Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy's Coming

Well they say the storm is coming. My plans of blogging and updating/making new things for my classroom have gone out the window ... Replaced with putting away everything that's outside and getting the house ready for the storm. Laundry is being done, rooms are being cleaned (yes I want a clean house for the hurricane what can I say?!?) and all of my electronics are being charged. They are saying the storm surge can be as high as 12feet and the winds can be gusting over 70 miles an hour.

Thankfully the mayor realized the severity of this storm and as of 11:30 this morning school was canceled for tomorrow. My daughters nursery school already closed for Monday and Tuesday and there is a rumor that our town will reschedule Halloween for Saturday. Power outages are expected to be in the thousands and of course the ten flashlights I own are currently hiding or as I like to say I put them away in a VERY safe place!

Last year we were hit by hurricane Irene which took out two huge trees on my property. One of which crushed my daughters swing set and the other tool out the cable and power to our house and blocked the whole front of the house. Thankfully we weren't home. With no large trees on our property I hope we will make out better this time.

On that note it's back to preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. To all my fellow east coasters I hope you stay safe and dry during this storm. I will "see" you all after the storm!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing Time...

Last week our 'lead' Kindergarten teacher informed us that our next unit in writing was non-fiction writing! PANIC!!! That's exactly what I felt when I heard this... really? Non-fiction science writing in November?!?! Seriously how am I going to teach this??

Well I took a deep breath and pulled out my handy Curricular Plan for Writing written by Lucy Calkins, ok confession time, I've had this handy book sitting on my shelf for an entire summer and did nothing about it... WELL boy do I REGRET that?!?! I read the first few chapters including the one about the unit we will be beginning and boy was it eye opening. I am actually SUPER excited to start this new unit but also SUPER STRESSED because I am sooo not ready to start this unit. I've got a ton of prep work that I want to get done to make sure my kids are going to get this unit 100%! Ironically I've been prepping my kids for this unit and I didn't even know it. With all the inspiration out there in the blogging world I started making so super cute charts with my kids based on some of the non-fiction books I've been reading to them and guess what, the majority of them were on trees and leaves! As the characters in one of my daughters shows exclaim when something works out "TRIUMPH!"

So now my brain is going a mile a minute... What do I need to do:

  1. Create a scientific word wall based on the non-fiction books I've already read to my kids... ok I can't create the wall yet because we are supposed to build it together as we are learning, BUT I do want to get ahead of the game and create some word wall cards with images that include all sorts of important words involving trees (anyone out there have these cards already made and would like to share?!?!)
  2. Read alouds - I need to collect a lot of read alouds about trees and leaves! I want to immerse my kids in as many books as I can to help them really learn a lot about this topic. My kids loved the few books I read to them about trees and I NEED to find some more books that are engaging and bright and colorful and chocked full of information that is age appropriate... Any suggestions??
  3. Book Basket Books - I need to go through my entire library and make four table top bins with lots of tree/plant books that are a good combination of easy readers as well as "look books." 
  4. Magnifying Glasses - somehow I need to get my hands on 26 magnifying glasses! I wish the magic school supply fairy would appear in my room and generously give us these! That would be such a wonderful gift!
  5. Colored Pencils - I need lots of colored pencils for this unit and since those weren't supplies we asked for in the beginning of the year I'm not sure exactly how I will be handling this, maybe that magic school supply fairy will bring them to us too!
  6. Sketch Pads - While I'm not in need of these I do need the time to MAKE these! I have all the paper but they need to be folded and stapled and put together into sketch pads - Anyone available to come help me tomorrow at 7am? 
  7. Scientific Collections - Since I didn't do all my homework, yes that is my fault and I have learned my lesson, I need to take my kiddies on lots of scientific walks and gather lots of scientific evidence related to trees... I'm thinking that this may also be a good homework assignment to get my kiddies talking about trees at home. Tomorrow at some point we will go outside together and gather items from trees and make some collections. I will have to figure out a good way to store and organize these items but I do love the idea of the kids collecting and examining the items they find! I think this will really get them excited about this unit, I know I am not excited...
So as you can see there is lots to be done and well, I have about an hour and half in the morning to get it all done... that's because I get in to school that early! 

Ok I have one last question... at the completion of each unit HOW do you organize cleaning out your kids folders? I always find this to be messy, time consuming and just unorganized. I give each kid a baggie with their name on it and they put all their writing into that bag, however, I often have to help them or do it for them because it is hard to get all their papers into one bag in a somewhat neat fashion. So let's add that to my list for tomorrow also... empty their folders!

What are you doing in writing this month??

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where Did September Go?

Does anyone else feel like this school year is going by way to fast? Ironic, I know... usually I can't wait for my summer break so I can spend every day with my little princess. But for some reason this year seems to be flying by, I cannot believe it's already the end of October! I feel like there is just way too much I want to (and need to) do and I just don't have enough time!

I decided over the summer that this would be my year! A year of change for me... for the past 5 years I've been set in my ways at my school. Following the same old routines as I always have and, well, I needed to shake things up! I want to make a name for my self (so to speak). I'm full of ideas and I never speak up, I keep them quiet. Well that's just not going to work for me any more! I want to share my ideas, I want my ideas to take me places so this year I'm speaking up and shaking things up. I've been working hard to get out of my old routines and trying new things in my room. Simple changes like doing Math in the morning not in the afternoon, to larger changes - joining teacher support teams. I'm speaking up and sharing my ideas more. Here's what I've done so far:

Right now I'm in the midst of trying to get a class set of iPads for my kinders to use throughout the week. I've spent the past month and a half researching apps and writing proposals explaining why I think my class would benefit from having iPads and how I would use them in my room. Thanks to many of you and your blogs I think I was able to make a strong case... Nothing has been set in stone yet so I don't want to get my hopes up, but I think having iPads in my room can be a great tool! Do any of you use iPads in your classrooms? How do you use them? Do you have any suggestions? I have some great ideas of how to use them in small groups but what about whole class? I'd love your input!!

I also joined our new Learning Leaders team. This team is headed by our new A.P. and consists of five teachers (including myself) grades K-3. We are currently working on revamping and organizing our Math curriculum. We are using Investigations, which personally I love, but there are some gaps in the program according to our standards and we are working to fill those gaps and make the program work better for our school.

I've signed up to join a technology team in our building. There are so many teachers in our school who love finding and using technology in useful, productive and creative ways in the classroom but we have never had an outlet to share our ideas. My hope is that this team will allow teachers from K-8 to join together and share and collaborate on ways we are currently using technology and ways we wish we could use technology. There is so much potential out there and I know that collaborating will open all of our eyes up to new ideas! Now I haven't been officially accepted onto this team and I'm not sure that this team will be developed this year, but I signed up and I'm waiting to find out.

So you can see that I've been quite busy...well apparently not busy enough because on Wednesday at the end of the day my A.P. approached me and asked if I would join yet another team of teachers... of course why not! This final group is working on math videos. We are trying to continue to build our home-school-connection and we think that these videos would really help with that. I'm actually really excited about this idea and I can't wait to get started. Most of the teachers on the team, there are four of us, will be using an app on their iPads to make the videos but I'm not sure if that is going to work for me. Almost everything we do in Kindergarten is hands on I'm thinking I need to come up with some creative ways to make some videos....

Well, as you can see I've been just a little busy... SO I appologize to my loyal followers and I will do my best to start blogging again. But please know that I wish I could be on here every day sharing all the fun that's going on in my room. I'll do my best to start blogging more again! Photobucket