Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kite Pictures


flying kites



We didn't have much wind but the kids worked really hard to get their kites in the air!  Fun was had by all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Go Fly A Kite!

Good morning to all!  Just wanted to let everyone know that today we will be flying our homemade "family project" kites.  Instructions were sent home last week on making a kite.  Families were to use whatever they had to make the kite and send it to school.  No store bought kites allowed!  Several have been returned already and the rest should come in today.  We are so excited to walk to the football field and test them out.  Check back later to see lots of pictures.
If anyone else has done this with their class, please share your experience with us!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Routines (Classroom Management's Boring but Beautiful Cousin)

Routines...
What does that word mean to you?  Restrictive?  Boring?        

In a way, routines can be boring and restrictive but if you know their purpose, you will recognize their importance in everything... especially the early childhood classroom!

If you have ever taught a pre-K or kindergarten class, you know that everything must be taught... the right way to put up a back pack or lunch box, how to get in a line, how to sit in a group, how to wait your turn, the right way to dispose of trash, even the right way to zip up a back pack  The list goes on and on. The year starts out with teaching each of these tasks and skills as part of a routine.

We both learned a long time ago to take the same approach with centers.  This was, of course, after banging our heads against the wall every August when we couldn't seem to understand why our classes couldn't "do centers" the way last year's classes could.  Of course, they couldn't... they hadn't been trained yet!

So we stepped back and took a VERY slow approach to centers.

Day 1:
Everyone learns the same center at the same time...something easy like playdough or scribble art.  The lesson might look something like this:
video
Goals:
1. Follow directions
2.  Do the work
3.  Clean up

Days 2-5:
Everyone learns the same center at the same time... easy stuff, like: blocks, letter find, scribble art, perforating, and prewriting guides .
Goals:
1. Follow directions
2.  Do the work
3.  Clean up
If time allows, let students work in yesterday's center, too.

Week 2  
Everyone should know how to work in at least 4 centers by week 2.  If not, repeat Week 1.  Introduce the purpose of center pins, modelings the "do's & don't's" (Especially the "don't's."  Sometimes, I think kids are satisfied to just tell you all the mischievous things you could do to a center pin without actually doing them!).

This is an example of our Fine Motor center pins.
Week 2 Goals:
1.  Get a center pin. 
2.  Do the work.  
3.  Clean up.
4.  Get a new center pin (if time allows).

Weeks 3-??   
If Week 2 goes as planned, begin allowing students to choose their own center pins.
Goals:
1.  Choose a center pin.
2.  Do the work.
3.  Clean up. (This step is even more crucial during this training period... for obvious reasons.)
4.  Get a new center pin.

Weeks 4-??   
If choosing center pins goes smoothly, begin introducing the purpose of center cards... marking off completed centers on personal cards.
Goals:
1.  Choose a center pin.
2.  Do the work.
3.  Clean up.
4.  Color the right icon on the center card.
5.  Choose a new center pin.

Here is a copy of our center card.  It contains an icon for every center that we could ever have during a school year.  If a student works in the Writing center, he would color that icon upon completion.

video

Weeks 6-??
Once students are proficient at marking off their own center cards, introduce the teacher's check-off sheet.  There are only 4 centers we expect the students to complete each week: ABC, Writing, Fine Motor, and Art.  So, those are the only icons on the teacher check-off sheet.

This is a copy of our teacher's check-off sheet.
Goals:
1.  Choose a center pin.
2.  Do the work.
3.  Clean up.
4.  Color the right icon on the center card/teacher's check-off sheet.
5.  Choose a new center pin.

Adding this step may seem like a time-sucker... as though you'll be spending all your time during centers, checking off work instead of working with groups.  However, the products for each of those centers are quick to check.  Here's a quick clip of Bonnie checking work while in the midst of working with a small group.

video


My next post will show how we hold them accountable for their time in centers....