The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Digital Literacy in Kindergarten: Penguin Movie Magic

Every year in Kindergarten Christy and I like to do one digital literacy project with our children.  We always enter into this process with mixed feelings.  We know our children already spend some time using apps and games on iPads and iPhones and more games on computers:  Do they really need more tech time?  However, we are also of the mind that creatingwith technology, rather than consumingtechnology, is something we can teach our children in their school setting.  We have the resources to do so and so this year we’ve made something very special:  Penguin Movie Magic.

We Love Penguins

In Kindergarten, one of our Science Big ideas is plants and animals have observable features.  The penguin is our animal of choice to discuss habitat, appearance, young, behaviour and life cycle. 

Digital Literacy and Technology Support

For all things digital, we draw upon the experience and expertise of our District Innovation Support Leader (Technology), Ridgeview Grade 7 teacher and BFF Ms. Cari Wilson; Grade 7 teacher Mr. Russ Paterson and our Grade 7 Big Buddies.  Cari was instrumental in helping us to establish an internet and social media presence with this website.  Mr. Paterson is our Big Buddy teacher and our Big Buddies…well, they were once our Kinders in the former half-day program, and now they are Grades 7s who are very much loved by their Little Buddies.

Our goal for each Buddy group was to create a documentary movie about penguins using the Green Screen by Do Ink app.  Big and Little Buddies collected information from the internet, and images from Google, for each area of our Penguin Planning Framework.  Our framework helps our Big and Little Buddies to be organised in their research, stay focused on specific topics, read for information and practise the skill of note-taking. 

We wanted the children to tell the story logically so we supported them with a group plan for reference as to how each movie should play out.  We discussed our objectives as a large group and wrote up the group plan together. This was also a good time for the Big Buddies to clarify any questions they might have, and a really valuable opportunity for the Little Buddies to see direct instruction in another learning context:  how teachers, and students of all ages, can collaborate together as a community of learners. 

The fun really begins following completion of our research.  Each of our Big Buddies, with tremendous patience, encouragement and humour, taught their Little Buddies what to say during filming.  

The Green Screen by Do Ink app allowed us to superimpose the computer graphics behind the actors.  Being of the make do with what you’ve gotmanner of thinking, we used the green paper off of our paper rolls for our green screen.  We had several setsdown the Primary hallway so four groups could film simultaneously.  Even better, since the completion of this project, our Principal, Mrs. Brady, has bought us a real green screen!  Thank you, Mrs. Brady!

A great deal of rehearsal preceded the actual filming.  Cari acted as gatekeeperto ensure the Kindergarten children knew their lines before going in studio.  The Big Buddies would count their Little Buddy in with 3, 2, 1, actionbefore filming or the words would be lost.  

Needless to say amongst the laughter, repeated takes and endless heaps of praise, this was a learning process that was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.   We all realized that while showbiz might look easy, it is actually a lot of very hard work.

Mystery Box Inquiry

In Kindergarten, we use the guided inquiry process.  For us, guided inquiry is about play, discovery, exploration and oral language developmentin questioning skills.  The Kindergarten plays a lot, as they should, because that is the Kindergarten child’s work at school:  to play.  We believe that all learning for Kindergarten should be child-centred, hands-on and play focused where their natural intuition for play leads them to discover and explore their world in their own time.  Imaginary play, block play, puzzles, dress-up dolls, Lego, playing with language at the Imagination Station, the Dollhouse –it’s all in a day’s play for Kindergarten.

Now admittedly, to teach questioning skills, we have to do so by direct instruction but we still make it playful for the children.  We begin by placing an object in the Mystery Box.  Then we have the children ask up to 10 questions about what might be in the Mystery Box.  In the beginning, there is a lot of guessing.  But over the 4-5 Mystery Box Inquiries we complete, we notice real change in the sophistication of the children’s questions.  

Our focus is on the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why and how) and we help the children re-frame their guesses and beginning questions (is it a….?)to questions they can start with the 5Ws (what does it feel like?where does it live? how does it move?)  We also teach them to ask checking questionsto confirm their theory, based on the information we’ve revealed in our answers, about what’s in the Mystery Box.  Our focus is for the children to ask questions that require us to answer with more than just yesor no.  After 10 questions, the children are allowed to make a guess and amid much clapping and fanfare, the Mystery Box is opened when a correct guess is finally made!

Final Cut

At publication time, our Penguin Movie Magic projects are now completed.  We debuted our movies to our Kindergarten families during Student-Led Conferences on April 26, 2018.  Our Big Buddies helped us to upload their Little Buddies movie to FreshGrade so each family was able to access their child’s account during the Conferences.  

