We had a very busy day! We took another test on the Chromebooks this morning. This was a reading test, and the kids did a good job listening to instructions and taking the test. The data will be used to guide our instruction, not as a grade. We took a break after our test and had independent reading and a brain break.
In the afternoon we studied a wordless picture book called Thunderstorm, by Arthur Geisert. The only words in the book are the date and time on the bottom of the pages to show the storm coming and going. There is a tornado in the book that causes damage. The illustrations have a lot of detail in them, and we talked about what a setting was and how to put one in our own illustrations. We made big pictures of our favorite kind of weather. We talked about putting in details and coloring the whole page. We didn't get to talk about these today because shortly after that we had a Shelter in Place and Lockdown drill.
The Shelter in Place drill is really very simple. Our instruction continues and we just limit students going into the hall. For a Lockdown, the children go to the corner of the room that is on the same wall as our entry door from the hallway. That is our housekeeping area. The sit without talking or making any noise. Today we had some trouble with that. We had some kids smiling real big at others, kicking against a chair making noise, a big loud sigh, and some kids looking at each other which seemed like it might lead to laughter. It's so important that we try to get the children to take it very seriously and yet not frighten them. I talked to them after the drill and told them one thing I do is visualize a happy place in my head when I have to wait quietly. We had talked a little about visualizing in reading, so I talked to them more about that. I also suggested that if anyone was ever afraid, to just hold the person's hand who is sitting next to them. We also talked about listening in case we needed to move into the closet or leave the building. They seemed fine with all that, so we discussed a couple other drills that will be coming up. We will be having a weather drill and an earthquake drill. We just talked briefly about how we would go into the hall and sit against the wall as the upstairs students come down and fill in the hallway. Our earthquake drill is simple, just going under the tables. That's a lot for one day I think! Testing and drills! One of our little friends said, "oh, I get what a drill is. I hear it outside." Building services had started to cut the grass outside and it was a lawn mower, not a drill. I told the kids they did a great job listening, following our directions, and being quiet. We will do even better next time!
We did have some fun, so the day wasn't all tests and drills! We read the book We Don't Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins. Yesterday we read another book by Higgins called Mother Bruce. Both books are really funny, but the kids voted and Mother Bruce is their favorite of the two! In the story We Don't Eat Our Classmates, Penelope Rex is a little nervous about going to school for the first time. She eats her classmates, but spits them back out after the teacher tells her to. She has a hard time making friends because of some of the things she does. But then, something happens that makes her empathetic toward the other students. Ask me to tell you what happens when Penelope tries to make friends with the fish.
Hmmmm, I'm looking through this post and I see testing, thunderstorm book with a tornado in it, more math testing and two emergency drills. I really didn't plan the day that way! I did talk to the kids yesterday about Shelter in Place and Lockdown drills, but I didn't know we would have one today. Tuesday will be a much lighter day I promise!
Have a great weekend!
We had a busy day! Today we had a class meeting and discussed one of our "Get Along Goals," which is to work and play using an appropriate voice level. We read Decibella and Her Six Inch Voice, by Julia Cook. This is a great book that explains voice levels for different settings and activities. The story is about Isabella, who is called Decibella because she has one voice level, and it is loud! The story starts with different examples of times when Isabella's voice level was inappropriate. Her teacher talks to her and explains different voice levels. They practice the levels with the word "slurpadoodle." We practiced the different voice levels today and will keep track of our progress as we use a chart to remind ourselves of the different voice levels. Here's a little overview of the voice levels we learned about today.
In math, we practiced writing the numerals 0 - 5. We also worked with decomposing numbers, which meant we broke them into two parts. We also wrote a number sentence to go with the decomposition. For example, we broke 5 into 3 and 2, so we wrote 5=3+2. We found different ways to show numbers 4 and 5.
The children are doing really well following most directions and getting right to work. In math, there are a lot of little tasks they do, and to get through it, they have to get right to work. We move between the carpet and tables quickly. We have also been using a sand timer to remind us to work the whole time. Unfortunately, I watched a lot of soap operas as a kid, so I can't help but say "like sands in the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.' I was told today that when I say that is sounds creepy. So I guess I need new material and I'll just have to say that in my head!
Yesterday we got our 20th Bear Buck, which earned the class their second reward. We will have game day either tomorrow or Tuesday as a reward. The class voted and that is what they wanted this time. I'm so proud of how well they are doing in the cafeteria, lining up at recess, moving through the hall and in their specials.
Our Book a Day blog is behind, but I'll be catching it up later this evening or over the weekend. Have a nice evening!
