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Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolving to get organized

How am I going to meet my organizational needs this year? That is the magic question that I am supposed to post about. Wish me luck!
First of all I need to narrow the field and find the things that need organized the most in my classroom, which is everything. I have spent countless hours trying to make it easier to organize. I recently moved a big shelf out of the hallway into my room to try to get more organized and I haven’t had time or opportunity to organize said shelves to actually make them more useful.  I also took over another cabinet in the hallway and so I have more space, but I inherited more junk (I mean resources, yes, resources…) with this take over. Um, I plan to steal, steal, steal ideas from other teachers via blogs and my beloved Pinterest to get more organized. I loved the landing station that Growing Kinders has in her classroom: Here is a copy of the picture she has posted. I’d love to make an area like this, I’ll try to update you all when I figure something out and I’ll post a picture of whatever I do.

I might not have the cute little drawer space, but I want to add a bulletin board and dry erase board and make a place on my shelves for pens and pencils and whatever. School doesn’t start again for us until the 7th, so I hope to get some serious organization done before that! Watch for the updates.
One of my friends posted that they hope to organize their file cabinet. Amen to that. I hope to organize by Letter, color, number, lessons, and themes! Then I hope to organize all the copies that I have had made that I haven’t used so that I (or whoever might be in this classroom) can find them and use them next year. If I don’t get organized I am going to have twice as many copies because currently I can’t find the stuff I do have! Seriously, I may be moving so I need it to be organized so I can move it over the summer. Or not. If I don’t MOVE, I hope to convince my principal to move my classroom. My teaching partner is across the street and it would make sense for us to be in the same building! It really would! So I need to be organized enough to move, no matter what. I have a wonderful cart full of drawers that the previous teacher left for me and I have to admit, I have not taken full advantage of it. I have the double cart with 20 drawers, but I only found pictures of a single one with 10 drawers, just imagine another one right next to this one in the same cart.

Here is a pin that could possibly become reality this year. If I could organize the rest of my files, I could keep my week in the dish rack. And I could keep the dish rack on the top of the cart. It's a thought. I'll update you all on what really happens. 
I need to try this with my desk area.  There are so many cords and tangles and, and, and... you get the picture. 

I am not sure if this is really part of this post or the technology post, but I hope to organize CD’s and other music/audio files on iTunes. This opens doors for ease in planning for centers, lessons, and more.
Every cupboard, shelf, file, etc., that I inherited when I took this job is currently in disarray.  Some of it was organized, very organized, when I arrived. But being a new teacher who didn’t know what she wanted or how she wanted to teach it, it got all fumbled and be-fuddled and well, just a good old-fashioned mess. So it all needs to be looked through, picked through, organized and re-organized.
Not very precise. Boo. It’s easier to start and know where the stopping place is when there is a precise plan. But seriously there is too much to plan too deeply. I’ll try to update before too long on progress and on what organization is realistic and what I am going to just let go of for this year. I can’t do it all.
I almost forgot: I resolve to get some help with my blog. I love my blog. And I hate my blog. I struggle every time change a picture or do anything different, it never comes easy to me. I want a cute little image to link when I link up and to put on my blog.  I have to admit that I was more than a little bit jealous when I saw that  Mrs. Bartel's School Family's blog had been RACKed. I am so happy for Alyce and her blog is beautiful now. :) Love it. But I wish mine were a little more professional and that I had the where-with-all to keep it that way. So... I hope to find someone to help me organize this mess of a blog into a great Kinder-blog!
I almost forgot to link up! Today's linky is: Second Grade Shenanigans and it is all about organization. Happy reading and linking.

Technology, linky's, and the future....