We wanted to note that in addition to their movie, our children also completed response pages for each Mystery Box Inquiry to make their own Penguin Research Booklets.   As our children move onto Grade One in a few short weeks, printing their names, colouring and completing frame sentences are important and necessary skills we need to not only have taught, but practised in a meaningful way.  Our integrated learning process of building relationships, digital literacy, guided inquiry, writing and presenting is multi-layered and complex, as all good teaching and learning should be to meet a variety of student needs. 

 

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Bits and Pieces….This Week in Our Room: May 7-11, 2018

We’re shifting gears as we finished up our Alphabet Books and moved onto our big literary theme for the school year, Fairy Tales. We’ll be reading, discussing and comparing similar versions of several Fairy Tales for the next few weeks.  We are learning about the elements of a story (plot, character, theme, setting)and story structure (beginning, middle, end).  If you would like to read some of the stories ahead of us, we will be reading these stories for teaching purposes:

Little Red Riding Hood

The Three Little Pigs

Jack and the Beanstalk

Hansel and Gretel

Cinderella

Snow White

We’re already read so many stories from the wonderful books the children have brought in for Sharing. We’re reading everything from the traditional tales to the Disney version to fun riffs off of familiar stories (we read The Ninjabread Man and that brought the house down with hysterical fits of laughter which was fantastic).  It’s wonderful for the children to learn how writers play with language to create humour.

We started our next Math unit in Geometry.  We’ll be studying 2- and 3- dimensional figures in class, their properties and classifying familiar items in those shape categories.

The weather held up for our nature walk to look at Living and Non-Living things on our school grounds.  This was the first lesson for our unit on “Plants are Living Things.”  Everyone will have a chance to bring their favourite plant or flower to school for our next round of Sharing.  We will let you know when we are ready to begin.

We are well into our Home Reading Book Exchange routine.  The children know we are just going to exchange our books on three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  They love to look through the little books and we see growing independence in their remembering to bring in their book bag and choosing their new books.  We’ve seen the children enjoy sitting at the table reading through the little books and it’s a very special and joyful time for us to see their developing love of literature.

We saw our Big Buddies this week and finished the wrapping for our Mother’s Day gifts.  You’ve already had a bit of a preview at your Student-Led Conference but know that the children were very much thinking of their Moms as they created these special gifts from their hearts.

There’s a lot of excitement building around Mayfair, which takes place this Saturday, May 12, 11 am-3 pm.  Daily donations of books, used sporting goods, tombola bags and today’s cupcakes and cakes for the Cake Walk are coming in and will make for some fun stalls and activities.  There is going to be a lot of fun!  The sun is supposed to shine so purchase your tickets early, grab your hat and sunscreen and come and enjoy the day!  

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exhange on Wednesday.  We only have three more weeks to exchange books from the library.  On June 1, Mrs Kennedy will be ending book exchange in preparation for her year end library organization.

Friday, May 18 is a Professional Development Day so school is not in session  Monday, May 21 school will also be closed for Victoria Day.

With the warm weather please make sure you child has a non-spill water bottle at school every day.

 

 

 

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Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Ways to Support Literacy at Home

One of our greatest joys as teachers is sharing our love of reading, writing and literature with our young students.  It’s important that we work together, as teachers and parents, to create supportive literacy environments at both home and school.

At school, one of our clues for “where to start” is from our children’s home literacy experiences.  We quickly learn about our children’s exposure to stories and nursery rhymes, and discussion (listening to others and speaking aloud) and book handling skills.   We observe their familiarity with using paper, pencils and crayons and can sense if the children feel that their scribbling, drawing and printed work is, and has been, valued.  We build upon those experiences by providing our children with a myriad of activities where they can use their literacy skills and develop them further.  The processes of reading and writing go hand-in-hand:  Good readers become good writers, and good writers become good readers.

One of the most important things we do is provide as many opportunities for oral languageas possible.  This includes Storytime, chanting poems and singing songs, brainstorming vocabulary, classroom discussions and teaching questioning skills.  In addition to teaching phonological awareness, the development of the children’s oral language is an important part of a balanced approach to reading instruction.

During Storytime and other oral language activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s story awareness:

-they love to rhyme and predict patterns

-they chime in to read the parts of the story they know (with and without cues from the teacher)

-they ask a lot of questions about the story

-they try to make connections between the story and their personal experiences

-they ”read” the picture clues and any known words in the text

-they show interest in what the words say on a page or a chart

One of the most popular Activity Time Centres in the classroom is the Imagination Station.  Here, the children are encouraged to write, draw and create to their heart’s content.  We supply colouring supplies, scissors and glue.  We add in colourful and patterned paper scraps, stickers, envelopes, small booklets we’ve made from leftover paper, lined paper and any other doodads (scrapbook embellishments) we might have to encourage the writing process.  Sometimes we have to create a secondImagination Station at another table because everyone that day has something important they want to express in print.  This is all in addition to our daily Alphabet and Theme writing activities.  Your children are writing, printing, drawing and colouring a lot in class.  This has been one of our most prolific years in Kindergarten.

