The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

This Week in Our Room:  January 23-27, 2017

img_2552We had a full week of activity as we near the half way point of Kindergarten…we know!  And we’re just as amazed to find ourselves in the middle of the school year with our sweethearts.  Where has the time gone?  We’ve already started the January birthdays, another indicator that the children are growing up quickly.

We’ve been busy with our Alphabet, and we finished “o is an octopus” on Friday.  We’re working hard on learning and practising the letter names and sounds.  During your nightly read alouds, you can focus on the letter of the week by looking for words beginning with that letter on each page; point out words you see in the environment or make a small collection of 5-10 items you have at home to grow your child’s vocabulary.

One of the most important things we can all do as adults is model our own love of reading, literature and the written language.  Something fun for your children would be to read aloud your childhood books to them, if you have not already done so.  We have brought many of our own children’s books to read aloud to our classes.  They love to hear the dedications and know how old our kids were at the time they received the book.  It’s fun for us, too, to revisit well-loved favourites

In the Library, Mrs. Kennedy read aloud the beautiful, My Heart Fills with the Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett, and then the children shared some of their ideas of happiness…

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One of things we’ve noticed about lunch this term is that pizza is a very, very popular choice for our little eaters!  Lots of children are bringing pizza from home and we’ve also had thumbs up for the Hot Lunch Pizza which is from the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company.  So if you’re looking for an idea for a special once a week treat, this might be something worth considering.

fullsizerenderIn Social Studies, we finished our last lesson on Personal Identity with talking about our feelings.  We chose the book Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes to share with the class.  Poor Wemberly worries about EVERYTHING and Mom, Dad and Grandma try to encourage her “take it as it comes.”  We know our Kindergarten share the same concerns…who will they play with today?  Will they like their lunch?  Will they be the last one to be picked up at home time?  These are very real concerns for our children.  We talked about other words for worried, such as anxious and nervous and what might be the opposite feeling we can find in ourselves by taking a few deep breaths to calm down the amygdala and clear our mind…confident, brave, peaceful.  

At the end of the lesson, when we talked about how they were feeling today, almost all the children felt “happy.”  We think we probably have the most fabulous professional ever…who else gets to be in their workplace surrounded by “happy” all day long?  Our next unit in Social Studies is “Family.”  Thank you for sending in your gorgeous family photos for Sharing.

Chinese New Year officially began on Saturday, January 28, but we will have a small celebration on Monday this week with some fun Centres and Chinese food “tasting,” thanks to classroom parents.  We got a head start by working on our dragon masks to decorate our rooms.  We sent home a Remind last week that if you have something red to wear, please do so.  We can never have too much good luck!

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Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday – Chinese New Year Celebration in class

                   PE in Division 15 and 16 so please wear runners to school

Tuesday – Library Book Exchange and Music for both classes

Wednesday – School-wide Lockdown drill

                          PE in Division 16

Thursday – PE in Division 15

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching… we will be sending out information about our class celebrations in the next week or two. Stay tuned….

 

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Your Kindergarten Child’s Good Health: 2017 Update

"A sore throat germ!"

“A sore throat germ!”

We’ve entered flu season here at Ridgeview. We have had teachers, office staff, Educational Assistants and students all away. Some of these folks have been away for five days, an entire week of school, and are still not feeling 100% when they return; that’s how bad this flu has been. We’ve had many sets of siblings from a single family sick at home as well.

We’ve been teaching long enough to know when sick children are coming to school. It’s more than just having an “off day.” We know because the first thing some of the children say to us when they walk in the classroom is, “I feel sick.” If we’re quick enough to find out that your child had a fever the night before, or threw up, we’re going to ask you to come back to the classroom to take your little one home.

We’re here to gently remind you that we have to take sickness very seriously at school. We have to because there are so many students, their siblings, parents and grandparents who can be affected. Not to mention the teaching staff and all of their families. We simply are unable to look after sick children here at school. We all have our teaching or office responsibilities so we really do not have extra adults to sit with a sick child. Besides, your children would really prefer to be at home, in their own bed, with you to look after them. We know it’s inconvenient taking a day off from work to be at home, but the health of our children has to come first.

