Sunday, August 30, 2015

On Our Way to Week Three!!

WOW!!! Tomorrow we start week three!! It's a little bit scary that it feels like the weeks are already starting to fly by. We have successfully made it to the point where the tears are gone and we are able to just hug our moms and dads goodbye. I had no idea what to expect with the first few weeks of kindergarten, and let me tell you, I was scared!!! Thankfully, I have an amazing team and mentor who keep me sane! One way I am looking to continue my professional development is to focus on one area of my day that I love or need to work on and write about it! I feel like this will help me to hear other ideas as well as show what works for my kids! This week it is going to be fine tuning our Morning Routine!

I know it has only been two weeks, but I can say with confidence that my kids are AWESOME! I am so fortunate to have such an crazy and fun group of kiddos. They have worked their little tails off the last few weeks and I am so proud! We have managed to almost perfect our morning routine. I did not like how my morning routine went last year and changed it a few times to try and find the best fit. The constant changing did not help us to have a very strong routine. Sometimes I had them work on stations, other times we wrote, sometimes we just went to the carpet. Without having a strong start to our morning, we tended to be a little off! I was NOT going to start this year like that.  I spent a lot of time this summer thinking of a way to start our morning and as of now, I love it!!! When I bring my little rays inside, we line up in the hallway and show we are ready for the day. Then they enter the room, unpack their backpacks and put them away. By the time I am in the room, most of them are ready to go! I always have a morning message on the board. We started the year with a typed page that they copied but I was really feeling like notebooks would be better, so we have moved on to those! Each kiddo has a bright yellow Morning Message Notebook. I have a message written in my notebook that is put on the SmartBoard for them to copy. Originally, I was going to type the morning message, but then I decided that it would be easier if they saw handwritten notes that would have the same layout that theirs were going to look like. My rays love having their own notebooks to record in. I explained that at the end of the year, we will be able to look at our first week and our last week and see how much we have progressed (that realllllly got them excited!!!) They have about 15 minutes to copy their morning message and watch our morning broadcast. If students finish their writing before it is time to transition, they can draw a picture of the weather outside (makes for a great connection!). At around 8:45, they transition to the carpet. We start our carpet routine with calendar. As they get more used to the year and we get more familiar with the SmartBoard, we will use the Starfall calendar, but for now we sing the days of the week/months of the year, discuss what day it is, and talk about the weather! We jump right into our Heggerty (phonemic awareness) Book! They already know my incredible love for the big blue book :) It is like my school bible!!! We work on repetition, rhyming, segmenting, blending, and beginning/ending sounds! I make sure to add enthusiasm to this part of our morning because it can kind of be a little dull. I make sure to always have them kiss their brain and celebrate how smart we all are. It may seem like something small, but their confidence soars and they are way more active in their learning :) Always remember, with morning routine: BE CONSISTENT!!!!!!

I am excited to get the day started the right way because I think it will really help my kids to be prepared and focused for the rest of the day!

Check back next week to see how week three went AND to catch my next focus will be whole group math

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ten Tips to Survive the First Week of Kindergarten!!

It seems like the months between May and September really know how to fly by! Within a blink of an eye (or so it seems), summer is gone and school is back in session! As a kindergarten teacher, I get mixed emotions about the first week of school.

Starting out the year, you have ZERO knowledge about your incoming kiddos! You can't ask their teacher from the previous year because, well, you are the where they start!! You don't know the behaviors and attitudes of the beloved children who will be with you and to be honest, it can seem intimidating. Your room will have 20 kids who are in so many ways, NEW. New to the school, new to your rules, new to procedures, and new to each other. I do enjoy At the same time, I get to be their first teacher at this school! How amazing is it that I will get to watch my little rays go from kindergarten to fourth grade and know that I was their beginning?? I love teaching kindergarten for so many reasons, but one huge reason is because you are their foundation. Watching your kiddos grow academically and as little people is so rewarding. We start the year practicing our letters and numbers and I get the opportunity to watch them walk away READING and ADDING. Plus, they are adorable!!!

With all these emotions that filled me up for the week, I wanted to reflect on what helped me make it through! I have put together 10 tips on surviving the first week of kindergarten that I thought would be fun to share!

One: Seriously, make 10 copies. You will want to use it to see who is there, check off hot/cold lunches, forms brought in, to use to make sure all your kiddos are there before lunch/after lunch, dismissal! With the chaos of the first day, there are a lot of kinders who get to school a little late or get lost. By having a roster at hand, when a kiddo is brought in, I can immediately check if they are in my class or not. In short, the more copies, the easier the day will flow ;)

Two: At our school, we meet our students outside in the morning prior to walking in. I made it my goal to meet each student, shake their hand, and give them a big smile. This day can be hard on the kid and parents so I want to make them feel as comfortable as possible!! By calling each student by name and getting on their level, you are showing them respect and giving them a friendly feeling that will make it easier for them to part from their parents!