During Alphabet and other writing activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s print awareness:

-they recognise their own name in print around the classroom and love to look for it

-they show an interest in the names of their classmates

-they show interest in reading and copying the environmental print around the classroom  (eg., names, daily schedule, numbers),

-they show interest in printing independently (“I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself”)

-they pay attention to the sounds and sound sequence when printing words

-they enjoys receiving notes with messages from their classmates and parents (in lunch bags)

-they enjoy communicating with classmates by writing messages

So, taking into consideration what we are doing at school, and based on our observations of our children, here are a few more ideas for you to support literacy at home:

Read aloud daily to your child.  As parents ourselves, we can say this is one of the most precious times you will spend with your child.  Enjoy every single story because the time will come when your child wants to read independently.  Besides the weekly Library Book, build a bedtime story routine into your evening so you can enjoy some cosy time with your child.  You can add a little bit of alphabet practice during your story (“Let’s look for the words beginning with the letter S”) and ask questions to develop understanding, but the idea is simply to enjoy reading and the pleasure of sharing a good book together.

Sing songs and listen to music.  Singing songs and listening to music, like nursery rhymes, is very important to develop an awareness of rhyme, rhythms and patterns.  Children learn songs and quickly memorise them; this contributes to their ever-growing oral language base which will help to make them stronger readers.  

Visit your local library regularly.  Does your child have a library card?  Do you visit your public library every week?  In addition to visiting our own amazing school library and our Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, regular visits to your local public library is a great outing for everyone.  Your child can borrow books, audio recordings and children’s magazines, and you can pick up some great new reads for yourself.  Your child will love to see what you’ve borrowed to read!

Model your own love of reading to your child.  Let your children see you reading books, the newspaper, the calendar, recipes, and let them know why you are reading.  They are learning from you that reading is purposeful, as well as fun.  Try sharing aloud funny things from your own reading, and your child will start to do that with you.  Children need to see moms and dads, grandparents and siblings reading.  When they understand reading is an activity valued by the people they love, they will come to love it, too.

Provide a variety of reading materials.  We have a lot of books in the classroom, but we also have a Listening Centre, a Book Nook, reading wands to “read the room,” alphabet puzzles and games and now, Home Readers.  At home, your child can also play board games, read the environmental print on grocery packages, the fridge magnets, your shopping lists, the North Shore News and all of its accompanying flyers.

Spend time just talking with your child.  Respond to your children’s questions, take the time to explain concepts to them and use the correct vocabulary.  We all need to model good oral language.  The children will love to hear stories about your day, themselves when they were toddlers and preschoolers, and they will especially enjoy stories about you when you were young.  Time spent sharing between your child and you, or your child and grandparents, is an opportunity to share the history of your family.  Activities such as crafting, baking, cooking and gardening all have their own vocabulary, skills and processes which are not only fun to do, but doing them together creates shared memories of special times.

Provide a variety of writing materials.  The sky is pretty much the limit for what is available for your child in the way of school supplies and craft materials.  In our classes, Mr. Sketch (smelly markers) have been a huge hit every year.  With the exception of some inky noses, these are great markers for our Littles.  The children are used to using the larger pencils in class, but they do enjoy our fancy pencils, pens, skinny felts, pastels, bingo markers and paints and paintbrushes.  We give them a lot of recycled materials like old cards, envelopes, little notebooks and scrapbook paper for cutting, gluing, creating and writing.  Colouring book pages continue to be very much loved.  The children are very interested in using tape and staplers, hole punches and ribbon scraps to gather their work into booklets.  For outdoor writing and drawing, sidewalk chalk is very fun!

Model that you are a writer, too.  Through your own work, at home or out of the house, you can show your child that writing is an important part of everything you do.  Let your child see you write cards, shopping lists, cheques, or a short email so they understand that writing has a purpose.  You can respond with interest to your child’s writing, and answer the messages they write to you.  We often ask the children what a scribble, string of letters or drawing is all about and they are happy to oblige.  You can also take a moment to label your child’s work for her, show him the correct formation of letters or spelling of some words if he asks.  Your response demonstrates to your child how much you value their literary efforts.