It goes without saying that a classroom is a hotbed for germs; nobody wants to talk about it but it’s true. In Kindergarten, we share all of our school supplies. Germs move around from pencils to crayons to felt pens to gluesticks to scissors– just like that. We all share math manipulatives, building blocks, dollhouse figures and puzzle pieces. That’s why we have such a huge emphasis on self-care, particularly handwashing before students eat and after using the bathroom; and noseblowing with a kleenex, not picking noses or wiping noses on sleeves. We’re reminding the children daily not to put their fingers into their noses or mouths. Good health and social habits start at a very young age.

If your children have had a fever the night before, and seem a little better in the morning, please keep them at home. They probably did not have a good sleep and should take it easy. Even a “little fever” is still cause for being cautious.

If your children have vomited, or been vomiting, they should stay at home. Ideally, your child would have cleared at least 24 hours of no vomiting before they come back to school. No child wants to vomit at school, it is horribly embarrassing for your child and very difficult to deal with for the rest of the class.

We know your child wants to come back to school and may appear ready. But the expectations of following classroom rules; the pro-social demands of self-regulation and cooperating and sharing with peers; and the academic requirements are more than they can handle when they are not feeling healthy. Allow your child the time get back to feeling they are ready to face a busy day of school, with patience, resilience, stamina and energy for learning, getting along with friends and playing outdoors. Not one of us is able enjoy being at school or work when we are not feeling at our best. You know when your child is not well and it is our responsibility as parents to intervene and insist they take the extra day to rest.

Your Kindergarten Child’s Good Health, continues to be one of the most read posts ever at theselfregulatedteacher.com. You can read our original post here.

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This Week in Our Room: January 16-19, 2017

img_6443We’re continuing to update our weekly Alphabet Crafts and this week’s cutie is “N is the Night Sky.”  We love it and the children love it as well.  Thanks again to Pinterest and Christy for modifying this project to make it perfect for those sweet Kindergarten hands.  Stayed tuned for our adorable letter “O” craft!

The children found “n” an easy letter to print, having just completed “m” last week.  We’re really nudging the children along to print their names starting with an uppercase letter followed by the lowercase letters we’ve taught so far (a-n).  It’s really exciting to watch them printing their names so carefully.  When you’re printing at home, please watch your child’s letter formation – we typically go from top to bottom, left to right, when printing our letters.  We’re trying to discourage them from printing from the bottom to the top – to gain speed while printing, and staying neat, is going to require some mindfulness to form letters correctly.

img_6442Our big excitement this week was the introduction of the Mystery Box Inquiry.  We’re teaching the children to ask questions.  What better way than by hiding an object connected to our theme or Big Idea in the Mystery Box, and having the children ask us questions so they can make a logical guess about what’s inside?  Although they do make many guesses, we’re re-framing those guesses into questions (eg., is it a blue jay? Reframed to “What kind of bird is inside?”) to teach them the 5W question words (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How).  For more on our teaching of Mystery Box Inquiry, click here.

All of this mystery leads to our Digital Literacy project this year, which is the creation of iMovies with our Grade 7 Buddies.  Led by District Innovation Teacher (Elementary), Cari Wilson, and our Buddy teacher, Mr. Patterson, we will be researching penguins to collect data and images.  Ms. Wilson will visit our classrooms in about a month’s time to build the movies with us.

We have our Art favourite projects we like to do every year and our “Snowmen at Night” is really fun.  This project takes us 4-5 art classes to finish; it’s rewarding to observe the children’s patience as they finish each step yet anticipate the next one…excellent self-regulation.

img_6444We start by reading the delightful Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner as an inspiration before drawing our own snowmen with pastels on light blue construction paper.  We love to use pastels with the Kindergarten.  The children are easily able to get bright, vibrant colour from pastels without having to press as hard as with crayons.

