The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Year 2:  Happy Anniversary to The Self-Regulated Teacher!

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It was a quiet celebration, attended just by Christy and myself, but December 10, 2016, was the second anniversary of our website, The Self-Regulated Teacher.  As of today, we’ve written 147 posts and been viewed 19, 257 times by readers from all over the world.  Although it might not seem like much, we’re pretty proud as our main purpose was simply to provide an extra layer of parent-teacher communication for our classroom parents.  The fact that other educators are reading our work is high praise and we’re delighted that they would also spend a few minutes from their busy day to drop by.

Last year one of our classroom parents was telling us how much their family enjoyed the website, and they loved reading about what their child was doing in class.  They felt so informed about what was happening in the classroom, and could take the information we shared to remind their child about teacher and classroom expectations.  But they also raised a really good question, which was did we regret starting the website?  After all these months were we tired of writing?  She was concerned it was taking a lot of time and we felt pressure to keep writing.

But we’re still very happy with our choice to create and write for a website.  We want to share what we’ve done in our day with our Kinders, our thoughts and reflections about how things are going.  The writing is fun and easy and with Google Docs can be done anywhere (yes, some of the posts have been written on an iPhone).   We take lots of photos of our students’ work and classroom to try to show as much as we can of your child’s learning environment.  Although we still have parent-teacher conferences, and lots of “hallway chats,” it’s wonderful to have a record, in writing and with pictures, of what happened in the magical year we call Kindergarten.

On our second anniversary, we’ve updated our About Us post to reflect where we are now in our teaching.  It’s located on the menu on your right hand side of the home page; you can also read Our Story which is the story of how we became The Self-Regulated Teacher.

 

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This Week in Our Room:  December 12-16, 2016

fullsizerenderWe finished up the letter “k is for kick” in our Alphabet work this week.  We made it almost halfway through the Alphabet so we are well on target to finish teaching all of the letter names, letter sounds and letter formation shortly after Spring Break in March.

All of the Kindergarten participated in the Reindeer Games on Wednesday this week.  For the first time, Mrs. Campbell and I put all the children together in one classroom, and we spread over into the hallway and English Language Learning room.  We worked in small groups with children from both classes.  We’re so used to the rotations from Math Centres that transitions between the five activities went very smoothly.  The children’s self-regulation was excellent, img_2371considering some of them had stayed up late the previous evening making gingerbread houses.  Your child will have brought home everything they made over the past few days.  Thank you so very much to all the parents who came in to help us with our Christmas Centres.

img_2372We made Reindeer Gift bags to hold all of our treasures, particularly the sequin marshmallow deocration we made a few weeks ago with our Big Buddies.  We followed the recipe for Reindeer Food to feed the reindeer on Christmas Even, made a Christmas Reindeer placemat, did our best colouring in our Christmas activity books and cut out shapes with Christmas playdough.

Speaking of Gingerbread Houses, thank you to all the families who came out on Tuesday night to participate in our Second Annual Me to We Gingerbreadhouse Fundraiser.  As you know, our Grade 7 Me to We Team is fundraising to provide a Primary education (K-6) for a classroom of children in a developing country.  Families were able to purchase a gingerbread house kit, extra icing and candy.  The gingerbread house designs were fabulous, and no mess for you to clean up at home!  Our gym was filled with many happy children and families all working together.  We’re not just building gingerbread houses, we’re building a community.

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Upcoming Events and Reminders

Today was the last day to return the Report Card Envelopes. If you have not returned yours yet, please hang on to it and your child can return it in January.  In an effort to reduce paper consumption, we want to recycle the envelopes for your child’s Second and Third Term Reports.

December Homework Calendars can be completed over the holidays and returned in January.  We sent home the January Homework Calendars on Friday.

Vancouver Coastal Health will be visiting the Kindergarten on Wednesday, January 4 for the children’s hearing and vision screening.  Please be on time for school as we start promptly at 9 am.

Our first day back to school following the Winter Break will be Tuesday, January 3, 2016.  There will be no Special Helper or Sharing for the first few days when we return.  Instead, we will all take turns until the new schedule is posted and we have finalised our theme.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy this very special time with your child.  They are growing up very quickly and every day spent with them is precious.  We look forward to seeing you in January!