Still looking for more ideas?  For further reading, you can visit these two posts where we describe in further detail additional ways to support literacy at home.

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Establish an Atmosphere for Reading at Home

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Literacy Awareness – A Book is More Than a Story

Sources:  The Phonological Awareness Companion.  LinguiSystems, Inc.1995; Conversation Connections Parent Program, Workshop 2:  Handout M.  The Psychological Corporation, 1993; Strickland, S.D., Mandel Morrow, L.  “Family Literacy and Young Children,The Reading Teacher, March 1989, pgs. 530-531;  Schiller, D., Quigg, J., Wylie, K.  “Stress Free Reading at Home:  A Handbook for Parents.”

 

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This Week in Our Room: April 30-May 4, 2018

We’ve taken a much deserved week to slow down and just enjoy playing in our classrooms and getting caught up on some bits and pieces around the classroom.

We’re just about finished our Alphabet Books.  Some of the children had missed pages due to sickness or travel so they did their best this week to get caught up on at least the printing and receiving their Alphabet stickers!

We read the delightful 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews and completed the sentence frame “___ dots can make a ___” for individual pages to contribute to a class big book.  The children were asking what happens to all the big books we make every year?  Well, we take all the books apart every June, sort out the pages by student and create an individual big book for every child with just his or her own pages. It’s another keepsake from Kindergarten that your child can read over the summer.

Speaking of reading, WOW!  Did we ever have a lot of fun and excitement this week with our Home Reading Book Exchange!  The children diligently read their books each evening and today we had a flood of books returned and ready to be exchanged.  This is such a fun part of Kindergarten for us when the children are eager to read these little books independently.  Remember to return this weekend’s books on Monday for the next set.  

We are going to be asking the children to select the books themselves so not to worry if the books on occasion are a bit too easy (excellent to develop oral reading fluency) or a bit too hard (excellent for you to read and teach some new vocabulary and sight words).  We all encounter reading materials of this nature.  But it’s the strategies of using the picture clues, looking for smaller words in big words and context which helps us with our comprehension.

We also wanted to thank one of our Ridgeview families for donating this great stack of home readers to the Kindergarten.  We’ll be adding these to the Home Reading baskets so gives our children even more choices when choosing their own books!

Using our Bonus Bank earnings from the Scholastic Book orders this year, we purchased this set of Melissa and Doug Fairy Tale Castle blocks.  It’s gorgeous and sparking lots of fairy tale vocabulary – the children love the wishing well, the horse and carriage and the archers and creating fun scenes with pieces and acting them out.

As everyone knows from the Reminds, we had a rockin’ day on Friday.

We finished our tennis lessons this week.  The children learned to use a tennis racquet, toss and catch the ball across the net and stay in their court.

We had our class photos taken and were lucky to escape any rain during our panorama photo with the entire school.  

We had some additional schedule changes so Mrs. Daudlin’s class will have their Library Book Exchange on Monday as we were unable to fit it into Friday.  We also moved Forest Friday to Monday as we ran out of steam for an outdoor playtime.

Reminders and Upcoming Events

Library Book Exchange is back to our regular day now, Wednesday.

Forest Fridays continue with the good weather so please keep your rain boots at school.

Keep the Tombola loot bags coming in!  Our goal is to collect one from each student as the prizes from this fun Mayfair event!

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Count On: Counting Picture Books for Kindergarten


We’ve come to the end of our Numeracy Lessons; the last response page has been stapled into our Math books.  It’s been a really busy time.  We’ve focused on exploring numbers from 1-10 by counting sets, creating ways to show a specific number, looking for smaller numbers in the larger number, subitizing, matching sets to numerals and printing numerals correctly.  You can read more about what we do to explore number
here

 

We’ve used the teaching of number as another opportunity to integrate more children’s literature into our units of instruction.  We’re definitely of the “so many books, so little time” way of thinking, and we want to provide as many oral language experiences through stories, rhymes and songs as we can, in every subject area.  For our students, a good picture book is an amazing provocation: it’s a chance to connect our thinking and build common language around what we’re learningand it’s an experience we can all share and relate to no matter what our home language and cultural background may be.

 

There are so many wonderful books available today and the children are really the ones who benefit.  As their teachers, we try to read aloud only the best of what we can find.  It’s our habit to read the entire book before purchasing if we can.  We’re huge fans of Scholastic Books so of course it’s not always possible (we might have to buy sight unseen) unless we’re acquiring a book we’ve already read from the library.

Today’s Counting Picture Books booklist includes classics new and old.  It is the tiniest of booklists compared to what is available for our children today.  How lucky is that?!

