Thursday, July 30, 2015

TeachersPayTeachers Sitewide Sale!

160 × 200 My Entire store is 20% for the sale!  Hope you find something that helps you out this school year!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Letter of the Week-Yay or Nay?

There are many debates about weather Letter of the Week and if it is best practice or not.  I want to explain my stance on it and how it works in MY room.  Not all classrooms are the same, not all districts will agree.  That is ok-consider this an opinion piece.

Let me start by saying I teach 4k.  That means my students must be 4 by September 1st.  This is the first school experience by many, we do not use common core, and we are a play based room.  That means my students come in to play, learn the critical social and emotional skills related to school, and then gain as much academics as they are personally ready for to help them prepare for kindergarten. This is my 4th year teaching and in my past 3 years I have had students come in my room at a vareity of starting points as far as letter recognition, but EVERY SINGLE YEAR 88%-100% of students leave passing their PALS levels!

I do use Letter of the Week in my room.  This does not mean I teach the letters in isolation. I want the kids to have memorable experiences with the letters to help them make connections, have fun with learning, and PLAY.  We play with letters.  I cannot play with all the letters at once and have them have meaning.  Therefore, we play with the letters one at a time.  At the same time, during calendar we talk about the letter in its environment on the month, the day, etc regardless of letter of the week.  When we are doing a shared reading or writing, we talk about all the letters regardless of the letter of the week.

Ways to Play with letters: ~~Yes, I do all of these with each letter of the week!
Get to come up to the teacher board and write them (easel)
Sing about them (We use Literacy Links)
Make a sound symbol (Also from Literacy Links)
Decorate the letter with something that sounds like that letter*
Make a hand print activity for the letter*

*We make a book with these.  School Supplies consist of 30 page protectors.  We put them together with binder rings and they have a book with a letter and an image.  They use this for reading once the alphabet is done.  These books also help teach critical early reading skills such as 1:1 correspondance, left to right, one touch for one word (not syllable), figuring out the word if they are ready, knowing if the words are ___ the the illustration is going to be ____

Book Template available HERE

Daily Environmental:
Calendar Month
Calendar Day
Center Names
Room Lables
Job Names
Their Name

Shared Reading: Poem of the week 
Find letters in the poem
If I hear the __ sound in __.  If I hear ___ what letter is this right here?

Shared Writing: Class Book
Pick a topic the whole Class can relate to (a trip, a theme, school, etc)
Have children illustrate the page (either everyone make a page or work as a team to make a page).
Have students come up and write what they hear *with class help* in the correct spot on book. Teacher can finish.

To Review:
  • play with letters
  • sing about letters
  • have fun with letters
  • use the letters
  • Teach in isolation
  • skip teaching a letter because its not the letter of the week
  • only talk about that letter for the whole week
  • skip environmental text 
  • skip literacy activities like shared writing/shared reading

Monday, July 20, 2015

Meet the Teacher Night & Snack Calendar

On the Facebook group I follow (PreK Teachers) someone brought up snack calendars.  This got my mind preparing for Meet the Teacher/Locker night and I thought I would write up how it runs at our school.

I teach public school 4k program to 20 students in the AM and 20 students in the PM Monday-Thursday  following the district calendar.  Our district does the community approach so though it is a public school program it is held in a variety of locations--mine being a Catholic school building.  We are a delicate balance between doing what the school district is doing and following building policy.  When it comes to locker night, I go along with our school policy.

Before Locker/Teacher night, teachers must have their rooms ready for the kids.  Names should be on the lockers, the room set up, and a majority of the stuff ready (behind the scenes jobs can be done after wards yet).

Locker night is a week before school starts for a 2 hour span. Families wander in in that time span and drop off supplies, see the room, meet the teacher, find their locker and get their child ready for (for most) their first school experience.

The Checklist:
  • Drop off forms from the summer mail and district wide registration night in the basket
  • Drop school supplies off in labeled bins on tables (start them sorting early!)
  • Put back up/change of clothes in locker (start identifying their name)
  • Sign up for snack on the computer.

  • Students purchase milk for the school year (or file for assistance) to have with their snack. They turn in their milk payment and Chocolate/White milk option.
  • Getting to know you form
  • Volunteer forms
  • publicity waiver/release form
 School Supplies:

School supplies are community supplies in our school.  All supplies are deposited into bins that will be stored in the supply closet until students need them brought out.

All bins are laid out on the student tables and supplies can easily be dropped in.  This is done before locker night as well.

Snack Sign Up:
  • We do community snack for a whole week for the students. We note any allergies at the beginning of the year and make sure snacks avoid those ingredients (unless severe and that student may have alternative snacks).  
    • Parents sign up 2/3 weeks (20 students 2 weeks each isn't enough but don't need 3)
    • Prior to locker night, teacher puts a week long calendar event named AM Snack, PM Snack for every school week
    • Parents can scroll through the months looking for the week they would like to sign up for.
    • Parents double click on the event (AM snack or PM snack) and put their name afterwards.
    • Parents click save
    • The calendar is then embedded into my classroom blog.  Parents are emailed weekly for a reminder to check the blog newsletter as well as the person who has snack.