The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

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.

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This Week in Our Room: March 6-10, 2017

Okay, what’s going on with the weather? We certainly seemed to need these this week.

We’ve made it to letter “u is an umbrella” before Spring Break, certainly a reason for celebrating. The children have done an amazing job, working very diligently week after week, to do their printing, alphabet crafts, and drawings and labels in their Alphabet Books. A few more weeks until we get to “z” and then we will be focusing on literature themes.

We welcomed Mrs. Bundic’s Grade Two class this week and last with their Reader’s Theatre presentation.

We’ve had a big focus on numeracy this term. We’ve been working on subitizing (recognising familiar number patterns such as dice formation), counting and creating sets using boxes of classrooms treasures and using 5 and 10 frames as frameworks to help us think about and organise our counting of numbers (eg., 3 and 4 is the same as 5 and 2). Here’s some work the children made this week to show different ways to make 7 using blocks.

We have finished painting our beautiful snowy owlets and to add to the “bird” theme, decided to make some baby penguins for a fun craft!

We would like to wish everyone a fun and sunny Spring Break!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

School re-opens for the Third Term on Monday, March 27.

Please return your report card envelopes in the week following Spring Break. We will recycle them for the final report card. The report card itself is yours to keep.

We will begin Dance in PE. All children should have running shoes to wear. Our first lesson will be on the Monday following Spring Break.

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Digital Literacy in Kindergarten: Next Step

In the past few years we’ve had an exciting time integrating and focusing on two of the pillars of the West Vancouver School District: digital literacy and inquiry. The third pillar is self-regulation which for us, in Kindergarten, is not only a pillar but our foundation and the arch (or rainbow, depending upon your perspective) which reaches over and encompasses everything we do. (Rainbows have reached almost cult status this year in the Kindergarten…we pattern “in rainbow,” we colour “in rainbow,” we organise our blocks “in rainbow.” All true….you cannot make this stuff up.)

Each year we choose one digital literacy project for the Kindergarten, under the guidance of our West Vancouver District Support and Innovation (Technology) Teacher, Ms. Cari Wilson (@kayakcari). We have always completed these projects with the assistance of our Grade 7 Big Buddies. For the Kindergarten, it means we can raise the bar a little higher by creating a complex, multi-step assignment; and for the Grade 7 students, it’s an opportunity to mentor and be a positive role-model to younger students. Both grades benefit from a special connection across the years; the Grade 7s are also our recess and lunch monitors and help us out on the playground.

This year, Mr. Russ Patterson is our Grade 7 Buddy Teacher. He teaches both Grade 7 classes during Buddy Time and meets with my class (Division 2 Big Buddies) and Christy’s class (Division 1 Big Buddies) in back to back blocks on Wednesday.

Big Buddies are a vital part of Kindergarten Life.

From the Kindergarten Science Big Idea “Plants and animals have observable features,” we decided to focus on animals (we’ll study Plants in Third Term) and we selected the beloved penguin as our animal of choice. A full-grown Emperor penguin is about the size of a Kindergarten child and for that reason alone, we’ve always had great affection for the penguin.

In the past few years we’ve used the app Book Creator on the iPad to create digital books about penguins, their habitat, young, appearance and food sources. Our Big Buddies would work with us to gather images from Google, write a brief descriptive sentence using a sentence frame and the Little Buddies would do a voiceover, reading the text aloud. This year we decided to take the same topic but use the app iMovie as our presentation platform. In her role as Technology Support Teacher, Cari also joined us on our first day of movie-making.

Our Penguin iMovies were a five week project. Christy and I completed a Mystery Box Inquiry before each Buddy class. The Mystery Box allowed us to teach questioning skills using the 5Ws in an interesting, game-like format and to introduce the penguins topics we were going to investigate.

Weeks 1 and 2: Research

The Big and Little Buddies used this graphic organiser to record their research in specific categories. From pictures and text, students would read and discuss their findings; and all information was duly noted.

Week 3: Image Collection

The Buddies searched through Google Images to collect a minimum of three images for each fact. They would not necessarily use every image they found but they needed a bank of pictures to draw from for their movie.

Each Buddy pair was assigned an iPad which they needed to use for the duration of the project.

Weeks 4 and 5: iMovie creation
Each Buddy pair had specific criteria to fulfill: an opening image with a title; images of the specific topics (habitat, appearance, young, food); Kindergarten voiceover describing the images; end photo of the Buddies with Kindergarten voiceover naming the Buddies and credit to Google Images.

