Didn’t Summer JUST Start??

Hi Friends (and strangers),

I have spent much of the last week volunteering my time at work to get my classroom set up.  I have a champ of a student teacher who has my room looking shinier and cleaner than it ever has before.  Although summer ending is always a little (ok, a lot) sad, there is also a part of me that is excited for new opportunities, meeting my new students, and the chance to try new things in my teaching.

I know that as summer comes to a close, you are probably looking at your wallet and thinking, “Wow, how do I have so much money in here?”  😉 Well, if you are looking for a good cause for your extra dollars (or if you really like helping out kids and schools -specifically my kids and my school), I want to tell you that I put up a project on Donors Choose and  I’m hoping to get a couple of iPad minis for my classroom.  Minis because their cost is also miniature in comparison to the cost of full size iPads.  And minis because my students are also miniature (in comparison to adults or elephants).

Buying multiple iPads for my classroom is something that I doubt will ever be in the cards for my school district – we struggle a wee bit financially.  But I can totally see how they would be a huge benefit to my students.  My dream is to be able to use them during literacy and math centers.  Students would rotate through, getting opportunities to use apps that I have chosen specially for them, to target skills they need to work on.

Our goal is to have all of our students reading on grade level by third grade.  This is no easy task when most of them start kindergarten already behind.

No pressure, but I wanted to let you know the opportunity is there – because maybe it would bless you to be able to partner with me as much as it would bless me and my students to have these new learning tools.

For the next 7 days, Donors Choose is matching any donations I receive.  Just put the code INSPIRE in when you make a donation.  Here is a link to my project with all the details. 

Thanks! 🙂

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 45

We are sharing our projects we made about community helpers.

I wish that we had our presentations on videotape for you to see.  Except that would break all sorts of privacy laws.  But seriously it was hilarious.

There is the child who made a bakery project and told me that when she grows up and has her own bakery, I can come and work at it.  I asked her what my job could be.  The answer: “You can get me all the things I need.”  I did some negotiations and in addition to this role of assistant to the head baker, I also get to be on sprinkle detail. Score!

Another child made an elaborate school scene.  The unveiling of the project included me nearly breaking the shoebox and people glued to popsicle sticks.  The unveiling was made complete when in the midst of my juggling her project and struggling to open it up properly, we caught sight of the giant Michelle Obama magazine cut-out in the front of the classroom diorama as the teacher.  Winning.

However, my personal favorite project was the student who brought in a small pink box with two mermaids in it.  I’m sure you will agree with my roommate’s feedback on this project: “I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought that mermaids don’t get enough recognition for helping the community.  Glad somebody knows what’s up.”  Although not everybody was convinced.  While the kids were waiting for bussing to begin, I heard a little girl say, “Mermaids are NOT community helpers.  Do you see them back there [on the communities bulletin board]??? No.”

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 35

You probably could use some visual context for kindergarten stories, so let’s go on a little classroom tour!

The view when you walk in the door

where students check in each morning, I hand out breakfast (because yes we have the privilege of eating in our room) and on the way to specials I double check that I am taking the kids to the right class

Our book boxes and our “go for the green” behavior cards. I will be using the purple bulletin board/white board space to post current literacy learnings – focus letters, sight words, word families, reading strategies, etc. And the cute little twinkle light ribbon garland above it is a non-educational related pinterest project. But they love it and I do too 🙂

Where I sit and teach from or where I sit and rock myself to sleep after the kids go home. You decide. (And notice the cute donated clock/ipod dock – and the cute little ipod nano that is not pictured. They were donated to my classroom when my CD player broke over the summer. Thanks mom and dad! You guys are so awesome!)

You might see a blank calendar and an alphabet poster that a lazy teacher hasn’t stapled up yet. I see the beginnings of a morning meeting area. I like to add the different elements to this area once I introduce them to the kids

All our toys (and a lot of learning materials secretly interspersed with the toys) go on the shelf under the window. I like for the kids to have a clear idea of what they can use during choice time, or “Active Learning” time as I recently heard someone refer to it and definitely plan to start using that myself. I also like that they toys are all located as far away from my desk as possible 😉 The green shelf that the stuffed animals are sitting on are actually soft crates that hold the picture books I will change out in for our book area throughout the year. The bulletin board is where we will put a “snapshot” of what we learned throughout the year so that we can visually reference it and remember without have bulletin boards up for every unit of inquiry that we do

This will be our writing/art center as the year goes on. Random writing materials are in the wooden shelf and the table my dad and I built also includes awesome storage underneath.

The view of from the student tables toward the doors. You can see our book area that eventually will have lots of leveled readers for kids to find a “just right” book to read. But for now i don’t actually have such books. So the dream lives on…

And the most important part of my room: the coffee corner. this is a teachers only corner. 😉 it is complete with coordinating coffee mugs (dorthee, I still have yours, so you’d better come back and visit) and three bins of deliciousness – turquoise has tea (it is fortunate that charlotte, jill, and i all love the same kind of tea) hot chocolate etc, the middle has decaf (for you jill!) and the right has fully caffeinated coffee for those of us who need that caffeine to function each day.

This is by no means a complete tour – there are lots of things that I won’t set up until the kids are ready for them (or until I have time – cough cough the blank bulletin boards everywhere).  But for the most part, that is my classroom!

And I will add one moment of hilariousness from today.  We were taking a class bathroom break, and out of the blue one little darling at the sink looks up at me, and with shock and confusion and new revelation in his voice, he confirms, “Miss K, we don’t lick the soap?!?”  Um… what?

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 34

Welcome back to another school year, friends!

One week with kindergartners is down, and I feel like I could sleep for a year.  It has been an exhausting week, but I think this year is going to be a good one.  It is going to be tough, probably a smidge stressful, and very busy, but I’m excited for it.

