The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Sharing and Special Helper

fullsizerenderOne of the most exciting parts of Kindergarten is to be the Special Helper.  There are many varieties of this special day such as Student of the Week or the VIP (Very Important Person) but we like Special Helper because let’s face it, our Kindergarten children are so very, very special and wonderful…and sweet….we could go on, but we’ve got teenagers at home making noises about dinner so we better get on with writing.

Your child has a few weeks during the fall to observe the roles of the Special Helper and learn about them from the teacher.  Each student gets to be Special Helper about once a month.  It’s an excellent exercise in self-regulation as they see that each child gets a turn but must be patient while waiting for their own.  It’s like Christmas….we all know it’s coming.  We post the children’s names on a calendar on the Parent Bulletin Board so parents know when their child’s turn will be.  We also have an alphabetical list of names in our classroom in the meeting area.  The children see the clothespeg moving down the list each day as the Special Helper has his or her turn and, like the visual schedule, can anticipate when their turn is coming.  We’ve been asked, “How many sleeps until it is my turn?” many, many times and we all help out by counting down the days.

As the Special Helper your child has a variety of roles.  The first is as a Leader and Role Model.  We have seen many times how a student, quiet during class discussions and with gentle interactions among classmates, embraces their leadership position and simply relishes in the role.  Sometimes, we don’t get an opportunity to exercise our leadership until it is thrust upon us.

The Special Helper is the Line Leader anytime we leave, or return, to the classroom.  On certain days, that can be up to 6-7 times during the school day your child gets to be the first one in line, and close to the all action.  The Special Helper never needs to worry about where he or she might stand in the line as he or she is always FIRST.

At the meeting area, your child sits on the Special Helper chair, not on the carpet with the rest of the class.  Special Helpers, like their teacher, get to survey the kingdom…whoops, classroom,  in their role.

The Special Helper leads the Math Their Way Calendar.  First, your child chooses a wand (rather than a pointer) to lead the class, like the teacher. The Math Their Way Calendar is a very special job.  There are four main tasks, with many math skills embedded in it.  We sing the “Days of the Week” song, chant the days and turn over today’s card; count the number of days we’ve been in school while patterning the actions to the monthly pattern, and add to the pattern; chant the colour pattern we’ve chosen, and colour in the next square and print the date; and be the meteorologist by checking the weather and colouring in the weather graph.  

Your child has just led the class in reciting the days of the week; reviewing the concepts of “today, yesterday and tomorrow,” rote counting; extending patterns; showing an understanding of directionality (left to right; top to bottom); statistical analysis and demonstrating their fine motor skills by colouring and printing the date.  WOW!  Our greatest compliment is when we hear students are creating their own classroom and calendar area at home so they can be the teacher to teach their younger siblings and stuffed animals, who willingly act as students.

Sharing is the new phrase we use now, rather than “Show and Tell.”  Show and Tell seemed to almost have a bragging quality to it, so we use Sharing which makes us feel like we’ve been invited to participate in seeing or learning about something special…which we most definitely have.

During Sharing your child is again in a significant leadership role.  Your child is standing up in front of their classmates with all eyes looking.  It’s really exciting to watch your children proudly taking special objects out of their ziploc bag.  Many like to keep the objects hidden away (special cupboard in the classroom, or tucked behind the Special Helper chair).  Sometimes parents send in a few notes for us with extra information which is very helpful if there is a lot to remember – after all, some of us are still just 4 years old.  We are happy to help and prompt your children.  Sometimes, they just need a little support and encouragement.

Your child knows when his or her turn is coming up — the list is posted in the classroom and everyone is checking daily to see when it’s their turn.  Please check the calendar outside on the Parent Board so you know the date and can give yourself some time to prepare the Sharing with your child.  Your children won’t always need or want your help for school assignments but right now, Sharing is a teaching and learning process for them.  

Let us share our experience as parents of teenagers in high school and University:  when your child sees you are interested and involved in their schoolwork, their commitment to their schooling and doing their best is deeper.  We’re not saying to “do the work” for them, but these tiny people have not necessarily had “an assignment.”  Teaching your children that they have a personal responsibility to bring in their Sharing, and that you will support them, is forming good habits about homework.  You’ll always know in advance what the theme for the monthly Sharing is…so start a few days ahead of the big day, give your child two or three choices to bring in for Sharing, and then talk with them about what they might say to the class and make a few notes if necessary.  Have a little rehearsal at home for the parents, brothers and sisters — it’s fun!

Every year we have students who are reluctant to bring a Sharing; but send it along anyways and we will model their Sharing for them with the class.  It’s amazing how quickly the children want to do it themselves once we start doing the talking!  “No, like this!!” is typically how we are interrupted.  We want your children to feel like they are participating fully in class activities, and not to worry…their classmates are always an appreciative audience.

