Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Behaviour Management Chart

When I started teaching K, I felt like I was in a completely different world when it came to time and behaviour management.  I came from Grade 6 after all, that practically is a continuum away!  I tried several systems before I found one that really works for us.  I read somewhere that you should have an individual goal and a group goal, so that's what I tried.

We have a behaviour management system called Jumping for Good Behaviour.  I think I got the idea somewhere online, and then adapted it and twisted it to fit me and my class.  We have a part of a bulletin board with three lines - green, yellow, and red.  Everyone has a frog with their name on it, and it starts on green everyday, regardless of what happened the previous day.  I think its important for kids to know everyday is a fresh start. 

Whenever someone breaks one of our rules (the basic respect each other, be nice, keep your hands to yourself, etc) they get a warning first.  Then, if they continue to break rules, their frog moves down a line.  Yellow is 5 minutes missed of centre playtime, and if you break a rule again and land on red, its 10 minutes.  If it happens again, you get to have a visit with our principal.  I have only had a couple of students ever get to yellow and no one has ever got to red.  (And to move them around, I enlisted the help of my very best friend, Mr. Velcro!)

As an extra incentive, this chart is on the board next to my desk:
Each student has an index card with their name on it, and for everyday that they stay on green, they get a sticker.  Once they reach 30 stickers on their index card, they get to pick a treat from the treasure box, which is filled with stuff like colored pens, bubbles, or little sticker books.  They are so excited once they get near 30.  (I make rows of 10 as well, and they gain a number sense, since they know three full rows make 30). 

Our group goal is a daily process.  Each day we pick one goal not to break.  If everyone works together as a team, everyone gets a small prize - a sticker or a candy from the candy jar.  This one is actually much harder to reach than the individual goal, because it usually involves everyone working together.  But we are getting there!  Our class goal is written on a piece of froggy paper that I laminated so I could use white erase markers on it.  You will see it in the corner of the picture with our frogs.

Anyway, thats how my Kinders and I work our classroom management, and it seems to be working great.  I'm sure that every year it will be adjusted to fit the new group of kiddos that I have, but I'm glad I found something that works this year!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Class Monster Book

As part of our Monster unit, we wrote a class book!  It was actually the first class book that we have written, so the kiddo's are super excited to see the finished product.  I have one more student to finish with, since he has been away all week, and then we are ready for binding!  I think I am excited to see the final product too.

We started off by reading What's Under The Bed? by Joe Fenton. 

It's about a little boy who imagines all sorts of crazy creatures hiding under his bed, until he finally gets the courage to look and finds it is only his teddy bear - or is it?  The kiddos loved the ending of this one, and it gave them a lot to imagine when designing a monster,  They came up with their own monster, and then finished this sentence "I see a _________, __________ monster."  with two describing words.  They didn't spell the words themselves, they needed a lot of help but they were able to sound out most of the constanants.  We are slowly but surely getting there!

Check out a few pages from our monster book:

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Great Fundraising Idea

I don't know about your school, but myself and everyone I know, hates fundraising.  The whole idea of going door to door lugging a big box of chocolates just isn't appealing, especially in this digital age when very few people carry cash.  Well, here may be an alternative...

Our school is named after a famous football player, who was very involved in the community.  He also appreciated the value of education, and became a principal after retiring from football.  Therefore the three pillars of our schoola re academics, athletics, and citizenship.  When the disaster struck Japan, we knew it was an opportunity to teach our students about the true value of citizenship.  We held a fundraiser that went off so well!

Our fundraiser was a Break The Rules Day.  I will start by saying it was not an effective teaching day in the sense that we addressed a lot of curriculum.  However, we did raise a LOT of money for Japan, and we learned about how important it is to help others.  The idea behind break the rules day is that you can pay a pre-set amount of money to break certain rules or do things that you normally couldn't in school. The favorite?  For $5, you could cut a piece off the tie of pour principal or vice principal.  They thought this was the best thing ever.  I also had a lot of kids change their name, sit wherever they wanted, and wear pajamas.  It was a fun day, and it was a great lesson.

Feel free to click on the picture and save a copy if you would like to try this out at your school.  Let me know how it goes!

A student cutting a piece off the principal's tie

Monstrous Five Senses!

