By Dawn Madura
Step Afrika! entertained and inspired Langley Elementary students on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the school's auditorium.
By Dawn Madura
School lottery time is upon us again! And what a stressful time it can be, visiting all those Open Houses, comparing locations and curricula and culture, and trying to figure out what makes one play-based preschool different from another play-based preschool just a few blocks away. With just several more weeks before the lottery closes, here are some tips to help families sort through the options.
I love when one solution knocks off multiple problems.
Here’s an example:
It’s a hot summer night and the kids are having a post-supper energy spike. I’m too exhausted to give them an evening bath, even if I did manage to corral them into the bathroom. And the neighbors are annoying me with their wasteful ways – their front yard sprinkler is mostly watering the sidewalk.
Run through the sprinklers!
Bam. It’s magical.
In kindergarten, the most basic reading level is learning about books. Our biggest focus is on learning how books work. We talk about the front cover, the back cover, and where we start reading in a book. We then practice touching each word as we read. That looks like the teacher (or parent) reading the story while the student is touching each word. Having that one-to-one matching is an important building block for reading!
As students progress, we begin working on being able to read books that have strong patterns in them. The books may sound something like, “I run in the forest. I run in the park. I run in the sand.” Students should then be able to follow that pattern and begin to recognize some of those sight words (I, the, and, in, etc...).
From there, we start to push basic word solving skills. In my room, we call them "Beanie baby reading strategies.” The first strategy we use is called “Lips the Fish.” We get our lips ready to read the first sound in words. So if the word is ball, the students will read /b/ and think about what would make sense. When they consistently read the first sound, we then use our "Peekin' Poodle Strategy.” This strategy is when the students initially read the first sound in the word, then they check the picture to see what would make sense that starts with that sound. So for the "ball" example, the student would say /b/ and then there would be a ball in the picture to help them solve the word.
As students improve, we start reading books that have less of a pattern. We focus on learning lots of sight words. All sight words are great. You can looks for a dolch word list and start there! We also work on "Chunky Monkey,” where we look for chunks in the word we know (such as sight words or word families). The other strategies are “Stretchy Snake” (stretch out the sounds in the word), “Flippy Dolphin” (flip the short vowel sound to try out the long instead), and “Skippy Frog” (skip the word, get clues from the sentence, then go back to solve the word).
Volunteers and members of the Langley school family gathered to honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a community improvement project. Participants spruced up the school hallways with fresh coats of paint, inspirational messages and emblems of school spirit. More than 100 volunteers with Playworks and Monumental Sports and Entertainment joined school administrators, parents and students to complete the task. Students will arrive Tuesday morning to a bright and colorful school interior, with walls packed with words of wisdom and encouragement.
Library Media Specialist Shantel Agnew poses with a preschool class during a recent class.
Q. What is your role at Langley?
A. Library Media Specialist
Q. How did you become a librarian?
A. It was accidental...I wanted to pursue a career as a news researcher but started working as a research and reference librarian instead.
Q. How often do students visit the library, and what do they do there?
A. Students visit the library each week (a few classes visit every other week). The lower grades have sing alongs, storytime, and an art activity to coincide with the story or unit. If time permits, they can read independently. The upper grades have read-alouds, a library skill lesson, and book selection and check out.
Students, teachers and student teachers enjoy a field trip to the US Capitol in fall of 2017.
I’m on my way to getting a Masters in Elementary Education this May (hooray!) and last fall I student taught at Langley Elementary School. For the first eight weeks of the school year, Ms. Maduako and her 3rd graders made me a part of their classroom family.
Right before the holidays, I went back for a visit. I’d missed those kids so much! There were hugs, there was laughing, and more hugs, and more laughing. We had such a good time! I joined them for their morning meeting, I read them a math picture book called “Even Steven and Odd Todd,” and then we talked about who would rather be an even number and who would rather be an odd number and why. The third-graders asked me great questions about the school I’d student taught at for the second eight weeks of the fall, and why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and I got to ask them all about what they’d learned since I’d last been with them (yay for the distributive property of division!).
This morning was Langley Elementary School’s first open house for prospective students of the 2018-2019 school year. I served as a parent volunteer, on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions from my family’s perspective.
More than 30 parents showed up to learn more about Langley and I looked around the room, excited about the possibility of these men and women joining our community. Two women bopped and swayed in the back of the room with their babies strapped snuggly into front carriers and it took me back to the winter I wore my son all over town as I attended one open house after another, facing my daughter’s first year of preschool.
I was resentful that I had to wrap my brain around yet another completely foreign world (alas, what is parenthood but that process repeated infinitely). I had just conquered potty training, no small feat. I was only a few short months into the monumental adjustment of going from being a one-child family to a two-child family. Again, kind of a big deal. I was a new resident in Washington and was totally blindsided by the whole concept of universal preschool.
Preschool teacher Anna Zinkgraf reads a book with one of her students.
Q. Where are you from?
A. Maryland! I grew up very close to D.C.
Q. How did you become a teacher?
A. After I graduated college, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I worked at an occupational therapy camp for two summers and I babysat a lot! I then was a nanny for a little girl with special needs. After spending a year with this little girl, I decided I wanted to go into teaching. I did some research on how to become a teacher since I didn't go to school for teaching. I applied to The New Teacher Project Teaching Fellows program [http://tntpteachingfellows.org/] and got into the New Orleans program. I decided I didn't want to move that far away from home, so I requested to switch to D.C. This is my fourth year teaching.
Q. How do you bring socioemotional learning into your classroom?
A. I believe the best way to bring socioemotional learning into the classroom is coming in everyday with a positive attitude. It is so important to show the students love and that I care for them each and everyday. I also make sure to help them problem solve and guide them in interacting with other children.
Students in Langley's preschool program work together on a learning activity.
We have a 3-year-old in Ms. Smith’s class at Langley and he’s had a phenomenal year. He went from sort-of knowing his letters to writing words and recognizing some sight words in a few months. While he’s still three, it feels like he has grown leaps and bounds since he entered Ms. Smith and Ms. Bynum’s classroom four short months ago. Even though he’d been in center-based care since he was an infant, it was still nerve-wracking to send our young child off to a new school. The much older kids and the big district system concerned me - I worried he might get lost or fall through the cracks. But he has thrived, and he loves going to school at Langley. Of course, it was an agonizing decision process to get him there...