Please note:  We are no longer going to allow the children to bring in their Sharing on another Special Helper’s day, if they forgot to bring it on their own day.  We find it takes a long time to go through up to three sharings if children forget.  If your child is going to be away, let us know and we can try to switch with another student.

Now, our current theme of Holiday (Christmas) Sharing is in progress and we are having FUN seeing your children’s stockings, Christmas ornaments, Christmas storybooks, and decorations!  Thank you to everyone for opening up those Christmas boxes early to accommodate us!

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room:  November 21-25, 2016

img_2164We’ve been away from our website for a bit because we’ve been writing our report cards for Communicating Student Learning.  But we’re done now, so we’re back with more fun news about the activities in our classrooms this week.

We’ve kept a steady pace on our Alphabet Letters.  This week we learned about the correct formation for the letter “i” in upper and lowercase printing.  We’ve been working diligently on our letter recognition and sounds.  If you’re looking for more ideas about how to help at home, here are a few suggestions:

  • we’ve worked on letters “a” through “i.”  When you’re reading a story, take a moment to ask your child to identify the letter of the week in different words on a page
  • at the end of the story, go back and find words that begin with the letter of the week
  • trace the words with your finger so your child sees that we read from left to right, top to bottom
  • as you’re out and about, read the environmental print with your child and have them pick out one or two words and identify the letters

We saw our Grade 7 Buddies to write our Letters to Santa.  We’re very excited thinking about what Santa might bring us for Christmas this year!

We’ve been working on our mini-bear unit, with another familiar story, Corduroy by Don Freeman. Our focus in this story and next week’s “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is story structure.  We’re looking at, and using the words, “beginning, middle, end” for what happens at the beginning of the story (introduction), in the middle (plot) and at the end (conclusion).  We’re asking the children directly “What happens in the beginning/middle/end?” and having them orally summarise what they remember and understand.  This knowledge of story structure will form a foundation for when we study Fairy Tales in the spring.  

We made cute Corduroy bears as our craft.

img_2167

Buttons were a big focus as in the story, Corduroy has lost a button from his suspenders.  We sorted buttons according to several sorting rules and made many different patterns.  

img_2153

Important Events and Reminders

Gingerbread House Event:  On Tuesday, December 14, 2016 is Ridgeview’s annual Gingerbread House Family Event.  All proceeds from the is event will go to the Me to We initiative.  Please check the weekly e-bulletin for information on how to purchase the houses.

Christmas Concert:  Our Christmas concert performances will take place on Wednesday, December 7 at 11am for odd divisions and 1:10pm for even divisions.  Please remember to start preparing your child’s costume.  Kindergarten children will wear their Christmas best.  

Girls: Party Dresses; Party Skirt or Pants and Top; Party Shoes

Boys: Dark Pants; White Shirt; Tie or Bowtie optional; Dress Shoes (preferably no runners)

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room – November 15-18, 2016

img_3069

 

We’re talking about daily and seasonal changes in class and reading some beloved books about Autumn:

 

 

In November by Cynthia Rylant (illustrated by Jill Kastner)

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson (illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke)

Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming

All of these books are beautifully written and illustrated, and provide excellent examples in literary form about one of the Big ideas for Kindergarten Science, “Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things.”

Our classes have noticed how the clothes they are wearing have changed (t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops in the summer; to pants and long sleeved shirts in the fall; to bringing warmer coats, hats and needing gloves with the cold weather burst we had this week).

The children have observed the leaves on the ground, wet puddles everywhere and how they can make their runners squeak on the hallway floors after playing outside on the wet soft surface of the playground.  They are collecting huge piles of leaves in beautiful reds and gold from the playground to save to play with when we return outside later in the day.

img_3071

 

We’ve talked a lot about migration and this week, introduced the concept of hibernation.  We’re integrating our inquiry of seasonal changes with a mini literary unit on “Bears in Literature,” so Time to Sleep was a perfect segue.  Time to Sleep tells the delightful story of Bear and her friends, each one noticing the changes in their environment, and how they are clues to go to sleep, or hibernate.

 

 

 

  • The smell of winter is in the air
  • Leaves are changing colour and falling to the ground
  • Birds begin their migration to warmer places
  • The days are getting shorter
  • Frost appears on the ground

The children were able to identify the patterns in the story (excellent application of their knowledge from creating, copying and extending patterns in Math) and then re-create it in their individual work.

We completed our study on Time to Sleep by making these cutie hibernating bears with our Big Buddies.

fullsizerender

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exchange on Tuesday.  Please have your child return their library book on Mondays as part of developing good habits to complete assignments early.  We’ve had quite a number of children forget their book on Tuesday and it’s so disappointing for them.  By returning library books earlier, it gives everybody one day’s grace to bring it in on Tuesday.

