Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Great Find at Goodwill

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love shopping at Goodwill.  I love the thrill of a great find and really good bargains when I least expect it.  I also feel like I'm burdening the environment a little less by reusing items and clothing as well as supporting my community. Last week my husband and I visited four Goodwill stores while on spring break in the Panama City, Florida area.   It was inexpensive, relaxing fun together.

This afternoon I dropped by my local Goodwill to see what I could find.  Almost immediately something cute caught my eye in the furniture section.  It was this little guy. 

I couldn't resist taking him with me and can't wait to find a new home for him in my classroom.  I think my Kinders will love him.  I'm trying to decide.....Dramatic Play Area or the Reading Center?  Hmmmm..... maybe I'll just ask the kids.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Learning from K-9 Friends

Recently during our recent unit of study on community helpers, we were visited by the K-9 unit of the local correctional institution.  Officer Mike Stallings happens to be the husband of Mrs. Stallings, one of my KG colleagues.  He and two other officers were kind enough to share their expertise in this field. 

They brought along two bloodhounds and a beagle named PeeWee.  They told us all about these talented animals and the important job they do.  During the presentation I kept thinking of parallels to how our Kinders best learn.  It was fascinating, and I thought I would share a few comparisons with you.
  • K-9 dogs are trained to use multiple senses to do their work.  At times their sense of sight and hearing will be overrun by their sense of smell.  Young children experience learning through all of their senses, too. At times a learning activity will require the use of one sense more than another.  It's important that as teachers we remember to incorporate a variety of activities when exploring a new concept that utilize not just the senses of sight or hearing, but that of touch, taste and smell as well.
  • Teaching K-9 dogs to track is very specific and intentional.  The officers who train them have set goals in mind and the strategies they use target those goals.  We need to remember that our classroom instruction needs to also be very intentional.  We always need to keep the essential learning question in mind as we design lessons, activities, deliver instruction, and assess progress.
  • The officers practice the basic routines of tracking with their dogs everyday.  We know that repetition is the key to mastering concepts with young children. We also know that they learn best with rich, engaging learning routines in place.  They have a sense of success when these routines are accomplished and then reaccomplished again and again. 
  • When PeeWee the beagle successfully picks up a scent when tracking, he lets his officer know by barking and yelping. The officer, in turn, knows that they are headed in the right direction. This reminded me that successful learning is not intended to be always be quiet.  Sometimes we view chatting and talking out during instruction as disrespectful and off-task behaviors. We need to be intentional to listen specifically to what our students are saying and provide appropriate feedback. Often they are showing that they are totally engaged in our instruction and want to relate new knowledge to prior concepts.  It's those linkages that are so powerful in learning.
  • When the target is reached, the K9 dogs are rewarded with both intrinsic praise (verbal praise, pats and petting) and extrinsic rewards (bones for chewing).  The officers offer the extrinsic rewards only occasionally, so that the dogs don't expect them, and they never lose the sense of excitement and surprise when they receive them.   As teachers we need to remember that stickers, skittles and trips to the treasure box are effective and exciting for our students.  But it is the feeling inside of pleasure for a job well done that is the ultimate reward as learners and builds self esteem.  We never need to underestimate the power of focused praise, a pat on the back....and great big hugs.
Living with animals can be a wonderful experience,
especially if we choose to learn the valuable lessons
animals teach through their natural enthusiasm,
grace, resourcefulness, affection and forgiveness.

                                                                                                   — Richard H. Pitcairn

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break

We are on Spring Break here in North Florida.  I thought it only appropriate to post at least once from my home away from home for the week....Panama City Beach.   Today the forecast here is sunny with a high temperature of 81 degrees and slight ocean breeze.  Here are some cool factoids about this beautiful area in case you ever want to visit. 
  • It averages 320 days of sunshine every year.
  • The beaches are made of pure white sand that look like sugar.  The sand is actually composed of quartz crystals washed down from the Appalachian mountains centuries ago.
  • The area boasts one of the highest numbers of bottlenose dolphins in the world.
  • TripAdvisor.com named the area's largest state park, St. Andrews, the #2 beach in America.
  • It's location is convenient for great day trips to other great beaches on the gulf coast like Destin, Ft. Walton, Pensacola, Cape San Blas and St. George Island.
I'm lucky to live only an hour or so away from PCB (as locals like me refer to it).  But when my family visits, we feel like we are on a tropical vacation every single time.

