Monday, August 29, 2011

I Screen, You Screen...

...I finally have a projector screen!!!!

It took a big dream, 2 grants, 12 months, and the Sunday afternoon of 2 of my favorite men (i.e. my hubby and my daddy), and I am finally teaching with technology.

I know most of you are laughing because you proabably all have SmartBoards, and documents cameras, and IPads...

But I didn't have anything but one working teaching computer and two semi-working student desk-top computers, so I am more than thrilled to be the ONLY Kindergarten classroom with an LCD and laptop.

I used it today with our "Letter Kk" lesson. The kids were so excited about our "big screen".

We also used it with our science lesson. I found the powerpoint here I also found some great ideas for science journals and experiments.

After we did the PowerPoint, which talks about different types of "scientists", the students drew a picture of what they would like to study in their journal. Most of the girls wanted to study flowers, weather, or medicine. Most of the boys wanted to study bugs, volcanoes, or rocks. Ha! I printed off a little slip of paper and then wrote what they wanted to study. The other blog wrote the type of scientist- like "geologist"- or whatever. I also thought that was a great idea!

Here are a few of from my students journals:

I also do Math Journals. I generally try to do them 3 days a week in conjunction with my other math lesson. They take a lot longer this time of year, but in the next few weeks, they will have them down!

Our routine (after finding the next page, of course) is to...

First- Put the page number in the top right corner.
Second- Write the date in the white space at the top.
Third- Raise your hand when you are ready!

I check to make sure they have written the page number and date and hand them the slip of paper with the math journal assignment already typed on it.

This time of year we start simple. Here are a few examples...

Writing the date is very hard for them this time of year, but by mid-September, almost every child can do it. I found that since I added journals to the curriculum three years ago, it has really improved my students' number handwriting as well as overall number sense. I believe they really add a lot to the curriculum. We will eventually be adding and subtracting, etc... in these. We will do patterns and other things too once we get the routine down.

I love using journals. They give students a little independence and also allow you to have a portfolio of their work. I also use spelling journals that we will start around October and Story Writing journals that we will use beginning in January.

I bought all of these at the beginning of the year. I use the regular spiral kind for Spelling and Science ($0.15 or 0.20 at Walmart) and I use the composition kind for Math- ($0.40 at Walmart). The writing ones I use are kind of expensive- $32.95 for 10 from Lakeshore. They are the best though! I let my kids practice on regular handwriting paper first. They have to 'earn' their journal. I ended up getting my last set through a local grant, which was GREAT!

I have a journal station in my room for all my journals.

I color coded them so they would match the bucket. I would love to hear from anyone else that uses journals!!!!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dotty Data

Well I OFFICIALLY survived my first week back to school with the kids. We sent them home exhausted yesterday afternoon and I don't even remember getting in the bed last night I was so tired!!!

I have already shared my hallway decor, but since it was missing the letter "D" in the word "spotted" I took another picture to post..

The first week of school we generally do book units, introduction to cutting and glue sticks (no white glue), tracing, name writing, etc... I really really really like to start my alphabet curriculum on day 3, but the rest of Kindergarten was waiting until Monday. So to avoid being the only person that was 2 days ahead, I waited. I like an extremely structured routine and in Kindergarten, the quicker we can get into one- the better! Our P.E. time was changed this year too, which was hard for us. We only get 30 minutes. We normally have the 9:00 P.E. time and this year they changed everyone's P.E. times. Our's is now 12 noon. I will really like it when our reading program begins. I do not like it right now though. 7:45 until 12 with no break for 5-year-olds is a REALLY long time... for them AND for me!

I didn't take a lot of pictures this week. I was too frazzled. One activity that my children really seemed to like was "Miss Nelson is Missing." There really was not anything cute about it. I just read them the story (like I do every year!) The only thing I did different this year- we made a chart and students sorted characteristics between Miss Nelson and Viola Swamp. It was pretty much a group oral activity. I would have liked to have made a class book. Maybe- "What do you think happened to Miss Nelson?" (Most of them figured it out) We didn't have time for anything else though. They were really getting into the group activity.
Here is our board when we finished:

Some things were actual characteristics from the story and some were not from the story but were application questions. Such as, which teacher might bring cookies to school?

We also made Ladybug Glyphs this week. I love making glyphs. I had the pieces already cut, but the kids had to listen and use their glue sticks to make their lady bugs. We actually did these on the first day of school. That was pretty interesting!!! I thought they did a good job considering it was the first day of Kindergarten.

On Thursday, we did "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom". We graphed the letters in our name during math- wish I had a picture. :(
We also made these cute trees to go in the hallway:

They are not the cutest trees as far as the shape of them, but they are really easy to make. I print and cut out the strips of white paper. Students wrote their name on the first line and counted the letters. They wrote that number on the 2nd line. I had already cut out the green and brown strips and had them ready the kids to glue on. This time of year I always give them pieces one at a time. I had cut the letters out at home the night before from vinyl. I wish I hadn't picked red. I wasn't really thinking about the colors!! I made the kids bring the tree to my table one-by-one, count the letters for me, and tell me each letter in their name as they put them on. So it was also a great little informal assessment as well.

Well... like I mentioned before... I'm the "lucky" one that is grade level chair this year. I have a reading curriculum calendar that I need to make today AND I need some festive activities for letters A through E. I don't know about y'all- but after 4 years of Alphatales, enough is enough. I need something else! Any ideas?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Swing of Things

Kindergarten teachers....

Am I the only one that forgets how HARD the first few days of school are???