Sharing and Special Helper.  The children are delighted to have their Special Helper and Sharing turn each month.  It’s important to note this is a Special Helper and Sharing turn.  Most children are able to perform the Special Helper responsibilities independently, or with minimal support.  But at 5 years old, it’s difficult for them to organise their Sharing on their own.  Please check the Sharing and Special Heper calendar and make note of when your child has his or her turn, help them to gather their Sharing items and have a little practise at home.  Feel free to send some information on a piece of paper so we can prompt your child when he or she is presenting.

Christmas Cracker Project. Our Christmas cracker project is fast approaching.  We are collecting paper free toilet paper rolls, new Christmas wrap and ribbon for this project.  Please send in these supplies if you have some at home this week.  We will be making the crackers with our Big Buddies the week of November 28-December 2.  

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room: November 7-November 10, 2016

imageWe honoured Remembrance Day with a Remembrance Day Assembly at our school on Thursday. Led by our Grade 7 Assembly Committee, many classes gave presentations, including singing, reading poetry and explaining the history of the poppy. We learned about the Highway of Heroes, which was established to remember the Canadian servicemen and servicewomen from CFB Trenton who died while serving their country.

Sometimes people might think our Kindergarten children are too young to participate in a Remembrance Day Assembly. But actually, we believe they are at the right age. They take from the Assembly what they are able to understand, and for some of them, it’s a great deal. Many children have older brothers and sisters who were participating in the class presentations, we’ve been reading stories to give a context for learning; and we have made our focus on what peace means to each one of us.

We started off by brainstorming what peace means. We liked these ideas which were shared by a couple of students:

Peace is all peoples’ different ways of doing things.
Everybody is different and has different ways.

Then inspired by The Peace Book by Todd Parr, we’ve created this poem for you by your children, as they remember Remembrance Day.

Peace Is….
Peace is singing O Canada.
Peace is looking at a rainbow.
Peace is a Hawaii sunset.
Peace is giving flowers to my mom.
Peace is looking into Barsa’s eyes.
Peace is hugging my whole family.
Peace is looking at the stars.
Peace is relaxing with my family.
Peace is my mom and dad are different.
Peace is being on a boat.
Peace is being calm.
Peace is listening to quiet music.
Peace is my mom taking care of me.
Peace is running for Terry Fox.
Peace is playing kindly and sharing.
Peace is playing the piano.
Peace is helping others.
Peace is loving your pets.
Peace is hugging your family.
Peace is cuddling with a blanket.
Peace is enjoying nature.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, November 11 is Remembrance Day and School is not in session.

Monday, November 14 is a District-wide Professional Development Day and school is not in session.

The card project samples went home this week. If you are interested in purchasing cards orders are due by Sunday, November 13 for delivery November 28. Later orders will be delivered by December 13.

We are still collecting Hallowe’en candy for our Christmas Cracker Project. We are also now collecting toilet paper rolls (the rolls must be clear of paper and paper debris) and rolls of new wrapping paper and ribbon for the project. A sample of what is needed will be posted on the classroom parent boards.

The Scholastic Book Fair is coming to Ridgeview from Monday, November 28, 2016 – Thursday, December 1, 2016. The book fair will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. There will be lots of wonderful books for purchase. It’s a great way to start your Christmas shopping all while supporting Ridgeview and helping build up our school library collection!

Our sharing ends next week. Our next sharing focus will be “Christmas”. More info will follow via Remind.

Leave a comment »

November Self-Regulation Reflection

img_1509In our post-Hallowe’en state of mind, we found ourselves thinking a lot about the children’s self-regulation this week.

In our Kindergarten classrooms self-regulation is the foundation of our teaching and the driving force behind our teaching practise. We view student behaviour through a self-regulation lens.  For us, Hallowe’en is the first marker, a personal assessment of how effective our teaching has been in not only creating a self-regulated classroom in its physical organisation, but in our teaching and use of self-regulation strategies.  

Not only was it Hallowe’en on Monday but we had our Emergency Release Drill on Thursday.  Sometimes we are not really sure how the children will respond to a lot of change.  We have many routines built into our day which forms a big part of the children’s self-regulation.  However, part of growing up also means having the flexibility to cope (calmly) with change so we put our self-regulation to the test.

Despite the Hallowe’en excitement, and waves of low (blue zone) and high (yellow zone) energy we had in class this week, our teaching of self-regulated strategies and routines over the past two months came back to us in a healthy harvest (you reap what you sow) of quite calm, thoughtful and cooperative children.  We tried to be very sensitive to the classroom energy level by providing extra outside time to make chalk drawings in our undercover area, more crafting for idle hands and lots of teacher read-alouds to listen and relax by.  We noticed lots of hearty sandwiches and pastas coming out of lunch bags and these delicious meals certainly made a difference to the lunch hour as the children were happily engaged in eating and refueling for the afternoons.

