Monday, June 28, 2010

Frequent Visitors

For the past week or so, my husband and I have been serenaded by a visiting mockingbird during the night time hours. At first it was intriguing to try to figure out what kind of bird sang so melodious when everything else around us was asleep. Then it became a bit tiresome, as we pleaded to each other (and the bird) for slumbered silence. Last night I realized that our frequent visitor is not going anywhere, at least not until he finds a mate, and I might as well embrace his gift of nocturnal song.
This reminds me of the visits that I received to my classroom on a daily basis during the past school year. Every morning, as I greeted my Kinders in Room 608, I had extra visitors, too. Some were former students of mine. Others simply found their way to my room because it was the first one they encountered when they stepped into the hallway from the bus ramp. And like the mockingbird, each seemed to have a particular purpose to their morning visit.
  • T., a tall freckled face girl with a developmental disorder, was fascinated with butterflies. She would greet me daily with her latest coloring sheet of butterflies bursting with patterns of color.
  • S., one of my Kinders from the year before, made sure that she stopped by to ask me to check out her newest tooth, specifically to see how much it had grown overnight. Of course I had to check out the wiggly loose ones as well.
  • Her cohort, K. would always be by her side, ready for a quick hug and eager to share the title of the latest chapter book she was reading.
  • Y., an ESL student, dropped off her sister in the classroom next door. She never told me, but I think she liked to come by so that I could practice basic Spanish with her. She would giggle shyly as I tried to say to her, "Good morning beautiful girl."
  • And then there was J. He was a gentle giant of a boy in 4th grade who came by regularly to check on one of my students whom he affectionately referred to as his "Little Buddy." He would patiently help him unload his lunchbox and daily binder from his backpack, linger for a few minutes to help him begin his eyeopener activity, and then quietly slip away.
All along I presumed that these frequent visitors needed to see me each morning to help them start their learning day. But now I realize it a little bit differently. You see, I needed their frequent visits just as much to start my learning day, too.
*the names of students in this post are reflected as initials to maintain their privacy and safety.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

On-Line Children's Books....It's a Big Universe Out There (Virtually Speaking)

I am forever looking for inexpensive ways to add to my classroom library. Garage sales, EBay and thrift shops have been great places to find gently loved copies of children's classics. I am always amazed at what people will give away or sell for mere pennies! Nothing gives me more pleasure than to acquire a Caldecott or Newberry winner in mint condition and then give it a new home in my classroom. I frequently switch books in and out of the Reading Center and take great pleasure watching my students discover a new title as though it were a piece of pirate treasure. I love to share with them the simple joys of how a book feels in your hands, the way it smells, and the anticipation of a page being turned to reveal a new surprise on the next page.

During the last few years, however, I have come to the realization that my students are experiencing childhood in a much different way then I did. Technology abounds. And abounds. Kids now crave learning experiences that take place on a screen, with brilliant animation that comes alive through the touch of a button or with a flick of a Mimeo wand. It's not enough for my students to hear me read aloud to them conventionally each day. Literacy in my classroom needed to be "bumped up a knotch" to incorporate virtual books, too. And so I began the hunt for sites that featured quality on-line children's books, and boy did I find some great ones!

The International Children's Digital Library (FREE)
Discovery Education's United Streaming (school subscription)
Tumblebooks (school subscription)
Screen Actor's Guild's Storyline (FREE)
Public Library of Charlotte, NC (FREE)
Big Universe (small monthly subscription that includes publishing feature!)
Readeo (small monthly subscription)

Do you have any favorite on-line book sites to share? Please do!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Tuesday and I'm Reflecting

"A good snapshot stops a moment from running away." ~Eudora Welty

The school year here has been over now for almost a month and Summer is definitely in full swing. Although I am enjoying the calm relaxtion of days without adhering to a schedule and the pressure of never ending paperwork, I sure do miss my students. I find myself revisiting photos that were regularly captured by my devoted parent volunteer, Ms Vickie. Memories of our year together. Pajama Day, Teddy Bear Tea Party, Pumpkin Carving, Thanksgiving Feast, Valentines Exchange, Mother's Day Tea and our two treasured field trips in the Spring. When I study the photos long enough I swear I can hear my students' laughter or even see a restless wiggle here or there. I can fondly remember their voices, little idiosyncrasies, and perhaps the favorite of all Kindergarten teachers...those never-ending hugs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where Is this Blog Going....And How Will I Know When I Get There?

I will admit it. I love following blogs. Home decorating blogs. Travel blogs. And perhaps most fondly, blogs devoted to teaching young children. There is an almost voyeuristic nature to reading the various adventures and happenings of people. Maybe I like it so much because it makes this big planet called Earth seem a little bit smaller. Or maybe it's because it occasionally sparks an idea within me that is just aching to come to fruition. The Kindergarten teacher in me might equate viewing blogs as almost a "virtual show and tell." But just as I was an eager young student back in the 1970's, it is not enough to just watch others bravely reveal a priced possession or bit of newfound knowledge....I want to share, too! And so I have arrived at this moment. The creation of my very own blog with its very first post. Am I a little nervous? Yes. Do I know what I am doing? Uhm...not quite. Am I excited? You bet! And so with a little help from our dear Dr. goes!

"Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go."