Saturday, April 26, 2014

Next Year Goal

My goal for next year is to continue improving my writing instruction.

I want to create a solid 30-40 minute "Writer's Workshop" block and continue implementing all of the research I did this year.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Reflect your thoughts and discussion about the Coach K article and its connection to your work with relationships.

  •  What "a-ha" moments have you had when it comes to relationships?
    • Every time a student is struggling in the classroom or displaying unusual behavior from their "norm" it can always be tied to something going on in their life.  When I build a relationship with my students and can get them to open up and talk to me about what is going on, it really helps them get issues off of their chest and frees up their mind to help the learning happen.
  •  What are your thoughts about "connection culture" referenced in the Coach K article (Value + Vision + Voice)?  In what ways do you incorporate these principles into your classroom community?
    • "When groups of any size share a vision that makes them feel proud, when each group member feels valued and that they have a voice to express their ideas and opinions, it creates a connection, a bond, a feeling of unity or esprit de corps."
      • I LOVE this idea!  At the beginning of every school year students create hopes and dreams.  Then, as a class, we talk about rules/expectations we need to create in order for everyone in our community to be successful and reach their hope and dream.
      • We also have "school-wide" rules/matrix that we teach and engrain into our students.  We go to each area of the school and teach the expectations in order to set our students up for success.  All students and staff in our building strive to show the ARTS in school and out in our community.
  •  How will you successfully sustain community with your students until the end of this school year?
    • With the use of morning meetings and other community building activities throughout the year.
  •  How will you build connection culture with new students in the fall?
    • Every fall I do several connection activities:
      • King/Queen of the day
        • Each child is selected to be the King/Queen for the day during the first months of school.  The King/Queen is celebrated with songs and their name on the word wall, interviewed, and every other student draws a picture for the child that gets turned into a book.  They also get to wear a crown!
      • "Me" Bag
        • Each child decorates a brown paper bag to represent them.  Then they bring it home and find 2-3 items (that represent them) that fit in the bag to share with the class.  When the bag returns the student shares what they brought and explains why their brought it.
      • Morning Meeting Sharing

Curricular Design - 21st Century Learning

Critical Thinking:
  • To get my students to do some critical thinking I introduced two new math games.
  • The first game is called "Poison"
    • To play Poison need to partner students up.  
    • you need 10-20 snap cubes or other manipulatives to play.  These are placed in the middle of the partners.
    • EAch person takes turns grabbing 1 or 2 snap cubes from the middle.
    • Play continues until there is only one cube left.  The last cube is "poison" and you don't want to be the person who "has" to take it.  The person who takes the last cube is the loser.  
  • The next game is called "Nine Holes"
    • This is another partner game.
    • To play nine holes you need a playing board and each partner needs three snap cubes or other manipulatives.
    • Each partner places their three snap cubes in the circles on their side of the board.  
    • The first person moves one of their snap cubes to any of the dots on the board.  Then the second person gets to play.  The partners will continue to take turns.
    • Once all of the pieces are on the game board play continues until one player get their three pieces in a row.  
    • In order to move your piece once it is on the game board you can only slide it along one of the lines to the next dot.  If a dot is already occupied you may not go to that space.
  • I knew these two games would be fun for the students and also get them to think and start strategizing in order to win.  
  • The students LOVED each of the games and always want to play them during math time.  They don't even realize that they are learning and thinking critically when they play...they just think it is fun!
  • I think next year I will introduce these games earlier in the year.  I would love to make Fridays a time for math choice so that I can work with small groups or individual students that need a little more help with concepts already covered.  These are great independent games the students could choose to play during math centers.
  • My collaboration idea was something I have never tried before.
  • I gave each student a piece of a puzzle - that matched our new science unit on farm animals.  
  • They could only look at their puzzle piece and they had to draw a prediction of what they thought it would be.
  • Once everyone made their prediction I told the students that now they had to work as a team to put the puzzle together.
  • This took them about 30 minutes.  It was fun watching the students work together and hear their predictions as more of the puzzle was put together.
  • I had to remind some of the students to let each person place their puzzle piece, since some students wanted to take the piece and do it for them.
  • I also encouraged them to get the whole outer part put together and then work on the middle.
  • I loved seeing the students who realized that their pieces went together and then they worked as a "mini-team" to see where it went in the big picture.
  • After the puzzle was complete I had the students go back to their first drawing and draw a picture on the backside of the completed puzzle.
  • This was a great collaboration activity.
  • I would love to use this idea again.  It is a great way to introduce a new science or social studies unit as long as you can find a puzzle to match what you are teaching!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Improving Relationships
The teachers at my school are required to supervise our classes during lunch this year.  I was excited about this opportunity because I knew lunch was a challenging time of the day for my kindergarten students.  I was looking forward to having the opportunity to be there to assist them.

Once thing I have been noticing lately is that my students are becoming pretty set in stone with the people they sit by at lunch.  There is a "boy" table and "girl" table.  I have also noticed that the same students are always sitting by themselves. :(  I knew I had to do something about this, so I decided to try out the idea of Lunch Buddies.  

Starting in March, I have been assigning lunch buddies 3 days a week.  When I told my students we were going to start this they were both excited and a little sad.  This is why I decided to do lunch buddies 3 days instead of everyday.  I still wanted to give my students the chance to sit by their friends since lunch is one of the few times they can talk about whatever they want.

We have only been doing lunch buddies for a week now, but it has been going really well.  The students are enjoying sitting with people they might not otherwise have sat by at lunch.  One struggle I am having is that some students sit by their lunch buddy, but also by their friend.  I am noticing that in these cases the student isn't really talking to their selected lunch buddy.   

I look forward to refining this lunch buddy plan and making it even better.  The idea right now is to do it all of March, but maybe I will continue it throughout the rest of the year.

Curricular Design - 21st Century Learning

Creativity and communication:
  • AFter completing our science units on paper and wood I gave my Kindergarteners a construction task so they could practice the 21st century skill of creativity
  • Each child was given popsicle sticks and different colored construction paper and told to create something with the materials.
  • The students were actively engaged and LOVED this activity!  The constructions they made were unique and creative!
  • Each child also got the opportunity to share their construction with the rest of the class and explain what they made and how they made it.  This sharing task allowed my students to practice the 21st century skill of communication.
  • After each student shared the other student's were able to ask questions, provide feedback, or make connections.
  • After doing this project, I learned that I need to plan/create more opportunities for my students to practice these 21st century skills.  Not only were they engaging and fun for my students, they also allow the students to practice skills that will help them be more successful in life.