Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
Hopefully you all read our weekly newsletter with our plans to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. We will be reading Dr. Seuss books, comparing and contrasting characters and events, cooking green eggs and ham and then surveying our friends to see if they like green eggs and ham! We will also be doing some math activities related to Dr. Seuss characters. 
On Friday, Miss Harrington sent the kids off with a reminder notice that they are allowed to wear their pajamas to school in as part of our Dr. Seuss celebration on Tuesday, March 2nd.  Please remember that your child must wear regular shoes to school: no slippers!
If you have a desire to help cook with us that day, please let me know. We will be cooking after recess, beginning at 10:20 a.m. Thanks so much for your support.

Hi everyone! Just in case your parents are checking the blog to see what I am up to, I thought I would write a quick note to say hello! I am having fun on my trip to NY and Boston! This is a picture of me with my 2 nieces, Bella ( pictured right next to me) and Gracie( pictured at top) and John Peter who is on the right! We had a great time visiting together, sledding down a hill in the beautifully fresh snow, visiting the MET Museum in New York City and playing with their sweet dog Elsa.
I miss all of you but I am enjoying my time too. Today I arrived in Boston to spend time with my son NIck who is studying for his Master's/PhD at MIT. He is in classes right now but I will get to see him very soon!
Thanks for checking in and I can't wait to see you all when school starts. Remember, Miss Harrington will be the only teacher for the week we return, but I will stop by at lunch each day to say hi to you all :-) I will be busy working around the school and finishing up report cards!

Although there are many other fun things for your child to be doing during winter break, it is also a great time to practice letter sounds! These are the pictures we use in class to practice our letter sounds. We have songs to go with them; ask your child to sing the song as he/she points to the objects!
Feel free to print off this poster and use it at home :-) Knowing letter sounds will help your child blend sounds to read words and isolate sounds and identify them when trying to write new words.
Last November I wrote a blog post on my other blog  about building self efficacy through our daily self-reflection report.  I was on a mission to build independence and teach our kids how to reflect on their behavior and learning at school.  Yesterday, as my husband and I enjoyed a nice conversation over dinner ( yes, yet again a discussion that came back to kids and school!) we began discussing how these daily self-evaluations are contributing to kids' growth. It struck me that the value of this practice is even greater than I intended.

Here are a few of the "aha's" and reasons why I will continue to have kids think about their respect, responsibility and safety at school and communicate their reflections to their parents each day.
  • One of the huge benefits of this practice is that each child is reflecting on his day and not looking to the teacher to "report" if he has had a "good" day or "bad" day. I have heard teachers tell parents that "Johnny" had a "bad" day. When I train kids to use this form, we don't use the words "good" and "bad". We talk about how some of the choices they made might have been wise choices or "not the best" choices where they "didn't think" before acting. We talk a lot about how sometimes a decision to act seems like a good choice but on further reflection, it's not such a great idea. Each day is a fresh start, where we know more about ourselves than the day before!
  •  As my students fill out their forms, I welcome them to solicit my input only after they have already thought about how they will rate themselves. Often kids are tougher on themselves than I would be, but their perceptions give me lots of information. It's a great opportunity to point out positive choices they may have overlooked. Sometimes they get stuck on one challenging moment and generalize it to the entire day. 
  • The report is a daily communication with parents and usually bears good news! I have seen the tendency for some teachers to only send reports home that focus on when a child has had difficulties that day.
  • The kids can fill out the form and know what the icons mean even if they can't yet read the words. The training period was probably about a week and after that, the kids were able to fill them out on their own.
  • The evaluation generates a conversation between the teacher and the student about how "we" can work together to have success in the classroom. When a child has had some tough times focusing and getting work done, and the evidence is in the unfinished pile of work, we can brainstorm together with the parents about possible strategies to help him/her solve the problem. When kids begin to realize that they need fewer distractions, or that when they are tired they don't work as well, they can begin to take responsibility in the classroom and ask the teacher for a "quiet area" to work in or an earlier bedtime from parents. Believe it or not, I have had kids go home and tell their parents that they need more sleep!  
          These are just a few of the reasons why I will continue to have my kids reflect. Most importantly, so far, is that happy, engaged and independent learners come to school excited and "ready for a challenge" each day.
Check out our new 100th day of school pictures here!
We had a great day on our 100th day, making 100th day crowns using 100 stickers, making 100 item trailmix using 10 groups of 10 yummy ingredients, making 100th day necklaces, sharing our 100 item projects and drawing ourselves at the age of 100! 
Hope you enjoy the pictures and this video !

By now you have probably already heard the big news that today was moving day in Room 11! After 100 days of school it was definitely time to give our students a new group of table-mates and a new view of the classroom.
We began the day talking about why we were moving everyone and encouraging kids to find something new and exciting to share about their new spots.  We also talked about how Miss Harrington and I know lots about our students now: especially how they work really well with some friends and sometimes get distracted by others. ( No names were mentioned, of course!) We wanted to involve them in the move as much as possible, so we made a plan. Step 1: Clean out our old desks, check to make sure we had all of our belongings and Step2:  bring all of our things to the carpet. 
As the bright-eyed excited students sat expectantly waiting to find out where they would sit, I took the karaoke microphone and announced their names, being sure to emphasize the benefits of each new spot. ( like being near the drinking fountain or being away from the traffic path!) Kids were noticing connections and calling out : "Hey, the purple table has 3 "J" names!"  What could have been a stressful anxious time became a connection-making game where kids were predicting who would be the next member of each table! By the time they were all seated, students were enjoying talking with their new neighbors.
It might seem silly to make such a big deal about changing the seating in a classroom, but change can be both positive and simultaneously stressful for kids. Changing the environment in a positive and playful way, with kids taking responsibility for their own belongings, is an effective and important way to help them feel valued, happy and safe at school. Today was, indeed, a very good day!