Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Love Apple Week

   This is apple week in kindergarten, and tomorrow we are going to the apple orchard for our first field trip.  The children brought in all kinds of apples, and they have described and compared them this week. Today we did a taste test to see which kind of apples were the most popular.  The winner was the green Granny Smith apple, but yellow and red were close behind.  Mrs. Austin used some of the apples to make applesauce in the crock pot -- it was very yummy. She brought her cool apple peeler to speed up the peeling process.

   The other new activity this week is learning to read with a partner.  It was amazing to see them sitting in pairs, engrossed in their books.  After reading back to back for about 10 minutes, they turned side to side to share books. I want them all to be book lovers, and they are on the way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Things A Kindergarten Teacher Says

  Since some of my readers will never spend a day in kindergarten, I thought I would share what you might hear.  Some days are a little crazy.  
"Have a seat.  Have a seat. Have a seat. "
Get you fingers out of your nose and go wash your hands.
Get your hands out of your pants and go wash your hands.
Do not crawl under the stall -- now go back under there and unlock that dook.  Wash your hands.
Line up.  Line up.  If you can't  be quiet, you will all have to go back and sit down.
I like the way some of you are standing so quietly!!
I love you, too.
If you would stay in your seat, you wouldn't spill your food.
Who does this belong to?
I'm sorry, but you can't get another library book if you didn't put yours in the book basket.
Listen when others are speaking, especially your teacher!
We don't play guns at school. No, not swords either.
Do not throw rocks!
You know all the ABCs? Yay!!
What is the month? No, Monday is a DAY - see d-a-y day.
You wrote a sentence! I am so proud of you!
What is that rule about hands???
What a good helper! Thank you for picking up that mess!
Yes, I can snap your pants.
Yes, I can tie your shoe, but please ask someone to teach you to tie your shoes.
If you didn't scratch your scabs, you would not be bleeding.
Go get a tissue.
What a good job of reading! Was your mom happy when you read that to her?
You know all the color words! Wow!!
A new student? Oh, come on in -- you can sit here......sigh.....
It is time to start more assessments? I just finished the last ones!
Don't forget your field trip money.
Name on your paper!
Again? You just went to the bathroom 20 minutes ago!
I love you, too.(more hugs) now go sit down.
No, it isn't time for lunch. I promise I will tell you when it is time for lunch. Don't ask again.
Just a minute -- I'll get the mop. 
I called your mom. Go sit by the trash can until she gets here.
What stinks? (I only say this inside my head)

Oh, what fun. Sometime I can't get a complete sentence out.
Today I have a -- stop that! -- a story about -- get your hands off him -- a story about a -- I love you, too, but go sit down -- the story is about -- 

But, they are learning! Somehow, with all the craziness and interruptions, they are learning to read and write. Today I talked to them about using details when they draw a picture, and I was so tickled when one drew himself and made stripes on his drawing to match his own shirt. And I am seeing sentences. And some are sounding out words and using sight words in their writing. 

Through it all, I still love my job. I love opening little eyes to a whole new world of words that gradually make sense -- I love the random hugs that I get all day long -- I love to sing songs and tell stories and teach poems -- I love being able to look across the room to my assistant and know that she knows what I am thinking. And I love when the bell rings and the last child is loaded on the bus.  I am blessed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Endless Assessments

       We have been in school for 19 days, and I spent many hours doing assessments this week.  In the perfect fantasy kindergarten world that the lawmakers imagine, teaching continues during the assessment weeks.  But in my real world, that is not exactly how it goes.  Oh, there is still teaching going on, but my assistant is teaching the whole group while I work one on one with each of the 21 kids.  I assessed letter naming and first sound fluency last week -- "What is the first sound you hear in  the word _____?"  This week I've been checking to see if they know a word, a letter, a period, a capital letter, etc. etc. etc. as they read thru some little books. I pretty much have to take them individually down the hall to a quiet room while Mrs. A. takes care of the other 20. Luckily, she is a wonderful teacher, but you just can't do much  small group teaching by yourself.  I have also assessed naming numbers and shapes, word recognition, and letter sounds.  So I have a real good picture of what each child knows, and that is helpful. But I'd rather be teaching!  I will be working on progress reports this weekend to share all this information with their parents, then we can go back to our previously scheduled program!
         On the bright side, some of them started writing actual sentences this week.  That is a huge step for little kids. and a big thrill for their teacher. Quite a few can read the color words now, several passed the first list of sight words, and we gave out award certificates to those today.

         Next week we will start our apple theme in preparation for our first field trip to the apple orchard. That will be a lot more fun than assessing.
       Still reading!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Building Stamina /Finally Friday

'   We made it through the second week of kindergarten! And even though it is exhausting, there have been some bright spots.  One of my favorite times was when I managed to have a couple reading groups and they memorized  read the words in the first little reading book. They are eager to take the books home to read to their moms, so I will send those home next week. I hope it is a thrill for their moms!

      It was 6:10 when I finally left my school this evening.  My car was the only one left in the parking lot.  That does not mean I am more dedicated than anyone else -- I think it just means I am slow.  But there is not a minute to do anything during the day when you have 21 children to teach.
Even at lunch we are opening milk and juice cartons, yogurt containers, etc. and cleaning up spills and moving kids who are wrestling instead of eating -- not exactly a relaxing time! So even though I resolved to leave by 4:00 some days, I have only managed to do it about 2 times.

  •   I had to do a "self-assessment" on the computer and check endless boxes to show how I thought I was doing at meeting the standards that I will be evaluated on this year. 
  • Then I had to write out my yearly Professional Development Plan to show what standards I planned to work on this year.  
  • Registered for a workshop for professional development
  • Made arrangements for a sub on some days I am going to miss school.
  • I had to make some phone calls to set up our first field trip to the apple orchard and fill out the paperwork to get that approved. 
  • I found a note from a parent that I didn't answer, so I had to call her and apologize -- things get buried on my desk during the day, and it was 5:30 before I got to that layer.
  • I printed out all 21 names in Dnealian font so I can start working on correct letter formation when they write their names next week.
  • Wrote my lesson plans so I don't have to do them at midnight on Sunday!
  • Looked for math magnetic buttons that I put away last June -- still didn't find them
  • Checked email messages and wrote dates in my calendar for faculty meetings, due dates, field trips, picture day, etc.
So, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home -- so grateful that my son knows how to cook because I hadn't even thought about supper.  I heated up some spaghetti,  sat on the couch and turned on a documentary about Nazi Germany.  When I woke up, it was midnight and Jimmy Fallon was on.
What an exciting Friday night!
If you made it through my long, boring evening, here are some pictures from this week.

      I brought a turtle to school and we compared living and non-living things -- the one on the left is plastic. They drew turtles and some wrote " I love turtles" 

      We continue to work on building stamina -- one day they were able to read for 8 minutes!
      I am also working on building stamina -- I'd like to be able to stay awake past  9:00 on Friday night!