Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
As I sit and recover from a very busy, energetic day in our class, I am thinking about how sweet it was to hear many of the little voices exclaim that they were sad that there would be no school for 2 weeks! Of course, they were simultaneously excited about being with their families over the next 2 weeks as well.
As I mentioned in our newsletter, I am very thankful for you and your involvement and commitment to your child's education.  Our class has become a very kind community where the students are taking to heart the school-wide traits of respect and responsibility. They are understanding that it's not acceptable to interrupt each others' learning and are thinking for a moment before acting. Of course, this is a process, but I am thrilled at the cohesiveness of our classroom. Kids were hugging good-bye at the end of the day, wishing each other a happy holiday time.
Thank you all for the wonderful, generous gifts as well. Miss Harrington and I appreciate your thoughtfulness so much. We consider it a gift to be teaching your children each day.
Happy Holidays!
Today, after recess I showed the cartoon below and we engaged in a very active discussion about how to talk to each other when we need to achieve a common goal. The best part of sharing these comic strips is when the kids give "alternate" dialogue that would have led to an easier, more peaceful resolution.  The answers that they suggested were amazing: suggesting that Rocky, the raccoon should have offered to help with the mess from the beginning and that Chip, the chipmunk, could have simply asked Rocky to help clean up the mess.  I am continuously amazed at the wisdom of our young learners. They inspire and impress me every day!
This Wednesday, 12/9/09 we were fortunate to have a wonderful Project Cornerstone Parent Volunteer come into our class to read a book called, Say Something. Next week I will send home the Project Cornerstone flyer which describes the objectives of the book and lesson. For now here is a summary/review from Amazon:  Can one person make a difference? Moss' obviously didactic book, which seems designed for group discussion about bullying, focuses on the role of the bystander, a girl who sees the sadness of the victim but does nothing ("I walk on the other side of the hall. I don't say those things"). Realistic, lively watercolor illustrations show the child in a diverse school community, where kids are picked on and called names for being slow or different. The girl feels sad for them, but she looks away--until one day, when she is alone, the bullies make her cry, and her friends do nothing. The dramatic climax is quiet: the girl reaches out to a child who always sits alone on the bus, and the children have fun together. This is one of the best of the recent books for discussion about teasing; its direct, first-person narrative and informal portraits bring close classroom, hallway, and schoolyard scenarios for kids and adults to talk about. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association.

The main message we want to convey is that our kids can become empowered to become problem solvers at school and in life. We want them to not only walk away from "bullying" or "bothering" type situations and seek help, but to learn how to offer a kind word and be a caring friend to "all" kids, especially those who appear "different" from them or seem sad or lonely at school.
After this lesson, I made the following cartoon and today I presented it to the class. The kids enthusiastically recalled the message of the book,  Say Something  and enjoyed seeing the characters of "our cartoon" taking part in helping behaviors. The "pawprint" in the cartoon refers to a small slip of paper that Capri students receive at recess and around school for exhibiting respectful, responsible and safe behavior, the traits of our school-wide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support program. The pawprints are collected in a class "paw" holder and added up at the end of each month. Classes with the most pawprints receive a treat/celebration from Mr. Wilce, our principal.
Learning how to be a kind, caring and involved citizen is important for school and life success!
I have been playing with a fun website called "Toondoo" and plan to share some of my cartoons with our class. In this particular cartoon, I am conveying the idea that the student who pays attention and ignores distractions, learns! What a concept!
Kids seem to pay much more attention to fictitious characters, so we will see how it goes with lessons using these fun little guys.
 Please let me know of any topics you think might be helpful to address through cartoons.

This is to remind you of all of the words that your child should know by the end of next week. Next week's word of the week is "have" and I included it in the word cloud above.
Please practice reading and writing these sight words regularly!

One of the messages we strive to model and convey to our students is that our words are powerful. Sometimes kids can only understand these lessons when we talk to them about occasions when they have felt hurt or sad. In our classroom, we have a simple rule when commenting about others' work or their items brought for sharing :"If you don't have something nice to say, it's best to not say anything at all." Please share this video clip from Bambi and reinforce our lessons of "thinking before you say something that might hurt someone else's feelings."
Thanks so much for your support