Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Worksheets Don't Build Dendrites: Chapters 1 & 2

I'm so excited to be joining in the book study on the book Worksheets Don't Build Dendrites by Marcia Tate.  Kickin' It In Kindergarten is hosting the first two chapters.  I'm a little late to the party, but better late than never, right?

Chapter 1 was all about brainstorming and discussions in the classroom.  I know many others commented on their classrooms not being quiet places.  There is certainly a lot of chatter going in my classroom too.  I have no problem with noise; I love when they learn from one another.  I struggle when it gets loud and wish it would quiet down, but I remind myself frequently that it is productive noise and that makes it more ok.

Some ways my students engage in conversation are through think-pair-share, partner reading, reading centers and reader's theater.  I love listening to the different things they reason through with their friends.  Some of my favorite learning from them comes during our read aloud each day. Last week we were reading a book about spring and it said that the character went around the corner to look for spring.  I asked my kiddos to think about whether or not you could go around the corner to find spring. One child went into a scientific explanation of spring citing the rotation and tilting of the Earth and sun while another simply said, "It can't turn into spring until God makes it happen."  Out of the mouths of babes!  If I had stopped their conversation, these things wouldn't have happened.

The last couple years I've done quite a bit of Project Based Learning.  This is a wonderful way for students to collaborate and talk to one another.  I encourage them to solve problems within their groups on their own before coming to me.  They do a great job learning from and with one another.

One thing I'd like to add are more partner games and meaningful conversations around math.  I've done better in the past with incorporating talk in Language Arts, but I know that they can learn so much from one another in math too!

Chapter 2: Drawing and Artwork
This is our first year not having an art teacher in our building.  Our art teacher retired last year and our district did not replace her.  Art is not necessarily my strength, in fact, typically it is a struggle for me, but we are making it work!  Pinterest and TpT have definitely made this easier!

Directed drawing is very excited for me.  I love when directions are given that I am able to follow and share with my students.

At the beginning of the year, we tried some collaborative art.  I split the class into 2 groups and give them cups of paint and brushes.  The task was to create art together using circles.  It was great for conversation and for art.  My kiddos love this project, and it was great to see how unique the 2 different groups made their work!

Each week during center time, we have an open-ended art center.  I have one 'suggested' activity that typically goes with our theme.  Beyond that, materials are available for students to just create.  This week, we are beginning to study 2-D shapes.  I put out triangles and suggested that students make a castle out of the triangles.  I told them that they could try to make squares using either 2 or 4 triangles.

My students are so excited when they get to do art, and I know I need to incorporate it more in our classroom.  I'd love to incorporate more art into our everyday.  "Quick draws" where students take a couple quick minutes to draw what they learned/what we're talking about.  At the beginning of the year, I had planned to have students illustrate vocabulary words with a partner.  I haven't done that and I think it would be a great way to add in more of what my students enjoy.

I'd love any suggestion you might have on including more art and conversation in my classroom!


  1. I like how you have set up art in your classroom. Great projects to guide them but the flexibility to create their own work.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia! I think I'm enjoying their art as much as they are enjoying making it.