What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, & 4’s?(Suzanne Aker and Bernie Karlin)

Gray Rabbit’s 1, 2, 3(Alan Baker)

1-2-3- peas(Keith Baker)

Canada 123(Kim Bellefontaine and Per-Henrik Gurth)

One Grey Mouse(Katherine Burton and Kim Fernandes)

Ten Black Dots(Donald Crews)

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On(Lois Ehlert)

Zero is the Leaves on the Tree(Betsy Franco and Shino Arihara)

How Many Snails? A counting book(Paul Giganti, Jr. and Donald Crews)

Four Black Puppies(Sally Grindley and Clive Scruton)

Hello Kitty Hello Numbers(illustrated by Higashi Glaser)

The Gummy Candy Counting Book(Amy and Richard Hutchings; photographs by Richard Hutchings)

Pete the Cat and His four Groovy Buttons(Eric Litwin and James Dean)

One Watermelon Seed(Celia Barker Lottridge and Karen Patkau)

A Pod of Orcas:  A Seaside Counting Book(Sheryl McFarlane and Kirsti Anne Wakelin

The M&M Counting Book(Barbara Barbieri McGrath)

Chicka Chicka 1-2-3(Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson and Lois Ehlert)

PJ Bear’s New Year’s Party(Paul Owen Lewis)

One is a Snail Ten is a Crab:  A Counting by Feet Book(April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre; illustrated by Randy Cecil)

1 is One(Tasha Tudor)

Over in the Meadow: A Counting-Out Rhyme(Olive A. Wadsworth; pictures by Mary Maki Rae)

Mouse Count(Ellen Stoll Walsh)

Bunny Party(Rosemary Wells)

Max Counts His Chickens 1 2 3(Rosemary Wells)

Bear Counts(Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman)

 

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Student Led-Conferences: Postscript….This Week in Our Room: April 23-27, 2019

Thank you to everyone for attending our Student-Led Conferences.  It’s always such a special time to see the children’s classrooms and view their work.   You warmed our hearts with all of the deep love and affection you had for your child’s first school efforts.  An extra special thanks so all the parents who sat down in the Meeting Area, cross-legged, to do the actions during the Calendar Time Centre.  We appreciate your kind, thoughtful and appreciative words in our Guest Book so much.  It’s such a privilege to be your child’s first teacher for their first foray into formal schooling.  We’re glad they are having so much fun and we look forward to many more exciting things we will do together in Kindergarten!

Much of this week was spent preparing for our Student-Led Conferences.  We sponge painted our paper plate flowers for our classroom trees.

The recording and response pages from our Numeracy Centres were collated into individual Math books for our children.

We brought the scrapbooks up to date.  This gorgeous keepsake of each Kindergarten child’s work will be yours at the end of the year.  It’s been organised by month and we’ve kept the best of everything for you!

We squeezed in the last letter of our Alphabet Book and we’ll make a sweet little zebra next week to finish your Alphabet wall.

There was some very intense Lego building in the classroom as well to help break up the busy days.

You can see the Kindergarten Visualising Learning bulletin board outside of my classroom.  Here, we have a few photos of the Big and Little Buddies doing their research for their Penguin Movie Magic project.  This Project is an integration of digital learning with the guided inquiry process we use in Kindergarten.  At Student-Led Conferences you saw the final version of weeks of hard work.  We will be posting in more detail about our experience later next month.

We had our first Forest Friday playtime.  It was a very refreshing way to finish off a great week at school.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

You should have received the results of your Kindergarten child’s Vision and Hearing Screening from this past Wednesday.

April Homework calendars can be turned in any time next week.

Tennis continues for a second week.  Please remember to wear your runners for safe play.

Library Book Exchange is different for next week only.  Mrs. Campbell will have Library on Tuesday.  Mrs. Daudlin will have Library on Friday.

Class and School Panorama Photos will be taken on Friday, May 4.

Mayfair is Saturday, May 12, 2018.  This is a very exciting school fair Ridgeview holds every second year, and a “not to be missed event.”  There will be lots of “fair” activities, food and fun.  If you are interested in volunteering please contact Kerra Sugden at kerrasugden@gmail.com. The RPAC needs lots of support to make this wonderful event a success.

All students are requested to help contribute tombola prize bags.  We will be sending home the ziploc bags with instructions for your to read.  Pictured below are a few ideas.

 

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Communicating Learning: Student-Led Conferences 2018

 

We’ve written extensively about Student-Led Conferences since we started our website and blog in December 2014.  We’re linking the three posts we’ve written below, with a new introduction to reflect what we’re doing this year for our Conferences.

