The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Communicating Learning: Student-Led Conferences 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student-Led Conferences, February 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events and Reminders

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Upcoming Events and Reminders

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

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

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

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

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

sweet stories for Spring

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

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

-their bodies are bigger, taller and stronger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Our Third Term in Kindergarten Begins…This Week in Our Room: April 2-5, 2018

We’re easing back into the school week…one of the children asked if it was home time at 9:30 am on Tuesday morning so we knew right away our return to class should be gentle, patient and unhurried. We need to adjust our teaching so we can meet as many needs as we can.

The longer we teach, the more we know that listening and observing the little cues and signals from our children is vital to understanding where they are in their self-regulation. We know that if the biological needs of food, thirst and sleep are not met, the children cannot self-regulate. The same can also be said for the emotional need of knowing their teacher will care for, and look after them during their school day. From the moment the children enter the classroom each morning, our attention must inspire confidence and trust so they can continue with their number one job: to play and learn.

We’ve allowed for extended Centre Time every morning this week. Many of our children are quite tired from travel, and being out of their regular home and school routines and schedules from the holiday. They’ve missed their friends and need the time to be able to re-connect, play and chat. We’re observing many positive social interactions around the Lego table and in the House Corner, and this has led to sitting with new friends at snack and playing in bigger groups on the playground.

We have been reviewing the classroom rules and routines this week. Some of the things we’ve been talking about with the children include:

-please wait outside your child’s classroom (for Mrs. Daudlin, please wait outside the school building) until the 8:50 am bell rings.
-this month we are making it our goal to pick up all food from the floor after we eat at recess and lunch. Sometimes children are so busy talking at lunch they are not mindful of their eating habits. We do not wish to create any extra work for our school custodians so we will be vigilant about cleaning up after ourselves.
-our line-up when we go from one place to the other were very chatty before the holidays. Children should stand quietly with their mouths closed, hands to self, as they wait for teacher instructions.

You might be following the NCAA College Basketball March Madness tournament, but we are in a Final Four of our own…Alphabet letters, that is! It’s a very exciting time for everyone as we anticipate completing our instruction of the Alphabet sounds and letter formation by the end of April. We will continue to focus on phonological awareness (the sound structure of language, including sounds (phonemic awareness), rhyme, syllables and words) as we build the solid foundation of oral language skills the children need to have before reading and writing. Click here to read our extensive post on phonological awareness as part of a balanced approach to reading instruction.

This week we worked on the letter “w” and made these adorable watermelon w’s.

Our West Vancouver Physical Literacy team came by this week to see how the children are developing in their physical literacy skills. Walking, running, skipping, hopping; backwards toe-to-heel walking; kicking and throwing were observed. We were really pleased with how the children listened and performed the required tasks.

Please note we have adjusted our Peanut/Nut Aware classroom posters for further clarity:

We ask you to please check the food you send to school, particularly shared food such as birthday treats. Read the label every time. If in doubt, please speak with your classroom teachers.

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Sharing and Special Helper theme is “Collections.” We still have another week to go before we start our next theme.

Kindergarten Vision and Hearing Screening by Vancouver Coastal Health Public (VCH) School Nurses takes place on Wednesday, April 25. Please try to be present at school. Parents will receive the screening results shortly afterwards (usually within a week).

Save the Date: Student Led Conferences for Kindergarten will be held on Thursday, April 26 from 2-4 pm or Friday, April 27 from 8:15-8:40 am. There will be a sign-up sheet posted for you to enjoy a Conference led by your child about the work we’ve completed in class. In Kindergarten, our Conferences last for 25 minutes so please be aware of this if you sign-up for multiple conferences as our schedule will differ from the rest of the school. Conferences are a very special time for just the Kindergarten student and parent(s) so please make arrangements for siblings if possible.

We are collecting a few things right now:
-Scholastic Book Orders for April are due on Monday, April 9. We sent home the Student Flyers before Spring Break, or you can go to http://www.scholastic.com to view them. If you decide to order online, please let your teacher know.
-Report Card envelopes for Second Term. We will re-use these for the Third Term Report Cards.
-March Homework Calendars are due. Return your calendar for a sticker!

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