This Week in Our Room: April 24-28, 2017

Now, look at this adorable little craft. It’s enough to make us go through the alphabet all over again just to get to this cutie-pie Zebra! Thanks again to Pinterest for their awesome alphabet craft inspiration this year. This is the last letter we will make in Kindergarten. Your child should have an (almost) complete set now hanging up at home, so that they can review the letter names and sounds.

It was another BIG week in the Kindergarten. We finished our last Itchy’s Alphabet sheet and this page, along with the zebra, will be sent home next week. It also meant that we completed our Alphabet Book!! Let’s have some thunderous applause (we certainly did in class!). We’ve been talking a lot about perseverance this week, and our children certainly demonstrated that as we made our way through 26 gorgeous pages of printing, drawings and labels over the past eight months. We’re going to add a bit of decoration to the cover and these precious books will be your children’s to keep. It’s time to buy a Rubbermaid container to store all of the wonderful Kindergarten keepsakes we will slowly be sending home.

In Social Studies, we continued with our discussions on Needs and Wants. The children are learning that Needs include food, shelter and clothing, and Wants are things like toys and video games. But to extend the concept, they are also discovering that some Needs, like clothing, can be also be divided into necessary clothing (warm, long sleeved shirt) and clothes we just want to have (branded shirts, fancy runners). We’re very proud of the children who seem to have quite a good understanding that Needs are things that keep us safe and healthy and beginning to articulate this more clearly.

As you know, April is Earth Month. We’ve seen the Earth Rangers, and back in March we watched Dreamrider Productions “Zero Heroes.” At school we have a food waste management program. And we even wrote our own big book!

But we couldn’t let it go by without asking our own Jacqueline and Nic Way (Tyler’s mom and older brother) of to come in for both classes to talk about celebrating our Earth and how we can help to give back to our planet. Our children have an amazing knowledge base of the importance of recycling and they are all familiar with sorting papers, plastic, glass and organic food waste. Many have even been to the dump and know about donating clothes, footwear, toys and books as a means of reusing items. For a special give back to the earth and the honey bees, we planted sunflower seeds which the children will bring home after the plants have sprouted. We’ll be blogging our entire class discussion and activity in the next week.

Very quietly at the back of the classroom, we’ve been working on a special Mother’s Day project….we’re loving listening to your children talk about you It’s very sweet.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exchange – on Tuesday as usual for Division 15 (Mrs. Campbell’s class). Please note that Division 16 (Mrs. Daudlin’s class) will have their book exchange on Thursday due to a conflict with the Ultimate Jamboree for Grade 7s.

Seussical – we’ll be watching a special dress rehearsal for students only on Tuesday morning. Thank you to Ms. Wilson for inviting us to watch our older brothers and sisters and Big Buddies!

The May homework calendar went home this week. Please return April’s calendar to school for a sticker.

We will start our Home Reading Program on Monday so look for a book coming home. We sent a letter regarding this program earlier this week.

This Week in Our Room: April 18-21, 2017

There’s a sense of change in the air and it’s more than just the late arrival of Spring. We’re at the end of our huge focus on the Alphabet as we completed the letter Y this week. As we were looking through the children’s Alphabet Books in anticipation of last Thursday’s Student Led Conferences, it made us realise the ever increasing pace of the passage of time as we head into our final two months of Kindergarten. We’ve seen remarkable progress over the year and certainly a big jump again since Easter, in self-regulation, refined fine motor skills, emotional maturity and resilience when confronted with conflicts. We still have many fun and exciting activities planned for our classes and look forward to seeing their increasing independence as they approach this unique time of Grade 1’s in training.

Christy and I are feeling particularly nostalgic, and it’s going to get worse, as Christy’s oldest daughter, and my youngest child, my son, are beginning to think about their upcoming high school graduations and all that that entails. They’ve been been accepted by their universities of choice, so now it’s on to scholarship applications. Then, there’s the course finals, the Grade 12 Provincial English exam, graduation banquets and Convocation, not necessarily in that order, but all part of what we’ve got going on this Spring. Kindergarten children moving on to Grade 1, and our own kids moving on to…life.

This week we will complete Alphabet Z. Then, we’re going to have a few catch-up days to finish up the odd Alphabet page your children might have missed from sickness or travel. We will do what we can in class; however, if your children missed a great deal of school or was late to start in Ridgeview Kindergarten, you can certainly finish up the pages at home when we send home the books.

We will be starting our Fairy Tale unit next. We’ve told all the children the next theme for Sharing will be Fairy Tales, so please start talking about what Fairy Tale your child would like to bring to school for us to read aloud. It shouldn’t be more than about 15 minutes long so we can read it during Storytime.