The end of the calendar year. Every year I take time to reflect on the goals from last year: which ones I met, what I never worked on, what I am still working toward. I actually don’t know if I kept my resolutions from last year. I call them aspirations, but some I am not-so-crazy about and I do sometimes have to “resolve” to do them. If my goals don’t inspire me, I am probably not going to work toward them. I want to link up in a linky party about how we use or aspire to use technology in the classroom.
What are my favorite ways to use technology in the classroom?
Calendar time. I use the promethean board every day during calendar time. Every month I download a calendar from Promethean planet and tweak it to meet our class needs. We add a daily schedule at the very beginning or this teacher would never get her class to specials on time. Twice a week we have computer lab at 8:30, which is just after the pledge and morning announcements, so after being repeatedly retrieved by the computer lab teacher, I moved the daily schedule to the beginning of calendar so it pops up first when I open the calendar. I always open the calendar when I get to school in the morning. I added a page with our “popcorn” words.  The term “popcorn words” actually goes with their Saxon phonics, but I decided to apply it to all site words throughout the year. The popcorn words that we work on daily are the ones in the reading curriculum, plus a few that we read frequently that I threw in, and number words up to ten. We now have so many popcorn words that I moved the number words and gave them their own page.  During calendar we graph the weather, do math (the calendar I download has a ten frame with a die that rolls and children roll the dice and put the amount in the frame and when two students have done this, we write the addition sentence). We have a wish-you-well page on our calendar.  I put some warm-fuzzy words at the top: good thoughts, love and prayers, well wishes.  At the bottom we write the name of the students who are missing that day. I tell them to think good thoughts about them and that if they say prayers at home it is okay to say a prayer for their classmate. I try to be careful to keep my own beliefs out of it. Calendar covers: months of the year, days of the week, the monthly calendar, weather and graphing, math addition, letter recognition and sounds, popcorn words, well-wishes for absent students.
I use the promethean board to help students transition from one activity to another and to get their wiggles out. I have found that centers that take 10 minutes to clean up, take about 2 ½ minutes to clean up if everyone else is on a bear hunt while they are cleaning up. So I have started putting on an activity or song. I try to pick a class favorite, it motivates. I found a shape song on youtube that I added recently. It has been hard to add actions though. On the counting songs (funwithteaching has the best songs) we do a reaching motion for each number, switching hands for each number. We also do this for the alphabet song (also funwithteaching). For the count by 5’s we do arm curls (thanks Steph), and for the counting by 10’s we do an X with our arms and then uncross, alternating motions for each number.
I do most of my writing on the Promethean because I don’t have a dry erase white board in my class, and chalkboards (which I have an abundance of)… well, ugh. So for handwriting activities or samples or demonstrating what is next, I use the white board.
I also use the Promethean as a big screen for movies and surfing the web. I learned my lesson about freezing the screen when I am searching and only bringing it up if it is appropriate. Don’t worry, kiddos didn’t get an X-rated view, but it wasn’t what I had in mind either! We look up word definitions when we are reading, I use it for Social Studies: maps of our state, where are places located on a map, and finding Scholastic videos. I rely on Scholastic quite a bit.  BrainPop is great for both science and social studies, but our school doesn’t have BrainPop. I miss it from student teaching and before.
I use the web all the time: for lesson plans, for research, for projects (really, I don’t know how people taught before Pinterest). I download much for centers from TpT, freebies off of blogs, free printouts on Pinterest.  I recently received from my principal a very cool little flipchart of CCS for OK for Kindergarten, but before that I went to the OK Dept. of Education and compared lesson plans to the Common Core Standards.  I literally could not teach without the internet.
My school district can’t quite make up their minds about how they feel about technology. I can’t get on their network with my laptop and they don’t provide teachers with laptops. This was really foreign to me since the schools I interned in and the school I student taught in provide laptops to teachers, and some provided laptops for students. Coming from very forward thinking schools in regard to technology, I am a little bit lost as to how to continue to bring technology into the classroom when I feel so stunted myself.
New Year’s Resolutions in regard to my classroom and technology:
In 2013 I want to bring in iPods for audio centers to enhance the reading/literacy centers. I need to get off my duff and do the work and write a proposal for Donorschoose so I can do this. In the 2013-2014 school year I want to write a proposal or a grant and get iPads in the classroom to use for centers and small groups.  OH! And I want to find a partner class somewhere far from us. I’d like to start in the USA, not necessarily the 48 though, and Skype with them and learn about their lives through the wonder of Skype. Those are my biggest classroom aspirations for 2013 and the 2013-2014 school year. I want to add iPods during the current (2012-2013) year, and be ready to add the rest in the next school year.

Here is the link to Growing Kinders linky party about the current use of technology and how we are resolving to use technology in the next year: Growing Kinders. Read it, link up if it applies, read other blogs, become inspired. Happy New Year. My challenge is try to figure out how to register for the give aways. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Kindergarten

We finished the week before our last week together by having a "Cool Beans" party. Students earned a cool beans reward by filling up the bulletin board with 20 cool beans. Students can earn "big beans" by filling their good behavior charts on their desks, filling the little can of "cool beans" for good behavior as a whole class or by having especially outstanding behavior that goes above and beyond what is expected of them. Students voted on having a pajama party or watching a movie and having popcorn. They chose to watch a movie and eat popcorn! This won by ONE vote! So their next "Cool Beans" reward will be to have a pajama day.  Students watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on Friday afternoon before dismissal. Hooray Class! Thanks for earning your reward!

We had a busy week before Christmas with very little "normal" academic activity! We had special centers to prepare gifts for parents, we worked on report card assessments, we finished decorating our room and our hallway bulletin board, we donated our cans to the food bank and did activities with the other classes at Academy C.

Students made reindeer ornaments for parents using their thumbprint to make the reindeer's head. Students decorated and wrote cards for their parents! Some writing ideas were provided but some students chose to spell out their sentiments phonetically which makes this teacher's heart happy.  I try to remind them often that sounding out words and spelling them how they sound is the sign of a good writer and a good reader. So dear parents, if your child brings home writing and cards that are spelled the way they sound, please encourage them, they are trying to learn to test the waters and not ask the teacher every time if they spelled something correctly.  If I ask them to kid-write something, I generally provide encouragement but not feedback or corrections at this stage of our writing.  As the year progresses we will revise and edit our writing to be spelled correctly, but first I want them to venture into those uncharted waters and TRY to make words to write things that they can read because they wrote it how it SOUNDS. Students also decorated brown bags to put their parent gifts in.

We've been working hard throughout the month of December to decorate our classroom! As students come into class in the mornings they have done a lot of coloring with marker, doing their best work, and trying to stay within the lines. This may sound like "busy work" but an important Kindergarten skill is strengthening fine motor skills through activities like coloring and cutting. We cut out ornaments, Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, Christmas bells, and more. Asking students to color inside the lines helps me assess how much fine motor control students have and if they can keep the marker or crayon within the lines. My Kindergarten students are always expected to color inside the lines, but during December I reminded them to do their best work so that everyone would see what a great job they did.

We collected food for the food bank and put it underneath our tree in our classroom. We collected 49 items for donation. I am so pleased that our class participated so enthusiastically! Thank you students and parents!

