Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Kindergartners were given the homework assignment of asking their parents to check the batteries in their fire alarms. In my class, 20 students returned this morning with a note about checking their fire alarm and one even told us that the batteries in his alarm needed to be changed and his mother said he may have saved the family’s life! This is live research, non-fiction information meant to save lives - Social Studies at its best! Wonder how many little fire fighters were sitting in the audience today?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
After the parade the kindergartners enjoyed seasonal Centers with parent volunteers. Some of the Centers had an academic basis such as Number Bingo or necklaces with patterns or practicing color words through seasonal poems and some were just FUN such as decorating seasonal shaped cookies or making seasonal magnets to take home or picture frames that would include a photograph just taken.
The evening brought well over 3000 people to the school grounds for the family fun "Carnival of Dreams" sponsored by the PTA. Kids "trick or treated" through the halls with teachers as hosts. Kindergarten teachers were out in force! Food was served, books were given away at the "Book Walk" while children played games sponosred by each homeroom. It was a lot like going to the State Fair and such a wholesome family outing. Is there any better way to bring families into the business of school and remind us all that childhood is such a special time?!!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
1. "Cut the stem off. Clean a pumpkin."
2. "Draw the face."
3. "Cut out the face."
4. "Put a candle in the pumpkin."
Below are some pictures of other activities teachers have developed.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
We encourage families of kinder kids to become involved in the celebration by sending home a cardboard pumpkin for the family to help the child decorate. The pumpkins are hung in the hall as a Fall decoration for all to see. This family- involved activity provides our little authors with a common real experience that they can write about in Writers' Workshop. Below are some of the many pumpkins.
Each class also chooses a favorite read aloud book and then uses parent volunteers to help the class make a presentation using pumpkins. This year's kindergarten entries are below.
Friday, October 19, 2007
We realize that strong social relationships are the leading indicator of our overall happiness. From Vital Friends we learned that if you have a best friend at work you are more likely to: engage, get more done in less time, have fun on the job, innovate and share ideas, and feel informed and know your opinion counts.
The Kindergarten Team is an excellent example of how organized events have spilled over in time so that the team directs its own social connections. Tonight the Kindergarten Team met at a local restaurant for dinner after school to celebrate one of its own being named Teacher of the Year. They laughed. They shared stories about each other. They reminisced about other times when they had been together. Sure, they all have families and outside responsibilities, but they know that spending time together is meaningful. Being balanced may be about having great friendships that extend between work and home. These teachers really like each other. They trust each other. They depend on each other. They are not willing to let each other down or to let the Team down. This personal foundation provides the trust that is needed for teachers to truly deepen their work - for teachers to begin to ask for help from their peers and to give honest feedback to each other. They say that many teachers leave the profession because they don't have a friend at work. It's important that we make sure that each teacher has that connection. Each kindergarten teacher has a friend at work that she can go to and ask an embarrassing questions. She has someone that will help when its needed and that will lift her up when she has had a difficult day. And all that makes Chets Creek a GREAT place to work - a place you NEVER want to leave.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
About six years ago Kindergarten teachers became uncomfortable with their generic "Indian" Pow Wow celebration around Thanksgiving where all the little "Indians" wore brown pillowcase garb with feathers and pounded homemade drums. The teachers began researching Native American tribes as a professional learning community and decided that each class would research a specific tribe and bring those traditions to our annual Pow Wow celebration. That decision to bring more authentic experiences to our children led to the field trip today. The Kevin Locke Native American Singers and Dancers were the introduction to a Social Studies unit that also has ties with a 5th Grade unit that students revisit in their final year at Chets Creek. Today the students got their first taste of what a Pow Wow looks like and sounds like. As always, when we begin this unit of study, I am impressed with the teachers willingness to go the extra mile to teach our youngest children how to research and how much they care about getting the "real" information. I am also impressed with the Native Americans' deep spiritual connection with the Earth and their understanding that they are stewards of our natural resources. This year their message particularly resonates with our Kindergarten.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
4. Link - To link the lesson to the independent reading which followed the mini-lesson, the teachers put a sticky note at each child's place so that they could put the sticky note on any page where they noticed a non-fiction text feature.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I am so proud to have learned beside Haley these past years. We are so proud to have her represent our school, our Kindergarten, as the 2007 Chets Creek Teacher of the Year. She is a model to so many of our young teachers of what they too can become. She is an example of how we mentor beginning teachers the Chets Creek-way. But Haley is young in her career. She is only beginning the journey. Remember her name... because I believe the best is yet to come...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Of course, I guess that means that I have to admit that I’m not really very environmentally aware. I think Ed Begley is somewhat of a kook – him and his green self - and I’m not really ready for a “draft Gore” movement. However, several things have happened this week that make me know that I am really out of touch - environmentally challenged. Haley Alvarado, Chets Creek Teacher of the Year, suggested that I quit giving everyone extra copies of the vocabulary unit to edit because we needed to save the trees! She is also on a one-woman crusade to help Chets Creek learn to recycle. I have to admit that I’ve never used one of those green recycle bins for anything except extra storage. It looks like Haley, with help from Debbie Harbour and our Science Wizards, is actually going to get recycling off the ground.
Then last week, Elizabeth Conte pulled 5 pieces of paper out of the trashcan in her kindergarten class at the end of Writers’ Workshop. She fussed at the kids because they had thrown away papers that had a mistake. She reminded them that authors call mistakes revision, but then she said the words that sent daggers through my heart, “Kindergartners, you probably killed a tree with your thoughtlessness.” That look of disappointment in her eyes… She asked the offenders to come claim their papers and put them back in their writing folders. I slipped over guiltily with my head down to claim Jadan’s paper because when he said he’d made a mistake, I just carelessly threw the paper in the trash and gave him a new sheet! I honestly never thought about the trees.
I so admire these young kindergarten teachers who take this world we live in so seriously. They understand that we have a responsibility to those that come after us to protect what has been entrusted to us. They feel the responsibility to pass on their passion about this Earth to the next generation. I am inspired by them... so I promise – to think about wasting paper – and to listen and learn when they talk about recycling! And that’s just the first step…
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The teacher's day always begins with a demonstration lesson. This past Wednesday the Kindergarten Team was treated to master teacher Maria Mallon's Skills Block. Below is a slide show to demonstrate what we saw.
After the demo, the team met back together as Haley Alvarado (our new Chets Creek Teacher of the Year!) led the team in a debrief of the lesson. She began by asking Maria to reflect on her lesson. Maria shared the things that went well and offered some simple changes that she would make next time. Then the team listed "warm" comments which included "noticings" - those things that they loved, the things that were standard driven, the things that they each want to incorporate into their own lessons tomorrow. Then came "cool" comments which are "wonderings" - questions that they still had, clarifications. The demo was such a success because every single teacher left reflecting on her own Skills Block and seeing things that she could change or incorporate. This demo lesson will be followed by a "show and tell" at the next Teacher Meeting next week where each teacher will bring one favorite Skills Block activity to share.
The demo/ debrief was followed by the Team revising and editing their Star Vocabulary Unit (found on the widget to the left). This is a unit that a group of these teachers wrote over the summer. All of the teachers have been teaching the unit since school started and were now ready to edit the first five units/ books. They now have the experience with their children to see what worked and what didn't. After some general discussion, the teachers divided into pairs and each pair revised and edited a single unit/ book. Below are photos of the teachers as they worked with partners. This group of teachers is truly a professional learning community. As they interact you can see their enthusiasm and their genuine respect for each other. It was a GREAT day!