I have only thing left to say about Panama City Beach and it pretty much summarizes the way I an feeling right now.....Ahhhhhhh.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh the Things They Will Say....All Grown Up

During recess on a sunny afternoon this week a couple of my more observant Kinders noticed a blemish on my chin.  They were curious enough to ask what it was and I simply told them.  Then Mrs. Stallings, my colleague from the classroom next door, further mentioned that when they become teenagers they might experience a blemish or two themselves.

The teezer bedeezer in me couldn't let a good moment slip by and I teased, "See, you guys didn't know that Mrs. Pearce is still a teenager, did you?" 

I. immediately protested by saying, "You are NOT a teenager.  You are a grown up!" 

"I'm a grown up?  When did THAT happen?" was my response.
To this she matter-of-factly replied, "When you turned 100."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oh The Things They Will Say.....Lepreckins

This afternoon my Kinders created leprechaun hats to wear to lunch on St. Patrick's Day.  As each student finished assembling a hat I wrote their new "leprechaun" name on it and then announced the name to the class.  I attached an O' to the beginning of each student's last name and laughter erupted every time a new leprechaun name was said.  I even gave myself a leprechaun name....Mrs. O'Pearce.

But R. wasn't so sure that she wanted to be called "R. O'Monroe" and she let me know that pretty directly.  I asked her if she would like to be called "R. Leprechaun Monroe" instead and she agreed that she liked this option better.  One of the kids decided to try out R's leprechuan name, but called her "R. Lepreckin Monroe" instead.  Laughter ensued again around the room and B. spoke up to correct her.   "It's not called a lepreckin.  It's called a leprechaun.  A lepreckin is what you call a little leprechaun kid." 

Well I can't wait to accompany my 17 "lepreckins" to lunch on St. Patrick's Day later this week.  And I hope the lunchroom ladies will serve green jello for dessert, too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Recently one of my coteachers discovered Alphablocks and immediately fell in love with it. She shared it with the rest of our KG teaching team..and we did too! It's kind of like Starfall.com. The animation is absolutely terrific. My students watch a clip or two each week as we focus on particular phonics skills, and then beg to watch them over and over. I just love new discoveries that catch on quickly....don't you?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Teaching Philosophy....the Wordle Way

I recently checked out a recent post by Ash over at Teaching Happily Ever After. Wordle was used to generate her teaching philosophy.  I was immediately curious and decided to take a stab at it.  It's a great linguistic activity.  Here's what my teach philosophy looks like.  Do you see any words that you can relate to in your own philosophy?
Wordle: a kindergarten teaching philosophy
Click on this link to go to Wordle and check out the large version of my philosophy which is much easier to read.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Dot

I recently discovered a children's book, so profound, that I knew I needed to share it with people who love teaching and learning as much as I do. It's called The Dot, and it perfectly captures the essence of teaching and learning better than any college textbook or guide to the latest, innovative educational movement that I have seen.

I have read The Dot over and over from different perspectives. From the perspective of a student, and then as a teacher.  It was important to me to do this because I consider myself both a teacher and a student simultaneously.  That's what makes teaching so magical.

I shared it with my students and I was delighted that they were familiar with it. They remembered that Ms. Brooks, our school's art teacher, read it with them at the beginning of the school year. (The actual setting of the book is an art classroom).
Since then I have shared it with my KG teaching team, my student intern, our school's reading coach, my husband (who is an elementary school principal), and now you....my blogging community.  And I'm not finished sharing yet.  It's THAT special.

If you are interested, check out the links on the book's title. It will take you directly to the author, Peter H. Reynold's website. 

"Just make a mark and see where it takes you."