Once the children finish the drawing, they use one of our favourite craft supplies, Sparkle Mod Podge, to complete their snowman.  The children find Sparkle Mod Podge intriguing as they are painting with a glue that dries clear leaving a beautiful, sparkling finish.

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Next, they paint a snowy background on a dark blue background. While it dries, they cut out their snowmen and we support any child who has difficulty negotiating around the stick arms.  Finally, snowmen and snowy backgrounds are glued together — another wonderful example of an Art and Literature integration, perfect for Kindergarten.

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Upcoming Events and Reminders

We hope the rainy season is done for now.  We’re wondering if the snow, sunshine and cold weather was a better option than the rain?  Regardless, we’ve gone from snow boots to rain boots, swapped ski jackets for rain coats and many children are continuing to wear gloves and mittens.  It’s still quite chilly when they are outside during the morning recess.  We mentioned last week in our Remind texts to please send along extra socks.  We’re not sure how they do it, but puddle water seems to just jump into those playful little boots and we all know how uncomfortable wet socks can be!

Please ensure the indoor shoes you’re sending to school are runners.  We need those for PE and children are not allowed to wear shoes that may mark our gym floor.

We’re back to our schedule and LIbrary will be on Tuesday this week so please remember to return your Library books on Monday or Tuesday.

 

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This Week in Our Room: January 9-13, 2017

img_0149We had so much fun this week making our “m is a mouse” alphabet craft. Aren’t they cute? Thanks to Pinterest for this great idea and Christy for modifying it so our Kindergarten could make them. While these may look simple, our aim for the alphabet crafts is to create activities that have multi-step instructions (putting our listening skills to work), specific art skills and processes (using a template to cut out the ears), a variety of art materials (paper, googly eyes, pompoms) and tools (scissors, gluestick). People who know us well know that Christy and I love crafting and creating and have been doing so for many years. What a pleasure it is to be able to share our passion with our students! Creating by hand, whether it be crafts, cooking and baking, carpentry or woodwork, brings an immense sense of satisfaction, and feelings of accomplishment and self-confidence in knowing that you can do it yourself. What better grade than Kindergarten to start developing a positive self-image?

At Monday’s cultural event, hoop dancer Teddy Anderson performed for our school. Teddy talked about the importance of seeing all people as a family as part of one world. We can appreciate one another as individuals and each of us bring our own unique gifts to our collective group. That understanding is part of our own classroom culture, where we have really tried to emphasise with our students that we, and the children, are a family. We love one another, we work together; we might not always agree, but as a family, we expect ourselves to be willing to work through issues and come out stronger on the other side.

We’re beginning our next unit of instruction on number sense, including counting and one-to-one correspondence, subitizing (recognising quantities of 6 or less without counting eg., dice and domino patterns) and number conservation (eg., 2 and 4 is 6; 3 and 3 is 6; 6 is 6 no matter what the arrangement). We’ve organised the children into small groups and are moving them through a centre rotation so they have a variety of math experiences focusing on a specific number.

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We started our Winter theme with a true classic, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. We’ve done some brainstorming on What is Winter? and made our sparkling snowglobes to decorate our classroom and hallway.

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We’re just loving the family photos the children have been bringing in for their Special Helper and Sharing Day. Thank you so much for supporting your child by helping them to get organised. Everyone loves to hear about the three favourite activities in each family. So far, most of us all love to go to the park, swimming and out to eat or get hot chocolate with our family. We’re posting the family pictures in our classrooms for now and we will return them at the end of the term.

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Please remember to have runners at school for PE days. We must wear runners in the gym.

Our Grade 2 students have initiated a Battery Recycling program here at Ridgeview. We want to remind everyone that you can send your old batteries and small electronics to school. We have a special collection box for them (in the hallway for Mrs. Daudlin; for Mrs. Campbell inside the classroom). Grade 2 students will come by regularly to empty the box. Special thanks to Colin and Colten who will be collecting for Division 16 and Emma and Elika who are collecting for Division 15.

