Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lovable in Kindergarten

September has become "love bug season" here in rural North Florida.  These harmless, fragile insects (scientifically referred to as Plecia nearctica) are found everywhere...including windshields and playgrounds.  As with any insect, our Kinders have been fascinated by them.  They chase them, call out for them, and delight when a pair (or four) lands on them for a short while.  When the love bug invasion first appeared the kids were a little frightened, naturally, so me and my co-teachers  explained that these insects are very gentle, do not sting, and are happiest when they have a partner with them.  Our explanations seem to work, and soon the kids were seeking the bugs out instead of running from them.

Yesterday one of my students scurried up to my classroom intern, Miss Jones, and gleefully exclaimed as she showed her a pair of love bugs who had landed on her shirt, "Look Miss Jones...I'm lovable!"  I think our recent love bug invasion could not have been more timely at the beginning of the school year, when we are learning what it means to love...and how to be lovable.  I think we will all be a little sad when our gentle visiting insects migrate on.  Perhaps they will visit another playground and help to teach little learners what being lovable is all about.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Abracadabra....Kagan Magic!

Last week I had the privilege of attending a week-long Kagan Cooperating Learning Institute.  I say it was a privilege because it was an all expense paid opportunity for myself and 9 colleagues from our local school district. I had heard about the program for years, and had tucked it away on my mental wish list.  When the opportunity came, I jumped right on it!

The quality of the training was top-notch...probably some of the best that I have experienced in my teaching career.  Our facilitator was just amazing.  She was a former teacher, administrator, and college-level instructor.  She was honest, funny, energetic, and extremely knowledgeable.  She kept us moving all week long and inspired us connect with each other in positive and meaningful ways, all the while modeling Kagan ideals, strategies and structures.

It was definitely an eye-opening game-changer for my group and totally turned our ideas of cooperative learning upside down by providing research based management tools and strategies that can be easily implemented in our classrooms, regardless of grade-level or content area.

Best of all it just "made sense."  And in an era of constant change in assessments, standards, curriculum, and fly-by-night educational trends that are "guaranteed" to work, it was refreshing and comforting to experience something that just might be the magic that I'm looking for in my classroom.

I've got my magic Kagan wand polished and ready to go on August 18 and I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back to the Land of Blog

Once upon a time there was a Kindergarten teacher from a little town called Crawfordville.  She loved to blog.  She blogged in the daytime and she blogged at night.  She blogged about dreams of things to come, stories of dreams that came and went, and other stuff.

After some time passed, this teacher became a little tired of blogging.  It was like she just ran out of the energy to blog.  It was unfortunate because this teacher still had plenty to share...dreams of things to come, stories of dreams that came and went, and other stuff.

One day years later, she happened upon her old blog.  It was strictly out of curiosity.  She simply wanted to find out if her blog was still there.  With a click of a key (and one eye open and one eye shut), she got her answer.  It was there.  Just like she left it all those years ago.  Now what was she to do?

She began to read her old posts and something magical happened.  The more she read, the more she smiled.  The more she smiled, the more excited she became.  And then an an answer magically came to her.....BLOG!

She realized in that moment that she still had plenty to share....dreams of things to come, stories of dreams that came and went, and other stuff.  LOTS of other stuff.

And so her adventure in the Land of Blog began again.....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's Happenin'?......LOTS!

It's been a while since I posted pics of our classroom happenings.  Too long.  But the start of this school year has been exhausting.  I'm finally getting into my "groove" and ready to share with you some photos of my new crop of Kinders and the fun that they have had so far at school this year.

Discovering a good book...or two

Celebrating an important birthday...number 5!

Milking a coconut

Using the Mimio to make learning really fun

Observing our classroom pet, Gus, up close

Working with magnets and creating at the easel

Listening to a favorite story read by our Assistant Principal, Ms. Kelley

Sorting pasting together

Building structures

Painting rainbow toast

Number puzzles...
...word puzzles...
......and tangrams

Making Banana raisin bread with N's Mom, Miss Melisa

Patterning the letter Mm with macaroni, M&M's, and marshmallows and the letter Nn with Nerd candies

Introducing a special friend on Teddy Bear Day

Oh the Things they Will Say....A New Name for Nicholas

I love it when my Kinders take the initiative to play with sounds, syllables and words.  I think it's a true indicator that my instruction in phonemic awareness has not fallen on deaf ears.  Yesterday A. came to me and asked if he could call his good pal Nicholas a different Nic. I told him that he might want to check with Nicholas first to see if it was ok with him. 

Then I couldn't help but go with the moment by suggesting, "You could call him Nic or even Nic Nic." 

To my surprise A.  took it a step even further.  "I could call him Nic, Nic Nic, or Nic Nic Nickety Nic Nic."

I figured A. must like Nicholas very much to spend so much time thinking of just the right new name for him.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oh the Things They Will Say.....The Nose

Yesterday while on the playground, two friends collided on the slide.  With one friend in tears and the other suddenly asking to go to the bathroom I knew there had to be a story behind the drama, so I brought both of them together to find out.

