Monday, December 13, 2010

Where did the year go?

I cannot believe it has been so long since my last post! As many of you teachers know, once November rolls around, it is crazy at school. Special programs, special activities, class parties, school programs, holiday breaks, etc. We had a fun Thanksgiving in my class with the traditional hand print turkey place mats and indian garb. Since then, we have been traveling around the world and learning about how Christmas is celebrated in Italy, Sweden, Germany and many other international locations. I have learned a few new things, myself. I always love teaching Kindergarten but being with a group of kids at this time of year is just magical (although exhausting). The kids are so excited and the fun activities that we get to do in class are what we were all thinking about when we decide we want to be kindergarten teachers. Another one of my favorite things to do with my class during the holidays is share great books. Here are some great books we have read in class this month. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! Enjoy your breaks, all you teachers and I will be back to my blog more diligently in January.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Web tools for students, parents, and teachers

I was in a meeting today where the topic of discussion was the turn that education has taken, and is still taking, in regards to technology. Some great resources were discussed and, while these don't always relate to kindergarten per se, I think they are great tools to have with your list of Web resources. I have listed a few below with a short explanation of what they are. Check them out if you get a chance and pass them on. If you have any great resources you would like to share, post a comment.

Khan Academy: The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization created and sustained by Salman Khan. With the stated mission "of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere", the Academy supplies a free online collection of more than 2,000 videos on mathematics, science, history, and economics.

ePals: ePals is the leading provider of safe collaborative technology for schools to connect and learn in a protected, project-based learning network. With classrooms in 200 countries and territories, ePals makes it easy to connect learners locally, nationally or internationally.

School of One: This is a new way to look at teaching and learning. School of One re-imagines the traditional classroom model. Instead of one teacher and 25-30 students in a classroom, each student participates in multiple instructional modalities, including a combination of teacher-led instruction, one-on-one tutoring, independent learning, and work with virtual tutors.

Go to Meeting: This site was discussed because a teacher used Go to Meeting as a tool for tutoring students in reading. There are a plethora of ways to use this site.

QR Codes: A QR Code, also known as a Box Code, is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smart phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. You have probably seen these in magazines, lately. These were places outside our classrooms this week. A parent can download any QR Code app on their smart phones, scan the code, and be instantly taken to our class web site. A great tool for all schools!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Counting by 10s with BoxTops

I just happened upon an activity the other day. My class and I were discussing how much each BoxTop for Education is worth (10 cents). As a group, we got out our bag of BoxTops that had been brought in and started counting. About half way into counting it dawned on my that we were doing a 10s activity AND a money activity. So, if you have a big bag of BoxTops, divide them up by tables and have each group count each BoxTop by 10s. Then you can have each table tell you the monetary value of their Boxtops counting by 10s.
This is a fun and easy activity and as a bonus, it keeps the BoxTops a topic of interest for the students. This might help them remember to bring in the valuable little items. Have fun!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I love handwriting!

I love teaching every part of Kindergarten but if I had to choose 2 of my favorite things to teach, I would choose handwriting and reading. Handwriting, at the beginning of the kindergarten year, can be trying but it is always amazing how quickly they develop. We use the Handwriting Without Tears program. I have been teaching this program for about 6 years so I know it like the back of my hand but the one difficult thing about it is the 2 line paper. It is a challenge to teach without a top line but it can be done and it can be done well.
I am currently working on an action research project for part of my professional development this year that will focus on handwriting. I am always looking for great books, articles, blogs, and any examples of different ways to teach handwriting. I am also constantly searching for research on the importance of teaching/learning handwriting and it's effects on other areas of growth. If you come across any resources you think are great, please share them with me. I want to have a great action research project but I also want to become well-versed in handwriting research for my own personal growth. I hope you all enjoy teaching handwriting as much as I do. It is an important skill that will be used long into the future...even if we to type most of what we share these days!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Great Find for Whiteboards!

We recently purchase some Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons for our classroom and they have been a hit! They work and look just like Crayons you use on paper. They look great on the whiteboard and you can really jazz up your lesson with all the different colors. Clean up takes a little more than a dry-erase marker. I typically use 1 wet wipe to clean up but these take two or three for full clean up. I love these and highly recommend them to any teacher!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Coloring, Cutting, and Counting