 

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This Week in Our Room: December 6-9, 2016

img_2326Our big focus this week was our school Christmas Concert.  Thank you to everyone for attending!  Our children worked very hard.  They had a lot of words to learn, actions to remember and how about all that fancy stepping up and down the stage?

As expected, our children felt the “post-performance” euphoria that accompanies performing on stage. But in addition of deep breathing, reading stories and listening to quiet music, we know that playing and crafting are two excellent activities to help channel all that energy in a positive way.

We brainstormed lots of Christmas vocabulary for our word wall.  We’re going to be colouring pictures and printing the labels in our Christmas word books.

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We made these fun “k” kites for our letter of the week.

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We had fun with our December self portraits…lots of cutting, lots of gluing, lots of colouring.

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And our Reindeer feet…our beloved Grade 7 Buddies had helped us to trace our feet and trace and cut out our hands at previous Buddy times we so all we had to do was cut, make the features and glue.  

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We’re still working hard on developing our repertoire of self-regulation strategies, and activities to help us self-regulate.  They might not all be as cute as these reindeer feet…they’ll probably be cuter.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We reached another milestone this week as we are approaching independence as a class of Kindergarten children:  almost everybody can put on their own winter coats and snow boots by themselves.  Every time we go outside, or come back from playtime, it can take 10-15 minutes for us and the Grade 7 monitors to put on hoodie jackets, ski jackets, boots and gloves.  We go outside 2-3 times a day so you can imagine what the cloakroom looks like…”a clothing store,” was how one of the children so delicately put it.  When all the children can put on their coats, do up their zippers, get in and out of snow boots quickly and pull their gloves on, it shortens the amount of time to get ready.  Please encourage your child to get ready for school independently when you’re at home….practise makes perfect.

Temperatures will be very cold this week.  Please ensure your children have gloves or mittens and a hat if they will wear it.  A lot of children do not like to wear their jacket hoods as it blocks their peripheral vision.  You can support us by checking with your child and being sure they are prepared with the necessary winter clothes.

If your child does not have an extra change of clothes at school, we can’t think of a better time than now to send a bag of clothes along.  Many children get soaking wet when they are playing, coming down the slide or simply have a fall.  We want them to be comfortable and dry when they are in class.  It’s hard to concentrate on learning if your pants and socks are wet.

Our Second Annual Gingerbread House Event is on Tuesday evening, December 13 from 6-7 pm, in the gym  We hope to see you there!  We will be helping out in the kitchen filling icing cups for gingerbread house construction.  If you want to join in the fun, but have not yet signed up, please see Mrs. Lytle in the office.  This fundraising event is sponsored by the Me to We Team, to provide the necessary school fees for a Primary Education (K-6) for children in a developing country.

Please return your report card envelopes before the end of the week.

Friday, December 16, is the last day of school for the holidays.  Our school will be dismissing students at 2 pm.  School re-opens on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.

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Self-Regulation Reflection: Snow Week

img_6225Well, that was certainly unexpected.

Even though we had all the warnings about significant snowfalls this week, as Vancouverites we carry on in our merry way because we’ve had false hopes before.  Our city trucks are filled with salt, we load up on groceries for snowmaggedon, and nothing much happens.  We get a few flakes.  But this time, when the snow actually fell, it wasn’t so funny anymore.

We started last school week with a Professional Day on Monday, a snowy drive and the good news that UBC was still open so my daughter was among the fortunate university students to write her exams as scheduled.  Our kids might be older but we still worry about them.  The price we pay for parenthood.

Mine and Christy’s biggest concern was that we not have a snow day on Tuesday or Wednesday, as we were well into rehearsing and performing for our Christmas Concert.  Our children had practised on stage, they had their Christmas best clothing organised, they looked adorable with candy cane/reindeer/snowflake crowns and if we did not perform on time, we would miss their “peak,” or when they were performing at their best.  But the snow held off long enough (till Friday, anyways) for us to have a run through and perform three times in 36 hours, surely a new record.  