Three: Always spend the first week going over rules and procedures. These week is when your students are fresh to the whole school thing. By enforcing these rules at the get-go, you are strengthening your classroom management and establishing the expectations that you hold for your students. This is a crucial time to reinforce positive behavior!! We reviewed the expectations in our classroom, hallway, cafeteria, and playground at least 3 times a day. My students were experts and the do's and do not's of our school by the end of the week! Does that mean we are going to be a room full of perfect students? Of course not! But we have established a respectful relationship built on expectations and doing the right thing!

Four: I took every chance I could to find positive behavior and small success to celebrate with my kiddos! By showing them how excited I was when we accomplished  a task, they were ELATED!! We took a walk through the first floor practicing our straight and quiet line. When we made it back to our room, we had a two minute dance party! My students LOVED being about to dance at 9:15 in the morning! It made them feel confident and successful! Every time we had quiet transitions, answered questions correctly, raised our hands, and tried our best, we made sure to pat ourselves on the back/dance a little dance. I think by adding these little celebrations, my kids were way more excited to do what they were expected and got to have a little fun! When we line up, we all check to make sure our marshmallow toes are ready (because marshmallow toes are quiet, duh!) hands are at our side, and bubbles are ready to go! They LOVE to remind me of hallway expectations now :)

Five: Before the questions of where everything is begin, take a tour of the school. I took my little rays on a whole building tour on the second day. By day two, we had practiced our hallway walking and felt we were ready to show ourselves to the upstairs!!! Let me tell you, I have never heard such quiet feet in the hallway than I did when we walked past the third and fourth graders. My kinders REALLY wanted to show them that they were ready for school! I got to show them all the places they would be and it saved me from answering questions that would have otherwise preoccupied every second of the day! It also helped to make them feel more comfortable with the school. For many of the kids, it is their first time in the building so everything seems foreign. Once they get an opportunity to see and go through the school, it becomes THEIR school and that definitely helps to create a positive learning environment!

Six: READ!! Fill their minds with the concept and importance of reading from day one!! I loved watching my little rays eyes light up as we ready a variety of kinder stories that we were able to relate to ourselves!! We looked at pictures and I had them describe what they thought was going on. They loved answering questions and then asking their own! When it came time for buddy reading, my kids got very worried! I heard a whole lot of "But we can't read yet, Miss K!!!". I stopped them and asked them if they remembered when we looked at the pictures and received bobbing heads. I told them that to start off as a reader, you look at pictures and tell your own story! I explained how pictures are a very important part of reading and that each one of them was a reader. They loved hearing that and their confidence soared. I partnered them up and they chose a Big Book to read. As I walked around listening to them talk to each other about the pictures, I couldn't help but smile. They got SO into it! I added stuffed animals to our reading center as well so that they will be able to practice their whisper voices even more throughout the weeks to come!

Seven: Transitions, transitions, transitions! Walk into the room and sit at their table. Have students go to their carpet square. Line up. Repeat. By practicing the right way to transition, you will save yourself from MANY headaches. We drilled how to stand up, push in your chair, and walk to you carpet square. We practiced sitting criss-cross applesauce and getting back up to line up quickly and quietly. I was actually shocked at how quiet my kiddos transitioned! Let's hope it's not just because it was week one! I cannot put enough of an emphasis on transitions

Eight: Laugh. Take time to be silly, laugh with your kids, and when the building seems in chaos, LAUGH. There is something about laughing with your students that creates a special bond. I have found that when students know you laugh (I have had a kid ask me, "Miss K, are teachers supposed to laugh?") it makes them realize you are a person. I have a bubbly personality so I naturally laugh often, but being around my kids and getting the chance to be silly during our dance time or have fun playing on the jungle gym with them allows you to really connect with your students on a personal and genuine level. Never let your stress take over. There will be days where things don't go as planned. Laugh it off. Make a joke, do something goofy. Your kids will laugh right there with ya!

Nine: Hug your students goodbye. I always try to make a point to hug or at least high five each one of my rays as they leave for the day. I want them to know I love them and they are special to me! I never want a student to think that they aren't appreciated. By hugging/high-fiving my kids, I am hoping they realize they are "my kids". You never know some of the situations that your kids come from and that hug can mean a lot more than you even know!

Ten: Take a deep breath. There is no reason to stress over anything that happened. If all your kids made it home Friday, YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY!

Now go relax, get some sleep, and remember, only about 8 months left ;)

Monday, August 17, 2015

We Survived the First Day!

ATTENTION: My little rays and I have successfully survived the first day of kindergarten!!