Today we took our MAP-P test on the Chromebooks. The children did a great job of using the Chromebooks. A few of them had to be flexible when the touchscreen wouldn't work, so they had to use the mouse pad instead. I am really impressed with how quickly they started to work. This test is not graded, but instead used for guiding our small group instruction. This test will be given two more times this year to follow their progress. The next couple days will also involve some testing, but with not so much fanfare! While children are working in stations, I will be pulling students over to do a little reading and quick checks on alphabet recognition and words. This will help as we get ready in the next week or two for small group guided reading. Friday the children will be taking another test on the Chromebooks. This will be a general reading test and once again, is used to guide our instruction and follow their progress.
Enjoy this beautiful evening!
Today the children are bringing home library books. Please help your child find a good place to keep their book until next Monday. They watched a video in the library about taking care of their books. Ask them to tell you what they need to do to take care of their library book!
We took a paper/pencil test today from Benchmark. This test had two stories read to the children with questions that could be answered by circling a picture. There were also a few letters they had to identify, as well as some words. They did pretty well with the test that was several pages so they had to turn pages and end up in the right place! This is a pre-test and will be done again at the end of the year. It's not for a grade. We have several tests coming up that will give us information about where the children are that will help us in math and reading small groups. These tests will be given on the Chromebook. Since we need to take the tests on the Chromebooks, today we took more time to work on the Chromebooks so the children are comfortable with the keyboard and mousepad.
We watched a special How It's Made today! We watched how Lego are made. I am putting the clip on here for all the grown-up Lego fans that I know are out there!
Have a nice evening!
It's hard to believe we are done with three weeks of school! The kids are doing a great job following our school and classroom rules and routines. They have already earned one reward for earning ten bucks for the introduction to the program, and are working on earning twenty this time. We are keeping track of where the Bear Bucks are earned, and the specialists are doing an incredible job of giving them feedback each time for their behavior. This week, the kids earned Bear Bucks everywhere but P.E. They had a hard time not shouting out answers in P.E. so they will work to do a better job next week. Our chart has recess Bear Bucks on it, but I don't think anyone is giving out Bear Bucks for that, it's the transition from the lunch room to the the playground where they earn a Bear Buck. Here's our chart this week:
We used the Chromebooks this afternoon, as well as yesterday. I wanted to be sure the kids were familiar with using a touchscreen and the mouse. We went to ABCya, which is a great website with lots of games. I will add some sites your child may go to as "homework" to reinforce what we have been doing in school, and some that are just for fun! I will be sending home your child's log-in for the Chromebooks so they can practice at home next week, and use it for some sites I will be adding.
Have a great weekend!
We had a busy day and got so much accomplished! We worked with the concept of zero in math. We were able to get through this quickly since the children had a good understanding of it! We practiced making zeros, and practiced our Math Fingers to six.
In reading, we worked with syllables. I showed photographs of the kids, and they said the name, then clapped to determine the number of syllables in each name. Ask me to tell you some of my friends' names and how many syllables they have in their name.
We also practiced writing a simple sentence. We have been noticing and counting the number of words in titles and sentences, as well as the number of spaces. We have also noticed the upper case letter at the beginning of sentences, and punctuation at the end of sentences. We wrote simple I like sentences today about the weather.
We continued talking about names and read My Name is Elizabeth, by Annika Dunklee. This is a story about a little girl who wants to be called Elizabeth, but other people keep calling her nicknames of Elizabeth. She finally screams her name, loud and proud, and somehow all those who had been calling her other names hear it! We talked about the importance of names and that people are called the name they want to be called. Then we had a few people try and name all the kids in our class. I was able to give out six certificates for kids who did it. We did not have time for every one to try, but will do more each day.
We learned about making predictions in reading. We analyzed the book cover of a book just like we do with our Picture Talks. We looked at the parts of the picture and made a prediction based on what we saw and what we thought was the most important part of the picture. We read Woodpecker Wants a Waffle, by Steve Breen. Ask me to tell you how the woodpecker tried to a get a waffle!
We had a fire drill today. The kids did a great job getting outside quickly and fairly quietly, and stood facing away from the school. I'm really proud of how quickly and calmly they move!
Have a nice evening!
Each day, we try and talk about a photograph or picture that is interesting, often related to what we are studying. Today we looked at this photograph. We know it's important to analyze photographs and pictures to see what we can learn. In this photograph, we looked at the different parts of not only the chameleon, but the photograph itself. We know the chameleon is the most important part. We noticed the chameleon's tongue and the fly below it. We wondered if the chameleon caught the fly. We also looked at the parts of the chameleon, especially it's tail crapped around the branch. We noticed the thorns on the plant. We wondered how the chameleon didn't get stuck by the thorns. We also wondered about that tongue! How does the tongue fit in the chameleon's mouth? Studying illustrations in books is important to readers. We read a book about school and studied some of the photographs in the book. We were able to see how the school in the book was like ours, and the kinds of things the students might do in their classroom. This is a reading habit we want children to develop.
