Monday, 14 November 2011

Halloween, Remembrance Day and Christmas prep- (Oh! And report cards and IPPs...)

I was hoping that journalling/blogging would become a weekly habit for me (some people are so good at it!) and I think that writing is one of the greatest things to have as people get older- it's nice to look back on too!

Last time I wrote was the end of October, just before Halloween and our 'Literary Character Day.' At the last minute I had to come up with an activity to do with groups of kids K-5. Luckily the school has a few old gym mats, so my classroom assistants helped me haul them into the classroom and pad the floor. (I think this would be a brilliant classroom set-up by the way...what kid wouldn't love mats covering the entire floor of the room? The only downside would be mopping them down every day...

I decided to teach the kids 'ninja rolls' (they don't realize they're learning a useful skill- some of those playgrounds are really high up and kids often over-estimate how high they can go, whether they can hang on, and forget to think how they're going to get down- plus, everybody falls!) It was a lot of fun to teach the kids, and to see how that changed their play at recess for the next few days. I had kids jumping down in front of me and rolling during supervision, showing me their ninja skills... the other teachers weren't entirely thrilled with these new skills...

Remembrance Day didn't fall on a Kindergarten day this year, though many of the parents did bring their little ones along to the service. Since I was subbing in grade 6 in the afternoon, I was able to go too. The school does a really great job of Remembrance Day, with elementary and high-school choirs and the town mayor and community members joining. Remembrance Day always makes me think hard and I seem to get more emotional about it every year. Coming from a military family, I really appreciate what people have given up for our country, and continue to give. Remembrance Day seems to bring memories back of missing Dad when he was away during the Persian Gulf War, and then being very confused at crying because I was so happy to see him again. I can only imagine the memories of those who have actually been in service. Thank you to all!

Since Remembrance Day is now over and Christmas is fast-approaching (it's an early holiday start this year!) it's time to get on lesson plans and craft ideas. I wasn't aware that my kids would have to take part in our Christmas concert, so I've been scrambling to find a new idea that the little guys can handle. There's a great book called, "A Porcupine in a Pine Tree," by Helaine Becker that reads as a Canadian version of the 12 Days of Christmas (think caribou, puffins, squirrels curling, stanley cups and beaver-tails) that I'm going to try to make into a song/skit. Luckily for me, Kindergarten kids are cute whatever they're doing, so it can't turn out too badly!

I'm hoping to put together a few fun things for Christmas, so I've got a lot of planning to do...more on that later!

One of the biggest challenges so far this year (that has somehow made it to the end of my post) has been putting together report cards and preparing for the upcoming parent/teacher conferences. It was tough to find and put together meaningful assessments for Kindergarten kids, mostly because I'm still learning the tools and strategies to do a good job of it. Luckily my report cards have been approved (they have to go through administration first) and I've only got minor things to fix! 

Today we had a day of work with other Early Childhood teachers in the region, which was a huge benefit to me. Really, I need all the help I can get! We'll see if I can start implementing new strategies by next week- just in time for my evaluation by the superintendent...

Here are a few funny moments from the past week(s):

- One little guy in our class loves to laugh, and does so any chance he gets (and loudly!) He is also one of my ESL kids. One day he was laughing and 'encouraging' another child's actions which were...undesirable at that point. 

I explained to him that although we love to laugh and have fun in Kindergarten, it's not always a good idea to laugh at bad behaviour. At the end I said, "does that make sense?"

He replied with a very solemn face saying, "Yes! A whole lot of dollars!"

I couldn't stop laughing. What a clever thing to say, especially for a non-native English speaker. I'm quite sure he didn't see what was funny about his comment, but in some way, he must have made the connection between 'dollars' and 'cents.'

- Kindergarten kids have been notorious about putting on their mittens before other outerwear, and by the time they get everything on, it's time to come in from recess again! So we did an activity (using a very good-humoured little guy, who happens to be one of the worst offenders of our outerwear challenges) in which he was our 'model' for putting on pieces of clothing in the right order. We drew each piece on the white board, and crossed them out as the kids chose them and the little guy put them on one at a time. Well, the poor fella must have put his boots and mittens on and had to take them off again at least three times, but we eventually got it right! (A big curricular outcome for Kindergarten kids is 'sequencing' and the more often I can incorporate movement and actual examples into lessons, the better!)

I think it's time for me to sign off now, I'll be updating again soon!

Thanks for reading!