Friday, August 29, 2014

Well, It Is a Start!

One week down, and we are starting to see progress!  The first few weeks of kindergarten are really challenging -- so much to learn! But they can say the rules and most can write their name.

They know that 3 blasts on my whistle means to run for the line when playground time is over. They've learned some songs and poems, and did a good job on sorting shapes and writing a - d on the whiteboards. They love markers.

The line for the bathroom is endless, and it is so hard to keep 16 boys quiet in the hall, but we will keep practicing until they are able to do it. Might take all year....
few know all the letters and most sounds of the alphabet. But some don't know a single letter. So next week we will try to do some small group reading activities -- making words with those who are ready, and teaching the letters and sounds to those who will need a lot more help. It always amazes me to see such a gap in the readiness level at age 5.

So, if you have never heard of "Daily 5 and Read to Self" -- let me say that it is almost magical to see all these little children  begin to sit quietly and look at their basket of books.  We track their stamina on a chart, and today, the second day, they were able to sit quietly on one spot and keep their eyes on the books in their basket for 4 minutes. FOUR MINUTES is a lot for a little child. But I have confidence that they will make it to 20 minutes before too long. Then we will be able to work with small groups while the rest of the little ones will practice reading and writing independently. Glorious day when that happens! It won't happen this week for sure, but one day, one day.....

I am thankful it is Friday! And thankful for the opportunity to teach one more class of sweet little kids  -- hope I am able to keep with them!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What did you do in kindergarten ?

What did you do in kindergarten? (Day 2)

When you ask,"What did you do in Kindergarten today?" and the answer is "Nothing..."
Here's what they really mean --
  • Read the morning message together and practiced the words "Dear Class" and "Love, Mrs. Spencer"
  • Found out the difference between a word and a letter.  Counted letters in a word.
  • Said the pledge to the flag
  • Listened to stories/poems -- "I Love my White Shoes" and "Rocking in My School Shoes" and "Mary Wore Her Red Dress" and "No, David"and "Humpty Dumpty"
  • Sang and learned motion to several songs
  • Practiced air writing Aa and Bb and heard a song and story about Annie Apple and Bouncy Ben
  • Sorted long and short names
  • Explored math stations
  • Learned about the calendar and named days, months, and seasons
  • Practiced saying the rules of the classroom
  • Learned 2 ways to read a book
  • Visited the library and checked out a book
  • Visited the computer lab and learned to use a mouse
  • Found out about different voice levels in the classroom
  • Colored a picture of Annie Apple and tried to stay in the lines
  • Used a whiteboard and markers to write the letter "a"
  • Practiced reading and spelling "red" in a song
  • Walked quietly in a line -- at least we tried to be quiet!
  • Carried my own tray and ate lunch in the lunchroom
  • Cooperated with a partner to use math manipulatives
  • Told the teacher which letters I recognized
  • Went to art class
  • Made a school bus for the bulletin board
  • Played on the playground
  • Told stories about our pets
  • Went to the gym for PE
  • Glued a poem in my poetry notebook
  • Started making friends
  • Wrote my name on my papers
  • Made a Pete the Cat hat
This is NOT your mama's kindergarten!!  There is a lot to learn this year, and you will be amazed at all they will accomplish in the next 177 days of school!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Meet the Teacher Night


      Well, it it almost time to start!  The door is decorated, the pencils are sharpened, planners are labeled, and this afternoon I met most of my new students and their families. I have 23 on my class list, and 16 of them are boys! Oh. Wow!  So many cuties -- some hiding behind mom, others bouncing around the room -- looks like it's going to be a busy year. I am eager to see how they all work together.
Just a year ago, I had a different group of little strangers, but before long we were all a community of learners.  It made me a little sad to see their names on desks in the first grade rooms.  And I loved it when many of them stopped by my room today to say hello and give me a hug. I miss that group of sweet kids.  

      But now I have my room ready to welcome a new class of little strangers, and I am wondering lots of things.  Will that little boy who was hiding behind his mom be able to let go without tears? Will the bouncy one be able to sit still long enough to learn? Who will be the first to write a sentence or read words? How many will already know how to write their names and count to 20?  Will I be able to inspire them to get excited about reading and writing? And will I ever get them to all be quiet at the same time? And, most importantly, will we become a community of learners who love each other?
I am praying for them, and thanking God for one more opportunity to make a difference in these little lives. It has been such a privilege to teach kindergarten for the past 10 years, and since I expect to retire after this year, this time is especially precious -- knowing this is the last time I will be teaching kids to read and write and do so many things. And on the evenings when I come home and collapse on the couch, tired to the bone -- I hope I still remember why I continue to teach! Right now, I can hardly wait to start introducing them to my favorite books and songs -- I love seeing their eyes light up when they realize that they can actually read a book by themselves. And I love seeing their amazed parents -- I have the best job in the world!( but I will have to remind myself of that for the next few weeks -- the first days of kindergarten are TOUGH!) Prayers are appreciated as we all adjust to school!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Summer To-Do List

   I am sitting on a tour bus with my daughter and about 40 other people, and we are inching our way up the Interstate toward New York so I can mark off number 10 on my summer to-do list.  The traffic is bumper to bumper, and has been this way ever since we crossed into Maryland. But the bus is comfortable and air conditioned, and we have watched 2 nice videos plus I took a nap, had hash brown casserole at Cracker Barrel, and best of all, the bus has wifi so I can use my iPad! And tomorrow we will spend the day in New York and see Aladdin on Broadway. 

    As for the rest of my list -- well, the summer went by so quickly! The 40th anniversary trip would not fit in, so that will happen in October. I worked on the weeds in the flower garden some, but it was always too hot or too wet--so now I guess I will just wait for the weeds to die. The church library still needs work, although I did make some progress. 
   On the plus side, I did clean out the closet, but the clothes are still in a basket, waiting for a trip to Goodwill. I made it to WV for a week long family reunion marathon, and ate DQ hot dogs and Tudors biscuits, so check that off! I kept walking and exercising, and actually lost a few more pounds--check!
And I have learned most of my music for chorus except the brand new song.

    As for getting rid of my school stuff -- well, I found a teacher consignment shop, but I spent $20 instead of selling anything. 

That's kind of a problem with me. I have school on my mind all summer. When we go out of town, I always look for a teacher supply store.  I bought a bunch of stuff from Teachers Pay Teachers, and I pin kindergarten ideas on Pinterest and I read blogs and books about effective teaching. I spent at least 4 full days at school working on my room -- on my own time, of course. And the corner of my living room is still stacked with school stuff.  I have a stack of games and activities waiting to be laminated. And the floor beside my bed has a stack of books as well. And here I am on vacation -- blogging about school.
     I did read some other books this summer, often until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. And that creates another problem, because I need to get on a school time schedule by next week!
    So, I didn't quite do it all, but I enjoyed having the time to just do nothing some days. And I have to admit that I am looking forward to meeting my new class. I could have used another week -- but that would mean missing the NYC trip -- making memories! I thank God for the opportunity to spend time with my family, near and far, and for another opportunity to teach children. 
     New York City, here we come! I wonder if they have any teacher stores there??