This was a really fun project for our children. We love that they are using technology to create something, starting with the planning sheet to help organise thinking and then using it as a stepping off point to make an iMovie. We did have a few technical glitches, including iPads which refused to power on and movies which wouldn’t run. Fortunately, students demonstrated a can-do “the show must go on” attitude (grit and perseverance), pulled out another iPad…and started again. Ah…show biz.

We’re going to premiere our iMovies at Student Led Conferences on April 20, 2017. Families will have an opportunity to sign-up for a Conference led by their Kindergarten child and viewing your child’s iMovie will be one of the Centres you’ll visit.

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This Week in Our Room: February 27 – March 3, 2017


img_0176We’ve been quite this busy this week with a potpourri of activity.

This week saw us create “t is a tree,” thanks again to Pinterest. We made a few modifications with our “fruit,” using sparkling sequins. The Kindergarten has come to expect there will always be lots of glitter, sparkles and sequins in most crafts we do. It was a bit of a relief for the children to work on “t” as the simple straight lines are ones everyone can understand. We’ve had quite a few challenging letters lately, such as ‘q” and “s” which have lots of curves and circles. It’s a good reminder for all of us that it’s ok to take a step back and work on something simple, practise our skills and feel successful with our efforts.

We’ve almost finished all of our beautiful snowy owl paintings from Deep Space Sparkle. This was quite a feat for Kindergarten. Every student painted their backgrounds (pink or blue) at the same time; that means liquid tempera paint on all the tables and every Kinder child has a paintbrush. The next day, everybody painted their owls white. We’re pleased to report we had no spills or major mishaps to the carpet. We moved to small groups for the next phase which was painting the details such as yellow eyes, orange beaks, a brown branch and black for outlining and other finishing touches. Funnily enough, lots of children got paint on themselves this time.

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In PE this term we have been learning to use small equipment such as bean bags, hoops, skipping ropes, frisbees and scarves. We learned how to safely use each piece of equipment during specific lessons. We’ve been focusing on staying in our personal space while moving around the gym, obeying whistle commands and cooperating with our small group in a station approach. We now have stations set up around the gym with specific tasks for each piece of equipment. Some fun dance music while we’re at each station has made it a lot of fun!

We met with our Big Buddies to continue working on our iMovies. We’ve completed the research and image collection and now we’ve moved on to the business of movie making. You’ll be able to read more about our digital literacy projects in our next post.

The Grade Two students in Mrs. Bird’s class also came to visit us on Wednesday with a Reader’s Theatre production from a Frog and Toad story. We were so pleased with the Kindergarten children’s attention and good manners throughout the student reading. We look forward to a visit from Mrs. Bundic’s Grade Two students next week.

img_0175This was really good practise for us as on Thursday we joined Grades 1-5 to watch an excellent play by Dreamrider Productions called “Zero Heroes.” In this story, Esmeralda and Goober, our heroes, taught us about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. “Use it for a minute and it’s garbage forever” was repeated to us several times.
-we all need to look at the amount of garbage we’re creating and try to reduce it
-we can refuse to purchase and use things which are disposable
-we need to compost our organic food waste and plant material in the Green Bin program
-buying things might be entertaining, but it doesn’t make us happy. Often, these one time purchases end up in the trash
-each thing we purchase uses up a piece of the earth: we take things from nature, turn it into a product through factories, use it once and then toss it into the dump
-all the purchases we make come with packaging and that is another thing for us to consider
-a litterless lunch is one positive step we can take to reducing the amount of garbage we create

Can you believe it’s already March? We cannot believe how fast we sped through February. But another month has gone by so of course we had to draw our Penguin self – portraits for March.

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Upcoming Events and Reminders
We are meeting with parents who are interested in helping us to plan our Persian New Year celebration in Kindergarten. We are meeting in Mrs. Daudlin’s room on Monday at 8:15. This meeting is for parents only. Please arrange to have your child arrive at school with another parent. Children are not allowed to wait in the hallway.

Library is on Tuesday for both classes. Please remember to return your Library book.

Friday, March 10 is the last day before Spring Break. All students are going to be dismissed at 2 pm. Please mark this on your calendar. School resumes on Monday, March 27.

Ridgeview is sending home Second Term Report Cards on Friday, March 10. We are unable to send them home before that time if you are leaving early for Spring Break.