It’s that time of the year again, The Self-Regulated Teacher’s favourite day of the year, Student-Led Conferences (SLC).  We’re delighted to announce that Student-Led Conferences will be held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 this year.

We’re so very proud of our little children and the way they have shown such tremendous growth since September.  It really is amazing when you think about it.  For Christy and I, sometimes it takes our breath away, we are still in such wonder about how our children develop and change.  Imagine, children starting school at ages four and five, away from their parents all day but doing what they do best:  Play of every kind.  They’re climbing, running and jumping, drawing and colouring, making new friends, building and imaginary play and listening to stories and songs.  And through it all, lots of talking, lots of questions, oral language and vocabulary development, and laughter all day long.  It’s a very precious time, and we don’t want to rush the days away.

For our part, we’ve been diligently putting together the children’s scrapbooks, organising papers into Math booklets, and we just finished the “Z” page in our Alphabet Books.  We don’t send home a lot of schoolwork because we’ve been saving and collecting it to show you now; we need time to show you the changes in a printed name, a cut out shape or a self-portrait.  We have so many special things to show you at our various Centres and it’s exciting to see what our children accomplished over the past eight months in Kindergarten.  

One very special SLC Centre this year will be viewing the children’s Penguin Movie Magic projects.  In order to access your child’s movie, you’ll have to open the FreshGradeforStudentapp on a school iPad at the Science Centre.  Then, enter the access code for your child and press play!  Your access code will be attached to the Student-Led Conference agenda.  We’ll be there to help and you will love what your child and Big Buddy have accomplished.

As we get closer to the Big Day, we hope you’ve signed up for your Student-Led Conference, made alternate arrangements for siblings and are ready to join your child for an adventure in learning!  See you on Thursday!

Click the links below to read more about Student-Led Conferences and our expectations, so you and your child can have a happy and successful one!

Student-Led Conferences, February 23, 2015

Communicating Learning:  Student-Led Conferences, May 2, 2016

Tips for a Successful Student-Led Conference:  Getting the Most From Yours, April 19, 2017

Our Ridgeview Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Brady, has also written about Student-Led Conferences here.

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Kindergarten Art and the Loveliness of Spring…This Week in Our Room: April 16-20, 2018

With our usual can-do attitude, Christy and I decided that if Spring was going to be slow in arriving then we would make it ourselves.  And that is how we found ourselves creating a lot of beautiful art this week so our classrooms will be as lovely inside as the beauty (when it gets here) we find outside our doors.  We think it worked…we’ve had some beautiful sunshine in the past couple of days.

In Art this term, we are focusing on line, shape and colour.  We’ve drawn these oversized flowers with curved lines (drawing a “u”) using black pastels, and with tempera paint pucks, painted in each petal.  We know that Kindergarten children can use a paintbrush correctly to paint.  But this year we wanted to give our young artists an opportunity to use different sized brushes for different purposes, and several kinds of paint mediums, from dry tempera paint pucks, to liquid tempera to liquid acrylic paints.  We know that part of our role is to expose the Kindergarten to various art techniques and resources so we are very happily providing as many art experiences to our children as we can!

Our Big Buddies dropped by this week and helped us to make these adorable robins!  The robin is an iconic symbol of spring so looking up at all those red tummies is a very cheerful sight.

In addition, our blue chicks are all finished now and greet us each morning from their friendly perch.

 

Our latest round of Sharing and Special Helper is now on its way with Fairy Tales.  Please assist your children in finding a favourite Fairy Tale from home to bring to school and we will read it aloud during Storytime on their Special Helper Day.  If you still have your Fairy Tale book from your childhood, you might consider allowing your child to select a story for us to read.  We still have all of our books from when we were young and look forward to showing our classes how we still treasure the stories of our past.

This week we wrapped up our explorations up to and including the number 9.  One new Centre we tried in our Activity Rotations was using dot formation cards for subitizing (instant recognition of a number).  These are based on dice patterns and it’s quite interesting watching the children count in sequence (eg., 1, 2, 3, 4), or count on from recognising the formation (eg., 6,7).  We asked the children to choose a dot formation card, make a matching set with counters, then copy it with bingo markers.  

We were quite impressed at how well they independently managed a lot of materials on the table, followed the directions (most of the time), then double-checked their work by counting without being asked.  We liked how they didn’t skip the step of making the set of counters, but instead,listened and rememberedthe teacher instructions.  This is a BIG step for Kindergarten, and a very important part of their self-regulation which is going to be absolutely necessary for them as life-long learners.

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22 this year, and a school wide activity for Ridgeview students was to participate inDo 1 Give.  This year’s focus was a Book Swap where each student would donate at least one book, and could then choose a new book from the collection.  Thank you to everyone for your generous donations!  Our classes had a wonderful time browsing all of the donated storybooks, and everyone chose something special to take home.  

