Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ukulele Update/Lesson/Christmas Greeting

Hi, all—

I visited People's Music and the word is the ukes are about a week from arriving in the store. Should be soon.

Here's a little YouTube video that's both a lesson (the first part) and a performance appropriate for today by Mike Lynch a man who, like me, prefers homemade music to any other kind.

If Santa brought your family a uke, this Music Teacher Mike is a great resource to check out. YouTube is full of great uke lessons; Mike's lessons are kind of advanced, too advanced for beginners, but good if you've played guitar.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Click to hear the whole story:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From today's New York Times

Imagine the high quality of teacher we could attract to our profession if  kindergarten teachers were paid salaries of $320,000 per year!

I have to say, this sort of study doesn't surprise me at all. It is nice to read in places like the New York Times that experts understand (as I do) that the work we do in kindergarten is really, really, really important. (Believe it or not, some people have looked down on me for being willing to work for so little pay—it's nice to know at least the work is appreciated by some researchers.)

It is slightly discouraging to know that—according to this sort of analysis—I've been so underpaid all these years. I'm not complaining, mind you; it's just that I know I'd be a good deal healthier if I didn't have to work two jobs for eight years to put my kids through college. Had I been paid anything like $320,000/year I could have had the time and money to go to the gym in those years!

When Good Teaching Pays Off

Earlier this year my colleague David Leonhardt wrote about a new study that found that a good kindergarten teacher could greatly improve students’ future earnings. On that basis, an especially strong kindergarten teacher is arguably worth about $320,000 a year, which is the present value of the additional earnings that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers.
Now another  working paper, by Stanford’s Eric A. Hanushek, gets similar results, arguing that a minor improvement in teacher quality could have a big effect on test scores, especially as they compare to those of other countries. From the abstract:
A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in present value of student future earnings with a class size of 20 and proportionately higher with larger class sizes. Alternatively, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.
So does that justify paying teachers more money? Only if pay can be directly linked to effectiveness, Mr. Hanushek writes, a task our educational system has not yet been able to master:
This paper has concentrated on the demand side of the teacher labor market. The underlying idea is that knowing the impact of teacher quality on economic outcomes provides immediate information about what kind of rational changes in teacher incentives and salaries are economically desirable.
Unfortunately, we know little about the supply function for teacher quality. Thus, it is not possible to predict what kinds of pay changes would be needed to ensure any given quality of teacher force.
The standard arguments for performance pay suggest the potential value of differential pay based on effectiveness in the classroom. We actually have little empirical evidence about how to structure any such pay systems or about what the effects might be. The evidence presented in this paper simply suggests that the economically appropriate rewards for particularly effective teachers in the context of a performance pay plan could be very large.
For more on the relationship — or lack thereof — between education spending and student outcomes, see this post on the latest PISA scores.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays #4

And, of course, Santa came by the school to chat with us. We sang him just a bit of Jingle Bells.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays #3

All photos courtesy of Melody White

We found time in the morning to work on our Lego creations.

I really like providing big tubs of Legos without instructions. This way, the child's imagination is activated and employed in the play. In this day and age, I think it is far rarer—and therefor more valuable—for children to create their own designs rather than to simply follow directions to reproduce the designs someone else came up with.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Holidays #2

Here are some more photos from our last day of 2010:

pulled a couple of ukuleles off the wall
and Danny and I played some tunes
some time to draw and chat

together, we have fun

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Holidays #1

Galloping to "Listen Move"

Tip toe!


What a fine way to end 2010.

Thanks to all who put on the party. I will share in the next few days photos Melody White sent to me. (Melody is a professional photographer.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pajama Review--See you tonight

The day in pictures....
It was Cameran's day.

This kindergarten gets a good share of Dads who help out in the classroom. I love that.

The pajamas did the trick in keeping us all a bit amped up today, that, along with the zing that the holidays bring. Three girls had matching pajamas:

We had another drama practice

See you (most of you, at least) tonight at Two Rock School. Try to arrive close to 6:45. The show starts at 7:00.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pajamas.... 6:45 PM Show at Two Rock School.... First Tribes Update.... Ukulele Rack

Here's the day in pictures.... and comments.

Remember, tomorrow is Pajama Day. I forgot to send home a note. If last year is any indication, you might want to write a note and tape it to your bathroom mirror or wherever you are sure to see it.

Last year one parent drove their child home (in tears and school clothes) to change back into pajamas for pajama day.

Bailey brought "Ornaments on a Log" for snack.

There's a lot of creativity going on in kindergarten. I'm pleased!

This morning the whole school rehearsed for tomorrow's performance.
Please plan to come to Two Rock School tomorrow evening at 6:45 so that we can get the class ready to go on stage for the musical performance.

Based on today's rehearsal, I think you'll enjoy the show.

We had fifth grade buddies today.

And Tribes, too

Our first day of Tribes went off very well. I heard lots of good reports from the staff about the kindergartners. There were only a couple of isolated glitches, and they ought to be easy to fix before next time around.

A craftsman at work

Danny's Grandpa, who is a woodworker, is installing a rack for the ukuleles which are on order for the classroom. When he finishes up this afternoon there will be room to hang 14 ukuleles on the wall.

Ukulele Update and Merry Christmas Handprints

Check out the latest on the ukulele fund! We've collected enough for 7 ukuleles so far. I am pleased beyond words. I will keep you posted as the ukulele project goes forward.

