Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Teachers have lives

Young children truly find it hard to believe that teachers have lives outside of school. Although at times I feel like I have no life since I devoted most of my time to school. Summer has been and will continue to be that time when I can get the balance back in my life. This is also a time for change.

So, what have I been up to this summer?
First of all, sleeping in! Its need to hear that awful alarm clock. I feel much more rested.

I started the summer bowling league. This will be my second summer being involved with that. My average is currently a 109. Not bad, but could use some improving.

Playing Bunco with the ladies at my church. Its actually a year long thing, but its just more fun during the summer.

The biggest change for me is that I am buying a house. That in itself keeps me busy with paperwork and arranging meetings

Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning. I have accumulated a lot of stuff and its time to purge some of it. Some of it will be dontated to Goodwill. Some will go back to school, and the rest....trash.

Reading. Both for pleasure and professional development. I've got a Bible study I am doing this summer and then I plan to reread Teaching with Intention.

Serving Others. I am trying something new this summer. Its called Angel Food Ministries.

Cooking and baking. Now that I have more time, I can experiment more and try new recipes. My newest this summer was my orange chicken dish. I modified the classic white sauce into an orange flavored one. The best was all natural. I used real fresh squeezed oranges instead of the juice from the carton.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prevent The Summer Learning Gap

Summer is a great time to relax, have fun, and enjoy the hot sun. The teachers love the summer as well, because it does provide us with a mental and physical break. Don't let that be your excuse for not taking some time to learn something new or practice an old skill. There are many ways that parents and kids can work together to prevent that summer learning gap that can be detrimental to kids' learning success in the coming school year.

#1- Read EVERDAY!!
I can't stress that enough. That is the most important and probably the most effective way to keep kids sharp over the summer. Keep in mind the age of your child and what books are appropriate. If you have a limited supply of books at home, take a trip to the library and check out some books for FREE or hit up Goodwill and buy a used paperback book for 59 cents. If you live in a neighborhood with many kids of the same age, organize a book club where everyone reads the same book and has discussion based on the book. As a parent you also need to set the example by reading everyday, even if it is reading your favorite magazine or the morning paper. Reading is reading!

#2- Find a hobby
Children who have hobbies are more likely to be motivated to learn. It could be rock collecting, gardening, model cars, camping, etc.

#3 Set aside a time for "school."
My mom always made sure we had a set time each day during the summer to practice skills from the previous year and start practicing some early skills for the upcoming school year. This may be as little as 30 minutes. Your child can complete a Summer Bridge Workbook (you can find these at Barnes and Noble) or just practice using and reading the sight words for the next grade. Most school districts have resources available to print out and use.

#4 Take little field trips
Pack up the bags and head to the beach. Be sure to bring a writing journal and record observations as a way to practice science skills. Go to a museum. Sometimes museums will offer summer specials for families.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The year comes to a close

June has arrived and the school year has come to an end. The last few days of school were filled with fun activities such as Kindergarten Water Day, our Crazy Hair Day play and our class slideshow. Saying goodbye to the kids was hard as always, but at least I will get to see the kids grow up at the school.

This summer I plan to focus my entries on how I organize my classroom and what materials I put in each area.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spark Student Interests: Integrate Science and Writing

For the past month we have studied insects and ocean animals. The kids really enjoyed the ocean animals unit, so I decided to have the students do simple research projects on their favorite ocean creatures. We had lessons on the difference between facts and opinions, learned about ways you can present information, and how to complete basic research.

The requirements were:
Choose 1 ocean animal to study
Use at least one source for your information
Write at least 3 facts about your animal
Present your project in an interesting way (including hand drawn pictures or printed pictures)

I was very pleased to see lots of creativity. Here are some examples of different kinds of projects.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Authored Book

For the past month we have been working hard on our authored book. This year the kids decided to do an all about me book, telling about what they like to do for fun. I am very proud of how hard the kids worked. While the kids worked, it gave me a real opportunity to observe how they move along through the writing process at their own pace. This Monday we mail everything off to StudenTreasures. In a few weeks the reprints should arrive. I can't wait for our publishing party near the end of May!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Phases of the Moon

In science our class is learning all about the moon. We have been reading books about what the moon looks like, how it orbits the Earth and how it goes through phases. Here is an activity that we did in class using just 3 oreo cookies and one spoon per child.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Narrative Writing

This week in writers workshop we are beginning our study on narrative writing. Our first few sessions will be about developing a character. The following lessons will be about creating a setting by using describing words and eventually creating the text to show sequence.

