Saturday, August 23, 2014

When Friday

I am linking up with Blog Hoppin today for What Friday. I am so thankful that today was Friday. I have an amazing class this year. They are absolutely precious! However, I don’t think I have ever felt this yucky during the first few days of school. I need the weekend to recoup!

Today, we are talking about What Friday:  What do we like to teach?

I started teaching 9 years ago as a first grade teacher. I LOVE first grade! I loved teaching kids how to read, one of my favorite things to do. At the end of the year, my principal asked me to loop with the class to 2nd grade. I taught second grade for two years and it was so much fun. Then I was asked to go to third grade. I taught here for third grade and learned so much about myself and how to be a teacher. It was during this time I taught a class that of third graders that taught me so much about loving and learning.  This class still holds a very special place in my heart. In third grade, I was also a gifted educator and worked to enrich the academic content of my instruction. I then went back to second grade for a year.

At the end of that year, my principal asked me to move to kindergarten. I can’t even put into words how excited I was. I couldn’t wait to get started. Had you asked me if I would be teaching kindergarten 4 years ago, I would have said NO WAY! But now, I can’t imagine teaching anything else. Teaching kindergarten is so exciting each and every day. I can’t wait to get up and go play and learn with my precious babies!

What subjects do I like to teach? Well, I love to read. And I love to teach others to read It drives my husband insane because I can get totally engrossed in a book, no matter how many times that I have already read it. My Kindle Paperwhite is awesome!!! However, my 5 year old son is such a mathematical thinker. He loves math and science, and has amazing spatial reasoning skills. I am learning to love teaching math and science because of him! We always have an experiment of two around the house.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I am linking up with Blog Hoppin today for When Thursday. I've been down with strep throat the past two days (13th day of kindergarten and the teacher is sick never a good sign). For today's link up, teachers are sharing the daily schedules that guide their instructional day. 

Good Morning Time:  During this time in our day, my students enter the classroom and work on their Smartie Writing. This includes writing their first and last name, the date, two sentences, and numbering 0-100 (by the end of the year). Right now, we are building our stamina with this process. My kids are writing 1-10 like champions! The first few days were a little rough, but as the days progress we are getting more in the swing of things. The idea for Smartie Writing came from a neighboring school, and I can truly say it has made a wonderful difference in my students writing ability.

Calendar:  I LOVE calendar time. It is my favorite time of the day. We start our day with our morning announcement broadcast and by singing “We are Wonderful” a precious song by Debbie Clement. I love starting my day with these words of affirmation. This calendar time is a time for me to focus on so many ELA and Math skills. I also teach my Saxon Phonics and vocabulary lessons during this time.

Whole Group  Literacy:  This is the time of day I teach my reading workshop mini lesson. We then practice the skills during my small group time.

Small Group:  I think I have tried every small group schedule. What works best for me is to have my kinders divided into four groups. That equals about 5 kids in most of my groups. My fabulous para and I both teach a group and we have two independent groups. We do two 30 minute rotations each day. If a student meets with me today, they will meet with my partner tomorrow. It like having 30 minute rotations because I feel like I can plan many activities to benefit each group.

Show and Tell:  I’ve split my kinders into 5 groups, one for each day of the week. One day a week, students will bring an item to share. The deal is that they have to also bring clues for the class that they have helped develop. This is a great inference activity.

Writing Workshop:  I love writing workshop and use so many resources from DeeDee Wills and Deanna Jump’s units and Kim Adsit’s units. These are incredible teachers! 

Lunch:  Lunch at 10:45. This is Brunch!!! What is really bad is on my days off, I am hungry for lunch way to early!

Math: When we return from lunch, I spend a few minutes reading from a Junie B. Jones chapter book to get my kiddos back into the learning frame of mind. I then transition us with a song. I am a big believer in music and movement as a wonderful ways to teach and practice skills. Jack Hartmann and Dr. Jean both are incredible music resources for any teacher! I then teach math. I hit many math skills during my calendar time, but spend this time teacher and practicing new math skills with hands on activities- no worksheets for us!