Our favourite day of the year, Student Led Conferences, is fast approaching next Thursday, April 26.  Please note that school dismisses at 2 pm.  You’ll need to promptly pick up your child on time as we will start our Conferences immediately following the bell.

Here are some things you need to know before your child’s Student Led Conference:

Please bring your child with you.  There seems to be some confusion about whether your child came or not, but yes, your child will be conducting this conference, not myself or Mrs. Campbell.

Please make arrangements for siblings.  This is a time just for Kindergarten children and their parent(s).  We have tried to have the Conferences with siblings in the classroom but truthfully, siblings need attention and detract from the hard work of the Kindergarten child.  Older students may wait quietly in our cloakroom with a book of their own.

Please share positive feedback only with your Kindergarten child.  Your child has worked extremely hard since September and shown tremendous growth in all aspects of school life.  Today is a day to celebrate their achievements!

Please be on time for your Conference. We still start and end conferences promptly so every family can have their maximum amount of time to enjoy their child’s school projects.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Wednesday, April 25is the Kindergarten Vision and Hearing Screening with Vancouver Coastal Health.  They will begin promptly at 9 am so please be on time for school.

Thursday, April 26-Friday, April 27is Student Led Conferences in the Kindergarten.  We dismiss at 2 pm on Thursday.

 

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Looking Forward to Spring….This Week in Our Room: April 9-13, 2018

It is just a Vancouver thing or are we always waiting for Spring sunshine? Judging from the wet coats, wet heads and changes of clothing we’ve been through in the past couple of weeks, we think we’re pretty much still waiting. Of course, our definition of Spring is sunshine and warmer temperatures, not all this rain. But rain it will, so hopefully drier days and lots of flowers will follow.

As part of our wishful thinking, we read aloud I See Spring by Charles Chigna and illustrated by Ag Jatkowska. Everyone drew a picture and completed a sentence frame for our “Spring Is” big book that we can read aloud in class during Book Time.

This week we read the delightful, Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood. As an avid mystery book lover myself, I always hope that one day our students will embrace this fascinating genre. There’s nothing quite like being an armchair sleuth and using your “little grey cells,” as Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot, so eloquently stated to solve a mystery.

We love you so much that the children covered their Alphabet Craft “x” with kisses for you!


We’re finishing up our Math Unit in Numeracy with Explorations for 8 this week. We’ve made pattern block fences, bingo marker pictures with 8 dots, created and copied block pictures for 8, practised printing formation for 8 and counted sets from 6-10.

These activities are part of a weekly math rotation we complete over a couple of days for each number, 0-10, as part of the Numeracy and Problem Solving content for Kindergarten Math. The children are very familiar with the routine of rotations around the tables, where each table has different math materials and manipulatives. We intentionally schedule time every week from September to December for Free Exploration. This time we spend as a class during the Fall, talking about number, counting and what it looks like to work cooperatively with a small group of students, is essential for us before we begin our focused work on Numeracy.

We’re working on a big craft right now, our Spring Blue Chicks. The chicks are halfway to finishing sprouting their paper “feathers” but here’s a tiny sneak preview. They should all be finished for Student Led Conferences on Thursday, April 26. We’ve already been working on them for four days. The children are really learning about patience and perseverance as they complete this fine motor strengthening activity. We’ve been crushing small sheets of tissue paper to glue on and the determination on the children’s faces to finish is very impressive for five- and six-year olds.

The “Do 1 Give Challenge” is coming up on Thursday, April 19. As part of this recycling initiative to reduce paper consumption and take care of our Earth, each child is requested to bring in one book to donate. (Please ensure the book is clean and in good, readable condition). We will keep track of all the names of donors. Then, Mrs. Campbell and I will arrange all the books for the children to peruse, and everyone who brought in a book will be allowed to take home a new one from our collection!

Speaking of recycling, the Grade Two children in Mrs. Bird’s and Mrs. Tsumura’s class have started their Battery Recycling Program. Our Grade Two team of Sophie, Emma and Belen have made these gorgeous boxes to collect the batteries. Please send in your old batteries, and our team will remove them weekly for proper disposal.


Our book recommendation for this week is the delightful, The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino. This story is a wonderful reminder that we have all have special gifts, and should follow our heart.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Save the Date: Thursday, April 26 is Student Led Conferences! This is the Kindergarten Team’s favourite day of the year! We love the opportunity to invite you to visit your child’s classroom and show you all the amazing learning our KinderCuties have completed this year. Please remember this is a special time for you and your Kinder, so please make alternate arrangements for siblings. Older students may wait quietly in our cloakroom for their family. Our sign-up will be posted on Monday, April 16th outside the library.