If you are going to be away before or after Spring Break, please inform us and the office.

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This Week in Our Room:  February 20-24, 2017

img_0178We’re riding along a fast moving Alphabet Train as we finished “S is a snake this week.” These cutie snakes are a favourite as the children are very independent as they work on their individual designs.  We were really pleased with the children’s effort for the printed letter “s.”  It’s not easy with its curling backwards and forward motion but there was a lot of perseverance demonstrated in completing the assigned printing tasks.  Some of our more experienced printers have taken up our challenge to have all printed letters sit on the line, with consistent spacing and shape, and a sense of proportion between upper and lowercase letters.

We’re almost finished our second unit of instruction on Family in Social Studies.  This week we referred back to the family photos and accompanying notes from the children’s Sharing theme on “My Family” to talk about the favourite activities we do with our family.  Everybody chose the one that was most meaningful to them, drew a picture with our criteria of Big, Bright and Beautiful, and then dictated an accompanying sentence.

The next challenge was in sorting out our ideas and classifying them into different kinds of family activities:  celebrate together, read together, eat together, grow together were some of the labels we used.  The children understood each of the labels and decided where to sort their drawings.

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Wednesday was double the fun as not only was it Pink Day (a focus in the Kindergarten on pro-social behaviours) and Big Buddy Day.

Thank you to everyone who helped their children find a pink or white shirt in support of Pink Day.  We read aloud What It Means to Be Kind by Rana DiOrio and Stephane Jorisch as our inspiration, but our children already have a very good concept about kind, gentle, polite behaviours.  They all understood that kindness does not mean buying or giving someone gifts.

Rather, we talked about, and put into action, some of these pro-social behaviours:

Saying “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”  “You’re welcome” was new for some students but we all know now to use that phrase following “thank you.”

Holding the door open for the student or adult behind us, and make sure we look behind us to ensure that person has a hand on the door.

At home some of the children have learned “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” and carefully explained that if you do not have kind words to say to another person, do not say anything.  You can say the words to yourself in your thoughts, but they do not come out of our mouth.

When another student or the teacher is clearly in need of help, it’s a kind gesture to go and offer or volunteer to help.  We have to say beyond a doubt, that this particular age group is among the most helpful we have ever found in our years of teaching.  We know we owe it to you, their parents, for having raised such socially conscious children.  Truly, Christy and I have more help from our children than we have little jobs for.  But the pleasure the children take from being “the teacher’s help” is enormous.

Wednesday morning also found us working with our Grade 7 Buddies on our digital literacy project, our penguin iMovies.  We’ve spent three weeks preparing for today, with two sessions on fact collection and one session on image collection before starting to create the iMovies, which will take a couple of weeks.  We have an upcoming blog about Kindergarten Digital Literacy:  the Next Step where we will describe the process in detail.

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Friday was the big day that we all savoured with anticipation, waited patiently for and counted down the sleeps…Popcorn Day!  Popcorn Day is definitely an exercise in self-regulation.  The huge trays of popcorn bags we purchased on behalf of the children tempted us all late morning until mid-afternoon but not word was said by the children except how looking forward they were to eating theirs.  Thank you for supporting this Grade 7 Graduation Fundraiser.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Please remember to wear (or have) runners at school for PE.  It’s not safe for the children to wear any other kinds of footwear besides runners in the gym.

Tuesday: Library Book Exchange.  Please remember to have your child bring his or her book into the classroom and place it in the Library Book Bin.  Although we ask everyone to check their backpack before we leave for the Library, some children do not know their book is in their backpack, only to find out after Library is over that their book was there the whole time!  As a result, those children were browsers during Library time and did not get to borrow a book.  The children should place his or her Library book in their backpack tonight or Monday night so they know the location of their book.  Although the children are just 5 years old, they are certainly ready for personal responsibility and independence in dealing with their Library book.

Thursday:  We are going to see DreamRider Productions “Zero Heros” on Thursday morning.  This production will focus on reducing waste, including food scrap composting; reusing and recycling and the impact of our actions today on tomorrow’s future.

 

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This Week in Our Room:  February 14-17, 2017

 

fullsizerender-2Our week started with all things sweet and delightful…and we are definitely talking about the Kindergarten!