Recess:  We get 30 minutes for recess on a our private kindergarten playground that is set up with age appropriate activities for kindergarteners.

CAMP:  These are our special classes- computer, music, art, and PE.

Science and Social Studies:  While I bring in my science and social studies throughout the day, I spend this time doing hands-on activities or craftivities to compliment our science and social studies themes. My kinders especially love experiments.

Rest Time:  We honestly only get down for about 20 minutes each day, but this is such a necessary time of the day. So many of our babies are not 5 until September 1st. They are babies. They need down time to rest their brains. For my non-resters, I hand them a book to read. After Christmas, we start to wean off our rest. I am assessing students or working with guided reading groups during this time.

Kid Time Centers:  This is when my students get to practice such an important skills that I think it should be a common core:  PLAY! I have a home, block, science, sensory, doll house, listening, iPad, computer, puzzle, game, and math center. I include books and writing materials in each center and you would not believe how many kids reference these materials each day. During this time, I am working with individual students and assessing.

We have an amazing schedule! This is what a typical day should look like but really, when is a day in kindergarten ever typical??? That’s what makes it so much fun! Kindergarten is the best!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone! I am linking up with Blog Hoppin for Where Tuesday. I have been anxiously waiting for this day. I can't wait to share my classroom with you. Come on it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Monday

I am so excited to link up with Blog Hoppin for the annual Back to School Blog Hop. Today is Monday Who and I am so excited to tell you a little about myself.

My name is Elizabeth Davis and I am a kindergarten teacher in a rural North Georgia community. I actually teach in a small gold mining town that it known as being the sight of the first major American gold rush in 1928 (even before the California gold rush). This is my 9th year teaching (I’ve taught grades K through 3) and my second year in kindergarten.  Spending my day with kinders is by far my favorite! I am amazed each and every day at the growth that my kids make each day. This year is extra special because my little man is in kindergarten at my school. It is so much fun to watch him learn and grow right across the hall.

My husband and I have two precious littles! Our son is five and loves penguins!  I think we have 10 stuffed penguins that he sleeps with each night. Our daughter is two and is a drama queen. She loves baby dolls and dressing up.

We are HUGE Disney World fans! We took the littles to Walt Disney World this summer and had an AMAZING adventure. Our son is already planning a return trip ASAP!

Here are a few of my favorite things
·      My littles- they are the reason I get up every morning!
·      Disney World- Magic Kingdom is simply magical and never gets old.
    Our New House- We bought our dream home in March. I am so thankful that God provided this wonderful house for our children to grow up in. 
·   Decorating a classroom- Does anyone else get excited to decorate a classroom with a new theme each year? School supplies excited me.
·     Chocolate- Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt is so yummy.
·   Shopping- Have you ever heard the exercising gives people the endorphins which make them happy? Shopping totally gives me endorphins!
·   Crafting- I love sewing and making things on my Cricut machine. I am so not artistic but I do love making chalkboard signs. I am going to be an aunt in January and have had so much fun making the chalkboard signs for my sister. Check this cute one out that I made today.

I can’t wait for you to see my classroom tomorrow for Where Tuesday. Be sure to link up for all the Back to School fun this week. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Currently

Where did June and July go??? Summer was so short!!! While I do miss being in the classroom and I love back to school time (new crayons and school supplies are so exciting to everyone, right?), I sure do miss my babies when I can gone. 

Today I am linking up with Oh Boy Fourth Grade for the August Currently.

Listening:  I have always loved reading and one of my favorite series are the When Calls the Heart Series by Janette Oke. The books are historical Christian books. Last year, the books were turned into a mini series. I LOVE them!!! While I am working  on school work, I am watching the series. 

Loving:  My adorable classroom. It just makes me happy every time I walk into work on it. Our first day of post planning was today. 

Thinking:  I need so many extra hours in my day to get everything done. I have huge plans, I just need more hours (and maybe a personal assistant).

Wanting:  While I am so excited about the school year, I am so sad to lose my morning snuggle time. When I woke up to get ready for work this morning, my Eric (who is coming to kindergarten- so sad…) said, "Mommy, hurry get in my bed and snuggle me".  So going to miss my babies.