We finished our Christmas tree sequencing project. Students had to cut out the strips, lay them out in a descending pattern and glue them to the paper. After gluing down the strips for the trees, a star at the top and the tree trunk, students added snow using white paint and a Q-tip for a "paintbrush." We also made "geome-trees" to go with our geometry unit in math. Students cut and colored the 2D shapes, cut them out and used them to make a Christmas tree: green triangle tree, brown rectangle stem, many shapes to color inside of the circle shaped tree decorations. The geome-trees were displayed between the strip trees on the board.

Students decorated "Christmas trees" on Thursday morning with the rest of Academy C classes. Each student received a waffle cone and covered it with green frosting.  Then the students decorated the trees with red and green M&M's, chocolate chips, sprinkles of all kinds, and topped it with a non-candy inedible star.  Trees were set on dixie cups to steady them and keep them straight on their plate, but some trees still toppled and fell to the ground. Students had a wonderful time decorating their Christmas trees.

Thursday we opened gifts from Ms. Horn because there would be no extra time on Friday. Each student received a new book to read with their family. We also had the privilege of watching the 3rd grade Christmas program in the Jr. High auditorium on Thursday afternoon. I am proud to say that Ms. Horn's Kindergarten class did a FANTASTIC job of being polite and respectful and watching the performance quietly and with good manners. What a great class we have!!

Friday we had our Christmas party and were out of our classroom all day!! We went to the Methodist church as we were expected to be off-campus all day because the Academy C classrooms were getting much needed new carpet. As teachers set up the projector to watch the Polar Express, students sang Christmas carols. After the movie, students had a short recess, ate lunch, learned about Christmas Around the World, and enjoyed the marvelous snacks and goodies that each family brought donations for. Thank you so much for participating and making this a wonderful event!

I wanted to express my profound gratitude for the parents and students in my class. I appreciate you. Parents, thank you for the privilege of teaching your child.  Thank you for entrusting them to me each day, I know it is an honor to be trusted with such an important member of your family, and I do my best to help them feel like an important part of our class family.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that your family is healthy, safe, and well.  Many blessings in the new year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Profound Sadness

I wasn't going to post about this, but that was when I was not feeling overwhelmed. Tonight, scrolling down fb, I was completely overwhelmed with a desire to cry and a deep need for Jesus to take me in his arms and hold me. One thought that comes through my head is that it's a lot of pressure on the rest of us teachers, the kind of hero that teacher was protecting all her students and giving her life for them.  I feel pretty lowly and incompetent when I hear about that. I have thought about what I would do for my own children, I am quick to say that I would take a bullet for my daughters, but the truth is, I am not so sure that is true. I love my girls, that is true, and I love my kindergarten students. *sigh* I don't know what I would really do in such a situation until I have to face it. I don't know the families in Connecticut who lost so much. But their tragedy has touched the nation.

I would also like to say that I am not a little freaked out, but that is also a lie. I have to say, the door to my classroom is locked now. I kept my door locked when school first started. Then I started to relax. But now my door is locked again. I just want my kids to have a fighting chance if something inappropriate happens. If you are a parent, I promise to do what I can. Parents are always welcome in my classroom, just check in through the office please.

I have a lot of other thoughts about safety and gun control and all of that, but not tonight. I just decided not to ignore something that saddens me so deeply.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My 12 in '12

My friend Alyce from Mrs. Bartel's School Family is taking part in a Linky party, linking up to share our favorite 12 of 2012. I think it is an awesome idea, and so instead of trying to organize or put up the tree, I am typing away about my 12 in '12. This idea is from Miss Kindergarten and A Teeny Tiny Teacher so don't forget to go their pages, read their 12 and connect with other blogs and finally, to link up too.

All you have to do is think back at your favorites in 2012 and add a few pictures. What a fun way to remember the year, huh!? You can use these prompts if you'd like, or just type up your 12 favorite things! 
12. Favorite movie you watched:
11. Favorite TV series:
10. Favorite restaurant:
9. Favorite new thing you tried:
8. Favorite gift you got:
7. Favorite thing you pinned:
6. Favorite blog post:
5. Best accomplishment:
4. Favorite picture:
3. Favorite memory:
2. Goal for 2013:
1. One Little Word:
How to link up:
Create a blog post sharing your favorite 12 things in 2012. Add the button to your post and link it to this blog post. Then link up below, making sure to link directly to your post, not just your blog.
Here are my faves:

12. Favorite movie I watched: Ummm.... I am coming up blank. I did enjoy watching The Odd Life of Timothy Green with my little Punky.  

11. Favorite TV series: Parenthood.  All my friends post about this show and I finally started watching it on Netflix. The redhead and I like to watch it after the Punky-girl goes to bed. We are addicted to Parenthood.

10. Favorite Restaurant. We discovered this little place that is halfway between here and there.  That's right, halfway between our home now and the home that we moved away from. Pueblo Nuevo.  Good mexican food, friendly service. 

9. Favorite New thing that I have tried. Is it cheating to say teaching? I love teaching and I AM a first year teacher. I don't wake up EVERY day and think, "yes, I am so glad I spent all this money going back to college..." but just about every day. I love experiencing the classroom and being the teacher. Yes I do. :)

8. Favorite gift I got. Hmmm. I got so many cool gifts this year. I got great graduation gifts and great birthday gifts and I've received countless gifts from family and friends since we've moved here.  I don't know if I can choose a favorite.

December 12: I am editing the gift section. Last night I was cleaning, trying to get unpacked enough to put up a Christmas tree, and I found something that the Punkinseed gave me when we moved. This HAS to be my best gift this year! Two coupons for a one hour nap (I think that means she won't wake me?!) and two coupons for a 30 minute massage from the Punky-girl. Such a sweet and thoughtful gift. The best! (The numbers on the coupons indicate how many times I can use them).