We are working on our five senses unit, and our theme for the month is Monsters!  I think this has been the kids favorite so far.  They just go nuts for everything monsters!  To start the unit, I drew traced a big outline of a monster from Monsters Inc and then decorated him in fun colors and gave him some bingo dabber polka dots.  The students named him (Pokey was a derivitive of Polka Dots).  Then we talked about our five senses, what part of the body is responsible for the sense, and what kinds of things we experience with that sense.  Together, we wrote about what our monster might use his senses for.  Here are the results, they are quite funny!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Five Senses

We are four fifths of the way through our five senses unit (we have smell left to do).  I used DeeDee Wills five senses mini unit as inspiration for our activities, and it worked out awesome!  We also did some other small activities and we did it as part of a Monster theme (which the kids absolutely LOOOVED!)  We are still working on pictures of our class monster book and we made a big classroom monster and labelled the monster senses. (They also wrote about what they thought the monster would do with his senses.  It was so funny - like the monster needed a nose to smell his stinky feet and ears to hear dogs.  Apparently  monsters are afraid of dogs.)  I will grab some pics of those things tomorrow, if we get the book finished up.

Here are some pics of a few of the activities we have done so far:

I set up four stations around the room with six objects on each table.  There were at least two items on each table that could match the following descriptions: hard, soft, smooth, rough, scratchy, or fuzzy.  Students worked in groups and rotated through the stations to match the items with their description.  We used the recording sheet from DeeDee Wills unit after we had touched all of the items. 

We again used an idea from the mini unit, but since it was close to easter, I decided to "hide" the sounds in easter eggs.  The students thought this was the grandest thing ever - sometimes its the simplest things!  They just loved shaking them all and trying to distinguish which ones were matching.  They did awesome with it.  I thought a few would be tricky, but they nailed it.

We looked at small things like coins, leaves, rocks, sticks, and our fingerprints under a magnifying glass and looked for details that we couldn't see without the magnifying glass.  They found the coins the most interesting, because they could see dots and ridges around the edges that they didn't see before.

We had a taste test to learn about the differences between sweet, salty, and sour.  Here are the items we tested: icing, lemon, sour fizz candy, tortillas, pink popcorn, and regular popcorn.  It was interesting to note a couple of misconceptions they had - I started by asking for guesses about what would be sweet and of course everyone guessed the candy.  You should have seen their faces when they popped it in their mouths!!!  Also, they tasted the regular popcorn and it was salty so they assumed the pink popcorn was salty too - candy popcorn is not that popular here so not many had tried it before.  They were surprised to find out it was sweet, and they all fell in love with it!


We also did a few quick activities that my K collegue gave us, which came in super handy when I was away taking care of my daughter while she was sick.  I find it so hard to find decent sub activities.  The beauty of these was not the work the students did to complete them, because they are relatively simple, but they brought about great discussions about how we do not use senses in isolation (they pointed out that we can see most of the things we hear) and the safety issues concerned with hot and cold, which is part of our safety curriculum.  I asked what sense we would use if we saw a pot of water on the stove and we wanted to know if it was hot or cold, and we discussed what other senses we could use to figure it out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sub Plans (YUCK) and a Lingering Question

So today I got to do one of my least favorite things in the world - write sub plans! It ranks right up there for me with cleaning the toilet and doing the dishes. Thankfully I have a good sub who I trust, but it is still a pain to write the plans... but today my two little tatertots were feeling very under the weather, so I got to run around taking care of them all day. Hopefully they are back to their normal selves tomorrow.

I was hoping to get some pictures of them doing their "texture hunt" as part of our five senses unit, but I decided to keep that fun activity for tomorrow (or the next day if my little ones are still sick). We got to do a lot of fun activities in this unit, so hopefully I get back to school so I can post them soon.

I started blog stalking hopping about a month or two ago, and ever since I have had this huge question in my head... I love finding kindergarten blogs, since I am a K teacher, and they offer so much inspiration.  However, even when I buy or download any of the work by awesome teachers like Deanna Jump or DeeDee Wills, it requires some major adapting for my class (which I don't mind of course).  However, what I don't get is this:  Their students are writing and reading at levels I could never dream of for my students!  Like actually writing sentences and some even mini paragraphs and they have great spelling and spacing... and my class?  Well, we are just making our way into inventive spelling, and last week we started popcorn words.  We have spent all year learning our alphabets and our sounds and we are just now ready to begin THINKING about spelling, writing, and reading. Some kids are just finally starting to understand the basic concepts of print.

I know I am not an anomoly and that I am not a bad teacher and we are not behind.  All of the other kindergarten classes at my school move at the same pace and we are at pretty much the same spot.  Our school is in an affluent neighbourhood and most students come from well to do homes.  We do have a few English Language Learner Students, but I only have about two, which is certainly not enough to account for this difference.  What I see on Kinder blogs is often more like Grade 1 or sometimes even pushing Grade 2 material in our school, when it comes to reading and writing level.  Is this common for all schools in the US?

