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!