We finished our big unit Numeracy unit this week, culminating with 10 and the delightful book, 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews. Using the frame, “___ dots can be a ___” our children each made a page to contribute to a big book of the same name, which we showcased as part of our Big Books Centre at Student Led Conferences. In the same way we revisit Patterns, Sorting and Classifying all year, we will continue to integrate Numeracy in our upcoming Math units on Geometry and Measurement.

On Wednesday we saw our Big Buddies, and started decorating our classrooms for Spring with our cute little robins. Our Buddies also brought books about Spring with them for a cosy Big Buddy Little Buddy reading time.

Of course, our big focus this past week was Student Led Conferences. The children were very excited to have you visit our classrooms so they could present their work. We just love watching our children with you, your deep love for one another and your interest and pleasure in looking at their printed letters, iMovies and colourful art work. One of the most fun things we did to prepare for you was walk through all the Centres and pretend we were “Mum.” Many of the children call us “Mum” by accident at school when they are super excited to show us something (“Hey Mum, I mean…”), an emergency bathroom visit (“Mum, I need to go…I mean…”) or they’ve had a spill on the table “MUM!” So imagine the smiles and giggles as we questioned and praised our “daughters” and “sons” for practise at each Centre! We would like to thank everyone for your kind and thoughtful words in our Guest Book. We both feel very privileged to be your child’s first schoolteacher and to participate in their learning, development and understanding of what it means to be a Ridgeview Dragon.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exchange is on Tuesday. Please bring your book back to school and into the classroom so it can be placed in the Library Book Bag.

Our class photo and school panorama photo will be taken on Friday, May 5! Please mark this important date on your calendar because we will want every student to be at school that day. Kindergarten classes usually have their photos taken first (while we are still neat and tidy, before we eat at recess) so it’s important to be on time for school as we mobilize very quickly following the morning bell.

Tips for a Successful Student Led Conference: Getting the Most From Yours

The Self-Regulated Teacher’s favourite school day of the year is right around the corner: Student Led Conferences are on Thursday, April 20, 2017 this school year.

Christy and I have been holding Student Led Conferences (SLC) for many years; in fact, my first Student Led Conference as a teacher was here in West Vancouver at Chartwell Elementary School in 1990 when I was teaching Grade 3. We’ve gradually refined our practises to make it perfect for Kindergarten but the core tenets of the Conferences has always stayed the same: to provide an opportunity for students to communicate learning to their parents in a meaningful format; self-reflection for students to identify their personal accomplishments, strengths and areas for improvement; give parents an insight into how their children learn; and an inside look at student work, their classroom and school.

We’ve written extensively about Student Led Conferences at in 2015 and 2016. You can also read about Student Led Conferences in my Grade 3 classroom during my Chartwell days in Evaluating Literacy: A Perspective for Change (1991) by Robert J. Anthony, Terry D. Johnson, Norma I. Mickelson and Alison Preece.

Our Kindergarten Student Led Conferences are a twist on the traditional Student Led Conference. In the years we were teaching Grades 1-4, each student would welcome their parents to his or desk, where a curated selection of work would be waiting in a file. A letter of welcome for parents, plus a class created agenda, provide structure for the Conference time.

In Kindergarten, however, we use a Centre approach, in much the same way we use Centres during the morning Activity Time, Math Centres, or our focus afternoon Centre Time. Parents can expect to see an Alphabet Centre, Math Centre with tasks and participate in the daily Calendar activities as part of our Student Led Conferences.

Kindergarten is a special grade, the first formal schooling for most children, the first Student Led Conference for most parents, and it’s important for us to set the tone and expectations for how the Conferences are conducted because you’ll be enjoying them for the next eight years while at Ridgeview. As one of two informal Communicating Learning opportunities, we want this to be a positive and successful experience for you and your child. The format will be different as you move through the grades, but its value is always the same: priceless.

Here’s our Top 10 tips for a successful Student Led Conference:

1. Sign-up for your child’s Student Led Conference. In Kindergarten, we have a limited number of families we will host in our classroom for each time slot. Kindergarten sign-up sheets are posted outside the classrooms; all other Grades are posted in the main hallway near the Library.

2. Arrange for care for your other children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, so you can focus on your Kindergarten child. Older children can wait outside on the playground.

3. Arrive on time for your Student Led Conference and remember to bring your child with you. This Conference is for you and your child. We’ve had several instances where our students were left at home with a babysitter, on the playground or at the childcare centre.

4. Give praise and specific, positive comments to your child eg., “I like how you used a variety of colours in your drawing;” recognise that your child might find some tasks difficult so encourage them to keep trying their best.

5. Be mindful of your Conference duration and gently remind your child when it is time to go; other families are waiting for their turn.

