Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Pumpkin Time!

It's fall and it's my FAVORITE season of the year. It's cold enough to wear sweatshirts on the weekend, but it's warm enough that I can still wear dresses with tights. Along with fall comes pumpkins galore. I'm dying to make some fun Halloween cookies that I found on pinterest. And as fun things go... I get to teach my students about plants for science. They love it! 

So the Oregon Science Standards for Kindergarten state that students will:  compare and contrast characteristics of living and non living things...and... Students also learn to compare and contrast characteristics of plants and animals. To introduce living things we use pumpkins. Here is an activity that we did after reading It's Pumpkin Time. The book goes through the plant life cycle. After that, I drew a pictorial input chart (life cycle poster) of how a pumpkin grows. I hand drew it as I went, but you could trace it lightly in pencil using an overhead projector. The day after I taught the cycle, I printed off the life cycle pictures and re-told the life cycle and posted a real picture for each stage. Then I passed out the pictures to students so they could add them as I re-told the cycle story again. Eventually I had some students "tell the story of how a pumpkin grows." They did a great job! 
To follow up with the life cycle, I took my students out to our school's garden and showed them the pumpkins that were grown by the kindergarten kids last year. They were so excited! Talk about realia!! To follow up our learning, on our 3rd day, we created the plant pop up life cycle. Students are so excited about this. The sample below is my example. I used the students' version as their cutting grade - wow...some kiddos need LOTS more cutting practice. Beware - before I copied the page for the class I cut and pasted the pictures so their orientation would work for the pop up - as they are they would be upside down. Sorry, I don't have the version I used. Anyhow, that's what's going on in our little class. Along with lots of other learning - things are moving along. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Moving along...one month down! Phew!!

This week finds me with 31 students. I have a pretty good class this year. I've had to touch bases with some parents for all sorts of things this month: lunches, supply fees, and behavior issues with their children. I'm pretty lucky to have parents be responsive to the call-for-help regarding their child's behavior. In case you're wondering...secretly stuffing your pocket full of my playdoh will get you written up and a phone call home - don't pocket my stuff! Also you probably shouldn't tell other kids to F- off! It' not nice!

I feel like I've been swamped in meetings, but I'm actually impressed at how well my kids have learned most of the class routines. Things have definitely settled down and we're becoming creatures of routines. Here's an update on how things are going.

Number spots: Most *about 27 out of 31 students can remember their number spot so lining up is easy. A few are confused about where to line up when it's lunch time and we don't stand on our number spot. I am happy to say that at recess my kids are practicing their counting daily as they have to count the paint stripes on the concrete to find their place to stand. I have memorized their numbers and can quickly discern (who and if) someone is still on the playground. Also, there is no issue with pushing/shoving in the line. Everyone has "their own" spot!

CHAMPS: I instituted the CHAMPS style of picture icons to use as a visual aid for class movement, talking, getting help, and it's going pretty good. The students are always eager to help me change the signs...maybe a little too eager. Maybe I should institute a CHAMPS helper of the day?

Quiet crown: I've been answering, "No it's not my birthday...it's my quiet crown" to all the adults who visit my room during my reading block. Upon starting my guided reading groups I was bombarded with students not in my group who were requesting my assistance. To nudge them away from me, toward independence in a gentle way, I grabbed one of my birthday crowns and on the spot told everyone that it was my quiet crown. I've been wearing it daily during groups so students know that I'm busy teaching and they should not approach. A couple of students try to prompt me to wear it any time I'm busy like checking a quick email or calling the office. I love how they take it to heart!

Choice time/inside recess routine: This is going lots better since I've instituted the magnet system. Students find their name on a mini-popsicle stick (with a magnet strip on the back), and they find an open spot to play. The dots below each choice limit the number of students at each activity, and it spreads out the noise so students are playing in all areas of the room. They have fewer people to share toys with and kids are doing really good at cleaning up "their" choice.

Calendar routine: We sit on number spots and this is going pretty good. The only thing that needs work is making room for helpers to come to the front. The kids are packed into the area pretty tight so making an "aisle" for helpers to come down is pretty tough. I do have space to spread them out a little...I might have to work on re-numbering my floor.

I taught "My *** Paper" as I found it on Pinterest and knew it was a must teach. The kids loved the lesson and I can't wait to use it to refer to their papers.

My struggle that remains is teaching library for 30 minutes a week. Our certified librarians were cut from schools so now instead of it being a 30 minute prep for me - I have to teach library skills. I found some great resources online, but still feel like it's all new to me and I'm not sure what I'm doing. Hopefully this gets better as the year progresses.

Last but not least, our midterm grading period os coming up soon...I have a whole new report card to wrap my mind around. Ok, I'm off to get work on that. TTYL! Laura