We had made explicit with our classes that we would notice if all of the self-regulation practise of the various strategies we’ve been teaching in class were working for them, or not.  As we made the procession from our classroom, pausing at the stairs, the hallway outside the Grade 7 classrooms, and in the boys’ changeroom before we entered the gym, we used our deep breathing and our calming countdown strategies.  Many children made eye contact with us as we led our classes in breathing (on the stairs, in the hallways, in the changeroom) so we were calm, focused and ready to perform.  

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And as always, our self-regulation practise paid off.  We sparkled and glittered at the perfect moments!  Special thanks goes to Mrs. Soderling, our new Music Teacher, for teaching our children and producing this year’s Concert.

 

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A Gingerbread House Community

Image from Google

Image from Google

We are fortunate to be a small part of a very special event here at Ridgeview on Tuesday evening, December 13, 2016.  Our Ridgeview Me to We Team will be hosting their second annual Gingerbread House Night.

Our District Innovation Support Teacher (Technology), Cari Wilson (@kayakcari) also teaches Grade 7 at our school, and she sponsors the Grade 7 Me to We Team.  Last year the Team decided to have a gingerbread house fundraising activity to help build a well in Kenya.  It was such a sweet success that we are hosting a similar event for a second year in a row.

Imagine, if you will, the sight of 100 gingerbread house kits, which include icing and candy, ordered and delivered to our school and waiting in the main office.  

For this particular school event, students have to be accompanied by at least one adult, and extra candy and icing can be preordered.

By the time Tuesday evening arrives, Ms. Wilson and the Me to We Team will have picked up the buckets of icing to “glue” the gingerbread house together, packaged many bags of candy and set up the gym with tables and table cloths.

Christy and I, long time gingerbread house builders and decorators ourselves, will be in the kitchen again to help the team by filling cups of pre-ordered icing and to provide support.

When we were ready to open last year, Christmas music was playing and excited students and their families began arriving.  How joyful it was for us to see so many Kindergarten families taking part!  We had never held an event like this before at Ridgeview.  We’ve had Bingo Nights and a spring fair (Mayfair), which brings out plenty of families.  But this particular fundraiser was different.

It was clear from the approximately 200 people in our gym, that the majority of families in attendance were all new Canadian families.  It was particularly moving for us to see so many families interested to to learn about a tradition many of us associate with the spirit of the season.

And it wasn’t just the Ridgeview students and their parents, but the entire family.  Moms, dads, preschoolers and grandparents were at school.  We loved watching grandparents helping their grandchildren with the construction of the houses, while preschoolers and toddlers were assisting or in their mother’s or father’s arms.  We noticed students were extremely focused on their task.  There was very little movement by students visiting other students.  Rather, they stayed very close to their families and seemed to have a deeper understanding this was a family bonding time for them with their family members.  We build strong families when family members across generations play and work together.  

We saw families from the same classroom gathering together around the long tables, talking, sharing candy and icing and getting to know one another better.  Of course, the children know each other from their class, and they were bringing their parents and siblings over to sit down to join a friend’s family.   We have a lot of working parents at Ridgeview so many parents have not necessarily met the parents of all their children’s classmates.  We build a strong classroom community when we strengthen our relationships between families; between classroom parents who are able to support and help each other; and between students when they see each other outside of of the regular school day.

When the night had finished we could see the many gingerbread houses, each one reflecting the personality of its family, but collectively forming a community.  We were united by several common goals:  as a fundraiser to help build a well for those in need; an evening of festive fun for our family; and as a school supporting our student leadership team.  We build a strong school community when we work together and support each other as parents, teachers and students, to provide an exceptional educational experience not only for our own children but all children.

With the money they raise this year, the Me to We Team will be supporting education in a developing country.  It costs $50 a child for a child’s primary education (K-6).  The Team’s goal is to pay for the education of an entire class of students. Please help us work towards our goal so that one day all children can have a basic education regardless of they live, their socioeconomic status or gender.   

It’s not too late for you and your family to come and join us for this fun and seasonal activity!  This year our school is using School Cash Online to complete family orders.  This is different from last year when you could send in a cheque.  You will need to set up your account first so you’ll have to check your Ridgeview Bulletin from November 18.  Your opportunity to order ends on Friday, December 9, so if you’re thinking about coming out, don’t delay.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit “Gingerbread Lane” at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Vancouver.  You’ll see an amazing array of gingerbread houses and gingerbread villages of all shapes and sizes.  It’s a family tradition of both of us to have a “Christmas in the City” day and visiting these spectacular creations is at the top of our list, along with the “Festival of Trees” at the Four Seasons Hotel.

