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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updated post....

I did update the 100 day post! Check it out...
100 Days of School

High/Low Linky

How it works: post your highs and your lows from the month. Here are the "rules" as pounded out on the keyboard by Teacher to the Core. Read it, weep, hop over and link up. Okay, just kidding about weeping. 

  "Tell me all about your Highs and Lows of this month.

Share pictures… spill the beans… let that cat out of the bag!

Let us high five and hug you with the stories you share.

Let the comments you receive be your both

 "Oscar Moment" and your free therapy.

Grab any and all of the graphics you want.

Link up, Link back, and comment out the person directly in front of you

 and come on back to check out the person after you."

My highs... well, I have mostly posted them already in other blogs. I have had some serious ego-stroking this month. The school counselor compliments my class every time she visits, but this month she complimented my students' teacher (that's me)! And told my class how lucky they are to have me and that no other kindergarten class that she knew of (and she visits about 10 classes every 2 weeks) talked as much about feelings, and social settings and how to treat others. Of course, I basked in this glory a little bit, but the truth is, you do whatever is modeled for you and I had such a fantastic coordinating teacher during student teaching who constantly modeled to, for, and with her students how to treat others in social matters. So I do my best to follow her lead and remember to Thank God for putting me in her classroom. Okay, so she complimented me in class and cheered me to my kiddos and I thought about shedding a tear I was so touched. Then I stepped into the hallway to tell her something without little ears, and she told me that she would never have guessed I am a first year teacher and she poured on more kind words and "feel goods." "Little" things like this are what made my month. 

Another high was that my two little non-english speakers are making big strides. I moved them on the last phonics test so they would be closer to me and I could help them.  The results were amazing. They just might be ready for first grade at the end of the year! I don't have words to explain how much of a miracle this is. 

My lows... *sigh* They are the same as the others that I have read so far. I am really discouraged with some of my students behavior lately. Yesterday my students were CrAzY! C-R-A-Z-Y! nuts. crazy. And did I mention... they were crazy? I told them not to bring their crazy selves back to me today. Today was better in waves. Sometimes my students were candidates for sainthood. But then they got loud and rowdy again. There were actually times yesterday and today that I almost teared up. Not happy tears. Tears of exasperation and frustration. And the knowledge that we only have 73 more days of school. I know this because we did the math today. My frustration is that we shouldn't have to stop every activity 2 or 3 or 4 times so I can say, "everyone needs to show me how we sit on the carpet," or "if everyone was sitting like (fill in the blank) then I would know that you are ready to learn" and after so many times of talking to the same student over and over, "which choice are you going to make, sit on the carpet or at your desk, make your choice right now." (Blah, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah...). And yes, there are some concepts that they should be getting but aren't. They should be writing, knowing sight words, reading, and so on. I'm overwhelmed with what I think they need to know before the end of the year. And the burden to teach them and to modify and differentiate, and help all students. Aaaaaaa. Super teacher has left the building. 

Last instruction: if you link up, comment on the high/low you read that you got the link from, comment on the post before you and the one after you. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Our" Maria

Today we concentrated on our handwriting and on being the best citizens that we can be. Before I go on to say how great my class is, I better just confess my shortcomings. I got "my Maria" some lotion for Christmas (side note: as close as I can tell, we have four custodians named Maria in our school).  But I didn't get it ready early, and then Maria was not there for several days before Christmas, so her lotion and my appreciation were still sitting in a cupboard at home. Oh, since I am taking little side trips, let's talk about that appreciation. "My Maria" is the best. She comes in when we go to recess and she cleans my room, vacuums, washes the desktops, and leaves our room smelling much less like dirty socks than it did before she came in. And when my boys are acting up in the bathroom, she helps me, and she tells me about it and she's always polite. So.... I appreciate her, even if I am not the best at showing it. And it's high time I showed her. We talk frequently about it in class, that the students should thank her for cleaning, and we should all thank her for all the things that she does for us. My students are really good at being respectful and appreciative (with the possible exception of this afternoon and I completely blame the sudden shift in the barometric pressure) so they are naturals to say thank you and show appreciation.

Marry the above with the fact that we have not practiced our handwriting as much as we should have. So Ms. Horn decided that for handwriting we would write a letter to Ms. Maria.  As soon as we finished our morning work, we started writing a letter that said: Dear Ms. Maria, Thank you for keeping our room clean. Love, _________. We gave her the letters, told her thank you, and gave her a bag with the lotion in it. She teared up. That gave us the opportunity to go back to our room and talk about filling buckets and being good citizens.

