Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Handwriting!

Hey Kinder Friends,
As the school year approaches, I am starting to think about the essential items that I need to have on hand in order to be prepared for the year. Over the years I have noticed that the children that come to me need a lot of help in the area of handwriting. In the past, I have been able to get by with simple lessons and materials but over the last few years I have been faced with some serious handwriting challenges. For the past several years I have noticed a huge increase in the children that either wear or need glasses. Last year one third of my class either wore them or needed to wear them and didn't. In addition to that, I have also noticed that the children entering my classroom either cannot write yet or very little and if they do write their letter formation is poor. And I also know we have no formal curriculum for handwriting. Furthermore, this year I am faced with another challenge. Last year our prek at my school was cut and the children were sent to another school. The problem is many of the parents decided to keep their children home instead. So this year my classroom will more likely be filled with children who may not have had the benefit of a prek teacher or program.
Based on the needs of my class last year I needed several different things when considering each lesson. Some children needed large print, some needed very focused and repeated instruction and some just needed a little practice.
With the slide show I was able to focus on a particular letter each day or week and revisit a particular letter as needed. I was able to save the original slide show, delete the slides I did not need that week and keep the ones I would be working on. We focused on letter formation for about ten minutes per day and it was needed. It did not take long for the kids to catch on. The blue dot in each slide shows the proper path of motion for each letter. When I made my personal slide shows I made 3 copies of each slide so we could see the path of motion 3 times.
After the slide show focus lesson we all had plenty of opportunities to practice what we learned. We had fun with it. We went from weak handwriting to strong handwriting. I had to eventually create some large print handwriting pages for a few of my students who struggled.
Providing the larger format for practice really helped my strugglers. These would also be great in plastic sleeves with dry erase because they are large enough for the width of the marker. These pages can be found in the Handwriting Practice above.
I almost forgot my favorite part... One of my favorite teaching tools is my presentation pointer. I was able to walk around the room with it in my hand advancing the slides and pointing where needed from anywhere in the room. I found this on Amazon and would not want to start the year without it! So with a few basic tools on hand I feel ready to conquer and handwriting challenges I face and I know we will have fun doing it!


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Daily Schedule!

Hey Kinder Friends,
We are so close to the first day of school it is time to talk about the daily schedule. It is amazing how we fit it all in and get it all done all in a day and with a class full of students. Most of my career I  had flexibility in my schedule and I loved that. For the last few years I have had a mandated schedule but flexibility within each block...thank goodness. No matter how you look at it, it has to get accomplished so the way I look at it now is totally different than in the beginning of the mandate.
The Literacy Workshop
I am fortunate to have the flexibility to move the components around within the workshop and if I need a little more time one day for something I can use it. Even knowing that, I do my best to honor the amounts of time for each piece and make decisions based on the needs of the children I teach.
It is a balancing act...
What are the components of the Literacy Workshop?
Reading
Writing
Integrated Social Studies
Breaking it down!
Independent Workstations 10
Read Aloud 10
Word Study 10 
Writing Demonstration 10
Independent Writing 20
Reading Demonstration 10
Guided Reading/Workstations 40
Shared Reading 10
Enrichment/RTI 30
So much needs to be accomplished in 150 minutes!
The Math Workshop
One of the biggest questions I hear and ask other teachers about is the structure of the math workshop. We all want to know what is going on in this or that classroom so we can tweak and modify our own workshop and make it better. I never really tire of talking about the math workshop. Over the years I have had a standard 90 minutes of math. The only difference in the last few years is that now that 90 minutes is not broken up by specials or any other event. My 90 minutes is continuous. No matter if I have 90 continuous minutes of math or if it is broken into two parts, I could find and discuss the pros and cons of both. The fact of the matter is that I have 90 minutes of continuous math that consume my math block. Knowing the nature of a five year old and knowing my time allotment, I had to make it work so that we are continuously moving through the 90 minutes and accomplishing everything. I will be the first to admit 90 minutes at the beginning of kindergarten is challenging to say the least. It feels like that block will never end and within a few weeks I always find myself begging for more.  
What are the components of the Math Workshop?
In my math workshop I include:
Calendar Time
Focus Lesson
Guided Practice
Independent Practice
Small Group Instruction
RTI
Number Talks
Notebooking
Breaking it down!
I follow this format each day of the week except for my computer lab day. Having the lab day break up the week really helps me because it is just once a week and we look forward to it. So the rest of the week we follow the breakdown.
Calendar 5-10
Focus Lesson 5-10
Guided Practice 10
Independent Practice and Focused Small Group 20
Transition 10
Independent Practice and RTI 20
Number Talks 10 
The calendar time is quick and easy. The focus lesson is our current content. Guided practice is simply guided instruction and modeling. Independent practice is when children practice what has already been taught while I work in a small group. I usually have a transition planned that I am excited about because...I don't really like stopping! I need it for time management. In the beginning I use surveys and questions. We have another round of independent practice and RTI. And finally we end with Number Talks.
I end with Number Talks because everything is cleaned up and it signals the end of the workshop. Number Talks is one of my favorite components so leaving it to the end is motivational to...me!

