Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tackling Misconceptions about Kindergarten

Hey everybody!  Tonight our school hosted a Curriculum Night and each grade level set up a few stations to provide parents with more information about what our students are learning and how they can support them.

For Kindergarten, I was in charge of the station dedicated to the Common Core Standards.  To make things a little more fun, I created a "pop quiz" for parents to take about the standards :)  Several of the questions address some of the misconceptions our team has found many of our parents have about Kindergarten.  It ended up initiating many AWESOME discussions with parents tonight!  There were lots of ah-ha moments and many misconceptions were erased :)

Here it is for you to grab!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

GIANT Giveaway Over at Keepin' It Kool

Wow!  I am so impressed!  Khris, of Keepin' It Kool in Kinderland, has reached 100 followers and is having a crazy huge giveaway!  I can only aspire to be that successful by the time I hit 100 followers!!!!  (Right now I'm super ecstatic about my 5... hehe :)  Click on the picture below to go check out the amazing packets you can win and start entering!

And while you are at it, go ahead and follow me too! :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Class Dojo and Our Clip Chart

Mrs. Wills (one of my absolute favorite Kindergarten bloggers) mentioned a great new app/website called Class Dojo in her most recent post.  I commented on her post about how much I loved class dojo and mentioned that I was using it in conjunction with our clip chart that had already been established in the room.  

Then later this evening a fellow teacher asked me to describe in a little more detail how I had made this work.  (Thanks, Jena, for inspiring this post! :)

Rather than respond in the comments section (I'm having some trouble figuring out how to change the font color on the comments on my blog so they are currently very difficult to read) I figured I'd do a quick post about this!  

Like many of you, my kiddos start on green every day (see the image above).  Prior to class dojo, they would move up the chart when caught doing the right thing and down after a warning or two... When we (my  instructional assistant and I) decided to give Class Dojo a try, we realized that we were frequently giving points but clips weren't getting moved as often and we didn't have a clear system for communicating points to parents.  

So we started looking at their point balance at the end of the day and moving clips up or down based on how many points they have.  Every 5 points (good points) equal one move up the chart.  So for example, let's say Susie has 8 points at the end of the day and was already on blue (when we were lining up for lunch she was the only one in 'traveling position' without a reminder so she got to move up for remembering the expectations when no one else was) so she will go home "on purple".   Once I explained that 5 points equals one move up the chart they were much more eager to earn those points!

In my newsletter I explained to parents that we were utilizing the new app and it would factor into their color for the day.  I also asked for updated email addresses so parents could be entered onto the website and a report could be sent to them each week.  

I love that Class Dojo makes it so easy to quickly provide positive reinforcement to several children at once. My instructional assistant keeps her iPhone with her at all times and can give or take points in a matter of seconds.  It eliminates the loss of instructional time associated with having to go over to the clip chart all day long!  By incorporating the two together, it gives me the flexibility to utilize either one at any given time and my students seem to be even more aware of their choices....  

The greatest thing about it is that you can tweak it to meet the needs of your kids!  Maybe some classes need to set the expectation at three points at first, some classes may get so many points in one day that they need to earn eight or ten... it just depends on your kids!   Please don't hesitate to comment if you have any other questions!  Or if you utilize Dojo another way, I'd love to hear about it too!  I love to hear new ideas!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I am so excited to finally be posting again after disappearing over the holidays!  I had intentions of getting back to blogging much sooner, but things in the classroom haven't been quite how I expected them to be since coming back from break...

You know how we usually long for that mysterious, yet magical, period of time right after Christmas break where things suddenly start to click for our Kindergartners?!  We tell ourselves that its alright that they aren't that independent yet, because after Christmas it will all start to fall into place... Well this year...

These first couple of weeks back have felt like....

the. complete. opposite.

Don't get me wrong, I was fully prepared to review routines and procedures and give them (and myself for that matter!) a few days to wrap our minds around the fact that we were already back at school; but I never expected my little smarties to require that much support and redirection!  :)  After our first full week back I was so drained that I stayed in bed practically half the weekend!

I have spent the majority of the school year thus far bragging to anyone who would listen about how wonderfully independent this bunch is, and how impressed I am with all the progress they have made in such a short time... and so it was that much harder to accept that I was going to have to back-track and explicitly review all our routines and procedures.

But... I did review them all at the beginning of this week and kept trying to convince myself we were making some progress... until yesterday I overheard another teacher talking about "filling someone's bucket" and I realized my "bucket" was so close to empty that our class needed to make some changes (and fast)!

I did some serious reflecting the rest of the day (and borrowed the book about filling other people's buckets to read to the class :) and came up with the idea to simply flip-flop our schedule for the day... just to see if that would spark their curiosity just enough to keep them more engaged, but not change things so dramatically that it took us back to square one.  So, once I got over the fact that I hate to start new things in the middle of the week and tomorrow was going to be Thursday, I shifted my lesson plans a bit, and mentally prepared myself to teach writing first thing the next day rather than math :)

And the crazy thing is....

it. totally. worked!

If you had walked in my room today during Daily 5, you would never have know that yesterday I had redirected students over and over and over again during the same exact activities!  I was soooo relieved!

Isn't that just fascinating!?  It certainly is to me... None of the routines themselves changed a bit, the format of the workshops and the types of independent work were the same, and yet the difference was like night and day...

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And for those of you that stayed with me through that longgggg winded post... here is a freebie! :)    Regardless of how independent the majority of one's class can be-- there seems to always be at least one or two that need a little extra support.  This file contains an individualized behavior log that you can adapt to fit your needs!