6.Keep socialising with other parents to a bare minimum. Your focus is on your child.

7.  Be respectful of the SLC of other students and their parents by keeping your own child close to you at all times.

8. Refrain from engaging your child’s teacher in a discussion about your child’s progress; the teacher is supporting all students during the SLC process and has many jobs to do. If you would like an interview, make an appointment on another day for a mutually agreeable day and time.

9. This goes without saying, but our cell phones are a distraction. Please support us by turning off and putting all electronic devices away. Please do not take phone calls during your child’s conference: it’s disrespectful of the preparation we’ve done with your children; the other families; and most importantly, your children who are very, very excited to be the centre of your attention to share their learning with you.

10. Please do not bring any hot drinks into the classroom. It’s not safe to be carrying a hot drink around with so many small children present, and for the precious schoolwork which we have out on the tables in case of spills.

Our Ridgeview Principal, Mrs. Valerie Brady, has also written about Student Led Conferences. You’ll find an excerpt from this post on the Principal blog.

This Week in Our Room: April 10-13, 2017

There was a lot of talk about kisses and hugs this week…we’re working on the letter X in the alphabet! We read one of our favourite books, Alphabet Mystery by Audrey and Bruce Wood, as our literacy connection (and indulged my fondness for mystery books of all kinds). Only two more letters to go and we will have finished teaching all of the letter names, sounds and formation for upper and lower case letters. Our children will show you their Alphabet Books on Thursday, at their Student Led Conferences. You will be amazed at their progress this school year.


The Earth Rangers came by with a special presentation on the protection of animals and their habitat. Special visitors included Quillo the porcupine; Crimson the Tegu lizard; Katira the falcon; and Sonic the barn owl.


The Easter Bunny came early to the Kindergarten in the way of some very fun crafts and activities. First up — wax crayon resist patterned eggs. We had quite a bit of fun dreaming up patterning ideas using lines, dots, letters and symbols with our crayons. Then, we applied a paint wash using tempera paint pucks. Our efforts created a beautiful Easter basket full of eggs.

Next — Easter egg decorating! Thanks so very much to our parent volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to help our children make two kinds of decorated eggs: a simple wax crayon resist egg, and a batiked egg. We used crepe paper to make our dye (pour boiling water over the cut up crepe paper to drain the colour; let it sit overnight and remove the paper in the morning). The children already knew what to expect from the wax crayon resist technique, but using pipettes to dribble colour on their fabric wrapped egg was a new method.

For a little more Easter fun, we gave each of our children an Easter egg which contained some alphabet letters, Easter grass, jelly beans and mini chocolate eggs. With a bit of colouring, letter matching, gluing and snacking on sweet things, we’ve created a special message for you:

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Library Book Exchange on Tuesday. Please bring your library book into the classroom for the library book bag.

Thursday, April 20: Early Dismissal at 1:50 pm for Kindergarten students only. Please be on time. If you child attends Camp Ridgeview, we would appreciate it if you could inform them of this change in schedule.

Student Led Conferences: We’ve got just about every family signed up for Student Led Conferences on Thursday. Please remember to bring your Kindergarten child to the conference. We would prefer that arrangements be made for siblings so that you can focus on your child’s conference.

This Week in Our Room: April 3-7, 2017

Well, the weather outside this Spring is frightful, but here in the Kindergarten, we’ve moved on to summer (at least in our thoughts) with our delicious “w is a watermelon” craft this week. We’ve been updating all of our Alphabet crafts this year so the children can create them with more independence. This might have been a bit of a stretch with all of the gluing, measuring and trimming but we think our classes did an admirable job.

Speaking of Spring, we are having a ton of fun with our Sharing Theme, “Signs of Spring.” Thank you to everyone who has had a turn so far, for bringing in photos and cuttings from your gardens, hand-drawn pictures, Easter baskets, bunny ears, stuffed animals and storybooks. We are learning so much about seasonal changes from Winter to Spring (technically, that is, as the warmer temperatures are nowhere to be seen). We’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible. For sure we can say that our rainboots are getting a lot of use this year.

We saw our Big Buddies on Wednesday to make the Bunny Baskets for Easter egg decorating this week.

On Tuesday we held a very special Nowruz celebration that was organised by our Farsi-speaking parents in the two Kindergarten classes. The children participated in five different centres in their own classrooms, including several crafts, and learning about the haft seen table. This was a cross-generational occasion with classroom parents, grandmothers and a parent from last year’s Kindergarten to help and join in the fun. Then, all 40 students gathered in my room to enjoy a food tasting, banquet style, of savoury and sweet delights. Truly, all of the great cultural celebrations are centred around the sharing of food, conversation and enjoyment of others’ company. We feel very privileged to have had such a the high level of parent involvement in our classrooms.