A sampling of a few of our creations…

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This Week in Our Room: November 28 – December 2, 2016

imageDespite the rush of December excitement, we are still working hard on our Alphabet letters. Our letter of the week is “J” and we created our sparkling “j jewel.” We will send home the J printing and jewels next week; ‘K” will be the last letter we will work on before the holidays.

Our last story for our mini “Bears in Literature” theme was “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” It was very heartwarming to see and hear so much familiarity with this beloved Fairy Tale. Fairy Tales are an important genre in a child’s literary background. There are many references to Fairy Tales and Fairy Tale characters in other books, including idioms and parodies. The children need a solid knowledge base of these very special stories to help them understand literary patterns; to make connections between new text they are reading with Fairy Tale references; and literary archetypes. We will be teaching a big literature unit on Fairy Tales in the spring; but in the meantime, we encourage you to pull out your childhood Fairy Tale books to share with your child.

We had a delightful Cultural Presentation, “Anne Glover: A World of String Art,” put on for us on Wednesday. Anne is a wonderful storyteller and showed us how she uses string to make many fanciful shapes. She shared with us her inspiration for creating string art, a fictional story and one of the stories of the African folktale character, “Anansi.”

imageWe had two Christmas Concert Rehearsals this week and we are definitely looking very cute in our Christmas crowns. Many thanks to our mom helpers for coming in to make and size the crowns for us. Please remember this is the last weekend to help your child organise their “Christmas Best” clothing to wear on Tuesday (dress rehearsal and school performance for students only) and Wednesday (morning show, afternoon show) next week. The children will come to school in their fancy clothes both days and we will work hard to keep them clean for two days. Please pack “neat” food for both days – no spaghetti sauce, soups or anything that falls easily off a fork or spoon.

Girls: party dress; or top and skirt/pants; party shoes (no princess costumes)
Boys: white shirt, black pants; bowtie or necktie is optional; dress shoes

imageOur classrooms are almost decorated for the holidays. Christmas trees are lighted and adorned, the Advent calendar is filled with sweet treats and Christmas stuffed animals are out and around the room. But Christmas isn’t Christmas without lots of handmade craft projects. So this week we got out our felt pens and Christmas stickers to make these beautiful Angel and Christmas hangers. The children will bring theirs home for the holidays.

We got to see our Buddies twice this week because we had to get started on a very special Christmas craft. We’re using pins, sequins and marshmallows…can you guess? Our Buddies also helped us to trace our feet and hands to make some baby reindeer.

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Our annual tradition of making Christmas Crackers with your generous donations of Hallowe’en candy was a huge success! We got together with our Grade 7 Buddies and made many beautiful crackers. The children worked hard to stuff the paper rolls with candy and wrapped them with festive paper and ribbons.

 

 

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday, December 5 is a Professional Day. Students are not in session.

Tuesday, December 6 is a Dress Rehearsal and School Performance for students only. Students must wear their “Christmas Best” clothing. Crowns will remain at school.

Wednesday, December 7 is our Christmas Concert with two shows. If your child is in Mrs. Campbell’s and Mrs. Zambon’s class, parents will attend the 11am concert. If your child is in Mrs. Daudlin’s class parents will attend the 1:10pm show. The children will be performing in both shows but parents are invited for only one.

Thursday, December 8….we rest…and play.

Friday, December 9, first term report cards will be distributed. If your child will be away on holidays and not at school their report will be given to them when we return to school in January.

Gingerbread House Making Family event. Ridgeview’s Me to We Team’s Annual Gingerbread House Night will take place on Tuesday, December 13th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, in the Ridgeview Gym! Each house kit (which includes some icing and candy) costs $10.00. Extra icing can be purchased for $1.00 and extra candy for $2.00. All profits go to the Me to We team’s efforts to support education in a developing country. Please purchase your house and extra supplies on our new School Cash Online purchasing site. Supplies are limited, so order soon! Ordering will close next Friday, December 9th.

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