Friday, January 16, 2015

Assessment Week Fun

           It is the end of the first semester of kindergarten -- it really does seem like the time has flown by, even  though some weeks have seemed l-o-n-g. We have become a family -- we know each other well -- and my babies are growing up and reading and writing. Some days they drive me a little crazy, but other times they make me laugh out loud. This a good time of the year -- they pretty much know the rules and routines and the basics of the 3 Rs, so now I can do more science and writing with them.  We are just starting one of my favorite subjects -- penguins -- and the kids are excited about becoming experts.  I have so many great books about penguins, and I am eager to share them. We are also starting a writing unit that will teach them to write "all about..." stories. Many of the children are writng pretty good sentences now, and I am eager to see what they will write.
              So, there is only one thing that ruins this great time of year. ASSESSMENTS. The state and county required assessments are very thorough -- almost all have to be given individually, and with 19 kids, that takes FOREVER! Writing assessment and spelling assessments are pretty quick. But the math assessment takes several days, and my awesome assistant is a huge help as we check math understanding one at a time.  The most time consuming assessments are the literacy ones -- DIBELS and the reading assessment. Because of the new teacher evaluation standard, I am not allowed to assess my own class this time -- I have to test another class.  The scores of the students will be used to help determine if I am an effective teacher, so I guess they want to make sure I can't score my own students higher than I should.  I am a little offended by that lack of trust.  Besides that, no matter how hard I try, there are some little ones who just can't make the expected progress, and it is not the fault of the teacher. This means my entire planning period and every spare minute during this assessment week is spent assessing children from another class.  And children are called out of my class all day long as the first grade teachers do their required testing. Needless to say, we lose a lot of instruction time, even though the instruction book says that "instruction should never stop for the rest of the class."  
            The good news is that I am almost finished -- just 5 more reading assessments to go! And although I feel like the children might have done better working with their own teacher, it has been enlightening to see the first grade assessment. I see how important it is to teach comprehension skills because their assessments have a lot of "tell me what happened in the story" questions. And several of the first graders I assessed are my sweeties from last year, and I enjoyed seeing their progress, but was distressed to see that a couple seem to have lost ground. I wonder why they can't remember the things they knew last year. Maybe no one read with them all summer?
              I am grateful for MLK, Jr. and the long weekend -- my report cards are finished and I am ready for a break so I can take my assessment data and regroup.  The rest of the year will fly by and I want my kids to learn everything they can to get ready first grade, but I don't want to leave out the FUN,  I loved the sweet note I got this week from one of the first graders from last year's class.
   


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

After Christmas Sales

        

          Tomorrow is the beginning of the new year -- 2015 -- and I have one more day at home before I go back to work. Friday is actually an optional work day, but I want to get all the Christmas stuff put away and get my classroom ready for January, so I plan to be at school.  It has actually been a little weird to go to the after Christmas sales.  I walked through Walmart today and saw that all the Christmas stuff was 75% off. I paused in front of the stockings -- I usually buy about 25 of them when they go on sale so I will have them for next year's kindergarten class. But next year I will be retired, so I don't need to buy anything.  Not ANYTHING for my class.  I found that I don't hardly know how to shop when I  am not filling my cart with things for my class. I don't need a new Christmas shirt because there will be no little kids to enjoy it. No New Christmas story books for next year. I still have half a year to teach, but I am already starting to feel a little lost.  I mean, I WANT to retire -- I have other things to do and maybe I will finally be able to get my house cleaned up when I get rid of all the teacher books and supplies that fill baskets and shelves and boxes and closets. But I haven't exactly figured out who I will be when I am not "Teacher."  I have a few months to figure that out though -- and lots of teaching left to get my kids ready for first grade.
          HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A visit from Santa!

 

       My students thought it was funny when I sat on Santa's lap.....


         But they roared with laughter when he kissed me under the mistletoe!