The Science Workshop
One of the biggest changes over the last couple of years has been in the area of science. We used to have a flexible schedule rather than a mandated schedule. Before the mandated schedule science could be integrated into other subjects and the actual time was flexible. It was a freedom I enjoyed for well over a decade. I always had science embedded into my day before but it was flexible and if I needed a little more time for something I had it. So naturally I was not thrilled when we were on a mandated schedule and science was limited to 30 minutes at best and at the end of the day. Honestly I struggled and struggled a lot finding solutions that covered the standards and left enough time for hands-on exploration. Sometimes what I normally would do in one session, I had to spread over a couple of days. Last year smack in the middle of the year, our actual school day was increased 9 minutes and that was added to science. I made adjustments and moved on. This year I now have an hour! In response to the added time, I now envision a science structure that will actually work with enough time for hands-on learning!
What are the components of the Science Workshop?
Focus Lesson 10
Guided Practice 5
Independent Practice/Small Groups 30
Notebooking 15
Kindergarten Daily Schedule
8:20 Arrival
8:20-8:30 Independent Workstations
8:30-8:40 Read Aloud
8:40-8:50 Word Study
8:50-9:00 Writing Demonstration
9:00-9:20 Independent Writing
9:20-9:30 Reading Demonstration
9:30-10:10 Guided Reading/Workstations
10:10-10:20 Shared Reading
10:20-10:50 Enrichment/RTI
10:50-11:20 Lunch
11:20-11:40 Recess
11:50-12:00 Calendar Time
12:00-12:10 Math Focus Lesson
12:10-12:20 Math Guided Practice
12:20-12:40 Math Independent Practice and Focused Small Group
12:40-12:50 Transition
12:50-1:10 Math Independent Practice/RTI
1:10-1:20 Number Talks
1:25-2:35 Specials
2:35- 2:45 Science Focus Lesson
2:45-2:50 Science Guided Practice
2:50-3:20 Science Independent Practice
3:20-3:35 Notebooking
Social Studies is embedded into Language Arts
Check back with me to learn more about each component of our day!

         

Saturday, July 30, 2016

First Day Freebie!

Hey Kinder Friends,
I can almost hear the school bell ringing. It is right around the corner. I can't believe how fast the summer just seemed to fly by. It won't be long and it will be the night before the first day.
With all of the hustle and bustle of back to school shopping and getting the classroom ready it is hard to get it all done. There are so many things to prepare for the year that sometimes it is easy to overlook the first day. The first day is so important and you might want to capture it in a quick picture. So if you need a little help getting a prop ready I found this in my files just ready for back to school. It is simple to print and prepare and a great prop after reading First Day Hooray.
Just a simple print, cut, laminate and staple together for the kids to hold for their first day pictures. So if this helps you get it all together and ready for that first day...hooray!
If you need your copy click...



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