So maybe we didn't accomplish all the things I thought we should have in Kindergarten today, but I feel confident that my students are learning what it means to be a good citizen and to appreciate people who help you, the people around you, people who are part of your "family" whether it is the biological kind or a school kind of family.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

100 Days of School...

There were conflicting opinions in our district as to when the 100th day of school actually was. We "went with" the one that was on Friday. My count said that the 100th day would be tomorrow.  However, in light of the fact of the chaos that overtook my room, I am very grateful we celebrated on Friday.

The students were to have their 100th day projects returned by Wednesday. The ones who followed that direction got a who class cheer as well as taking a moment to look at the project and "ooo" and "ah".  All students' projects were celebrated and we looked at all of them. I didn't have a good way to display them however. So they are stuck up randomly all around the room. Here they are.
100 hundred ribbons, 100 google eyses on the number 100, and  100 stickers in glitter glue of the student's name. 

100 pieces of cereal, and 100 stars! 

100 crayons and 100 pom-poms, 100 google eyes on the monster! 

100 signatures/names, and 100 safety pins in the shape of the number 100 on a t-shirt

100 "river rock" type marbles, and 100 aura beads

100 "steering wheels" (pasta) on this boat/ship! 
Aren't they great! Students and parents did a great job making a 100 project and being creative! I am impressed! Way to go my lil Tigers (and your parents).

We began the day with a color sheet of 100 things, working on color word recognition. 

As students worked on their morning color page, I handed out their "100 days smarter" certificates.  I made a loud proclamation for each name as I handed the certificate to them. 

Each student got a photo with the 100 and wearing their 100 day hat! We glued 10 strips of 10 different colors of paper down to make 100 strips on the big strip and then we stapled the large construction paper strip to make a hat. The TpT download I got it from advised to glue all the strips down before assembling the hat. 

We went across the street to the cafeteria and did activities with all of Academy C. There were five different stations: Mrs. Lewis, Ms. Sawatzky, Ms. Reid, Ms. Mennis and I each took a station. And I took a cool picture of 2nd grade but realized I don't have media releases for them, so I don't know who's picture I could post. My station made 100 glasses out of construction paper. This activity was more time consuming than what we actually had time for unfortunately. So students were rushed. But all of them said that they had fun! 

Also in the afternoon we made a snack with 100 pieces in it. Each students took 10 pieces of 10 different snacks to make up a type of snack mix to snack on the rest of the day! Our snack mix consisted of: froot loops, honey nut cheerios, pretzels, M & M's, skittles, fruit snacks, sour patch kids, marshmallows, goldfish, chocolate animal crackers. 

We made a book: My 100th Day Book. It was a lesson for the teacher, that much is for sure. Next year, this will be a writing project that we begin before day 100. It will probably occupy the better part of a week. This will give students more freedom and free writing experience. For this book, because time was of the essence, we voted on we would fill in on each page. This project also assessed the students ability to follow directions (I handed the book out page by page and their instruction was to simply place each new paper on top of the one they had). Some were obviously not in order, some of the pages were not put in correctly (such as.... upside-down).  Some students put the book together correctly, but couldn't stay with the group. All-in-all it was a good lesson and students learned and I learned. 

I can eat 100 cookies. Yeah, that is a good thing to vote for! Right? 

I wish I had 100... the answer we voted on was "puppies." This student didn't follow directions at some point. They probably got their pages out of order. 

Eating 100... cereals... would totally gross me out! What kind of terrible teacher would let her students write this?! A rushed one. I am profoundly sorry. But we were rushed and I was trying so hard to be "democratic" and it is the answer they voted for! I wanted them to vote for frogs, but I couldn't will them into the vote! 

100... frogs... would drive my teacher crazy! Amen. No comment necessary.

I could bring her 100... butterflies... to make her feel better! (This is cute and sweet and I couldn't believe they voted to write the longest choice they had!) Some other choices were chocolate, candies and hugs.

There it is. The page that contains the word it is supposed to! :) "I wish I had 100... puppies." That is what we voted for. 

Oops, this is definitely a blooper! (Plus, butter would never drive me crazy, I love butter.)

In 100 days, I have learned... the months! I loved this page because students put out there some things that we actually have learned! Choices were counting, the months, reading, and more! Woo-hoo! There are things they feel proud about and want to toot their horns about! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday, a linky party

Five "random" things from my week from school or at home. That is about the end of the rules as far as I know. I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday. I hope you'll hop over and maybe even link up.

Some of my five are regurgitated from earlier in the week.

Wednesday was unseasonably warm. It was 75 degrees here. A week ago it was extremely cold. Too cold to do anything but sit around under a blanket. It got done to 9 degrees a few nights. We have these foot warmers I made for the kids and myself. And I use it every night even if it is not unreasonably cold. They are just a cotton remnant stitched together and filled with rice. So... that is two of my five. 