     Every child got to get their picture taken withSanta Claus.  One little boy said, "This is the best day of my life -- I can't believe I got to sit on Santa's lap!

      Here are a couple pictures for moms who I know will look at my blog.  If your child is in my room, please let me know that you look at my blog and I will be sure to put pictures on for you, too!

     

   

   Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lots to Do in December!


     
We only have 14 1/2 days of school between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the days are jam-packed with activities as we try to squeeze in all the learning and fun we can! 
     Last week was all about gingerbread stories. I have plenty of versions of the "Gingerbread Man" to share and compare, and we are also working on a musical play to perform next week.  I plan to invite the families to come to the performance of "The Tale of the Gingerbread Man" one afternoon next week.  The 
Children made cinnamon gingerbread ornaments That made our room smell really good, and did a lot of writing and math activities that involved gingerbread.


One of my favorite assignments was the family project to make a disguise for a gingerbread man so the fox would not recognize him.  The had a LOT of ninja turtle disguises, but I loved the creativity.  They made a great bulletin board, too.


Here are a few close-ups.




    Our school Christmas performance was Monday evening.  The kids did a good job -- first time on stage for some of them.

G


We have been learning about Christmas and other holidays around the world -- Germany, the Netherlands , Mexico, China, etc. we will bind these in a book for the kids to take home.


   Today I read a Jan Brett book, "The Hat" and gave out warm woolen hats to each child. They were made by Mrs. Carney, a former teacher who generously gives these handmade hats to my class every year.

   After each child chose a hat, they made thank you cards and colored a picture of their own hat.






  The most exciting part of today was a visit from Mrs. Santa Claus.  The kids had lots to tell her about what they want for Christmas!



    We even squeezed in time to make another Christmas ornament -- thank you, Mrs. Austin for getting it ready! And thanks to everyone who donated tp rolls.


And merry Christmas to all!!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Field Day -- What Happened to October?




      What happened to October??  Seems like we just had time to carve a pumpkin and make bats and it was over!  Making a jack-o-lantern was lots of fun. The children voted on the shapes to use and all but one stuck their hands in to pull out the yucky stuff before I started carving. Afterwards they drew pictures and wrote in their journals.  Unfortunately, the inside got all moldy before Halloween, but it made a really creepy looking decoration for trick or treaters!


    

     

   

            I am really pleased with the progress the class is making with their writing.  Look at this --
    capital letters and lots of words spelled correctly.  She even wrote 2 sentences!! And in case 
    you can't read kid writing, that says "Bat Woman."  She did this with no help!


     We also used the pumpkin theme to make math more interesting..  We were doing lots of practice on counting to 20  and recognizing numbers to 10 last month. The next goal will be counting to 30 and writing numbers in the teens.  


   

     

    
   
      We enjoyed seeing the creativity of the family jack - o - lantern project -- some really put a lot of effort into making pretty pumpkins.  Here's one with lots of color.

   

     And then, as if Halloween and thoughts of trick or treating was not exciting enough, we had Field Day!  Here are a few pictures of all that fun.

      

    

     

    

   

   
  
    The sack race looked like so much fun that Daniel's mom tried it too!
  

   
                                  
             This boy really knew how to kick that ball!


       All ready for tug of war.  The teenagers who were running the event told them to line up boys vs. girls -- but since we have 14 boys and only 5 girls, that didn't quite seem fair...

     

   We all had a wonderful time, and I appreciated having a few parents there to cheer them on.
And it was not all about winning, since we didn't give out trophies or ribbons -- it was all about FUN!
    

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fire truck!

   Such a busy week -- learning all about bats and starting math assessments and progress monitoring --  but we did squeeze in a little visit with the firemen when they came to Valmead for the Boys Book Club.  We just had 10 minutes before dismissal, but I got a few cute pictures to share. It is past midnight and I have bus duty in the morning, so no time to write an actual blog. So here are the pictures and I am going to bed!