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Tuesday, January 17: Library Book Exchange
Friday, January 20: Professional Day (students are not in session)

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Student Absenteeism

img_0145Student absenteeism is never an easy topic to discuss. However, discuss it we must because when a student is away from class, it impacts everyone – the individual student, the class, the teacher and the school.

There’s a delicate balance when we start talking about students being away from school.

Sometimes it’s sickness and we definitely want you to keep your sick child at home from school. We know you have to get to work and your child may or may not want to come to class – but we, along with the office staff, are really unable to look after sick children. Your children would actually prefer to just be at home with you recovering from their sickness and then building up the strength to return to school to be full and participating members of the class. The other families in your child’s class, and us, the teachers, do not want to get sick. Your support in helping your children understand that they cannot come to school when they are sick, teaches them to have respect for their own health, the health and well-being of their classmates, and one day, their working colleagues. You can read more here about Your Kindergarten Child’s Good Health.

Currently, our icy and snowy weather and road conditions have made it difficult for some families to arrive at school on time. Add to that our limited parking spots around the school and it can be an exercise in frustration to run in before the bell. However, when your child arrives consistently late for school, and by this we mean 3-4 times a week, he or she misses out on the first routines of the day which are essential for setting the tone in the classroom. The first bell rings at 8:50 am when children are welcomed into the school building. We sing “O Canada” immediately following the 8:55 bell, listen to the school announcements, then take attendance. Finally, we review the Visual Schedule; this helps the children with their self-regulation so they know what to expect and may reduce anxiety about “what’s going to happen next?” The Special Helper, with a friend, start to walk to the office with the attendance. These morning routines take us about ten minutes so there is ample time to get into the classroom. Because it’s Kindergarten, we still give you a lot of leeway: if your child comes in after we have finished the attendance, but before the Special Helper has left for the office, then we will adjust the attendance form to say your child is “here.” Any later however, and your child is marked absent. You need to sign your child in at the office when you arrive at school and your child will be given a late slip.

Another consequence of being late for school is that teachers need to stop our teaching, or helping a small group or individual, to greet the late arrivals, tell them where we are in the morning and help them to get settled. We also need to remind you that you need to check in at the office if your child has arrived without a late slip This is disruptive to the other students, particularly when we’re teaching the whole class, and the “flow” of the lesson is affected. We understand when you come in late from a dental or doctor appointment; but those are usually infrequent as most of you make them for later in the school day or have given us notice the previous day so we are prepared.

If you are going to be late, please call the school office. Our parent organized school callback line and administrative staff have to phone you, and follow-up with us, when you have not notified them. If you do not remember to sign in your child when you arrive, then the school office must call down to our classrooms looking for your child. We do all of this for the protection of your child so please help us by doing your part.

The other morning, while watching the news, there was a preview of the men’s golf tournament taking place in Kapalua, Maui. You could just feel the heat and sunshine. With the way our weather has been this winter and less expensive flights during the off-season, many of you will hear the siren call of palm trees, tropical breezes and hot sand beneath your feet. While missing two weeks of school is not really ideal, we also understand the need for families to reconnect and bond; and frequently for some that can only happen when they travel. We recognize the importance of family time and creating life experiences with grandparents and other relatives, and that travel is its own unique learning to become a citizen of the world. We can only speak from our perspective as Kindergarten teachers, and the influence of our own personal and professional life experiences.

However, the common understanding we do have with other grades is that we are unable to make up the work your child misses while on holiday. We’re often asked if we could “prepare the work my child will miss while we’re on holiday.” Kindergarten is a difficult grade to send meaningful work along with you. Our read-aloud stories and the class discussions which follow are powerful for the oral language and shared learning that happens among the students. Children are learning their alphabet sounds from the teacher and building vocabulary collaboratively with their peers. When children are working on their number patterns and number centres, they are .using masses of manipulatives that have been specially created or purchased for them. Much of a student’s learning is meant to happen in a larger social context, in addition to an individual one.