While enjoying a few quiet and reflective minutes with our class, we’re bringing their attention to how a peaceful, restful mind and body break can make them feel refreshed and re-energized for learning.   We’ve been talking about our thoughts as ideas, pictures (images) and quiet words in our head as we’ve introduced Incredible Flexible You, a social thinking curriculum for young children, a couple of weeks ago.  Understanding our thoughts and feelings, and how each person brings his or her thoughts and feelings to any social interaction, have been the first part of our teaching.  We’re building upon the concept of “thinking thoughts” to create calming images with the children, in their heads, to increase their repertoire of self-regulation strategies.

We made it safely past Hallowe’en, but our practise of self-regulation strategies carries on.  Next stop:  Christmas.

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room:  October 31-November 4, 2016

fullsizerender-4We started off with a bang this week as our Primary Grades participated in the annual Ridgeview Hallowe’en Parade.  Thank you to all the parents who supported us by braving the crowded hallways with your happy and excited smiles and waves for our littlest pumpkins.  

We had a fun Hallowe’en Centres Party following the Parade.  We use the Centres format frequently, for our morning playtime, math manipulative work and in the afternoon for our Centre focus activities.  The children are used to moving between Centres, sometimes in a rotation, and it creates a sense of predictability and smooth organisation which is self-regulatory by its very nature.  We finished our Hallowe’en bats, made spider cupcakes, coloured our Hallowe’en books and cut out Hallowe’en shapes with playdough and cookie cutters.  We had a lot of help from our wonderful classroom parents in the preparation of activities, and leading the children through their tasks.

We’ve spent the rest of this week recovering from a late school night and sweet treats.  

img_2042To get our ourselves back on schedule, we concentrated on our Alphabet work for the letter “F.”  We’ve been looking for a new craft for “F” and came up with “f is a flower.”  The children made these cute flowers using dot stickers for the centres and adding their own petals, stems and leaves in feltpen.  We’re pleased with the childrenès continued improvement in letter formation.  We’re encouraging the children to use the correct letter formation for the lowercase letters we’ve taught in class (a-f) when printing their names.  When your child is printing at home, please gently remind them to use the letters they know how to print in lowercase.  

There’s nothing like an Emergency Release Drill to snap you out of your sugar haze.  On Thursday, our children participated in a full student release following a simulated earthquake emergency.  A soundtrack of earthquake noises was played, and the children moved to “Drop, Cover, and Hold” under the classroom tables.  After counting to to 60, an alarm signalled us to evacuate the building.  Everyone gathered our coats and headed to the gravel field.  Once the building was deemed safe, the students returned to their classrooms and waited for their parents to go through the Parent Reception Centre before they were reunited.  

Some things we learned as a result of this emergency procedure:

  • Sometimes children become upset when we practise these emergency drill procedures; you might consider talking about your family emergency plan so your child becomes familiar with the language we use and the school routines
  • Our children should all be able to independently put on their own coats, including pulling out sleeves; please continue to practise with your child if necessary.
  • Some children became very anxious and fretful when their parents did not come to pick them up beginning at 1:45 pm, asking us where you were and why hadn’t you arrived yet; we encourage you to tell us and your child ahead of time you will be picking later so we can support your child, or better still, ask your alternate pick-up to help out in this situation

img_2058The days following Hallowe’en are now a time for reflection as Remembrance Day is next week.  We’re talking about peace in our classes, and what that means for each of us.  We made peace doves with our Big Buddies on Wednesday, and some children also chose to make a Canadian flag as a choice activity.  Our children will attend their first serious school assembly next Thursday as we have our annual Remembrance Day Assembly for students.  Students enter and leave the assembly silently, and there is no talking or clapping by the student population.  We will front-end load our children with the school expectations, and you can also help us in talking with them as well.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Hallowe’en Candy Donation is ongoing. This is a great way to get rid of any extra candy you still have or don’t want lying around the house tempting you! We will use the candy for our upcoming Christmas Cracker project.  Donated candy should not have any Hallowe’en themed words or pictures on the wrappers.

Monday, November 7 is Popcorn Day. Please send in $1 for your child to purchase a bag. We are hoping to enjoy it as our afternoon snack outside in the sunshine!

Wednesday, November 9 is Photo Retakes Day. Please let us know at drop off if your child is planning to have a retake.

Monday, November 28-Thursday, December 1 is the Scholastic Book Fair in our Ridgeview library.  Students and parents will be allowed to purchase some wonderful books and gifts there. If you are interested in volunteering at this event please speak to our teacher librarian, Mrs. Kennedy.

November Scholastic Book Orders due Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Leave a comment »