Our kindergarten students start school at age 5.  There is no Junior Kindergarten or mandatory preschool.  Preschool is often a socialization agent more than a learning agent, but many children do learn letters, numbers, and how to print a rough version of their name there.  It is usually private and very rarely public. Age 5 is the age when pretty much every child starts formal schooling.  Kindergarten is one year, and we very rarely keep students behind a year.  Some schools have started moving to a full day kindergarten, but these are mostly schools with a large ELL population or lower socio-economic groups.  I teach half day kindergarten, so I have my students for about 2 hours and 45 min a day and that includes recess and snack time.

If anyone out there has any insight into this, it is really plaguing me with curiousity! As great as teachers can be (and as bad as teachers can even sometimes be) I don't think it would account for such a huge difference as this in terms of developmental readiness, and I am totally not saying one way is better or worse than the other.  I just want to know what it is.

Is it curriculum?  Is it educational policy?  Is it a different way of looking at schooling?   It's like a mystery to me that I have to solve. I just want to get to the bottom of it before I go crazy thinking about it!  Maybe I can do a masters paper on it one day...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Double Giveaway!!!

Check out the double giveaway happening over at Kindergarten Works - its HUUUUGE!

We are working on the five sense unit that DeeDee Wills prepared - I am hoping to have some pics tomorrow.  It was awesome!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Non-School Linky Party

Katie over at Persnickety Pickles is having a Linky Party, and I love a good party! I also love Persnickety Pickles!  So I thought I would play along... the theme is to post 7 things you love - but they have to be unrelated to school.  Now for a teacher and a mother, that's HARD!  But here we go...

1. Poutine - YUMMMM... fries, smothered in cheese curds and gravy. 
What could be better than that???

2. Kensie - my favorite designer line. 
I absolutely love everything about their designs. 

3. Party Planning - If I wasn't a teacher,
I am sure party planning would be my next calling!

4. Dairy Queen's Grape Arctic Rush Slushie - I can't even begin to tell you how
many of these I drank while I was pregnant.

5. Playing with my Girls - I love them more than anything,
and spending time with them is my ultimate hobby. 

6. Bubblicious - Takes me right back to childhood!

7. Miss Tiina - I am in love with her designs, and I love buying graphics from her. 
I get so excited when I see new releases from her on my blogroll!

And there you have it!  The seven things that I likely could live without, but life definately wouldn't be as fun!

Sink or Float?

We just completed a Nursery Rhyme unit in my K class, and one of the activities we did was a sink or float experiment.  I wondered aloud what would float in Jack and Jill's pail of water.  Then, we intro'ed the activity by watching these YouTube videos:

It is a Sesame Street experiment where it takes students through the entire scientific method (it was our first time doing it) and actually experiments with several units that sink or float, which works great because it helps students make an HYPOTHESIS instead of a guess, because they have some level of background knowledge.  Plus, my kids just love it when we start an activity with a video clip.  Totally grabs their attention!

Afterwards, they go to stations where there is a bucket of water and six items.  They make an hypothesis by coloring the circle green or red, and then they test the items.  Once they find out if the item sank or floated, we cut out the box and glued it onto our water tank at the top or bottom.  This allows students to clearly see if their hypothesis was right.

At first, some students were upset about their hypothesis being wrong, but then I explained to them that if scientists never made wrong hypothesis', then we would never learn anything new.  They totally dug that up!  At the end we discuss why some things sank and some floated.

This was one of the most popular things we did all year - the kids loved it.  One parent told me her child kept wanting to try everything in their house, and wouldn't get out of the bathtub until she tried everything in the bathroom.  We included as part of our Student Led Conference stations, and they were SO excited to show their parents what they learned.

Anyway, feel free to download the sink or float experiment logs!  I will share more of our nursery rhyme unit this week.


Hi y'all!  I am brand new to the teaching blog world, but I have been stalking and obsessing over   following many teacher blogs for a while now, and I also have a crafty blog that gets neglected due to my crazy obsession kids and lesson planning.

As my sidebar says, I am still a new teacher, but I have learned and gained so much knowledge from all of my friends in blogland that I felt I should give back and share some things from our classroom as well.  I always get too involved in our activities and never remember to take pictures, so I am hoping to turn that around.  I will also try to post some activities that we do in our class.  I am excited to see this blog grow!

Welcome to the beginning of my new blog journey!