"Friend A" - otherwise known as the friend in tears, simply explained that he got bumped and it hurt.

"Friend B" - otherwise known as the friend needing to go to the barthroom, had a little bit tougher time telling what happenend.  His words spurted out quickly.  "Going by him.....didn't mean to......bump......steps.....going down."

Finally after we took a few deep breaths and I gently prodded him with some questions, the truth came out.  And it was one scenerio I haven't quite heard before.

"I was on the slide.  I needed to go down.  And well....his nose got in the way."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Oh The Things They Will Say.....Happy and Younger

The Kindergarten classrooms at my school use Dr. Jean Feldman's "The Rules Rap" to teach our rules.  I created a slide presentation and social story as visuals to go along with the song.  On the last slide/page I included a picture of me smiling with the sentence, "When we follow the rules it makes Mrs. Pearce happy."  

On the first day of school I introduced the rap and the rules using the social story.  When we arrived at the last page N. asked me how old I was in the picture.  I laughed and asked him how old did he think I was.  He matter of factly replied, "In your 20's."  I then asked him how old did he think I was in person.  "He said, "In your 30's."

Yesterday was the second day of school, and we reviewed the rules by rapping the rap and reading the story again.  The kids did great and remembered many of the rules.  When we arrived at the last slide/page I asked the group, "What does this picture tell us happens when we follow the rules at school?"

Several kids in the group chimed in and answered, "It makes Mrs. Pearce happy."

Without delay N. added, "and younger."

I think we're off to a good start.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

1. the material of which anything is made: a hard, crystalline stuff.
2. material to be worked upon or to be used in making something: wood, steel, and other stuff for building.
3. material of some unspecified kind: a cushion filled with some soft stuff.
4. Chiefly British . woven material or fabric, especially wool.
5. property, as personal belongings or equipment; things.
I have spent the last week setting up my classroom for the new school year.  Finding the perfect physical location for my developmental centers and work tables was the easy part, because I really liked the classroom setup I finished the last school year with and decided to use it again.  Placing all the stuff that goes in and on the furniture...well that's another story and here's why:
  • In Kindergarten there is so much stuff.  Big stuff and little stuff.  It takes up space fast.  And space is what we always want more of in a classroom.
  • It is important to place the stuff in just the right spots.  For example, you don't want to place math manipulatives too close to homeliving because then you will have hundreds of little pieces of stuff mixed in with plastic food.
  • I have to make sure that all stuff is clean and working properly.  Nothing is worse than me or a student getting ready to use stuff and it not work. Kinders expect stuff to work all the time.
  • You want to ease your kids into stuff.  If you put out too much stuff at the beginning of the year then you have the potential for chaos and mess.  I like to interchange my stuff throughout the year to keep things interesting for my students (and me).
  • Stuff has specific rules and purpose.  The purpose and use of all stuff must be explained during the first weeks of school.  A Kindergarten teacher can never take for granted that students know how and when to use stuff appropriately.
  • We got new Science curriculum from "National Geographic" this year.  It is wonderful.  But it is three big boxes of more stuff that I have to find a place for.
  • I know that during the first week of school I am going to get all the supply list stuff from each of my Kinders.  I have to have very specific places to store all this stuff and gently explain to my Kinders that we will not use all of it during the first week.  (They get very excited about their stuff).
  • I must have all stuff discreetly and compactly organized before the Fire Marshall visits during the first semester of the school year....or me and my stuff will be in hot water (no pun intended).
Seriously. I am thankful for the stuff I have. I am thankful to work in a school district that provides funding for me to buy stuff every year and maintains a beautifully equipped school to put it all in.  I am thankful to the parents of my students who so generously provide stuff to my classroom so that their children can have a wonderful Kindergarten experience. 

I also know that even without all the stuff, my students CAN learn and I CAN teach. If we come to school every day with a heart and a brain ready to learn, then we can do it.  All the stuff just makes it even more fun. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ready to Read! by Dr. Jean

Watching this video of Dr. Jean Feldman explain the basics of reading readiness is the next best thing to sitting in one of her workshops. This is a wonderful FREE resource. I think it could be shown during the Kindergarten Parent Night that we hold within the 1st month of the new school year to reinforce those basic oral language and prereading skills to parents.

The video also affirms why I love teaching young children so much.  Isn't readiness readiness exciting!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trucks, Books, and Ice Pops

This past week a group of faculty and staff members from my school gathered to load up two trucks with buckets full of new books and a cooler full of ice pops.  Our mission was to spread the gift of literacy to the small town where we teach and live.  It was so much fun to fellowship together and to see some of our students and parents in their neighborhoods.  You can imagine the looks of surprise we encountered.  Usually our students see us only at school or perhaps in the grocery store or at church.  It was a wonderful way to spend a summer evening and we look forward to doing it again.