Here are a few reason why:

  • My student teacher from last spring is with me again this fall to finish her student teaching, and she is awesome and we work so well together – she is a lifesaver as we tried to navigate the waters of Week One.
  • Thanks to an amazing grant, we are getting tons of professional development in the area of teaching literacy.  Even though it seems intimidating from this side of the journey, I’m thrilled to learn how to take what I do, and do it better.
  • I have always worked with great educational assistants (shout out to Molly, Shawn, and Dorth, who might be reading this – you girls are great too and I loved working with you!), but I have to say that this year I’m beyond excited to work with my newly hired EA.  She is awesome with the kids, is quick to help, and brings a lot of joy to our classroom.  And I’d have to say we make a pretty good team.  And she is on my list of favorite people.  Win.
  • My class is huge (I have approximately 1,000 students), but they are pretty awesome (read – they are cute and I have high hopes that we will mold them into an awesome class because right now it is closer to herding butterflies than teaching kids to read).  Even my “too cool for school” kid who sighed a big, “LAME-O” on the first day of school, seems to be kind of coming around.
  • Some of my students are actually pretty independent.  Perhaps a bit TOO independent, as I have lost one of them twice when he continually decides to just walk away and “go look for his locker” or “go find his sister”.  Fortunately for me people keep finding him and returning him to me.  Come dismissal time, I always end up with the right number of students.
  • I have some hilarious ones this year.  Which is a sigh of relief for all of you I am sure.  There is the kid who ran out of the bathroom in fear of the urinal (which I did not fully appreciate – wash your hands before grabbing onto me, kid!)  and the kid who introduces herself as “Ladybug” and has a lot to say.  All of which cracks me up.  She is pretty polite, including being quick to say, “Bless me!” after she sneezes.  And there is the kid who says, “I have a peanut allergy.  I can’t eat peanuts.  If I do, I have to go to the hospital.  And my mom REALLY doesn’t to have to take me there.  So I just shouldn’t eat peanuts”.  Or conversations like this, “You can choose if you want to continue to cry loudly in the hallway or rest quietly in the classroom.” “I want to cry in the hallway.”  “Ok then, let’s go sit out there so we aren’t disturbing our friends.”

At the end of Day One, when all I could think about was how I was so relieved we made it to the end of the day.  One student was not so thrilled.  On the way to the lockers to get our backpacks she sadly exclaimed, “But Miss K-!  Kindergarten is SOOO fun!”

Every year brings new adventures.  This one is shaping up to be no different.  Get excited kids – another year of kindergarten is underway.

Alberta Clippers Recruitment

Tim, if you are going to bring back the Alberta Clippers, I’ve been doing some scouting for future players for your team.  Not surprisingly, everyone here loves playing football!  (Grandma, that means soccer).  We spent a lot of time at home kicking around a soccer ball, and this past week we played football for Phy Ed at New Creation Children’s Home and School.  And by “we” played, I mean that Richie played with the kids while I tried to stay out of the way – no need to bring down the talent levels on the field! 

New Creation is a Children’s Home about 15 minutes away from Rafiki Africa Ministries.  The kids who live there are mostly between the ages of 6 and 13.  The kids have school right at the home and they are currently short on teachers.  We have been sending two people each day to teach the P4 class (third grade).  There are 9 students.  We teach English, Math, Science, and Christian Education.  The Ugandan staff teaches Social Studies, since we don’t really know about the districts of Kampala or the history of Uganda.

It was a fun day teaching the students there.  They were giggly and chatty, but really nice kids.  I practiced multiplication tables with them, and taught about weather and water.  There is a curriculum, kind of, but since they mostly just copy things off the board, I tried to think of other ways to present the curriculum on the fly.  It went really well.  It is a good thing I teach a unit about weather and about water back in the States… (or 10 year olds cover different types of information that five year olds.  Hmm..)

Unfortunately for us (since we like going to New Creation) they just had a team of volunteers arrive, so for the time being we won’t be serving there each week.  It is good for them though, that they have the staffing they need at least for the time being.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 14

Subtitled: Koo Koo Kanga Roo or the best day of a kindergartner’s life.

This week was an exciting week in kindergarten.  All of the kids’ dreams came true as their favorite youtube musicians came to perform live and in person. 

Koo Koo Kanga Roo, who’s dance along videos provide us great exercise and movement breaks during the day, put on a show in our gym for the kindergartners.  It was epic.

One child asked, “Is this real life???”

Basically we had a 45 minute dance party, including a 200 person hokey pokey, and all of those kids under one giant parachute.  Later I said, “Wow, I was surprised that you could all fit under the parachute!” and one child responded, “Yeah, but some of us fell down.”  (Ok, I guess it didn’t go as smoothly as we thought). 

Whenever they started a song that the students recognized from dancing to in class, they got really excited and were shocked that the same music was being played in the gym as on my computer.  Yes kids, these are real people.  Not just people that life inside my laptop (or lap-talk as one kid still calls it).

I have some hilarious pictures of the children dancing.  Sorry I can’t share them with you.  You only get to see the photos that the kids are cropped out of.    I would recommend them to a friend.  Maybe for your next birthday party.  Because this fake kids band performs the same music at their shows for adults.  Ridiculous?  Yes.  Awesome?  Yes.  Inspiration to the next generation?  Yes.  (or at least they inspired this kid’s drawing.  I hope he shows up in gold tennis shoes and baseball cap tomorrow!) 

And they inspired this excited comment on the way to lunch, “Miss K!  I thought they weren’t going to be weird, but they were!”  hahahaha  (I responded, “yeah, maybe you could call them unique instead”)