Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo Story Fun

We took our photos from the other day and put them into the SMART Notebook software and wrote a class book*. I love this kind of interactive writing, because the kids still think seeing pictures of themselves is NEAT and they still think the SMART Board is cool. Double bonus. After we finished the book, we plopped the photos into Photo Story and read the pages of our book. So, when all is literally said and done, this activity involved math, writing, reading and oral language. Love it when that happens!

*I would love to share the book but I don't knwo how to share a SMART Notebook file on the blog. If anyone knows, please share!

Friday, March 19, 2010

English as a second language...

ESOL Student: "Did you know you can hump on a camel?"

Me: (pause...) "You mean a camel has humps?"

ESOL Student: "Yeah, Alice the Camel has humps."

Then our lunch bunch broke into Alice the Camel while I died laughing on the inside.


Dear Teacher,

The kids were GREAT! No problems at all and we had a good time together!

Thank you,
Substitute Teacher

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Here are photos of the finished product!
Group shot...
Can you guess what his shadow is? A giraffe!

I love this one...
This is my favorite. Mr. President is all ego and his neighbor is about to eat him!


We are having a great time with shapes this year. The kiddos need to learn how to identify and draw a square, rectangle, triangle, and a circle.

Our first few lessons were what I call "Shape/Not Shape" lessons. The students looked at a group of squares and were told, "these are squares." Then we looked at another group of shapes that were not squares and, you guessed it, were told, "these are not squares." Then they were given a variety of shapes and asked to sort out the squares. We would discuss how they knew something was a square. It had four sides... it had four corners... the sides were the same.... yadda yadda. We did this for triangle and circle too. I will admit that I didn't do rectangle because I was getting bored with this... (so that means they were too!)

After Shape/Not Shape, we talked more about corners and sides. I made 231 tiny balls of clay (next year I will use something else!) and cut up a bunch of pipecleaners. The kids' job was to create each shape using the correct number of corners (clay) and sides (pipecleaners). This was superfun. Here are a few examples:

Then we brought out the geoboards. Now, I will be honest, I never used these with kindergarteners because I assumed I would spend more time dodging flinging rubber bands. Well, I was wrong. My kids ROCKED IT. Check it out.
Then we hit the grass. I put the kids in small groups and told them to make themselves into a shape. The remaining children had to thumbs-up or thumbs-down if the shape looked good enough for a picture. A side benefit of this activity was to see who emerged as a leader, and who didn't. Fascinating!
And we're not done yet! Today the kids will be searching for shapes in the classroom and drawing them. Tomorrow we will be making pictures using only shapes. I'll post the results. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes I have to be hit over the head...

I have this little child in my room, who from day 1 of school has challenged me. For 110 days of kindergarten I treated this child has a behavior problem. I worked on individual behavior plans, I met with the parents multiple times, I ignored the negative, I praised the positive, when that didn't work, I sat this child alone and focused on keeping the child and the rest of the class safe (the behavior could be physical).

For many of these 110 days there was this thing poking the back of my brain... "This behavior is so impulsive." "Is this behavior? It seems like a control-issue." "What am I missing?"

Then, as I was preparing paperwork so I could get help from outside the classroom, it dawned on me that this child shows signs of autism. DISCLAIMER: I know little about autism. I have only worked with one child who was diagnosed with autism and it was during my student teaching when I really had no idea what I was doing.

Since this moment, this ah-ha-MAYBE-this-can-help-explain moment, things have changed dramatically. I approach this child the way I learned to approach the other child with autism. I make sure his schedule doesn't change, and when it does, I prepare him. I allow him to ask the many questions about what comes next (the ones that used to drive me nuts) and patiently answer. I try to provide him with a physical environment with low stimuli, or as low possible. When I can tell he needs a break, I send him to his desk for a breather and he has rubber bands that he can pull on to help calm down. This child is happier. I am happier.

I don't know if this child is on the spectrum, but right now, as I assume he is, life is better.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh dear... spring is here...

I have this little boy who is incredibly smart, incredibly funny, incredibly thoughtful, and head over heels in love with his classmate. His classmate is an incredibly smart, incredibly funny, and incredibly sweet little girl. They're both on my favorite list.

They're perfect for each other, except that they're 6 years old and I think it's a bit soon to settle down.

I've been watching with amusement as they play together, sit together, shoot moon-eyed glances at each other... it really is cute.

Until today. While in line to throw out their lunch trays, the boy gave the girl a little love-pat on her bottom. I wish I had a video because it was the gentlest little pat and Lover Girl gave him a little loving smile, but very quickly, after I thought that, I thought this:

Dude. DUDE. No! You can't do that!

So I had a quick private chat with Lover Boy that went something like this:
Me: "Pssstt... Lover Boy, come here please. I know you patted Lover Girl's bottom to be nice because you like her, but we don't do things like that in school."

LB: "Oh, sorry. My dad does it so I did it."

Me: "Oh I know he does... grown ups do it, but kids don't, and kids especially don't in school."

LB: "Okay... can I hug her?"

Me: "Sure, but not for too long."

All of a sudden I'm that teacher from the 1950's doing hand checks at the school dance.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Without the Internet and my colleague's blogs, my off-the-cuff idea of creating my students' shadows would have just lived within our tiny little hall. Now, the idea made it as far as Italy. I am blushing.

This project has much room for improvement next year, but it's been awesome so far... and it's not even done yet. My kids and I are working on speech bubbles for their shadows. They come up with what their shadow is saying and then we work together on an interactive writing activity to get the words down (we share the pen and stretch the words out together). Science and writing all wrapped up in one.

Snippety Gibbet captured step one of the project where the kids learned how a shadow is made (you need a light source and something to block that light). Pictures of step two will be up in a few days. We have a few more bubbles to create.

For next year:
  • I won't use bulletin board paper because it rolls up and is a HASSLE to cut out each shadow. Taping each shadow to the wall was also a time-sucker. I am thinking of black contact paper that I cut out early and lay under the carpet to create flat sheets (a great idea from another wonderful colleague).
  • I will have the kids sit down so keeping still is a bit easier while I trace their shadows.
Thanks Snippety for spreading the love! Such warm fuzzies from your comments really brightened my day.

Independent Work Time

Independent writing during Writing Workshop and math centers used to provide me time to conference with individual students on the respective topic. Not so much this week and next. Now it's reserved for testing.

"Okay boys and girls, please go sit at your tables and work by yourselves and quietly. I won't have any idea what you're doing, how you're doing it, or what you're thinking... I don't have time to talk to you about your work, I have to give tests."

Right now I am protecting guided reading groups like a mama bear over her cubs, but who knows how long that will last...

Happy almost spring.