This really isn't my first rodeo! You would think by now I would have the back-to-school procedures under control. Seriously, though, I think if you teach Kindergarten, God gives you a special brain that magically erases the memory of the first few days of school. Because if he didn't... there would be no Kindergarten teachers.

I just forget that in May, when the last bell rings, and 18 ready-to-go-to-first-grade children walk out of my room....

Someone had taught them to walk in that straight line.
Someone had taught them to open their milk carton, ketchup packets, and how to peel their bananas.
Someone had taught them how to sit in their chair and raise their hand.
Someone had taught them to raise their hand before they yelled out what they had for dinner, what their dog's name is, and how many play trucks they have at home.
Someone had taught them to work silently at their table and solve problems independently.
Someone had taught them to read for goodness sake! And to count and add numbers!

And at the end of the third day of school, when my feet burn and my legs ache because I haven't sat down for 3 days. And my eyes are puffy because I have stayed up late organizing information sheets and cutting out circles for ladybugs. And my brain is foggy because I am thinking about my Chicka Chicka lesson tomorrow and feeling like I am ready to just jump out of the coconut tree...

I have to remember that someone was me.

That's why my heart is in Kindergarten!

Even if it is a little rough getting back in the swing of things!

I found some pictures of my FIRST classroom and I thought it would be fun to share a couple! Here are my "rules". I still use these! They are in a different place- but the same animals/wording.

I made those up in college and I could not wait to put them on the wall in a classroom!!! The kids love them and it gives them a visual for the rule. My behavior plan is a little funky compared to others, but it works for me.

I do not have a traffic light or whatever. One year I did a train track (staying on track). It worked ok. I just think I spent more time listening to the kids fussing about who was "on green", "on yellow", "supposed to be on red", "never on green". Last year I went to a behavior board. I have a clipboard. It has their names, two columns per day (which would equal yellow and red), and I carry it EVERYWHERE. If we are in the bathroom- I have it. Lunchroom- I have it. They are accountable everywhere we go. I have to make sure I am consistant about carrying it with me and marking it- but it has worked wonders in the behavior in my room. The children's behavior is between them and me. Not everyone else in the room. I explain it in detail to the kids at the beginning and show it to them. They know that if they have marks, they have to sit out during free time and it goes home in their folder. You can bet your britches that when we are at the bathroom and I start writing- their isn't a mouth moving. I love it! It's one of those things that sound crazy- but work. :)

I have a few things to share later this week! I wanted to upload them tonight, but left them on my USB at school! My teacher brain is back already!!!

If you commented to receive the apple poem and I missed sending it to you- please email me or leave another comment with your email so I can get it to you. I tried to send it to those that wanted it. I hope I didn't miss anyone!

Also! Fun news! My 1st project that was funded in May shipped this week so I will be getting a technology cart and a screen for my projector soon! Hooray!!!!

My next project is up for match funding by Quill if you want to check it out.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Meet & Greet- Plus Something Sweet!

This week we have eat out every night because I haven't been home. I have bags under my eyes, my fingers hurt from opening and closing binders, my hands hurt from cutting out popcorn shaped words, and my back is killing me from climbing up and down- putting things in cabinets and hanging things on the wall.

This week I went to sign out of school one day and realized I had been there 12, yes 12, hours. I started wondering if I should just get my mail delivered to the big brick building on the bypass since that's where I've been everyday.

I guess by now you all have guessed that it is the week before school starts and we had our teacher inservice days on Tuesday through Friday of this week. Most of that time was spent in lovely and very *informative* meetings so we didn't get too much accomplished in our rooms during the day.

Thursday night was our Kindergarten orientation. I have been excited about trying out these new ideas. I can't wait to share them with you!

A few years ago (when times got tough and we stopped getting classroom supply money), I started making a classroom wish list and putting it on the board during orientation. In the past, I have just put up sticky notes with the items I want (usually one item per sticky note) and the parents that choose to participate can pick up the ones they would like to purchase. Items I usually include are: Mr. Clean sponges, air freshener refills, AA and AAA batteries (for air freshener sprayer and remote controls), sponge brushes, ink cartridges for our classroom printer, cardstock, etc...

This year, I decided to make it a little cuter. After all, a bunch of yellow sticky notes on a board are not very festive!!! I wrote my items on cute little apples:

I drew a tree on the board and wrote "The Giving Tree". Parents could pick an apple from the tree. It turned out really cute!!! ( Sorry for the rough photos. I had to use my iphone. A classroom digital camera is on my digital wishlist along with 18 Ipads and a ton of other things!)

Another new thing I'm trying- e-mail magnets! I got the idea from an online professional development class. One of the other participants mentioned it. I made the design in PhotoShop and then used Vistaprint to print them. I think I paid less than $7 for 24 of them! Too cute!!! I know every parent doesn't have email, but if the parents who have it would utilize it, it would be great! I wanted to really encourage it this year, so I thought the magnets would be great for them to stick on their refrigerators or filing cabinets at work.

And last, my favorite new thing that I did this year....

I ran across this cute little poem a while back and I really wanted to do something with it for orientation. I made cute little tags and tied them to the apple stems with ribbon. I cannot tell you how adorable it was!!! I thought it turned out so stinkin' cute!

Here's the really fun part! I want to share these with you!!!!!! If you would like to have a FREE copy of these cute little tags (without my name, of course!), please go over to the side and become a follower, share the link to my blog, leave a comment and let me know where you shared and where to send the file. EDIT- JULY 2012- Due to the high volume of emails, please visit my TPT store to download the tag for FREE!!!