To prepare for the FIRST DAY, I spent my last day of summer laying by a pool followed by a nice family dinner at a steakhouse!! Add in some yoga and an early bedtime and this Kinder teacher was ready to rock and roll!!! I woke up this morning feeling rested and as ready as I could be (there is literally no way to plan how the first day will go!). I didn't have to plan a special outfit because all Kindergarten kiddos and teachers wore matching green shirts! One reason we wear these is so that our babes know who we are. The other reason is so the WHOLE building knows who are newest little friends are!! It is so nice to be able to have all of the staff prepared to help when they spot a wandering kinder!!

As I got to school I made sure my room was ready for the 18939584 time and let myself relax a bit! One of the best parts of the first day is that it is go with the flow! The day is guaranteed to be filled with kids in the wrong places, chaos, and mix ups! Our school works amazingly well together and we always get everything worked out :)

A hinder to the day was the incredibly hot and humid temperatures. In an unairconditioned room with 20 little friends who aren't used to being at school for 7 hours, there is not much comfort! Luckily my little rays are troopers!! I kept them engaged by making sure we were not doing one thing for too long a period of time! We started the morning going over procedures (aka how we will be spending the next few weeks!!!) We then colored a first day of school picture and practiced how to walk in the hallway. I kid you not when I say my kiddos were SILENT in the halls. Now I know this is day one, but I mean, they were quiet as can be and walked in a nice little line. I was doing a happy dance inside!!! They got to learn all about computers in their technology class and then we took our First Day of Kindergarten pictures!! We had made it to lunch (quite the success!) without too many tears or confusion.

Coming back from lunch, we headed straight for our prep time (music). My kiddos were excited to sing and dance, but I could tell when I cam back to them that they were feeling the heat. We took LOTS of water and ice breaks to keep ourselves cool and watched a few videos while we took a little rest time!! I read The Night Before Kindergarten to them and we worked on raising our hands and sharing our thoughts! I loved how they were respectful of each other!! We had a few shout outs, but cmon, we are talking about excited five and six year olds!!!! We finally made it to the point of the day they were all waiting for: POPSICLES!!!! (Side note: I am so lucky to have supportive parents who volunteered to supply our class with popsicles and ice for the first few weeks of school. It is so appreciated and makes me feel oh so lucky!!) We played outside after popsicles and used our cooler to fill up on water and ice because the heat was no joke today!!!

As we packed our bags and got ready to depart I asked my little friends who would be coming back tomorrow. Here are some of their (hilarious) answers:
Friend One: "I don't know. I will have to ask my mom."
Friend Two: "I could stay here forever. Wait...Miss K, can my mom visit??"
Friend Three: "I need to be at home forever actually. I like naps"
Friend Four: "Only if you come back!"

Giggles aside, I love my little bunch!!!! We are in for a year full of learning, laughs, and adventures and I wouldn't trade a single cutie!!!!

Here's to day two!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Meeting My Students!

Meeting My Students!

It is that time of year! Whether we are ready or not, the 2015-2016 school year is here!!! There is a mix emotions coming from this gal: nervous, excited, worried, anxious... The list goes on and on! All the time spent making classroom decor and working to make my classroom an inviting learning environment is about to be put to the test!

But before the year kicks off in full swing, there is one thing to do! MEET MY STUDENTS!! Our school offers an 'Unpack Your Backpack' event where students are able to find out who their teacher is, bring their supplies, and get familiar with the school (especially the kinder babes!!) I have been preparing myself for this day for three weeks but that didn't mean I felt like I was ready! We had a few morning meetings before the students came and that is when the butterflies started to flutter around. The clocked ticked and ticked as I inspected my room making sure it was presentable, everything was labeled, and I was ready to meet all my students and their parents!

Here is a few snapshots of what my room looks like!!

I had set up my desk in stations so that parents could fill out their information while the students emptied their bag at their desk. I loved seeing the beaming faces of the kids as they pulled out their supplies and neatly organized them at their spot! At my desk, I had a sign in sheet, a permission slip for instagram/blog, sign ups for popsicles (it is supposed to be 90 degrees and our building is unairconditioned!!), a magnet that I had made with my name, email, and number, and a little pamphlet that told them all they needed to know about Room 103! It ended with a station to go on a building scavenger hunt where they end up receiving their green kindergarten shirts! All next week the kindergarten teachers and students will wear these shirts so that everyone in the building knows who the little ones are and can help!

11:15 came around and there was my first kid!! The butterflies left as I jumped right into welcoming him into the room! From there, the room began to fill and the time FLEW!!! Being able to meet my students before Monday is extremely helpful. I will be able to recognize who belongs to me, they were able to get comfortable in their classroom and school, and we broke the initial ice that will make Monday flow smoother. Well, as smooth as a 90 degree day in an unairconditioned building with 70+ kindergarteners who miss their moms can go ;). With the final student leaving around 1, I sat back in my chair and took a look at my room. It was filled with items for school, but it was also filled with an air of happiness. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. The nerves I had were gone and all I felt was excited to kick off the year.