Sonja made a second chart even.

Aren't these hand print Santa faces cute?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tribes Tomorrow; Pajamas Thursday

Tomorrow is our first day of Tribes.
At dismissal today, I told the class a little bit about Tribes and want to share a little more with you.

Tribes is a once-a-month meeting on the third Wednesday of the month. The idea of Tribes to to build lasting, caring relationship among students across grade levels.

Each Tribe has at least one representative from each of the grades. Tribal groupings stay together over time.

So, for example, if your kindergarten child has been assigned to my Tribe (The Green Sea Turtle Tribe) he or she will be a Green Sea Turtle in first grade, second grade and so forth all the way up to sixth grade. Each year the sixth grade member graduates and a new kindergartner enters, but apart from that, the group is the same from year to year.

Kindergarten students will join their Tribe tomorrow to be welcomed as the newest member. Later on in the year, the Tribe activities focus on community service projects.


Thursday is a spirit day—Pajama day. It's also the performance night for the school wide music program at Two Rock School. Show starts at 7. Plan to arrive well ahead of that so that there's time to park and get your kindergartner ready to go on stage.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Day in Pictures

Alexis and her note

Lilly's second solo bicycle ride
Marley learned how to ride a bike today also—all by herself!
Lilly can say all the sounds of the Soundabet in less than 60 seconds.
Alyssa can go across the monkey bars.

as can Hannah

and Sam

and Justin

and Cameran

Happy days!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Crayons Are Made

Here's a link to a video taken for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood about how crayons are made. Click on the link below to view it:

How Crayons Are Made


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

There's more to say about the day than in the photo.

We continue to be challenged by head lice. Hannah's mom generously offered to stay most of the morning to carefully check everyone's head for lice. We had to send one child home from kindergarten for further treatment. Please look in the Friday folder for a note from the office about how you can help us prevent the spread of this nuisance of a pest. If your child does have head lice, please carefully and completely follow the advice of your professional health practitioner. Thank you.

Gavin leaves for a trip to South Africa to visit family for a summery Christmas season. (I'm listening to a concert recorded in South Africa as I write this). He'll be gone until mid January. We'll miss him! Travel safely, have fun and enjoy your trip!

Several people told me that they're missing Hudson.

Me too! It was so nice to have him in our class.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010

Today was Samantha's day. We began a new round of centers conceived and organized by my student teachers, Mrs. Gronlund and Miss Roach. The centers are tied to the holidays and more particularly the traditional story "The Gingerbread Man."

Today Hudson leaves us to move to Honolulu. We will miss him very much.

Happy Trails, Hudson!

Hudson and me.
 Hudson and his family gave me the ukulele shirt I'm wearing. I love it! He's wearing a t-shirt bearing the signatures of all his classmates.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010: Holiday Generosity!

Today our longer schedule went well. Our day's schedule was altered somewhat by having a music practice early in the morning, pre-empting centers for the day.

Here is the report on Sam's day:

We began the day by reading a story about the Gingerbread Man. Mrs. Gronlund and Miss Roach have put together a whole multiple subject area unit of study based on this story. It's going to be fun!

We read about sharks, whales, jellyfish, octopus in a book about oceans by National Geographic. We also had a look at part of a DVD about letter sounds. It's by Leap Frog Phonics, a generally good outfit.

I want to say how gratified I feel that so many of you have stepped forward with such generosity in contributing to the ukulele fund. I have now collected enough money to purchase six ukuleles for the classroom. Here's the chart, filled once and on the way to being filled up again. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Elsa's mom made this chart--thanks, Sonja!
Maybe it's hard to see, but there are four ukuleles covered up by the main column and two more ukes covered by the second column to its right. That's equivalent to six ukuleles coming on their way and who knows? There is still more time...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, December 7

Late post today. I've been going full speed since 5:00 AM so this will be brief:

The day's news

Thanks to all those who've contributed we're going to see 3 new ukes.

The ukulele craze that is happening now means that all the ukes of the sort I want for our kindergarten in the US are already sold out. There's a new shipment on its way across the Pacific. I'm near the front of the line for them....

If you wish to donate via check or gift certificate, please make the check out to People's Music or get a gift certificate from them. They are in downtown Sebastopol at 122 North Main Street. 823-7664. They know ukes!!

Remember, tomorrow's pick up is at 1:20 to avoid the congestion in the parking lot. Please pick up your youngster from the classroom at that time. Also, Wednesday is homework day.

Thank you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Penguins, Reindeer, and Wreaths Plus Canned Food Drive and Ukes

Rieley brought a seasonally appropriate book (The Polar Express) and a holiday-themed snack to school.

The snack consisted of penguins, reindeer, and wreaths:

A tasty little fellow....

Petey and Rudolph

the green wreath tastes something like a rice krispy treat
The principal, Mrs. Wilding, asked me to remind you here about our school's holiday canned food drive. The food will be donated to local food banks to serve the needy. Canned soup, canned beans, you know—hearty, easy-to-prepare, just warm it on up and chomp it on down—good food with a long shelf life.

The uke jar is beginning to bring in some money. It won't be too long, I hope, before I can make my first trip into People's Music for another classroom uke.

If you wish to donate a check or gift certificate, please use People's Music in Sebastopol. They know (and care about) ukuleles and are the most experienced and helpful store I know for getting ukes into classrooms. Ask for Bo. But Chris can help you, too.