7. Favorite thing that I pinned. This was a tough one since I joined Pinterest just a year ago and have gone crazy pinning since then. Quotes and sayings always stand out but this might be the best one I have:

Hard to remember

6. Favorite blog post. It think it is: Common Core and Christmas because it feels good to explain the standards, the shift in what students need to learn, and to show what is happening in our classroom. It is also really recent so I still have a warm fuzzy place in my heart for it. 

5. Best Accomplishment. Well I have two. or three. Graduating from College with honors.  Getting a teaching job. The third one could possibly be packing up my family and moving away from everything and everyone that we know. It was a brave thing to do. It might have been rather stupid, but I am trying to look at the brave part. 

4. Favorite picture. Well, it's not on here. My favorite picture is from the end of the summer when my family came to my house to celebrate birthdays and there is this one picture of Myself, Red, and Punk and we are all smiling and full of promise and hope about the future. Love that one. Here is the one that I have in the computer that I like so much because I say that it depicts "the real me." 

3. Favorite Memory. Again, since it's been such a year of change, I find it hard to figure out the best one. Maybe it is the little party that the students and room parents gave me at the end of student teaching last year. That was quite a day. 

2. Goal for 2013. Hmmph. I am not sure about that one. To spend a quiet time with God every day and to read something that is food for my soul like a meditation book or devotional and to discuss the readings with my girls.

1. One little word. Grace. Amazing Grace.... how sweet the sound. When I am aware of my spiritual condition, I am much more able to receive the grace that God has so freely given to me.

So link up, read and repost. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Common Core and Christmas

Sometimes it can be difficult to see the big picture when your child is bringing home things that seem disconnected to what it seems they should be learning. Take the domino math for instance. There could be concern that your child is being asked to do addition too early unless you know what the actual expectation is. Students put the dominoes face down on the desk, when they turn one over, they place is above the box on their paper. First the count the domino dots on the left side and then create the number in the box. Next they do the same thing on the right side of the domino and place the number in the right side of the box. Finally, students count all the dots, the dots on the left side and on the right side of the domino and then put the number in the box on the right side of the paper on the right side of the = sign. It may be difficult for some to write the number and I have been asking them to correct the numbers if they write them backwards.  Each desk has a number line taped to it so that students can see what the numbers look like and can count up to the number if they do not have number recognition yet. Students do practice some addition in this activity and they are expected to add and subtract fluently within 5 before the end of Kindergarten, but because they have the domino on the paper in front of them, the activity mostly involves counting. Students must be able to write numbers 0-20 and to be able to count 0-100 by the end of Kindergarten, so the more counting they can do, the better! At this late date in the year, students know that if Ms. Horn hands work back, they should correct it and put it back in the basket. The biggest "pros" of this activity include increasing familiarity of + and = signs and what it means to join numbers together, connecting the concept that the dots they count can become numbers and the numbers can be joined together are huge pros in this activity.  Students are not doing a lot of addition yet, they are mostly learning about counting and number orders. Connecting this to addition is an important key in Kindergarten. I want to encourage everyone to look at the Common Core Standards or Education of the State of Oklahoma. Here is the link to the standards. Scroll down to the standards, and then click on Kindergarten. It is on the same line at the Pre-K standards following a slash. This will open a pdf file that lists the Kindergarten Common Core Standards.  Looking at these Common Core Standards will help parents understand how much Kindergarten has changed since you were in Kindergarten. 

Cheesy, I know, but I could not resist these lights when I was in search of lights to decorate our classroom with. And the picture is not the best, but I hope you get you a glimpse of what they look like! The students have not seen these yet, I could not find a long enough extension cord in the morning, so I put them up last night after all students were gone. The truth is that for me, I am more excited about the beautiful tree pictures that are posted up on the chalkboard. 

In the hallway we have a bulletin board we are responsible for. I plan to add to it all month. I put up a fireplace hearth. Students are coloring and cutting out stockings and we are adding those as they finish them, we are also adding silver bells at the top and gifts at the bottom. So far, we don't have a lot of progress, but here is how it looked when I came home last night. 

I was going to try to find a Christmas tree to put up in our room that we could decorate with all the things we have been working on, but I decided against it because of how small our classroom is. I made a tree on the bulletin board using green bulletin board paper.  We put our ornaments on it and hung our bells at the top of the bulletin board. Beneath the tree are our cans for the food bank. Please keep bringing donations until the 19th! 

I put up clings on the windows.  We really only have one "open" window, a window that does not have a screen on it, or an air conditioner in it. I put most of the clings on the window and some clings on the window on the door to our classroom. Here is the photo of the clings on the window. It was cold when I put them up, so I don't know if they will be on the window Monday morning when we get to school. It's a mystery. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Orders are due

Book orders are due. I will make the order Sunday evening.  Parents can order books online over the weekend. You will need a code in order for the order to be credited to our class. The code is: L8JNH. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The good, the bad, and the ugly....

Ever since Thanksgiving break, things in Ms. Horn's class have not been the best. The students came back from break restless and ready for Christmas break. Ms. Horn came back with a hum-dinger of a cold and not feeling very well at all. We practiced, and practiced and practiced. We have practiced all five rules frequently the last week and a half. Many student have had to fill out tickets. At recess we bring out tickets, hold court and carry out sentences. Sentences of practicing rules, and explaining what needs to change, and giving up a few minutes of play time.