I might be biased, but I think I have THE cutest class ever!!! I cannot wait to watch them grow academically, emotionally, and physically (the height difference from beginning to end is incredible!)! I have a feeling I am in for an amazing, fun filled, crazy year and I could not be more enthusiastic to get it started!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Worked Well Wednesday: Portable Word Wall

There is nothing like prepping your classroom for a new school year. All the anticipation. All the ideas. All the time and money spent. It is ALL worth it!!!!! I am sure I am not alone when I say that there are A LOT of things that I want to tweak or improve this year. One of those happens to be sight words.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to best display our sight words so that my students have accessibility to it and are able to see it without standing up and walking up to it all day. Searching for ideas, I obviously went to Pinterest (can I get an Amen?!) I searched word wall ideas and came across Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! blog! I went through it and saw the idea of a portable word wall and instantly fell in love.

For starters, it would free up a bulletin board. With all of the things that need to be displayed in the room, saving bulletin space is AMAZING!! I also loved the fact that I could place it somewhere easy for students to grab. They can walk right up to it and select the letter that they need. It will save time and chaos because students will not have to stand, get a clipboard, and squint to read the words a foot above their little head (or is it just my kids..??).

I started by measuring the space that I was going to use! This is important because you want to make sure you have enough space in between the clips and that they can be evenly displayed (13 on top, 13 on bottom-my inner OCD coming out). I *THOUGHT* I knew what size to make the word wall cards from that measurement and started to make the cards. I did the front card (the letters of the alphabet) in one color (black). I made our sight word card another color (white). I am going to add color words on red paper, number words on orange paper, and word families on different paper. I am hoping that this will make it easier for my students to flip to the correct category to find the words they are looking for!

I sorted them in their alphabet order and then put them in the order that that they appear throughout our quarters. I hole-punched the cards in the corner and simply put a binder ring on them!!

*Note* We have color and number words in our sight words as well. I have chosen to put them in another section in addition to the sight word section because I want my students to be able to find the word quickly and efficiently. 

Here is a picture of them hung up! Notice that I made my word cards a little bigger than I should have! I could trim them, but then the border will be gone so I am going to let this way settle in for a bit!!

Here are some close ups of the letter cards!

I am SO excited to use this portable word wall this year! I am truly hoping that my students will utilize it more and that it will play an essential role in their fluency!!!

Part two will be a follow up :)

What do you do for your word walls??? Leave a comment below!!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Five For Friday! 8/7/15

After more than a week of hiatus, I am finally back!!! I took a much needed mini vacation to Michigan to have a little relaxation before the school year starts! What better post to come back with than a little Five For Friday with Doodlebugs Teaching!!

I love taking a few snapshots from my week and getting to see what you all are up to!! With only a few short days until school starts, I am trying to enjoy my final days of relaxation and less responsibility. Not that it is easy because I find myself constantly working on something for school! Anywho, here are some highlights from my last full week of summer!!!!

I got to watch the BEAUTIFUL sunset in South Haven, Michigan! It was so nice and relaxing to just get away for a few days and the Michigan sunset with one of my best friends! Fun Fact: We have gone to school together since the age of five!

While we were in Michigan, we took a class where you paint a picture (with the help of an instructor) and enjoy wine! I have been wanting to try this for a long time and am so glad we did! It was so fun AND they turned out WAY better than I thought! I may even hang mine up in the classroom!!

My running view along the lake!!! So pretty!!

By looking at this picture, you can TOTALLY tell I have experience in yoga ;) Honestly the most peaceful thing I have done!

Clearly I enjoyed vacation because my third clip of the week is from my workouts while I was in Michigan. I loved running on the lake front and even better, YOGA ON THE BEACH! Yes, you read that right! I got up and enjoyed the sun rising while listening to the waves of the ocean and literally finding my zen. It was so tranquil. You can bet I will be doing yoga sessions throughout the school year because I have NEVER felt better!!

I have been working for the past few weeks on my classroom and am getting closer and closer to feeling finished (even though I am FAR from it!) I need to take a few more pictures to see the whole set up! I am pretty proud of the fact that I made ALL of my classroom decor. It was a labor of love and SO worth it!!

Oops no picture!!!
This is my second year teaching, but my first year STARTING kindergarten (I came week 3 last year), so I got the opportunity to work at our registration!! Our kinder team of four plus a few other helpers spent 5 hours today and 5 more on Friday welcoming new families and getting them all set up for this school year! I loved meeting everyone and it really got me excited to start the year!

Thanks for taking a look at my week!!! I can't wait to read yours :) Make sure to link up and share your fun!!!!!