1. This week brought us 75 degrees one day on the playground.  Loved it. The kiddos needed it as much as I did. 

2. The infamous rice bags/foot warmers. Love them. 

This one is my sixteen year old's. Mine is about the same size. Mine is warming my lap as I type. 

3. 100th Day. Whew. Can you say exhausted teacher? 100th day is really worthy of it's own post, but I want to say this~ we survived it. I was helping students count out their 10 food items for their 100 snack and I was frustrated because it was taking WAY too long and I said, "oh this is fun!" and I hear a student tell her table partner that she is having SO MUCH FUN. This particular student gets nervous and is really perfectionistic, so when I heard her say this, I could let go, worry less, and enjoy more. They got to wear their way cool hats and I should have gotten a picture of all of them together but I didn't. I had them wear them for their individual photos though. 
Standing next to his 100 google eyes poster, wearing this 100 day hat.

4. I saw a miracle yesterday. One of my non-english speakers told me about letter B yesterday. What the name of the letter was, what sound it makes, and which pictures started with the /b/ sound. I wanted to kiss him. I held back, but I might brag for awhile. I am so happy for him because the miracle might just happen and I really might be surprised about how ready he is for first grade. 

5. Family. The folks are visiting from Kansas. They didn't even see any crazy near-accidents on the way out. I pray it will be same on the trip home for them. God bless the drivers on this highway and keep them safe. Enjoyed time not spent on schoolwork tonight, just the folks and the kids (and now you). 

I really enjoy Five for Friday. So I am linking up again. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This week in Kindergarten

This week in Kindergarten....
I am overwhelmed as a teacher this week. It seems to me that it is harder for my students than last week. And for me as well. I have been working so hard, printing, laminating, organizing, and getting ready to be the best darn teacher in the world. I am exhausted. My students kept falling asleep in class today. I gave them "the speech." Drink more water, do your homework and GO TO BED ON TIME! And I realized that I am exhausted and I have a headache and I need to take my own advice. The goal for tonight is to go to bed on time. And not do "school stuff" tonight. That's the goal. But I need to take time to blog.

I finally finished the Martin Luther King Jr. bulletin board.

I think it looks really great. If you look at the picture you can see the differences in children's fine motor skills. It seems that sometimes we are so busy learning in Kindergarten that we forget that being able to cut and use a scissor is an important Kindergarten skill. I am just a first year, but sometimes I do want to scream... "they are just in Kindergarten! Let them be kids!" By the way, I don't know what is "politically correct" and what is not. I tried to give students the color of paper that matched their skin or their ethnicity. I am so proud of them and all their differences and yet how close they are and that they can share their cultures with each other. If you knew me in Kansas, you know that there would not be the same demographic pie if we were there. I love my school family.

Starting at the beginning of July last summer I have had both Guymon and McPherson weather on my computer and I have compared them daily.  Usually this is only a 3-5 degree difference between the two. But this week there has been a much broader span.  And while my grandson and granddaughter were rejoicing that it was in the 50's in Kansas, we were outside without jackets this afternoon. It was in the mid 70's today.  And I got the chance to let me kids just be kids. 

Today I finished reading Junie B. and a Little Monkey Business. I asked my girls to show me some monkeying around today. Here's what I got:

Aren't they great little monkeys? We had so much fun on the playground this afternoon. 

We are working on Pattern Caterpillars in centers this week. Students are supposed to make a repeating pattern with the circles and add a yellow head. The caterpillars that a couple students made this afternoon did not have repeating patterns. But the "hooray!" moment was the use of their fine motor skills (cutting) and that two of my little non-english speakers took part at center time and participated and showed pride in their work. I was tickled. The name of the game is progress baby! And they are progressing. I am so excited. 

Here is our center board. I have been putting sticky notes on to keep straight who goes to which center. What do you do for centers and center rotations? This week we have: Blocks, Bean table, Math Center 1 (Monster Mash), Reading Center, Math Center 2 (Pattern Caterpillars), Writing Center, Art/Painting Center,  ABC Center (Rhyming Words), Housekeeping, Math Center 3 (Spinning Snowflakes). 

I am working hard (too hard) to get ready for 100th day. We are going to have a great time if it kills me. But I hope it doesn't kill me. I hope we all have a marvelous time. I will post pictures. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tell Me Something Good...

Tell me something good from school. Tell me something good from home. What is going good, something positive, etc. Here we go.

Something good from school: I must be doing something right. I was paid compliments from other teachers twice this week. Yeah, I am bragging. I love it when our class is complimented, they work hard, they deserve it. But this week, two different teachers told my students what a great teacher they have! Yes, my heart swelled up really big. I am proud, I am humble, I am a little overwhelmed.