Let’s Dance! You’re looking at the next generation of hip hop dancers! We’re so proud of our Kindergarten — what an accomplishment in learning such a complex dance routine, following our dance teacher’s instructions and working together as a group. Thank you for helping your child with their dance “costume” – we looked really awesome!  (Photo from Twitter)

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Tuesday is Library Book Exchange. Please have your children bring their library book into the classroom to place in the library book bin.

We’ll be colouring Easter eggs next week. Thanks to the parents volunteers for coming in to help.

Save the Date: Student Led Conferences take place on Thursday, April 20. We will let you know through a Remind text when the sign-up sheet is posted. We plan to accommodate only 5 families at a time, for a 25 minute conference for student and parents. This conference is for your Kindergarten child so siblings should wait on the playground. Kindergarten students only will be dismissed at 1:50 pm. Our conferences start at 2:00 pm promptly so please be on time to pick up your child. For parents new to Student Led Conferences, you need to bring your child to the conference. The children will be in charge and leading the conference.

This Week in Our Room: March 27-31, 2017

Welcome back, everyone! We certainly have finished this week on a high note with the return of the sunshine. Hopefully we have left the winter behind and focus on enjoying ourselves outside.

This is a very unique time in the life of Kindergarten, for the children and ourselves. Suddenly, the children are very mature. They’ve returned to school quite serious, with keen listening skills, a sharp interest and more awareness in what they are doing. The children understand the importance of the school day routines, their self-regulation and how that affects their learning. We love how the children have internalised the expectations of the classroom, and their behaviour reflects that knowledge in how they clean up the classroom, set-up their printing page or line-up to leave the classroom, just to name a few. They are making connections between our daily activities and literature, to nature, and the broader scope of their environment and the world and verbalizing it. We’ve had a few “A HA!” moments already this week. It’s really quite amazing, and we are so privileged to be a part of your children’s learning.

Without missing a beat, we’re right back at it with the letter “V is a vine” for our alphabet work.

We’re continuing to work through our numeracy unit as we explore the number 8. We can see many children are used to playing games with dice as they recognise that 2 4s are 8 in a dice throw. They also showed 8 using different kinds of materials such as blocks and bingo markers. Sometimes, children got carried away and discovered they had bingo marked 9 or 10 dots for their picture; that led us to a good discussion about the importance of counting, keeping track of where we are and being mindful of the task.

This week we started two weeks of Dance instruction during PE. We’re fortunate to have Mr. Aerhyn Lau here to teach us a great little hip hop dance to “Enjoy Yourself” by Michael Jackson. We’re pleased to see so many children trying to focus on the steps and sequences with energy and a positive attitude. Our sessions are long, and the children are on their feet the whole time; there’s lots of listening and repetition so they are to be congratulated for their perseverance in learning their dance. Please note that our students need to wear black pants and a yellow top for their dance performance on Friday, April 7. They will also need their running shoes.

Upcoming Events and Reminders
We’re still collecting the report card envelopes for our classes. The insert is yours to keep and we will recycle the envelopes for our third term report cards.

We sent home a number of letters from Vancouver Coastal Health regarding Kindergarten student immunization. If you have already had your child immunized but forgot to notify the school, please make a copy of the immunization record and return it to your teacher so we can pass the information on to our school public health nurse. If you are not intending to immunize your child, please note that on your letter and return it to school. For everyone’s personal safety, Vancouver Coastal Health must be aware of who has not received immunizations so that in case of an outbreak, families can be notified.

We will be celebrating the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on Tuesday, April 4. Thanks so much to our parent group for organising this special occasion for our Kindergarten children.

We’re starting a new round of Sharing and Special Helper on Monday. Our theme will be “Signs of Spring.” We’ve read a few books and had several discussions on what would be appropriate to bring for sharing. We’ve talking about flowers from our gardens, pictures of our home garden, books about spring, things we might use in the spring (garden tools, baseball season begins, hockey playoffs) and a return of animals we see in the spring. So we have a few ideas and we ask parents to please support their child in finding something together to share at school. It’s fun for your child if you help them to write a little descriptive explanation for him or read to read (or for us to read) and explain.

Wednesday, April 5th at 9 a.m. there will be an ELL Parent Cafe in the Ridgeview Library. Parents/guardians of Ridgeview second language students are invited to attend an informational workshop about Spring Assessments for ELL Learners. Please join Ridgeview ELL teachers to learn about the assessment process in West Vancouver. Ridgeview ELL teachers Mrs. Yioldassis, Ms. Wong, and Ms. Price will be available to answer your questions following this workshop.