On Valentine’s Day, we were very busy helping our sweet young things with their precious Valentine’s cards for their friends.  We have to mention that we were very impressed with all of the printing of names which the children had independently completed.  Quite a feat, as we know all too well the time, effort and care required in printing neatly a class set of names.  All the cards were carefully tucked into the beautiful cardholders, with lots of treats and goodies, to take home and open and admire with families afterschool.  Since we’ve been teaching Kindergarten, we’ve decided to have the children open their Valentine cards at home.  Many children like to give a little gift with their cards, such as a chocolate or tiny box of stickers or tattoos.  We know how sad the children can become if they lose track of the cards and small treasures so it’s best that the card opening happen safely at home.

We had a delicious snack of cupcakes and fruit, thanks to our classroom parents.  And for the rest of the week many of our children kept saying how February 14 was “the best day ever” at school so it looks like our Valentine’s affair was truly a sweet memory.

We’ve so enjoyed the respite from the snow the past few days.  How easy it’s been just to switch to rainboots (and sometimes not even those) and a jacket for playtime.  We had a wonderful afternoon on Thursday with lots of children demonstrating their strength on the swings and how well they can “pump” after getting a big initial push from the teacher.

We’ve been having lots of fun with our Alphabet as we motor towards the last few letters.  This week was r is a rainbow” and the children loved colouring them in and reciting the colours in order.  As part of our Alphabet practise, we print the letter of the week in upper and lowercase, draw a few pictures beginning with that letter and label them.  We also do a lot of brainstorming, encouraging the children to look around the classroom for environmental print from the multiple alphabets we have up in the classroom, think of words in categories (animals that begin with “r”? food? sports? numbers?) or the objects around them.

The children love to print their own labels and we have really been emphasising over the last four weeks listening to the order of sounds in the words, particularly the CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words to spell words independently.  For example, cat what’s the first sound? “c,” the second sound “a,” and the last sound “t.”  We want the children to listen for those important first and last sounds of words.  It also gives us an opportunity to talk about spelling patterns such as -at.  We can generate a whole lot of words with that specific spelling patterns (bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat), but more practise with rhyme and manipulating the individual sounds in a word.  We want to develop the children’s phonological awareness to help them be successful readers and writers.  We’ve written about the importance of phonological awareness here.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library day on Tuesday!  Don’t forget to return your books for book exchange.

PE Days:  Division 15 (Monday/Thursday), Division 16 (Monday/Wednesday).  The children must have runners on these days!!

Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, February 22.  The entire school is encouraged to wear pink shirts in recognition of anti-bullying.  A white is shirt is ok too.

Popcorn Sale on Friday, February 24.  The Kindergarten will be participating so please send in $1 sometime this week so we can pre-order a bag for your child.  It will be a fun Friday treat to have a popcorn snack outside with all of our Kindergarten friends.

 

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This Week in Our Room: February 6-February 9, 2017

img_0169Love is definitely in the air. We’ve been talking a lot about love these past few days.

To start off, there’s Big Buddy Love. Valentine’s Day is around the corner so on Wednesday we saw our beloved Grade 7 Big Buddies to make our beautiful Valentine cardholder bags. They are just gorgeous. We still really enjoy these kinds of crafts, using simple materials like paper bags, construction paper, glue and scissors. We did get a little fancy with the foam hearts and stickers.

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Then there’s Classmates Love. Well, we need something to fill those cardholders so our children have been very busy printing Valentine’s at home for their classmates. We ask the children to bring a card for everyone (or at least all the girls or all the boys) so everybody feels good about their first Valentine’s Day at school. The children have been bringing in their finished Valentine cards for their friends and are so excited to be placing the cards in the bags. This is a new experience for many children, and an opportunity to talk deeply about friendship.

img_0170And now we can talk about Family Love. The Big Idea about Families in Kindergarten is that “Stories and traditions about ourselves and our families reflect who we are and where we are from.” We did some brainstorming about what it is we love about our families. Whether it be soccer, skiing or baking, the common thread through all of the children’s ideas is that they love to spend time with you. No wonder why people call it “the gift of time.” There’s never enough time to spend with the ones we love.

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Upcoming Events and Reminders
Saleema Noon Parent Presentation on Wednesday, February 15th 6:30 at 8 p.m. in the library.

Library book exchange for both classes on Tuesday. Don’t forget to bring your books back and put them in the class book baskets.

Last call for February Scholastic Book Orders. Please return any orders by Tuesday, February 14.