In spite of all of this, the students did a fantastic job performing their Christmas program on Tuesday night, the 4th of December. Congratulations to all Academy C students on a fantastic performance at the program. Ms. Horn made a huge error at the program.  I didn't put my foot down about all students staying with our class until the program was over. Overlooking this courtesy allowed us to interfere with the older grades' performances. I am saddened about this and must humbly apologize to the other teachers, parents and most importantly to the students who were performing. Please forgive my oversight. Your performance was outstanding!

Christmas spirit is invading our room as students color room decorations and Ms. Horn gets a tree up and decorates the room. I decided not to put a Christmas tree in our classroom this year and am making one that covers a bulletin board. I have it up and topped with a star. One of my star's (my red-headed child) added some sparkle to the star this afternoon.  A photo of the finished version will follow soon. We are not putting toys under our tree, but food donations for the food bank.  We will keep track of how much food we gather and will keep it in our classroom until it's time to deliver it to the food bank.

Students are studying geometry this week.  That's right.... shapes.  I took advantage of this and got out those handy-dandy shape bingo cards I completed just before the Thanksgiving break and we played shape bingo one day. Tomorrow students will cut out shapes and assemble them into a robot. There are circles, rectangles, triangles and one trapezoid on their papers. They will color, cut and glue to make their own unique shape creation. We will also we working on position words: over, beside, above, on, below, etc. in the days and weeks to come.

Many students would benefit from handwriting practice. I am printing sheets for them to take home for practice and making copies to laminate to practice in the classroom. I will rotate this activity into their centers.

Center time is without a doubt the best time of the day for students. They have the opportunity to play and be social. Some centers are harder and more serious than others, but students love them all. They use their "level 2" voice. I got this from another school's plan and I am not sure what all the levels are. So I kind of "wing-it" sometimes. Here is my definition: Level 2 is a whisper voice. It doesn't have to be a full whisper, you can use a little bit of voice and I demonstrate is daily. It is that soft voice that only your closest neighbors can here. So here is where I went from there: level 1 is your "silent whisper," the one that only you can hear but that helps you when you are reading to yourself or thinking. Level 0 is no voice at all. No voice at all, is no sound, no hums, no whispers, no singing. Silence. Now... going the other direction from the level 2 voice. Level 3 voice is your speaking voice, you use it in every day speech and to answer questions and in conversation. Level 4 is your recess voice when you need to be a little louder for your friends to hear you. Level 5 is your screaming emergency voice. This voice should only be used for emergencies, if someone fell and is injured, if you are sick and hurt or scared. No other times. This voice shouldn't be used at school because it is fun to pretend to be sick or scared or hurt. So that is our voice scale. I don't know if that is what they all were in the school I got them from, but for desk work with a partner, rug discussions with partners, and center-time, we use our level 2 voice. If students use their level 2 voice during centers, I can hear the students read in the group I am reading with. When I eat lunch with students, I always try to ask them what their favorite part of their school day is and without a doubt, every student says, "Center time!" Currently we have a playdough center and they can do whatever they want after they form the letters of their name, block center, sensory table (filled with beans right now), ABC center that has literacy games on the promethean board, a Math center that currently has "domino math."
domino math

Students turn over a domino, put the number of the first side of the domino in one box on their paper and the number that is equal to the dots on the other half of the domino in the next box, then they have to join the two numbers to see what the total is. We have a housekeeping center, reading center, art/painting where students can paint with watercolor, and for Christmas we are adding an art center for cut and paste projects. The first one we are adding is a Christmas tree made of paper strips and glued to another paper.  Then students can paint white dots to make snow on their paper using Q-tips for a paint tool.
using the "phones" to hear themselves read

We also have a writing center. Usually I have students write a sentence related to the story and illustrate it. Most of the time I save these for handwriting samples. Students are expected to do their personal best on all work, but especially when they are working in the handwriting center.

Well, after reading what I just wrote, I am optimistic about the rest of the week, the rest of the month. Here we go.... Kindergarten in Ms. Horn's class. We are the best of the best and we are a fantastic class. Hats off to center time.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Liebster Award