In math, we continued to look at hidden partners in numbers. We learned about the addition symbol, the plus sign, and used it to tell about a number story. The children are eager to have the equal sign included in the stories, but that comes in a few more lessons! I am impressed with what the children know about numbers! We are continuing to practice counting using our math fingers! It's still tricky for some, but if they put their hands in a fist on the carpet or table, it will help them to be able to lift up the fingers to learn to count from left to right.
We had a fun time today reading some song books as we got drinks and used the restroom after recess. We read and sang Old Mikamba Had a Farm, by Rachel Isadora. Ask me to tell you what was different about this song from Old McDonald. We also read and sang The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, by Kabir Sehgal, which is also different from The Wheels on the Bus many of us had heard before. Ask me to tell you what made this song different, too.
Then we read our Book a Day book, which also was a song. It's one of my favorites because it's written by John Lithgow, and I think he's not only a great actor, but a good writer for kids! We read and sang I Got Two Dogs. This is just a fun song with some really cute pictures. Here's John Lithgow singing about his two beloved pets. Enjoy!
We spent time today just working to follow directions and get to work quickly. The math curriculum has a lot of counters and quick worksheets, and the children need to really stay focused to get through it all. We talked about quick-coloring today. It's light and fast. We don't worry about staying in the lines on this because no one is going to hang it in an art museum or even on the refrigerator! This is hard for some kids because they like to color, but I remind them they can do that at home or in our art station during play time. For the purpose of math, it's just to show what you know. So don't be concerned if you see quick coloring on some of the math papers, it's just necessary to get through everything!
Enjoy this beautiful almost-fall evening!
Things are really falling into place in our classroom! The children are comfortable with our routines and are working hard to follow direction when they are given. Often kindergarten children at the beginning of the year are "on their own time" and are quite leisurely in their response time. With our new curriculum, it's important they move quickly from activity to activity. The brain research that is used in the curriculum is created for short lessons with a lot of partner talk. We used a sand timer today to remind ourselves to work quickly on a math worksheet. I don't emphasize coloring dark and slowly, but a quick color so we can work on the math concepts more than the coloring. We are also working on using a limited number of colors so they aren't spending time looking through their crayons, but again, focused on the math content. The other thing that we are working on is our smooth transitions so that when they return to their seats to work, they get right to work instead of directing others or chatting, and just being leisurely. I'm so proud of how far they have come with these transitions.
In math, we are working on counting in different arrangements. We have put counters in vertical and horizontal lines, and in circles. We are learning to keep track of our counting.
In reading today we re-read a favorite book and talked about a favorite part with a friend. We chose a book from our Book a Day challenge that was the class favorite the first ten days. We used a sentence stem to help students use a complete sentence as they talked. Ask me to tell you about The Good Egg, by Jory John, and why I like this book.
We voted today for our favorite Book a Day book. Here's our results! Ask me to tell you about our data. For more information about Book a Day, check out the Book a Day tab.
Have a nice evening!
We had a great day today! Last week, the children earned their first ten bear bucks. I gave them a choice of rewards, and they wanted extra brain breaks. So today we had a few extra times to dance to Go Noodle. The children earn Bear Bucks primarily in the lunchroom, hallways, recess, or specials. In Art last week, they actually earned two, being the first class in the school to earn two in one class period. They did a great job listening, following directions, working the whole time, and being respectful. The first reward was for ten bear bucks, but it will take twenty for the next reward. They are off to a good start!
In science, we are beginning to talk about weather. We have studied two paintings during our morning openings. We looked for clues that told us what the weather was most likely in the paintings. The children are learning about analyzing, or looking at the parts and how they come together as a whole, so first they study the picture on their own. Next, they turn and talk with a partner. They are really doing a great job of using quiet voices and sticking to the topic. Then we turn and face the board and talk as a group about the picture. Here are the first two weather talks we have done. If you hover over the upper left hand corner of the pictures, you should get a pause button so you can talk about the pictures with your child. Ask me to tell you about what I noticed.
In math, we worked with number towers to five. Today we broke the towers into two parts to find hidden partners. So for five, the hidden partners are 2 and 3, and 4 and 1.
In reading we studied two poems, Mary Had a Little Lamb and Humpty Dumpty, and made an anchor chart about poems. Here's what we know:
We continue to work with rhyming words as well. We read There's a Bear on My Chair, by Ross Collins. We found a lot of words that rhyme with bear! Ask me to tell you about this silly story!
Each day we also read a book mostly for the enjoyment of good books. I have created a separate tab for these books, but am still catching up on those. Hopefully I can finish that tonight, but we read Horse Meets Dog, by Elliott Kalan. Dog thinks horse is just a really big dog, and Horse thinks Dog is just a really small horse. Ask me to tell you what happens in this silly story!
