

  4. I love KWL charts and so do my kids! They love to see how many things we can learn!

    Great tips! Thank you!

    Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten

  5. Hey Randi! Just started following your blog after reading your post on Katie's! I'm loving what I'm reading. :)

    Happy summer!

  6. KWL really is a great strategy. We use it a lot as a learning focused school.

    Grade School Giggles

  7. I love K-W-L charts and tree maps! Thank you for sharing your ideas on these!
    Conversations in Literacy

  8. I am loving this blog hop. Can't believe I had not found your blog before. I am your newest follower.

    2nd Grade Pad

  9. Hi! I just gave you an award! Thanks for inspiring me! Stop by my blog to pick it up! Fun Games 4 Learning

  10. I just discovered your blog! I am your newest follower!

    First Grade Magic

  11. I am supposed to tell you that I found you on Katie King's Blog (as I would love the pigeon work you did), but I actually found you last week on the Sunday night Blog intro night. I loved your blog and started following you on Facebook that night. Thanks for all you do and share. Looking forward to visiting you often.

  12. I love KWL charts too! – they are a great way of organizing a lesson but I often have trouble with my teacher candidates who use it to start with but then never come back to it at the end of a lesson – any suggestions?

  13. Hi there! I love your blog and am posting something about it at noon today. Check it out!

    Heather at TeachItToday

  14. Just started following you after reading your guest blog post on Queen of First Grade! Such great ideas. Can't wait to read more!



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