We have started our next round of Sharing. Our theme is “Alphabet”. A schedule and information sheet are posted on the Parent Board.

Enjoy your Family Day weekend!

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Great Expectations…Kindergarten Style

IMG_1861Sometimes people think that as a Kindergarten teacher you are talking quietly and gently because the children are young and perhaps a little uncertain about coming to school.  Of course we want them to feel welcomed, comfortable and loved.  Embedded in every word we say is a statement, a declaration, an intention about expectations.  Having taught many grades over the years, we bring with us the experience and the knowledge that clearly stating our expectations and boundaries for student behaviour is paramount to a self-regulated classroom.

What do we mean?

We’ve been teaching the Zones of Regulation curriculum to learn strategies for self-regulation.  Read how we’re using it in our classrooms here.  We use the vocabulary of the Zones, Blue (sad, sick, scared, tired): Green (calm, happy, focused, ready to learn): Yellow (excited, getting carried away, frustrated) and Red (very angry, very frustrated, my body is out of control), as a structure or organizer for our feelings and emotions.  At the start of school, and certainly throughout the year, we talk about how we’re feeling, how we interpret the energy (and Zone) of the class and what strategy for up- or down-regulating we should use to bring ourselves back to the Green Zone.

An understanding of the Zones is important so that when children are expressing their feelings, they are doing so in a manner appropriate (or inappropriate) to the specific social situation. How and when a child demonstrates his or her feelings and emotions plays a large part of a child’s social awareness. Lately, we’ve been emphasising expected behaviours and unexpected behaviours.

“Expected behaviours” are “Behaviours that give people around you good or comfortable thoughts about you” (The Zones of Regulation (2011), p. 14).

“Unexpected behaviours” are “Behaviours that give people uncomfortable thoughts about you.” (The Zones of Regulation (2011), p. 14).

These definitions are Social Thinking vocabulary developed in Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME (2007) by Michelle Garcia Winner.

Even at five- and six- years old, many Kindergarten children are socially aware enough to know they are at school to learn, have fun with their friends and that they will receive the privileges that come with expected behaviour.  So right now we’re connecting for our students how expected behaviour or unexpected behaviour can give the other people around you (the other students in the class) comfortable or uncomfortable thoughts.  

We’re trying to make it explicit for the children how expected behaviours, such as listening to and focusing on the teacher, following the teacher’s instructions, keeping their hands and feet to themselves, walking quietly in line and staying in-bounds during playtime not only make them feel good, but gives the other children in the class “good or comfortable” thoughts about you.  When students show expected behaviour, everybody in the class feels happy, calm, and safe – now we’re in the green zone and ready to engage in learning.  When a child perceives others to be following the classroom rules and routines, he or she has a sense of security and predictability about the classmates who will be his or her friends.  This gives a child confidence and a desire to play with those children he or she feels safe.

Conversely, we’re also making it explicit for the children how unexpected behaviours, such as talking during teacher instruction, touching others students in class, racing to be first or budging in line or drawing on another child’s paper gives the other children in the class “uncomfortable thoughts” about you.  When a child demonstrates unexpected behaviour, the others students feel scared, uncertain, reluctant, and frankly, many just do not like it.  The children become distracted from the lesson, they don’t want to miss the instructions and they are reluctant to play with a child who will not listen to the teacher.  

For example, when we see unexpected behaviour in class, we observe by saying, “It’s unexpected to see students running down the hall.”  Then we teach by saying, “It’s expected that students will walk quietly down the hall.”  We do not refer to behaviour as good or bad, but rather expected or unexpected.  

We know that unstructured time (Centre Time, recess time on the playground, transitions between activities, lining up) is a challenging time for Kindergarten and that’s where we will see unexpected behaviour the most.

By establishing classroom routines, we try to make the unstructured time more predictable to reduce unexpected behaviour so that children who are a little bit nervous, worried or anxious know not only what they should do, but what is expected of their classmates.

 

Developing social awareness starts at home during the early years. Although we teach pro-social curriculums such as the The Incredible Flexible You, our focus is on lessons for the individual child in the social context of the classroom such as following “The Group Plan” (as opposed to following your own plan) and keeping your “Body in the Group” (instead of straying from the group). Specific social skills such as maintaining eye contact, personal space and speaking pleasantly to others can and should be introduced, reviewed and reinforced at home.  