On Thursday, April 26 students will be dismissed early at 2 pm. Conferences begin promptly at 2 pm.

Wednesday is Library Day so please return your books on time.
We did put in a request for a return of rainboots and extra changes of clothes. This week was definitely a strain on laundry as we got caught twice in heavy rain showers.

Ready, Set, Learn takes place on Saturday, April 28. This is a free community event at the West Vancouver Recreation Centre from 9:30 am-12 for children 3-5 years old and their families.

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Literacy, Language and Story:  What’s Ahead for Kindergarten in Term Three

sweet stories for Spring

The final term is always an exciting one for any grade because our students are quite a bit more mature than the start of school, they have greater independence and more developed skills.  

By the third term in Kindergarten, the children’s development is rapid and vast:

-their bodies are bigger, taller and stronger

-their fine motor skills (printing, drawing, painting) and gross motor skills (running, skipping, throwing) have really increased and improved

-their sense of humour is developing (until lately, only Mrs. Campbell and I were laughing at each other’s jokes)

-they are beginning to understand stories at an inferential level (reading between the lines)

-they can follow a classroom discussion and contribute on-topic comments

-they can demonstrate an understanding of school life and classroom culture through their self-regulation (calm, focused, ready to learn) and social awareness (understanding that everybody, children and adults have feelings; and realizing they are one of many students in the class)

Of course, there’s much more than what we listed but these are some of the constants that we have noticed over the course of our teaching careers.

From last week’s newsletter, you’ll know that we are now in the Final Four…finishing the last four letters of our Alphabet.  We’ve been working really hard on teaching letter names and sounds, correct letter formation when writing, and developing the children’s phonological awareness.  Phonological awareness is important because it is an indicator of the children’s readiness for reading.

When children have strong phonological awareness, that means they have an understanding that language is made up of sounds (phonemic awareness), syllables, rhymes and words.

In class, we directly teach phonemic awareness (the ability to think about and manipulate speech sounds) and its accompanying skills of blending (c-a-t = cat); segmenting (cat = c-a-t); deleting (children repeat a word without the initial or final sound) (cat/ca- or -at) and substituting (children substitute different sounds in a word) (c-an/f-an/r-an/ra-t/s-at).  This forms a large part of our Alphabet instruction.  

Although we will soon be finished this direct Alphabet teaching, we will continue to review the letters (particularly sound production).  Our regular classroom activities such as Sharing, class discussions and Mystery Box Inquiry, all contribute to developing the children’s oral language (speaking and listening), a necessary part of a balanced approach to reading instruction, and are on-going for the rest of the school year.

In addition, we will support the children in refining the children’s printing skills during their daily work, focusing on correct letter formation, shape and space between letters and words, and writing on the line.

It’s also a time for us to explore literary themes.  Our big literary theme in Kindergarten is Fairy Tales.  We choose Fairy Tales as we believe it to be one of the most important genres of childhood literature, along with Nursery Rhymes and Folk Tales.  In our daily lives, through our speech (idioms), books we read and pop culture eg., “If the shoe fits, wear it” (Cinderella), many references are made to Fairy Tales; and a firm understanding of these familiar tales is essential when discussing literary archetypes and characterizations, plot patterns and common themes to fully understand the subtle nuances in current literature.  We’ve written more about Fairy Tales here.

The next big literary event in our classrooms will be our Home Reading Program.  This is a very fun and wonderful opportunity for our children to take home beginning readers three times a week, and read the books with you.  We have home readers at a variety of reading levels. We will have the children read books at a couple of different levels, and report back which is “best” for them.  We have been revamping our Home Reading Library and buying new books for the children with our Scholastic Bonus Money we earn from your purchases. So thank you to everybody who’s made a book buy this year!  Home Reading will start at the beginning of May, following Student-Led Conferences on Thursday, April 26.

As in all childhood development milestones, our children will achieve the reading and writing milestones in their own time, when they are ready and with interest, modeling, experience and exposure from the adults in their lives at home and school.  Although most children will know most of their letter names, sounds and printing formations by the end of Kindergarten, not all children will. As parents and teachers, we want to support our children as best as we can.

Although it is not a direct cause for concern at this time, it’s important to keep providing literary and language opportunities at home.  For now, modeling reading and writing, read-alouds every night, taking the time to answer your child’s questions and reading environmental print are some manageable strategies which you can incorporate into your day.

We will talk about more specific ways you can support your child’s literacy and language at home in the upcoming weeks.

 

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