A Getting-Acquainted Activity Using My Teacher's Secret Life
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Children thrive in an environment where they are active participants in their learning. In this kindergarten activity, students listen to My Teacher's Secret Life, discuss the content, and make predictions about what the teacher and their peers do when they are away from school. After charting both student and teacher activities, the teacher models writing a book of his or her life outside school. Working at home with their parents, students draw glimpses of their personal lives on a planning sheet, and use it in the class to create stapleless books about their lives that they then share with their classmates.
Stapleless Book: Using this online tool, students can create an eight-page book just by folding and cutting.
From Theory to Practice
The first days of school are crucial for setting a class atmosphere where children feel welcome. They will be meeting new people and discovering new things. Laying a foundation early for a community to grow in the classroom is vital for success throughout the school year. As Allen Koshewa notes in "Creating Harmony in the Classroom:" "In many ways, a classroom community is like an orchestra. The students all have different characteristics, but these overlap enough to allow for sections to emerge, groups with common interests and timbres." He goes on to note that the teacher is the conductor of this community. In this lesson, the teacher indeed plays a central role in conducting his or her class in sharing with each other.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- My Teacher's Secret Life by Stephen Krensky (Simon and Schuster, 1998)
- Chart Paper
- General Art Supplies (paper, pencils, crayons, markers)
- Arrange personal artifacts you have brought from home around the room.
- Gather children to central reading location.
- Hang chart paper for all to see.
- listen to the book, My Teacher's Secret Life, looking for clues to enhance their listening skills.
- discuss what they like to do outside of school.
- discover what their teacher enjoys outside of school.
- draw a picture and write about their lives away from school.
Instruction and Activities
- Introduce My Teacher's Secret Life to the class and read it aloud.
- Discuss with students about what they do away from school. Allow for every student who wants to share.
- Record individual responses on chart paper.
- After children have responded, ask children, What do you think Ms./Mr. ______ does after school and on the weekends? Instruct the children to look around the room for clues. Expand on what is said by sharing some information about your life outside of school.
- After the children return to their seats, list what they have guessed about you on another sheet of chart paper, including drawing some of the items.
- Model writing a book of your life using the Stapleless Book Planning Sheet. If possible, make copies for each student to bring home.
- Working at home with their parents, students draw glimpses of their personal lives on the planning sheet, showing what they enjoy doing when they are away from school. They can include photographs, drawings, and at least two sentences about their pictures. Have the students bring their chosen materials to school the next day.
- Have each student create a stapleless book of their own "secret lives."
- Finally, encourage the children to share the books with each other, reading what they wrote and decribing their artwork.
Students can learn more about author Stephen Krensky at his home page.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Observe students as they participate in class discussion.
- Give students feedback on their stapleless books. This is a good diagnostic tool to gauge the level of the students' writing skills at the beginning of the year.