Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kindergarten Graduates: Nine Months Later!

 With the closing of school came the Kindergarten Graduation (Kindergarten, Eighth, and Twelfth for our school, with K and 8 having their ceremony together). It was a stressful time planning for me and trying to wrap everything up for the school year, but so exciting for the kids. One of them strut down the hall and was proudly saying: "Tomorrow is Graduation Day!" I hope that they all will be just as stoked to be doing the same thing in 12 years!

Our ceremony went something like this:
- Students walked in
- Director spoke
- Kindergarteners sang "Ready to Go"
- I spoke
- Handed out diplomas to Kindergarten
- Slide show of the year in pictures with the songs: "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly, "I'm On My Way" by Rusted Root, and "Waving Flag" by K'naan
- Eighth Grade adviser spoke
- Eighth Grade speakers 
- Handed out diplomas to Eight Grade
- Reception

It went well. Very well! And all the kids looked great in their caps and gowns. They did complain relentlessly about how scratchy the caps were and kept them on only until they got their diploma!

The Song: Ready to Go
I searched a nice long time to find a perfect song for my kiddos to learn and sing. After listening to too many songs on youtube, I found this one. You can find the original song here: Ready to Go. My students sang without the song in the background because I rearranged it to include the chorus in the middle as well. I thought this would better break up the song to let students catch up if they got lost. They also loved the chorus and we added clapping after the lines in the chorus. 
There is a powerpoint that I found here. I changed it around and you can download the version I did or do the original if interested. I point ** where we clapped. 

How Time Flies!

Last summer around this time, I found out I would be teaching Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 school year. I never imagined just how much those kids would grow from when they came into my class at five (and four) to when they left it nine months later. Boy! It was an incredible experience to be a teacher to the youngest learners at school. Setting them up for the success they have had and, I am sure, will continue to have has been a humongous reward.

Where We Started:
- Most students did not have any preschool or head-start
- No student could name every upper and lower case letter of the alphabet
- No student could read more than one, two, or three of the beginning sight-words
- Few students could count to 20 (most missed 14, 15, 16, or 17)
- One student only knew a few words English, another was at a beginning speaking level as well

Where We Ended Up:
- Students know expectations, routines, etc.
- Students know all the letters and can write stories and answer questions
- Students use phonics to decode words and write words including tricky consonant blends like: sh, ch, th, ph, and wh and tricky vowel blends like: ou, oi/oy, ar, oo, ay, ee, etc.
- Students can read all Reading Street readers, majority were reading the Above-Level option for reading groups
- Students could count and read/write numbers to 100 and beyond
- Students know addition and subtraction to 10 or more
- Students know so much and are eager to learn more!

It is astonishing just how much kids learn in one year of school. I was very lucky to have my students who were eager to learn and loved to be challenged. I have high expectations in my classroom and all the students met those expectations. They will most definitely be going places in their future!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sight Word Flashcards and Chains

Now, if you had read any previous posts (all those months ago), I had been very nervous to start teaching Kindergarten. Fortunately, since I found out in June that I would be teaching it, I was able to prepare for most of the summer. My intention was to do something for Kidnergarten each day. I wasn't that successful, but I did do a lot. One of the DIY projects that I did were sight word flashcards with paint samples. I made all of the Reading Street words at that time.

When I started out with my kids back in August/September, I introduced the first six all together (I, am, the, little, a, to) and displayed them in a pocket chart by our morning meeting so the kids could see it during this time. We would go through it, I would have them fill in words in our message, etc.

I tested them on them before Reading Street had even introduced the last two. I had a few students get them all. So, to make sure I challenged her (and in turn all the other students), I grabbed at some random others from the year that we were using in our morning message and were seeing in stories. I eventually made more cards to cover pre-primer and primer dolch and a lot of the fry words. At this point in the year, I have seventy-two cards displayed and a number of kids with all of them.

Now, the kids are eager to learn and they love the flashcards. For playtime, I often have kids ask for the sightwords to go through. Some ask for the new words that I haven't even introduced yet. In fact, I need to add more words for some of my higher readers. The kids also use the flashcards in writing. When they are writing a story and get to a word that has been introduced they will go over to the charts and take the word out, bring it to their spot, write the word, and bring it back. This allows me to direct them over to the chart instead of spell words out for them. It also helps them practice reading them more! I do allow kids to ask others for help when finding the words. Most get their own though.

Displaying their success, I started paper chains in the hallway to show the words they get correct. Each time I add words, they get tested on all the words to date. Occasionally students lose a word, but it isn't all too often and they usually get it back again quickly. My students, fellow staff, and I have loved watching their chains grow!

Back in September!

Around Thanksgiving

And a few weeks ago!
At this point, I now need to figure out how I can keep going. Students have numbers, colors, and some other sight words that they have had since the red group. But, I haven't been able to add them cause I don't know what to do with the new words! If you have any ideas, let me know!

I just wanted to share what I do in my class. The kids love it and it has been great seeing how they have learned their sight-words and applied it so well with reading and writing!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Read Across America!

It's been awhile since my last post. Swamped with a crazy schedule and long days, I am amazed at all the incredible teachers and parents who dedicate their time consistently to their blogs. Thank you to all of you!

Kindergarten has been a fabulous experience and I adore teaching my kids. Their drive to learn is phenomenal and I am just as eager to help them soar. I have wide ranges of ability within my class (whose class doesn't?) and meeting each of their unique needs can be challenging. Still, Kindergarten allows for center time and small group plans easier than with my second and thrid graders.

The Books

The last few days have been a step away from the regular curriculum, however, to celebrate Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day. Boy, we plowed through a number of his books: A Great Day for Up, Would You Like to Fly a Jet? Would You Like to be a Vet?, Yertle the Turtle, The Cat in the Hat, Oh, The Places You Will Go!, and Horton Hears a Who. Even after all six books, the kids loved the different Dr. Seuss stories and a few brought books of his that we'll have to read into the next week. We'll see how many books of his we can read by the end of the school year!!

The Crafts
 As many others do, we made Dr. Seuss hats to go along with the book: The Cat in the Hat. Easy enough craft with hard white paper base of 12x6. The red strips were random widths, but 6 inches long. The bands were made with red construction paper at 18 inches and worked just fine, but I will probably use thicker paper to make it more sturdy next year.
In their hands you can see the other craft we did. We made Thing Ones and Thing Twos and Thing One-Hundred-Ones. The kids wanted to be able to write any number, so why not?! They were a little tricky for some, but the results are still great!
The Activities
We had a pajama day for curling up and reading for a school-wide Read Across the School day. We had guest readers: different teachers and assistants reading. We watched Horton Hears a Who. And we wrote a book review for: Yertle the Turtle.

I love Dr. Seuss and we'll likely do some other activities with him next week and throughout the rest of the year. We'll definitely be doing things with The Lorax around Earth Day and we will probably read  Oh, The Places You Will Go! again at the end of the year. I'll be sure to post what all the things we do with those are.