Something good from home: Hmmm. Nothing bad is going on, it is just ordinary. OH! My redhead is doing great. She is a junior in highschool and I've been pushing and pushing and pushing college. "You can't pay your bills without a college education..." "You can't find the job that you love without a college education...." "You will never forget your college experiences..." "College is a great place, you are not at home anymore, you have more freedoms, and yet you have your own community of people like you in a relatively safe environment...." I was pretty sure it was falling on deaf ears. "You HAVE to get your grades up, colleges will look at those!" Blah, blah, blah. You know the teacher in Charlie Brown... "whah, whah, whah, whaw..." I think that is what she heard. But recently she has started talking about college, thinking about college, planning for college! Honestly, it is a little on the late side. She's a junior. If we had not moved here (so her mother could teach Kindergarten) she would have taken her ACT at school (free of charge) as part of their college, career and citizenship readiness plan (they call it C cubed, or C3). So.... we haven't taken her ACT yet. That is a hurdle we can overcome. The bigger hurdle, the failing classes, that is changing! Woohoo!!!!! On Thursday she submitted her art project ON TIME! A very complex project that she worked on for hours, and hours, AND hours over the Christmas break. I wish we would have taken a picture of it. I will add one when I can. It is amazing. Hmmm. Now that I ponder on that, that is a pretty AMAZING good thing from home. Good stuff.

What I love the most is that I was just forced to look at the positive, identify it, and I can't really identify it without developing an attitude of gratitude. Thanks God for all the amazing things you do for us. Thanks, thanks, thanks. God is good, all the time.

More About Organization.... It's progress, not perfection

In December I took part in some blogs about resolutions and mine involves organization. Here are some pictures of what sort of disarray I left my room when school left out for the break.

I resolved to make a landing station like I saw on Growing Kinder's page. Here is what I came up with. Let me tell you, I love it. 

My pens, markers, dry erase markers, all those different colored Sharpies that I am so fond of... all on here. I got the pom-poms added to the dry erase markers we use in centers, I am still in the process of organizing the drawers. The previous teacher had reserved one drawer per day and I just gave one drawer to handouts/worksheets for all week, with each day in a separate folder in the drawer. So far, I love it. I have a drawer just for "homefun." Homefun that goes in the those crazy difficult folders that I worked so hard on. Homefun folders are for reading homework. Not other papers to sign or morning seat work that students should finish at home. One drawer is reserved for copies that need made, one is for papers that go to my teaching partner or to the other building, since I am stuck over in the 3rd and 4th grade building away from the primary teachers, I need a place to put things that I want to share with them or that I want to copy on that machine since it does double sided copies and the one down the hall from me doesn't. Posted immediately above the drawers is the copy of our PE/music schedule for Fridays. On Friday we alternate and we go to PE one week and music the next week. My partner and I got mixed up one week and went to the wrong classes, it was not a pretty sight. So now I have the schedule there and when we discuss it and try to remember where to go I go to the schedule and make sure we get it right.  One drawer is reserved for things that need laminated. Another drawer is for scratch paper and sticky notes. The previous teacher had a drawer for report cards and the report cards that were adopted for this year don't fit in the drawer, so I made a place for them on the shelves. I did reserve a drawer for assessment for report cards. By the time I finish the organization, my first year of teacher will be over. Does anyone else see the irony. 
After the organization. It looks organized to me, but I can see how it might still look cluttered.  The books are in one place, a place for my purse, a place for report cards...
HOMEFUN! Reading homework. Reading outside of the classroom is SO IMPORTANT. I am sad that I always run out of time. I want to read more with my students individually. I have some students who don't speak English and I know that their parents can't understand the notes I send home and are not able to read the English words in their child's books. Some families don't speak Spanish, so even the interpreted notes are beyond their understanding. But the bottom line is this: the most important thing a parent can do to help their child in Kindergarten is to read to them, with them and encourage children to read. So I created a separate folder just for reading homework. Not to be confused with papers that should be left at home, or papers that just need signed without any commitment or participation.  This folder needs the attention of the parent and the parent's participation. This folder is supposed to go back and forth between home and school EVERY DAY, just like the folder for behavior and other "homework" papers. These folders are not what I had hoped for, and the first week they have been in use they have required substantial time, I have spent my entire break (30 minutes) checking all the folders. Next year I will do two things differently... I will have a separate folder for guided reading/reading homework; I will also have a different kind of folder, something that closes, something that the books and papers won't slide out of.  Live and learn. I think that is what the first year of teaching is all about. 

I do know that organization takes time and I've been giving a lot of time to school and not enough at home. I also know it is working for me, and things are falling into place. I am so happy about that. 

I have fantastic students. I have great parents. I can't believe that the year is half over. I know that the students who read and are read to and that practice alphabet and site words will be ready for first grade. I am doing everything I can to get them ready.  Parents, if you need flashcards or other materials, please stop by or email. 

Looking forward to another great week in Kindergarten!