We did the cutest activity this afternoon, for Tt week and counting, that seemed very easy but turned out to be a bit of a fine motor challenge. The activity seemed easy enough. Color and cut a sheet of trains, numbered 1-10 and then glue them in order.
I made an example to show the boys (which is shown below) and it even took me a while to color and cut each train. The trains are so small the boys really had to take their time cutting. I had a few who just couldn't manipulate cutting such small angles so I drew a box around the train car with a sharpie and had them cut along the straight line. I don't have a picture of one of those to post because the activity has taken so long, we are going to have to finish in the morning. My students seemed to really enjoy the activity and the trains that are complete are so cute. Since the train is so long, I had to use a roll of sentence strip paper to glue the train cars on. These ended up looking a little like train tracks so it worked out well. Here are some of the finished product. Keep in mind, the top one is my example.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

iPod Touch Ideas

We were lucky enough to get a set of iPod Touches for the school. Although, I am an avid iPhone user, I don't have any children at home so I don't know much about educational apps for kids. I am on the hunt for some so, if you use any great apps in your classroom or at home with your own children please send them my way. The boys loved the Touches and I am always amazed at how quickly all this technology has developed. I can't wait to see what all is available when these students are my age!

p.s. Just for the record, it was Hat Day. We don't usually have hats on in the classroom. :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Connections Bulletin Board

My co-teacher Holly is the bulletin board guru! She is always coming up with new and creative board ideas. One of the thinking routines we learned about at Project Zero was about making connections. So, our bulletin board is all about making connections. I thought it was so cute that I had to share!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Scholastic is worth your time!

I just have to share with you fellow teachers that Scholastic is giving away points and books like I have never seen before. I love it! It might take a few extra minutes of your day but I highly suggest either sending home Scholastic every month or have your parents sign up online to place orders under your class name. Our class received 10 free books for placing a $20 order last month and we earned a ton of points as well. We were able to use points to purchase some wonderful books and CDs for our listening center.

Speaking of books....One of my favorite series is coming to an end this month. Knuffle Bunny Free is coming out later this month. I received a sneak peek of this book a few months ago and loved it. Pick it up if you get a chance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Martin Institute Fall Conference

Check out the Martin Institute Conference in Memphis. This is a great opportunity for new and experienced teachers to grow professionally and expand their professional learning networks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oscar's Rotten Birthday

Last week was Oo week which gave us an excuse to celebrate one of the grouchiest of Muppets, Oscar. We celebrated Oscar's Rotten Birthday in many different ways. We read the Oscar's Rotten Birthday book. The boys brought in a rotten birthday gift which included everything from a spoiled potato and a dirty diaper, to stinky mulch, a locust shell, and rotten bananas. (Note: make sure the students know to bring these in zip lock bags so you won't have a smelly classroom.) Each boy came to the front of the class and threw their gift in the garbage which we will be (according to our story) FedEx-ing up to Sesame Street in NYC. We then had a special rotten birthday snack which was the worms-in-dirt snack which most teachers have made a time or two. Our art center for the week was Oscar faces which are posted. It was a fun addition to the week and reminded me of how much I love teaching kindergarten! Just for the record, this is not my original idea so if you happen to be the original designer of this fun activity, thank you! :-)

Here are some cute Oscar links and videos:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ice Cream Color Activity

I know this seems very simple but I love it. This is a great way to mix coloring, cutting, and handwriting, in addition to listening and following multi-step directions. Make sure you put a pre-done example on the board. I made the mistake of not showing an example first. So I had to make quite a few trips to the teachers supply room to make extra copies for re-do. I had them color everything first, cut everything out and glue the ice cream on. I then put mailing labels on each ice cream scoop and the students wrote the color, in back crayon, on the label.
I wrote the color words on the board.

(Here is the finished product.)
(Here is the master.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Project Zero Lesson 1: Taming the Wild

I am a big note taker because my memory is not the best. Here are some of my notes from a presentation by David Perkins, titled Taming the Wild. The main focus of Perkins presentation was that it is our responsibility to "tame" our students just enough. We don't need to over "tame". One of his best quotes is "Good tame illuminates the wild. Bad tame eliminates the wild." Perkins made a great point when he stated that a lot of us and a lot of our students have "aboutitis". We know a lot about things but often don't know how to apply them. Perkins had a great example using baseball. What if we know all about baseball, the facts, the plays, the history, but we don't ever get to play. This is too "tame". You must learn but also apply. Learning and applying go hand in hand and one is not complete without the other. This all falls under the principals of Teaching for Understanding which I will dive into in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Follow me on Twitter!

Check me out on Twitter at cpkindergarten. I would love to build a great network of educators so we can share ideas and possibly tweet with our students during class. If you don't have a Twitter account you can start one now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Things I learned at Harvard...

This summer I was lucky enough to spend a week in Cambridge, MA at Harvard's Project Zero. It was an amazing experience. If you can save your pennies up, get a grant or if you are lucky enough to have your school pay your tuition and travel expenses, I highly suggest it. I will post some of the things I learned at Project Zero over the next few weeks. Feel free to send me any questions.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Classroom

These pics were taken the last week of the last school year.


Welcome to my Kindergarten class page. I have been teaching for 7 years and I am thrilled to be able to bring some of my kindergarten experiences and ideas to you.
Check back soon for regular posts!