As parents, we can create a special activity for our family while travelling. Pack an empty notebook, a small set of scissors, gluestick and fet pens in a ziploc bag and you have all the materials you need to create and write an amazing travel journal. Everytime you go sightseeing, pick up stickers, postcards and brochures and save all your admission tickets. Take some time each evening to reflect on what you did during the day and together, print a few notes about what was your favourite activity and cut and paste in your postcards and brochures. Don’t forget to save one of those cute tourist maps for reference. We know you’ll be taking lots of pictures. You can leave some space for adding a few photo when you get back. If you work on it everyday, on your last day of travel you’ll have a memorable souvenir that your child can bring to school and show the class upon your return.

And while you’re visiting the tourist and gift shops, browse through the children’s book section. When we travel, we always look to see what interesting children’s books, specific to our holiday locale, are available for purchase. A book to read from your holiday destination is another great momento to bring home.

So, snow, sickness and holidays aside, school starts at 8:50 am tomorrow! We’ll see you then.

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This week in our room: January 3-6, 2017

image from google

image from google

Happy New Year and welcome back to school! We hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday with friends and family. This past Christmas was certainly a transitional one for my family as my daughter had University exams for the first term in December, and my son performed in his last Christmas Concert as a high school student. Although there will be more exams and different musical performances in the future, it is bittersweet to see one’s own children so independent (yes, we do want them to become independent and spend most of childhood working towards it) and knowing we are in for years of change as they emerge as young adults. As parents we will forever be adjusting and changing as our children grow up. So we encourage you to treasure this very precious time while your children are still young, filled with wonder and curiosity and the magic we know as Kindergarten.

We started our return to school gently, taking some time to quietly review our classroom expectations and rules. After two weeks of spending time in our pyjamas, grazing rather than a regular meal schedule, and a lack of routines while in the holiday mode, it can be hard for students (and teachers) to readjust to the structure of their classroom. Talking about how we play together cooperatively, the volume of our collective voices in the classroom and following the group plan instead of our own plan are an essential part of getting along so harmony and peace can reign throughout the kingdom.

We’ve been a little tired, but still managed to accomplish a lot this week. We worked on the letter “L,” and made our “l is a letter” craft.

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We were totally impressed with the children’s January self-portraits. The children did an amazing job drawing themselves in their winter outdoor clothes. When we look back to their self-portraits from September to where they are now, we can see the maturity as their fine motor skills have become more refined.

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Mrs. Kennedy read these two fantastic books to us during Library Time.

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Our big news has been the snow, of course. Many children have become very accomplished over the holidays with the speed at which they are able to independently get themselves ready. Our saying is “coat, boots, gloves” so they can still do up their coat zippers with their hands before putting on their gloves or mittens. We are expecting these cold temperatures to continue so consider getting a pair of waterproof snow gloves or mittens. The children really want to play in the snow, make snowballs and pick up pieces of ice. If your child is mostly playing on the play structure or on the swings, wool gloves are just fine. We’re reminding everyone to keep their gloves in their backpacks, although many enjoy drying their toques and gloves on the classroom heaters so they are warm and toasty for the next outing.
Upcoming Events and Reminders
We’ve started our new rotation for Sharing and Special Helper. Our theme this month is “Family.” We would like each child to bring a recent photo of their family on their Special Helper Day and a piece of paper with your family’s three favourite activities of what you like to do together. Please also note all family members’ names for us. Our focus in Social Studies this term is Family and we are launching our unit of instruction by getting to know all of our classroom families a little bit better.

Now that the gym is cleared of the stage, we can go back to having PE. Mrs. Campbell’s and Mrs. Zambon’s class have PE on Mondays and Thursdays; and Mrs. Daudlin’s class has PE on Mondays and Wednesdays. The children should have the runners at school on these days. They cannot really participate in running activities with boots or dress shoes.

Monday, January 9: Cultural Event with Teddy Anderson, Hoop Dancer
Tuesday, January 10: Library Book Exchange

Hot lunch for this term can now be purchased through Munch-a-Lunch.

We’re having a Professional Day on Friday, June 20. Students are not in session.

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