Needing:  My two year old will not sleep through the night in her own bed. NIGHTMARE!!! She is not a kid who will cry it out. She will cry for hours, throw things out of her bed, throw herself down on the crib mattress, and will make herself physically sick. Last night, she was up until 1 a.m. 

1st day of School:  Our first day of school will be Wednesday August 6th. I can't wait for a new school year but I am also so sad that my baby boy is heading to kindergarten. Didn't I just have him??? 

I hope you all have a great school year too!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Differentiation in Kindergarten

One of my favorite things to do is read. Each summer, I usually have a stack of books by my bed to read. While some of these are novels (I love historical romance books), many of them are professional development books. Summer is such a great time to think about how you can do things differently next year.

On the way to Disney, I started reading Differentiating Instruction in Kindergarten by Cindy Middendorf. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of differentiating instruction or if you are new to kindergarten, this is the book for you. This book would also be very beneficial for pre-K and first grade teachers as many of the ideas presented would easily span the grades.

The book began with a discussion on the difference between learning modalities and intelligence. A modality of learning is a way in which we process and understand information.  There are four main ways (or modalities) that we process information:  visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. The author made a point that the kinesthetic and tactile modalities overlap. The main difference between these two is that strictly tactile learners need hands-on learning.  Truly kinesthetic learners want their whole body in motion. As a teacher, we must provide opportunities for all learners through all modalities. However, providing every child opportunities to learn through all avenues enriches each child’s learning experience. One point that the author made that I spent a lot of time reflecting over was that most teachers present materials in way that makes sense to us and our own personal learning modality. In doing so, we can shortchange our students. My personal goal this year is to better differentiate my instruction time to include all learning modalities. So am I going to stress on finding each child’s strongest modality for learning? Nope. Instead of asking, “What is this child’s strongest modality for learning?” my question will be “Am I incorporating a wide range of activities to serve all learning modalities?” This will provide very learner an opportunity to learn with their strongest modality but also experience learning through the other avenues.  The author, Cindy Middendorf, had some ideas for engaging all types of learners. I’ve listed this list below.  

Ways to engage visual learners
·      Use highlighting tape in text
·      Make reference to posters and visuals in the room
·      Point to the map or anchor chart when referencing it
·      Show video clips
·      Diagram a story
·      Use expressive body language
·      Point out details in photos, illustrations, and books
·      Display word walls for themes and units, sights words, and names

Ways to engage auditory learners
·      Read aloud often
·      Provide students with listening center opportunities (tape/cd player, iPads and iPods)
·      Teach rhymes for making numbers and letters
·      Sing to learn skills
·      Vary pitch and tone of voice when teaching
·      Encourage retelling
·      Provide Reader’s Theater experiences
·      Provide puppets for your students- what a great retelling opportunity
·      Demonstrate use of phonics phones

Ways to engage kinesthetic and tactile learners
·      Model role-playing and acting it out
·      Use gross motor activities to reinforce concepts
·      Plan for students to participate in experiments and demonstrations
·      Provide props for story retelling
·      Encourage standing when answering questions
·      Practice writing in cornmeal, sand, salt, and pudding
·      Make music, rhythm, and keeping the beat
·      Supply clay and white boards

An intelligence is a talent or strength. These help us demonstrate our understanding of the world and organize the information from our senses. While I know each of us had to study these in college, I am listing them below as a reference. The multiple intelligences are
1.      Verbal-Linguistic
2.     Bodily-Kinesthetic
3.     Logical-Mathematic
4.     Intrapersonal
5.     Interpersonal
6.     Visual-Spatial
7.     Musical
8.     Naturalist
In a traditional classroom, children who are verbal-linguistic or logical-mathematic have the greatest advantage. So how can we use this knowledge to give every child and every intelligence an advantage?

As the book continued, Cindy Middendorf listed assessment tools, management strategist, and multi-leveled center ideas and activities to help any teacher differentiate. I highly recommend this book to all early childhood teachers. It was an easy but informative read.

So, how do you differentiate learning in your classroom?