11 Questions from Alyce at Mrs. Bartel's School Family:
1. What is your favorite classroom "tool"?
My favorite classroom “tool” is the internet and the Promethean board and that I can access just about any information I want to pass to my kiddos.
2. What is your most successful classroom management strategy?
Strategies I have adapted from Whole Brain Teaching.  I use some of the ideas under the tab: 1st steps. I say “class” and students say “yes.” I say it in different ways, like “classity-class,” and they have to respond in like, such as “yessity-yes.” Sometimes I say “yo class” and they have to say “yo yes.” Whole brain teaching is where I took my five classroom rules from also. I took what my cooperating teacher and her teaching partner used last year almost exactly, I changed the order a little. My five rules are: 1) Listen when the teacher is talking. 2) Follow directions quickly. 3) Raise you hand to speak. 4) Be safe, be honest. 5) Respect others, respect yourself, respect your school. When students don’t follow the rules, they have to practice them. We just started a ticket system to go with the rules. This just started today so I don’t know yet how it will work. I was spending a lot of class time writing down names of students and what rules they have to practice. Starting today, students had to “pull a ticket” and fill out their name, circle the rule they need to practice, and circle a sentence that describes their situation. Today, a LOT of tickets were given out. One student got 4 tickets. Another student found it to be intimidating and revealed to her how many times she really does break the rules in a day.
3. When did you start blogging?
I began this Kindergarten blog in September of 2012. I have done some personal blogging previously because I love to write, it is cathartic for me. Somehow blogging is cathartic.
4. What grade do you teach and how long have you taught this grade?
I teach Kindergarten and am a first year teacher. I student taught in Kindergarten and loved it.  I love teaching Kindergarten!
5. How do you incorporate technology in your classroom?
Currently I incorporate technology by using the promethean board a lot. I download a calendar from Promethean Planet every month and adapt it to our needs. I use the internet to search for projects all the time and, of course, Pinterest. Pinterest, support using Skype, and interschool communication are not necessarily incorporating technology into the classoom. Calendar is the biggest daily use of technology. We use technology to look up information and find pictures and on rare occasions we might listen to Pandora.  We use YouTube for wiggle songs.  I love the funwithteaching videos, but lately we’ve been grooving to “If You’re a Kid” and “The Color Song” by hookedonphonics. I love the color song, I make the kids play their guitars, keyboards, and drums.
6. What is your favorite professional book?
Harry and Rosemary Wong’s First Days of School.
7. What do you like to do in your free time?
I am a single Mom and a first year teacher in a new town that is over 300 miles away from my friends and family. I don’t have free time and I don’t really remember what it was like! If I did have free time I would read a novel (or two or three), go to the stock car races, play games with my girls, craft or scrapbook.
8. Do you give your students a present for Christmas? If so, what is it?
I got my students books from Scholastic. I think every child in the world should get picture books for Christmas no matter what their age and Scholastic has some really good deals.
9. Do you have traditions or rituals in your classroom? If so, what is it?
I don’t have any real traditions yet. We do cheers (is that Kagan?) and one of the biggest morale boosters for my kids is the silent cheer. Especially at times when they are not sure if they should be applauded or not and then I do a silent cheer for them (since it’s silent I can do it in about any setting) and they light up like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.  The tradition I would like to start is to eat lunch with students for their birthday.
10. What is your favorite book to read aloud?
Just one book? Seriously?! I  can’t pick. Chrysanthemum is one. I love all of the Froggy books, and I love to do “voices” and I have the students “read” with me whenever it says “Fr-r-o-o-o-g-g-g-y-y-y-y!” Oh... I almost forgot! Junie B. Jones is great to read aloud and I just read Spencer’s Adventures: Hair in the Air and the students LOVED IT!
11. What is your favorite subject to teach?
It’s all amazing in Kindergarten, but I love, love, love reading and teaching reading; which is pretty all-inclusive in Kindergarten. Reading it is.

11 Random Facts about Me:
1. I love my little red dachshund and my old fat cat.
2. Artichoke dip is a little bit like heaven. We have to have it in order for Christmas to arrive at our house.
3. I did daycare for almost 5 years so I could be home with my now sixteen year old daughter. I met some amazing people that way, and the last year I did daycare I kept almost all teacher’s children. (and this is how I met Alyce at Mrs. Bartel's School Family!)
4. I LOVE the dirt track races!
5. I love Harley Davidson motorcycles and aspire to own one in the future.
6. Chocolate chip cookies are wonderful and can cure just about anything.  Fortunately for me, I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.  (Little known fact).
7. Math is not my friend.
8. I never thought I would be a school teacher because I wasn’t a very good student so I waited until I was 40 to go to school for Elementary Education.
9. I am a single Mom to 3 amazing girls and one phenomenal grandson and now a granddaughter (and a Son-in-law) have joined our gang.
10. I love going to see my students every day.
11. I like to draw. I am not super talented, but a little, and it is fun to be artsy.

11 Questions for my nominees:
1. When did you start blogging?
2. What is your favorite holiday?
3. Do you give your students gifts? If so, what?
4. Do you have rituals or traditions in your classroom?
5. What is your favorite teacher store?
6. What is your favorite genre of music?
7. What book do you recommend reading for enjoyment?
8. What book do you recommend reading for professional development?
9. Where in the United States do you recommend for a vacation or get-away?
10. What is your best classroom management strategy?
11. How do you use technology in the classroom?

Blogs I am nominating:

1.Nancy Nolan's Kindergarten
2. KC Kindergarten Times
Um.... I can't find any more blogs to nominate. I pin a lot of things on Pinterest and I have added some blogs to my favorites and I have a few I follow but I don't have many that have less than 200 followers. The one I have (Nancy Nolan's Kindergarten) could be a case of not reading the numbers right, but I am pretty sure there are only 46 followers listed. It looks like it should have many, many followers because it is a very fine blog. So check it out! Perhaps I can add to my nominees as I find more blogs to follow that have under 200 followers. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks

To celebrate 50 days of school we did a 50’s theme all day. I dressed as much as I could in a 50’s style. We started the morning off with tracing the numbers 1-50 and color word recognition by coloring 50’s era jukeboxes. Throughout the day we listened to music from the 50’s and did the twist to get our wiggles out. In the afternoon we had a 50th day of school party with the other Academy C classes.  We practiced hula-hooping in the street, had root beer floats, learned to play marbles, and tried to limbo.

In October we also did some science and discovery with a pumpkin. First we cleaned it out, feeling the “guts” (the pulp) and pulling the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin.  Then I took the pumpkin home.  I baked half of the pumpkin shell and roasted the seeds.  Later in the week we ate pumpkin muffins made from the roasted pumpkin. About half of the students liked the pumpkin seeds. When we had the muffins, about half of the class liked them. All of the students enjoyed touching the pulp and reaching into the pumpkin. 