Have a nice evening!
It's been a busy two weeks in our kindergarten class! As I mentioned at Back to School Night, we have lots of changes this year in our curriculum and day. It's going to be a great year and I look forward to getting to know my new friends even better!
We have been very busy learning routines. We are learning what to do when we arrive at school and doing well remembering with just a few reminders. The children are unpacking, putting their folder in the basket, using the restroom and getting a drink, and reading books. Our Promethean Board has been acting up, so even though we have tried, the kids haven't gotten to order their lunch on the board yet, but I am hoping that soon they will!
The children have specials first thing in the morning, so we are trying to get out the door by 9:30 to go to art, music, P.E. and the media center. The children have enjoyed meeting their other teachers and have done a great job of learning the routines for those classes. They have earned a Bear Buck, which I'll talk about more soon, in each class. Ask me about the special classes I have visited!
Just a quick review of a typical day:
We have our whole group math lessons in the morning. One of the changes this year is that we have is the structure of the math lesson. Each day we have fluency practice, an application problem where we are using what we already know, concept development which is the biggest part of the lesson, and time to debrief to talk about and solidify the students' understanding, but to also find what misconceptions the students may have, and what extra practice is needed. We're learned routines to get materials and supplies for the lesson quickly, and are learning how to be responsible for making sure we put them back so they are ready to use the next time.
We also have a small block of reading instruction in the morning. We do a shared reading or unit introduction, and a station or small group instruction before we begin to get ready for lunch. We have been learning about our literacy stations so far, and as we go through our first twenty days of routines will refine this time so that when our guided reading begins, the students are working quietly with other learners or independently.
We have a special time each day for a read-a-loud. This time is to share a book for the enjoyment of reading. It is not necessarily connected to the curriculum, and is not a lesson. We talk about the book briefly with partners or as a group.
We get ready for lunch quickly. The children follow a traffic pattern in the room that allows us to wash hands and line up quickly for lunch. We eat in the cafeteria for 30 minutes, then go outside for 40 minutes of recess. I am eating with the children now, and hope to continue to do that throughout the year. I enjoy talking with the children in a more informal way than we have time for in the classroom. We will be rotating which table group sits at the "teacher table" so everyone has an opportunity to sit with me if they choose to, and sometimes certain friends are invited to the table to be sure they are eating their lunch.
After recess, we are getting quick drinks and I am reminding the children to use the restroom. I hate to type this, and I am not going to say it outloud because I don't want to jinx myself, but the children are really good about not asking all the time to go to the restroom. What happens most times is once one child asks, about ten more want to go as well. Usually the novelty wears off, but this class seems to be using the restroom when they need it and not just visiting for a break.
In the afternoon we have two more rotations in our reading block. During this time, we are reading a book and doing some shared writing. During shared writing, I am modeling writing, with the help of the students. The students have time to do a quick writing on their own. They have another rotation of independent work or a station, and I will call a guided group during that time. Then we meet once again on the carpet for a phonics lesson and another rotation of small group and station time or independent reading.
After that, we will have science or social studies. The science lessons are very hands-on problem solving type activities. We have extra support for these lessons in our reading instruction, as well as our Book a Day.
Another big change for our county is the expectation that children in kindergarten have thirty minutes of self-directed play. This is a time for the children to make choices in what and who they play with, and directing, with some help, their play. So far they have enjoying playing in the housekeeping area, building, drawing pictures, cutting and gluing, and using playdoh. It's such an important time of the day for the children to learn to get along, solve kid-size problems on their own, and have fun!
Our day ends with math station time, when I may call a small group/s or individual to work with me. This is a time for enrichment and extra practice.
Please check our blog each day. This is a great place to find out what is going on in our classroom so you can talk about it with your child.
Each week, on Thursday, we will have a class meeting. This is a time when we pass our Talking Fish and give compliments and thank-you's to our classmates. We also talk about any problems we are having as a group or individual that would like group help. I also have a short social emotional learning lesson. This week, I read the book The Golden Rule, by Ilene Cooper. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that talks about the golden rule. We learned that the golden rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Almost every religion and culture has it's own version of the golden rule, and some of these are shared in the book. In the story, a little boy and his grandfather are walking and see the golden rule on a billboard, which is how the discussion of this rule begins. The book also talks about thinking of others when you are making choices in what to do. We talked about the word empathy, and how important that is in making good choices. When you use your imagination and think of others, making a good decision will be more apparent and easy. We will return to this book several times throughout the year because it is so important to think about when you are part of a group. If you are looking for a great book to share with your family or give as a gift, I highly recommend this book!
Have a great evening and weekend!