Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
Our Feast
As I reflect on our time together in the school year thus far, I am filled with gratitude for the experience of working with such wonderful families and children. I have the greatest job in the world: filled with ups and downs, yes, but brimming with meaning and purpose. I hope that I say it often enough to you, the parents who help and support our work in so many important ways. Sending in goodies for our celebrations, spending time listening to your child  share about his/her learning, encouraging your child to do his/her best each day, are just a few of the ways that you critically support our endeavor of teaching.
We have become a very caring and responsible learning community in Room 11. I am so thankful that Miss Harrington and I have the privilege of being with your children this school year.
Thank you

This week I decided to implement an idea that I thought of some time ago. Now that I have an LCD projector and document camera I have so many possibilities for presentations. Anyway, I decided to try to elicit positive emotions using humor and "awe" to help my students transition from the sometimes stressful time of recess.
As they came back from recess, I let the kids know that I was going to show them a few pictures that would make them smile, laugh or think,"wow!" I was delighted to hear their shrieks of laughter as I showed them photos ( sent to me in various emails from friends) of amazing animals in nature. As we viewed a picture of a fish being carried away by a "big" bird, I asked the kids to share what that fish would be saying if it could talk. I then asked them what the bird might be saying. Their answers were creative, sometimes silly, and definitely those of kids who were engaged in the conversation. I decided that this ritual of "after-recess" viewing, which took only 5 minutes of our day, was definitely worth it. After the photo viewing, we took a minute of "silence" where the students closed their eyes, thought of a beautiful scene/place and breathed slowly in and out. I told them that it was important to relax and focus their minds in order to get the most learning in a day.
As we moved on to the next part of our day, I noticed that the mood was upbeat and calm. A relaxed state of alertness certainly improved the learning environment. There were no tattling tales of kids hitting each other or saying they wouldn't be friends any longer. Students transitioned to the following learning activity with an excitement about learning. Mission accomplished!
After much reflection and discussion we have decided to implement a new tool to help students reflect upon and take responsibility for their daily behavior and learning. Your child will decide how well he/she met the goals of being respectful, responsible and safe. Together we will complete these mini-forms at the end of each day and your child will take home the form to share with you!
By this time in the school year, students normally have a pretty good sense of classroom expectations and school rules. For some reason, however, there have been several recent occasions when students have been making the wrong choices, particularly on the playground at morning and lunch recess.  We have also had some difficulty with students being non-compliant in the classroom.
Our main issue right now is safety and we are very disappointed to report that several students have been hurting each other while lining up and while playing outside. Pushing, hitting, kicking and other bodily contact are unacceptable ways to communicate frustration and anger.  We need to help our kids learn that they need to use their words to communicate and tell each other to “stop” when someone is bothering them.  Physical outbursts often result when a student is frustrated because another student says something that they don’t like.  Their first response needs to be a clear “Stop!” Our school-wide PBIS program stresses the “Stop, Walk and Talk” approach that encourages kids to tell the person bothering to stop, then walk away. If the problem is resolved, they have learned an important skill; if not they can tell an adult when necessary.  Students may not poke others, push them or hit them just because they don’t like something they said.  They also need to understand that their words have power and they must choose them carefully.  Resolving these issues in class takes away from learning time and though we discuss our expectations often, it helps to have your support from home.  We want to help students learn to get along with others and solve their problems when possible.
Even if you think this issue does not apply to your child, please take a few minutes to talk about school safety expectations.  We want to promote a safe, engaging environment where all of our students can learn. Thanks so much for your support. ☺

We are so excited to begin working with some new technology in our class! Last June I volunteered to pilot an Interwrite Mobi pad in my class this year. Well, finally the projector that is needed to work with the device is here and I will be using this new technology to engage our students.  We are also fortunate to receive a document camera which can project images of written material as well as other objects onto the big screen. This will help facilitate math lessons and other lessons with hands on manipulatives!  Also, the students will be able to demonstrate their understanding to the class in a fun way. Soon we will let the students use our document camera for our theme sharing!
Of course, there is a big! learning curve for us as we integrate these new tools into our day! You can help by encouraging your child to continue following our classroom expectations. When students get excited ( which is a good thing!) they sometimes get the idea that they are allowed to be out of control with their bodies and voices. Please talk to your child regularly about how he/she contributes to our learning environment in a positive way.  We want to excite and engage our students in memorable learning experiences.  :-)

Thank you for your help in preparing for our Halloween festivities by sending in treats and supplies and then coming into the classroom to help! We had a fun day, singing our Halloween songs, taking lots of pictures, graphing our bone candies, playing "Pin the Stem on Jack", walking in the parade, and eating lots of "mostly healthy" goodies! It would be very helpful over the next few weeks if you refrained from sending candy in snacks and lunches. When kids eat candy they often have a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. This often impacts concentration and learning and we have so much to learn! Thanks for your support :-)