In November we got ready for Thanksgiving by participating in a family project to disguise a turkey.  Students and their families designed and disguised their turkeys so that maybe it wouldn’t get eaten for Thanksgiving. One of our handwriting assignments was to fill in a speech bubble with the sentence “I am not a turkey.” This was a directed, teacher led assignment that we did using “my turn/your turn.”

Another Thanksgiving handwriting assignment we did involved brainstorming the things that we were thankful for. Together as a class we thought up the things we were thankful for and then made a list.  Students then had the opportunity to write something they were thankful for that was on the list or to write words that they sounded out phonetically. I loved the things my students were thankful for.  One student was thankful for our class, another was thankful for fruit, and another student was thankful for God. Students wrote the word they were thankful for on a leaf and so I made a tree on a bulletin board.  We had a “thankful bulletin board.”

The week of Thanksgiving we read with Ms. Butts’ third grade class. The third grader's came down and read to us in our classroom. Even Ms. Butts got in on the fun!

We also played “shape bingo” and had the privilege of watching the high school perform “Beauty and the Beast” on Tuesday morning.

Academy school sold fundraiser t-shirts for the big “bedlam” game this past weekend.  I found a really beautiful model to show us the OU shirt. This is my 3rd grader. 
Someone sent me a small donation for our classroom. I got so excited that I forgot that I was going to get Christmas supplies for our classroom with any donations toward classroom needs. I got some teacher stamps that I have been needing, and I also bought us an ant farm.

Monday, October 29, 2012

50 days of school!

This week we will practice the saxon phonics reading list instead of having a paper book.  Students are expected to read the list every night with a parent and have their paper signed. I will check them daily and if they read and have their paper signed five times in a row, they will get a sticker.

Tomorrow is our big 50th day of school party. In the afternoon we will have rootbeer floats, practice hula-hoops and try to limbo. Students are encouraged to dress up in 50's attire. We are still needing ice cream cups (12 in a package) and plastic cups.  Thank you for your support!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tigers Rock!

So much has happened in our classroom since the last time I posted. We had review week right before fall break, we had parent/teacher conferences and then fall break! The week before parent/teacher conferences we wrapped up our apple unit and about half of our class tasted the homemade applesauce.  About half of those students liked it! I was so pleased that they tried something new! During the review week before the break we read with Ms. Butt’s third grade class.  First we read to the third graders and then the third graders read to us. This was great practice for our class.
The first nine weeks is over and students have already learned so much. There is always more to learn. We have reading homework nightly now. Your student is bringing home a paper book that they should read every evening and a parent should sign it.  Every day I will check for a signature to see if students read at home. When students read five nights in a row (M-TH and once on the weekend) I will give them a sticker.
We will continue to sound out words and unblend them and put them back together. We raise our fingers high (I tell them to get out their tapping fingers) and they “tap” each sound in the word. Then we blend the sounds to read the word. We also have sight words we are learning. If you need flashcards to help your student, please let me know.  If your student struggles identifying the letters or the letter sounds, I made some flashcards and I would be happy to send a set home if you let me know. Some nights students will bring home an extra paper book to read. Please watch for the books and help your student succeed. I appreciate all your work! 
Every day we spend time learning together on the carpet and I expect students to have their eyes on what we are learning and to participate. If we do a wiggle song, students face the Promethean board and watch the screen, do the actions and sing the song. I firmly believe that students learn more when they engage their whole body.

This week we added in a center about pumpkins. Students can use the balance scale to compare different pumpkins and gourds, to “weigh” them using marbles in one cup and the pumpkin in the other, to measure their girth with a string and to observe and draw them. The students have been fairly excited about it.  I have some of my favorite pumpkin activities planned for next week. One day in centers a couple girls used up all their blocks and started using another container to build up their castle! I love the way they work hard at having fun!  

At the beginning of the school year I sent home notes about water bottles. I am posting a picture of one student's bottle. This is a nice sport top water bottle. Of course, not every students has to bring one and they don't have to look like this.  The top is what I want you to take note of. Water bottles need to have a sport top lid. They should not open up with a pour spout.  Water bottles need to go home on Fridays and get washed thoroughly. During the week we rinse them and refill them so they need a good, thorough wash on the weekend. Students need to be able to drink plenty of water. There are not enough opportunities for students to get drinks throughout the day, and they learn better when they are hydrated.

Friday, the 26th of October, we had a fire prevention demonstration with our students. They went through a little Farm Bureau house and escaped safely thanks to the Guymon Fire Department’s great teaching on fire safety. Students have been excited about this all week long. This was a fun learning activity on a flexible Friday.
We took advantage of flexible Friday and did some different learning activities. We played “around the world” with letter names. This is when students sit in a circle on the floor and one student is chosen to stand behind the other students.  I flash a letter card and the first of the two students to say the letter name moves to stand behind the next student. It keeps going around the circle.  Occasionally a student makes it all the way around the world! Today I could tell which students have been working on letter identification at home. Some of them are getting really fast at naming the letters!
In the afternoon the cross country team came past Academy and classes were encouraged to make signs or banners to cheer on the cross country team. We worked really hard to make a banner for our class. It says: Hands Down, Tigers Rock! The students’ hands are pointing down and each student signed their name by their handprint. I am really proud of the work the students put into this and their enthusiasm for our school.  They also chanted “Tigers rock! Tigers rock!” until I made them stop because it was too loud and student’s could not hear the directions given to them.

What a great bunch of Guymon Tigers we have in Kindergarten! Enthusiasm is contagious. I see this every day.  When I am excited about what we are learning, so are my students! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Cool Beans!"