I always begin my narrative writing unit by creating a class story. Together we develop the main character of the story. As you can see below, we used a bubble map to describe our main character Goofy.

Once we had a good feel for the character we wrote our first draft of the story. Since this was our first true narratice piece I was in control of the pen, but the children gave me all the ideas to put on the paper. The story is pretty basic, but it will be the base for all the other lessons this next two weeks related to narrative writing.

You can read our class story below:

Throughout the next few days we are going to take our story, cut it into pieces and put it back in the correct sequence, which is essential in teaching students that stories must follow a sequence for the readers to understand. After we have a general sequence again, the students will help fill in the gaps by using more describing and action words. Our last step before publication will be to edit for puncuation, capitalization, and spacing. Once the story is complete, we will divide the story into segments and each pair of children will illustrate a page.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New for 2010

We are just now finishing the first half of kindergarten. That's a big hurdle to cross, but it is worth it. During the second half of the year we have more exciting activities and studies coming up. Here are just a few exciting things that will happen in our class in 2010.

Take Home Backpacks
Each backpack has a special theme (Insects, counting, colors, plants, Dr. Seuss, etc). There are a few books that will accompany a few activities. I try to have both literacy and math activities, and some even have science based activities. The activities will depend on the theme. The backpacks will go home on a rotating basis. Each child will have the opportunity to take home at one least backpack once a month. The key to making it a successful program is for all students to turn the backpacks back in to me on each Friday. This allows me to have plenty of time to refill the backpacks with the worksheets that go with each backpack. We will start the backpack rotations in mid-January.

Hands on Center Games
Kids just LOVE games and I have fun making them too. The kids will learn how to use the new games when they come to my small group table. Many of the games are similar to games at the store...except that the game cards are based on what we are learning and the boards are based on the themes we are studying. One of my favorite games that the kids will start using as soon as we get back is our Fishing For Words game. They will be using a real fishing rod to fish for words.

Computer Commanders (brand new this year!!)
Each day as the kids finish on the computer, they can turn in papers they complete. Each paper completed will equal one point. After earning 10 points they can visit the Treasure Box.

Class Garden (for the spring)
Each year my class plants flowers and food plants in our garden. Currently our class garden (the blue pool outside of the morning meeting room) is a real mess! So, if any parents would like to help us bring it back to life that would be great. I will need some help pulling the weeds and filling it again with some healthy soil. We usually start planting in March, so in February we will spend time cleaning up the garden so it will be ready in the spring. In the past we have planted marigolds, sunflowers, parsley, lima beans, grass. I still have not decided what exactly we will plant this year. I'd like some input from the kids first. If you would like to donate either supplies or your time/talent, just let me know by emailing, calling, or writing.

Field Trips
As a grade level we are hoping to go on a field trip this year. Due to the budget situation, we have to be very creative with our limited funds. We try as much as we can to have the student cost be as low as we can get it. Some of the field trips we have done in the past have been visiting Blue Springs, the Sanford Zoo, and going to a Jack Hartmann concert. The trip for this year is still up in the air. As soon as we sit down as a team and figure out the best option for the kids we will send home permission forms. When we go on the field trips we will need some parent chaperones. If you would like to be a chaperone (monitoring a small group of students) you MUST have a cleared volunteer form on file. If you still have not completed a volunteer form, NOW is the time to get that completed. The forms are valid for 5 YEARS! :)

Published Book
For the past 2 years my class has published a book through StudenTreasures. Both years the kids have chosen to write about animals. The children read books about animals, did research on the computer (as a class), and created charts about the animals. After the kids gathered all the information, each child wrote an information page about the animal of their choice. The children also illustrated their work. My work was compiling all the pages and sending it off to be bound in a hard back book. All families will have the opportunity to by copies of the class book for a fee. If you would like the see our past book, just ask and I will let you see one. The quality of the book is great. The best part is seeing how the kids go through the entire writing process. This project is a favorite for the kids and myself.

Book Buddies
Our Book Buddies will continue to visit us every few weeks. So far this year our book buddies have come to read with is, helped us with our Pumpkin day, and even spent some time with us during Writer's Workshop.

End of the Year Bash
I know it may seem really early to start thinking about it, but its never too early. As a kindergarten team we all sit down and plan a special day for the kids. Last year we had a water day and it was a real hit with the kids. The key to making the day a success is by having parents help out by sending in supplies and food, and by having lots of parent volunteers.

Summer Birthday celebration
We have several students who have summer birthdays. I will collaborate with those families to work out the details of how to make the last birthday celebration of all the summer birthdays a fun experience. We will plan the event sometime during the last two weeks of school.