Sunday, March 29, 2009

April's Snack Calendar

The snack calendar, pictured below, will come home with tomorrow's homework. But here it is in electronic form for those of you who have my genius for losing papers. Click on it to zoom in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Homework: Science Experiment

Thank you to all of you who sent photos of the homework!
Here, as of about 9:00, they are.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homework Starts Monday

Spring has arrived, and with spring comes homework!

But don't worry, homework in kindergarten is fun.

And it comes with a no-fun guarantee. If it's not fun, you don't have to do it. Kindergarten homework is optional. I'll send it home Mondays through Thursdays from here to the last week of school.

That said, I try to make it both educational and interesting. A lot of it is designed to require the assistance of a parent, grandparent or older sibling.

Rules, Rules, Rules: No kissing!

In response to a book about a classroom of out-of-control aardvarks, we asked our students to draw a picture of the kindergarten when the rules are being broken.

My favorite one is this one showing some against-the-rules kissing:

I presume the long-necked bird on the right is Ms. Brice getting ready to intervene.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Here, in electronic form, is the letter that went home today with the students in kindergarten. The letter didn't actually state this, so I state it clearly here: my retirement will occur in June, at the end of the current school year.

Dear Parents,

After 34 years of teaching—28 years in service to Dunham School—and with both my daughter and son graduated from college, I've decided to retire from classroom teaching while I'm still enjoying it. I decided to retire from the classroom before I'm too old to begin a new and varied part-time career outside of public education.

I look back with fondness, satisfaction, and gratitude for the opportunity to have taught here for so long. You have entrusted your children to me and given me the support I needed to teach each of them with individual attention and care.

Along with the rest of the country, Dunham faces economic, cultural, and environmental challenges in the years ahead. Responding to these challenges will require creativity and dedication. Fortunately, the Dunham School Community has effective leaders, talented and dedicated staff members, and a parent community offering generous and ready support.

Dunham was a fine little school when I first came on board in the fall of 1981, and it has improved since then. In the years ahead I believe it will continue to provide an exceptional educational environment.

In closing, I'd like to offer a thought. Above all, I've learned that kids don't care what you know until they know you care. Show your children that you care by giving them plenty of your undivided nonjudgmental mindful attention. Give yourself plenty of the same, too.


Mr. Gurney

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thought for the Day

I lifted this poem from Pal Alden's blog, Stream of Consciousness. He didn't write it; he found it on the internet and passed it along, same as me. This may be a useful parents whose kids aren't all grown up yet, as Pal's and mine are.


If I had my children to raise all over again,

I'd finger-paint more, and point the fingers less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.

I'd teach less about the love of power,

And more about the power of love.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Choice is Important

I found this in an email sent to me by Marvin Marshall who is the author of Discipline Without Stress, a book which lays out the system of classroom discipline that I adapted for kindergarten at Dunham.

In a classic study, scientists put two rats in a cage, each
of them locked in a running wheel. The first rat could
exercise whenever he liked. The second was yoked to the
first and forced to run when his counterpart did.

Exercise usually reduces stress and encourages neuron
growth, and indeed, the first rat's brain bloomed with new
cells. The second rat, however, lost brain cells. He was
doing something that should have been good for his brain,
but he lacked one crucial factor: control. He could not
determine his own "workout" schedule, so he didn’t perceive
it as exercise. Instead, he experienced it as a literal rat

This experiment brings up a troubling point about stress.
Psychologists have known for years that one of the biggest
factors in how we process stressful events is how much
control we have over our lives. As a rule, if we feel we're
in control, we cope. If we don’t, we collapse.

New Table Groups

Monday morning the students will begin Ms. Brice's second week of the takeover....

And new table groups.

Ms. Brice and I worked Friday afternoon to come up with new table groups. We washed the blue mat and wrote the names in fresh washable ink on each place.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Ms. Brice has been taking over teaching duties from me this week and will continue to do so next week. It's going very well. I want to thank the students for helping Ms. Brice as she tries out her ideas and finds her voice as a teacher.

Her efforts have permitted me to find the time to give complete individual academic assessments to each student. The results of these assessments will be reported on the winter trimester progress reports which are scheduled to be delivered in the Friday folder the day after tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kindergarten Happenings

After centers, we had 20 minutes to invest in choice time. Lots of block building and beading and writing.

Jack, Nate, and Nicky collaborated on this structure.

Kids' Clubbers took a break at the creek.

There were sow bugs under the bark of a tree.

Gone fishin'

A look over the back fence.

Back to reading, refreshed from the outdoors.

Pasta Feed Attire

I was asked what should the students wear for the performance on Saturday at the Pasta Feed.

The answer:

Island Wear

Bright solid color or floral (Hawaiian) Shirts, and Blue Jeans

I'm planning to wear a Hawaiian shirt myself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Kindergarten!

As many are aware, California schools have to cut budgets for next year.

Some school districts are looking at eliminating kindergarten as a cost-saving measure.

Really. Here's a link to an article in the Orange County Register.

I'm happy to report that as far as I know, Dunham School won't be looking at that option.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dr. Seuss's Birthday

In celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday, the Cat in the Hat came by our classroom today.

We drew "his" portrait with the help of the Art Attack lesson. This was our second time through that particular lesson. I like their curriculum so much that I brought my own TV/DVD system (my only one) to the classroom specifically to use this art program. Here's a link: Art Attack.

Tomorrow we start a new round of centers.

Also, swing over to my Soundabet blog to see a new video of Brandon doing his second trimester Soundabet assessment. It's pretty cool.