Monday, August 25, 2014

Pencil Talk

If you're a kindergarten teacher like me, I'm sure you've heard of Dr. Jean.  If you haven't, you need to check out her website like now!  She is awesome!  I've attended three of her workshops in the past and always leave with great new ideas!

One of my favorite of her ideas is Pencil Talk.  I pull this out at the beginning of every year and after my classroom kids have done it once, they beg for it over and over again.

 This is my Pencil Talk cheat sheet from one of her session books.  The song that goes with it is called Pencil Talk and is on her Totally Reading Cd 2.  If you don't have the cd, no worries, you can still do Pencil Talk without it.

The idea is to use an actual pencil, who would've thought.  But I actually do this activity on dry-erase boards.  In fact, I usually use Pencil Talk to introduce my students to using dry-erase boards and markers.

As with any new "learning tool,"  I let them play for 5 min.  So after going over the dry-erase board rules: dry erase markers only go on dry erase boards, etc; I pass them out and let them draw for a few minutes.

I've found that with any new teaching tool (dry erase boards, math manipulatives, etc), a few minutes of play time is absolutely essential.  That way, when play time is up, you can get down to the business of learning with fewer interruptions.

I may have given them a few extra minutes this time because I could tell some had never used these boards before.  When I started counting down for them to clean their boards off, they were quick to erase because they had enjoyed their drawing time already, and were ready to see what was next.

So the next thing I do is pull up a blank flipchart on my Promethean Board.  If you don't have an interactive board, a big dry erase board will do just fine.  In fact, I used a dry-erase board for this before getting my Promethean Board 7 years ago.

I tell the students to watch what I write on my board and copy it onto their boards, then I play the Pencil Talk song.  Dr. Jean just sings through the words (I think the tune is "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" but I could be wrong)

And while she's singing, you draw the marks that are out beside the words.  After a few verses, the kids catch on and start singing too.

Our dry-erase boards are a bit small, so I usually pause the song about halfway through so we can do a quick erase, and then I'll continue the song.  

I had bought new black socks to use as dry erase board erasers, but I couldn't find them.  A teacher friend gave me some white socks a few years ago and they worked great!  The kids put their hand inside and were able to easily erase their boards.  Then they put their marker inside the sock for storage.  But the white was so disgusting from all the marker residue and washing did not help.  So this year I bought black socks, but since I couldn't find them, we used tissues instead.  I ended up buying more black socks at Walmart this afternoon because I seriously have no clue where that first bag of socks is.

My kids love this because they think it's fun, they get to use dry erase boards and markers, and they get to sing a song.

I love this activity because it promotes beginner writing techniques:
  • writing from left to right
  • when you finish a row, you go underneath and back to the left
  • all the pencil motions are actual marks we use when writing letters
  • you are drawing representations of what you are singing/hearing
This activity is especially great for those who have had little to no print or pre-writing exposure.  My kids that are already writing still love it too because it's just fun.

Now they beg for it everyday.  So Pencil Talk has become a reward.  If we finish all of our work with little to no interuptions, and we get to do Pencil Talk.  And then we usually do it again just for fun.

I love that they love it!
That's why kindergarteners are so much fun!

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