And yes, we still remind our own kids in the high school years about all these values because we as their parents, are their first teachers.  We want them to go into the world not just with their leadership skills and academic smarts, but with the social awareness and a strong moral compass so that no matter where they are, they can respond with the respect, empathy and compassion needed today.

 

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This Week in Our Room: January 30-February 3, 2017


img_0163It’s been a power packed week of activity in the Kindergarten.

So it’s pretty clear we’re having a great time finding new ideas for our alphabet crafts. The children were so happy with their “o is an octopus” last week and were tickled pink with their “p is a pig” this week. As we head into the latter half of the Alphabet, the children are using familiar strokes to print the letters so we’ve noticed a nice uptick in the consistency of correct formation of lowercase letters. We’re continuing to focus on size and spacing of letters, and an uppercase letter followed by lowercase letters for names.

img_0158Monday was a joyous celebration for the Year of the Rooster. The children came dressed in red (for good luck) with several students wearing traditional Chinese clothing. We started our day by welcoming each child with “Gung Hay Fat Choy” (I grew up with Cantonese speaking parents but I regret my own Chinese is very, very limited) during the daily attendance and were delighted at how every child tried to repeat the greeting back to the teachers, and so warmed our hearts.

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Over the years we’ve amassed some very fun crafts and Centres for ourimg_0162 children, including banners with beautiful Chinese symbols, tangram puzzles, a colourful dragon and lucky money envelopes.

A homemade dragon constructed by Jacob and Benjamin

A homemade dragon constructed by Jacob and Benjamin

We read a traditional favourite of ours, Ed Yeung’s Lon Po Po, a Chinese version of “Little Red Riding Hood” which fascinated the children with its twists and turns. The children gloried in representing the story in pastels with a watercolour wash. We’ve cut the watercolour paintings into panels, a Chinese art form. We’re beginning to use pastels more often as we recently learned at a webinar by Patty Palmer of Deep Space Sparkle, that pastels and crayons are actually better colouring tools than felt pens for young hands as they give the range of depth of colour and texture the children are trying to achieve.

Finally, we ate a delicious Chinese “banquet” provided by our classroom parents. The children enjoyed the Chinese noodles (they emptied a huge pan) and fried rice; many tried the dumplings, eggrolls and meatballs and everyone ate the oranges and fortune cookies. Juice and fresh fruit rounded out our meal. All the children took home a “lucky money” red envelope filled with candy. We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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As many of you know, we had our lockdown drill this week. This is an important procedure for the school, particularly the Kindergarten if it’s the first time they’ve been through a lockdown. We’re practising for what we would do if there was an intruder in our building. Our classroom doors are locked from the hallway side and the lights are turned off. The children sit against a designated wall and are asked to stay quiet until we are released when the West Vancouver Police Officers open our classroom door to find us.

We are proud to say the Kindergarten was very self-regulated and extremely calm during the entire lockdown. We explained to the children what to expect (listen carefully to the teacher; stay quiet in your spot and breathe deeply to keep your body relaxed; there will be a loud knock at the door and the police will come in; the teacher is here to look after you and will let you know when you can talk). And they followed our instructions perfectly. The police officers were so pleased with how quiet we were and said so several times. This reminds us again the importance of pre-loading our children with the information or knowledge they need to know before they try something new. When we are clear and make explicit our expectations our children are able to respond appropriately.

As if all this wasn’t enough, we still had Library, Music, PE and met with our Buddies to continue researching for our digital literacy projects. Your Kindergarten child has been been playing and learning very hard this week so time to rest this weekend is very much in order.

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Save the Date: We’re going to have a small Valentine’s Day Party in class. The children will make Valentine cardholders with their Buddies next Wednesday. They can bring their Valentine cards for their classmates on Thursday, Friday and the following Tuesday. We will help them put the cards in the cardholders, which the children will bring home and open with you afterschool.

So there are no hurt feelings, when you are printing the cards with your child please remember to give Valentine’s to all the boys or all the girls or everyone. We will send home a class list of first names next week.

Children will need their running shoes for PE and Library Book Exchange is Tuesday. Please help your child by reminding them to bring the Library Books into the classroom; do not leave them in their backpacks. We have a book bin in the classroom to collect the books.

It’s Reading Break on Friday, February 10 and school is not in session. School is also closed on Monday, February 13 as it’s BC’s Family Day. Enjoy your long weekend!

The February Scholastic order forms went home this week. Please return any orders by Thursday, February 9th.

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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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