Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kindergarten Readiness...Not Just an Age Thing

It happens every August.  A new crop of parents enter my classroom with their Kinders in tow.  They are curious, excited, eager, and sometimes a little apprehensive about the learning adventure that is about to begin for their child.  When I talk with them about their child's readiness they often share with me common sentiments.  If their child has a summer birthday, they worry that their child is not yet ready for Kindergarten.  If their child has a fall birthday, they worry that their child will not be challenged enough in Kindergarten because they just missed the cutoff to attend the year prior (Florida's cutoff for Kindergarten is September 1.)  Regardless of the concern, I always reply with the same honest answer, "Let's get started and see where the year takes us."

As an early childhood educator I know that Kindergarten readiness is much more than a chronological age listed on a form.  It is a composite of the development of the whole child in which all domains (cognitive, social, adaptive, and physical) are taken into consideration.  For example, where one child may be reading before Kindergarten begins, he/she may lack important social skills that are equally as important for success in a formal school environment.

In the past five years I have seen a new approach taken by parents. Some are making a conscious decision to delay Kindergarten for an additional year to allow their child to be the oldest child in class, instead of the youngest.  I am intrigued by this, particularly because I have seen an increase in this school of thought, and wonder if it tied into the national climate of high-stakes testing in public schools.

I found a recent article, "Who's Ready for Kindergarten?" in The New York Times.  It is actually a collection of various opinions written by educators and researchers.  All with valuable viewpoints and meaningful "a-ha" statements.

Take a look, see what you think, and let me know.  I would love to read your comments about this subject.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tap Dancing, Kindred Spirits, and Other Good Advice for Teachers

I have been in the classroom every day this a student.  I am working toward earning a K-12 Reading Endorsement and the class I am currently taking is all about assessment.  Norm referenced...criterion referenced....standardized.....formal....informal....portfolio based...curriculum based.....diagnostic, etc.... You name it and our instructor, Terry, is covering it successfully.

Before the class began I anticipated gaining new knowledge as well as making lots of connections that link new information with my past experiences in the classroom.  This has happened...and then some.

My fellow classmates represent a wide range of educators.  Elementary, middle and high school.  Primary, intermediate and secondary.  General education and ESE.  Some have been educators for over 20 years and others are just beginning or returning to their careers.  I love the diverse backgrounds and perspectives that a heterogenous mix like this brings to learning!

This morning Terry asked us to write down one tidbit of advice for a beginning teacher.  After gathering them, she shared them with us.  As soon as I heard two or three, I immediately knew that I wanted to include them in my blog and asked Terry if I could.  She generously agreed and even added one of her own.

"Be organized.  
(Dancing skills are also good to have)."

"If you stay organized, you will stay more ahead of things. 
Organization keeps you sane."

Classroom Management
"Develop routines early and stick with them.
Practice them with students and make sure they understand them.
Start slowly if you need to, but make sure students understand the routines
....and follow them."

"Make sure you establish your rules Day 1 and be consistent."

"Give classroom jobs to students who exhibit
challenging behaviors or have low achievement levels.
It will make them feel important and reduce problems."

"Be consistent.  Students crave structure. 
Don't be wishy-washy.  Make a decision...and stick to it."

"Don't be afraid to call parents/send notes, etc... Most parents appreciate it." 

"Talk to your administrator when you have concerns
about a student (academically and/or socially, etc...)"

"Teach the class as a whole, but meet the needs of individual students."

"Seek out kindred spirits who will support, listen, share, and collaborate.
These relationships are essential for your emotional growth as a teacher."

"Remember that you became a teacher because you love the kids.
You are not their friend, but you love them."

"Before one can even begin to teach,
your students must believe that you care about them as individuals. 
You must like them and treat them respectfully.
(Or at least make them think that you like them)."

General Survival as a Teacher
"You can't fly by the seat of your pants. 
But you can tap dance if you know all they steps."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Great Books for Father's Day

The school year in our district always ends around Memorial Day.  Because of this, I never get to recognize Father's Day in my classsroom.  But if I are a few books from my own library that I would enjoy reading with my Kinders.  Each book celebrates the importance of the role of fathers in the lives of little ones.
 Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

Daddy and Me by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
Celebrating Father's Day by Donna Marriott

Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer

Pete's A Pizza by William Steig

Picture This....Spider

"It's not the camera....but who's in front of the camera"  - Anonymous

"Uhmm...Excuse Mrs. Pearce?  Is there a spider on my head?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Picture This....Hearts of Joy

"A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity
that will never cease looking back at you" -- Bridget Bardot

R with Miss Brown, my intern, who has a natural gift for touching the hearts of young children.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Picture This

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

I have had a little extra time on my hands since summer vacation began three weeks ago.  It's been great to sleep in, read a little, cook a little, plant some pretty flowers, and even take a short trip with my family.  I have also had the time go through the huge number of photos that I took in my classroom this past year.  What great memories were made!  I think it might be really neat to highlight one each day throughout the summer.  This way I can keep my Kinders on my mind and in my heart. I miss them.

Look at the little guy staring up at me.  I can only imagine what he was thinking at that moment!

Cute Toucan Stuff

As you can tell from my blog title, I like toucans alot.  In my classroom you will find them on posters, in books, even as puppets.  I am always on the lookout for more toucan stuff that I think my students will like.  Here's some that I found on a recent search.
  • On Crayola's website I found this cute craft for making "you can toucan mascots" using Crayola Model Magic. 
  • "You Can Toucan Math" is a colorful book full of problem solving fun.
  • "Toucan You Can" is a collection of catchy children's songs by vocal artist, Donna Lisa.
  • I found an adorable little musical video about Toco the toucan on the children's website, Boowa and Kwala.  If you haven't checked out this it!
  • One of my favorite poets, Shel Silverstein, wrote the poem below about this curious little bird.  I think I might incorporate it into a creative writing activity for my Kinders next school year.
The Toucan

Tell me who can
Catch a toucan?
Lou can.

Just how few can
Ride the toucan?
Two can.

What kind of goo can
Stick you to the toucan?
Glue can.

Who can write some
More about the toucan?
You can!