This week in our classroom we have been learning about apples. Students brought apples and we graphed them by color. One day we tasted them and then we graphed our favorite kind of apple (Golden delicious were the favorite). We have more apple activities planned for this next week, culminating with homemade applesauce at the end of the week.

This week we earned a “Cool Beans” party! Each person in our classroom has a chart on their desk to fill with stickers for good behavior. If I “catch” a student being good, or following directions, or being a good citizen, I tell them to get a sticker for their chart. When the students have 20 stickers, their charts are full. Then they leave the charts in a basket and we do a celebration for them as a class at the beginning of the next day. Every time this happens, we get to put a bean up on our “Cool Beans” bulletin board. We also have a “Cool Beans” can in our room for whole class rewards.  If the class gets caught being good, or another teacher compliments us in the hallway, we put a bean in the can. When we have 20 beans in the can, we put another bean up on our bulletin board. When we reach 20 beans on the bulletin board, we get a “Cool Beans” party! Our class chose to have a popcorn and movie party. Friday after lunch, instead of putting their heads down, the students sat on the carpet and watched Looney Tunes videos on the board. In a nutshell, some classes collect marbles for good behavior, but we collect "Cool Beans!" and each student has a sticker chart to earn rewards for good behavior.

I wanted to remind families that we are still saving Trash-4-cash. This includes chip bags, capri sun pouches, best choice labels, and campbell’s soup labels, as well as coke lids and box tops for education.

Scholastic book orders are due this coming Friday, October 12.  Book orders will go home on Monday after school. You can send the order with cash (in an envelope), or send the order with a check written to Scholastic Book Clubs. Parents can order books online and our class gets $3 off another book purchase! Book orders are wonderful! You are not obligated to buy Scholastic books, but they ARE an inexpensive way to get books for your child to read, and a way to increase their desire to learn to read. Remember that anytime you send money to school with your child it should be in an envelope marked with your students name and what the money is for.

I continue to be amazed by these students. They are truly becoming a community that cares about and for each other. They help each other, they want success for all students in our room, they seek each other out on the playground and play together. They show compassion when another student is hurt. I am amazed at their response to me as their teacher as well. If I ask them to do something difficult for them (like sitting still on the rug) or if I ask them to do an academic process that is difficult for them (one example from this week was to write their numbers 1-5), they never fail to rise to my expectation.

Parents, you should be proud.  You have amazing learners living with you! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This IS learning!

First of all, welcome to our class blog! It is so hard to believe that September is over already. It went by so quickly. This is an introduction to our class community and I will run through what we do in our class and what is expected of students.
Our five classroom rules are as follows:
·         Listen when the teacher is talking.
·         Follow directions quickly.
·         Raise your hand to speak.
·         Be safe. Be honest.
·         Respect others. Respect yourself. Respect your school.

We’ve been discussing what each of these means. These rules are posted in our classroom and students can remind themselves of the rules by looking at the bulletin board. We do actions when we recite them and there are pictures posted on the bulletin board to remind students of what to do. You can ask your student to show you the five classroom rules. Most students will automatically do the actions when they recite the rules. Adding actions helps root the rules in their memory.
Students are expected to listen to instruction before starting any projects whether those are worksheets or hands-on learning/assessments or center time. Our learning centers include math, ABC, writing (you may have received a letter written recently in the writing center); playdough; sensory table (which has beans in it now); art/painting; reading; blocks; housekeeping; and an additional math center. We will be adding a center for the promethean board with online educational games (math and/or phonics and reading) and at some point we will add audio books or a listening center.
Action is so important in Kindergarten. I can always tell when I expect my students to sit for too long. There are some wonderful learning videos for children and it is a proven fact that adding actions and putting concepts to music will help embed the concept in the brain. So we take breaks from sitting to do songs and to wake up our brains. Sometimes we do songs that are completely silly, like “Who Let the Dogs Out” and the students have to sing and move for the entire song. Physical activity improves memory and so students need to move and wiggle before they do something intellectually draining. If you want to know a few of the songs we do, you can search for them on YouTube. Here are some of our favorites. The Big Pig Song (teaches rhyming and vocabulary and is a lot of fun); The Alphabet Song by Fun with Teaching (anything from fun with teaching is great); Counting by Ones by Fun with Teaching; Counting Down from Twenty by fun with teaching (this is a favorite. Student have to stand still and watch the screen when they count down and then they can dance); Blasting Off (count by fives).  Those are a few of our favorites. The other one we do with no educational value at all is Peanut Butter Jelly Time.  The students love it. What I love is that it helps get them excited about school and reminds them that learning is fun.
Parent teacher conferences and the end of the nine weeks are coming up before you know it. The time flew by SO fast. I cannot believe how quickly it flew by. So now I will start assessing students for the nine weeks report card. I am blown away by how quickly the time has gone.
Activities we have in Kindergarten include: Music on Tuesday and Thursday and every other Friday; P.E. on Monday and Wednesday and every other Friday; computer lab (will be starting in October); library check out is on Tuesday and Friday; Library skills with Mrs. Harris every other Monday; Counselor time (Life skills) every other Wednesday. Some students have other activities and leave the classroom with special teachers for 15 minutes to an hour during the week also. We have two recesses every day. The morning recess is a 30 minute recess and the afternoon one is 20 minutes. As you can see, we are busy! We also try to squeeze in a lot of learning! We have an afternoon snack every day. 
This is a small beginning glance into our class. More to come!