Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 30: Cameran's Day

Mrs. Grönlund and Miss Roach continued to keep our class on track and humming along.

Here's the end-of-the-day poster summary:

 Tonight's homework looks like this

 Out in the garden, students made art from the
seed more people eat than any other: rice

 Math lessons....

 And chalk art on the playground
Mary Poppins friend, Bert would be proud.

A stunning portrait of our lovely home, Mother Earth

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 29: Bailey's Day

When I wake up on Wednesdays I always give a little cheer, "Yeah! It's Wednesday!! I get to sing with Andrew!!! Andrew is our music teacher and he's just one of the very best in the business.

I dis some more cheering this morning because Mrs. Gronlund, my student teacher, is doing such a fabulous job running the classroom. She's so capable. Meanwhile, behind the shoji screen, I'm getting around to some long-neglected clutter removal. It feels good to unload the accumulations of unused instructional materials. (Shh—don't tell anyone that most of the stuff I'm tossing hasn't been used in 30 years.)

I'm supposed to stay out of the way, but I had to sneak in and snatch a photo of her math lesson.

Here she is teaching the class about coins.

She had the class sort them and helped them learn about their names.

At the end of the day, I grabbed my ukulele and joined in the fun. It would have been torture for me to stay away.

Here's Andrew and me with the kindergarten and first grade singing our hearts out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alyssa's Day

Because it is Mrs. Gronlund's take over I have to stay out of the way as much as possible and let her orchestrate the class. But I managed to snap a couple of pictures for you. Here they are.

This is tonight's homework, so please have your scholar complete it and bring it along to school tomorrow. Neatness is what this is all about!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alexis' Day/Takeover/Homework

Today was the first day of Mrs. Gronlund's take over and she did a wonderful job. The class was humming along as they began a two week study of butterflies. Here are some snapshots I took, even though I'm supposed to make myself pretty scarce in kindergarten.

The class really performed for her. It was great.

 She's assigned some homework:
Have your child retell the story to you
using the pipe cleaner caterpillar.

 The note home.

(Click to enlarge)
Here's an example of some well-done homework.
Please note that this early in the year, especially in math,
the emphasis is on mathematical thinking and sorting, 
and not on handwriting. 

It's okay—recommended even—that kindergartners
get your help in writing down their thinking.
If you ask youngsters to do the writing, the 
unwanted result will be that homework becomes more
about handwriting instead of about math.

Unless, of course, your child really enjoys writing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guest Commentary: A New Age for Kindergarten

(This article appeared recently in the Orange County Register. It discusses Senate Bill 1881 awaiting the governor's signature to become law. Last summer I traveled to Sacramento to lobby for the passage of this bill. It's something the California Kindergarten Teachers' Association has been working on for decades.)


As I watched my son standing at the end of the kindergarten line -- flapping both his mouth and his arms -- I knew I had made the right decision.

My eldest was a November baby. Under state law, so long as he turned 5 by Dec. 2, he could have started kindergarten at age 4. I was a new mother, but I knew better than to send him too early.

Twenty-two years ago he started school at 5 years old, and good thing. As it was, he lagged in scissor skills and he was last in his class to learn to tie his shoes. (Although he still wraps the lace around two rabbit ears, this has not affected his success in law school.)

In preschool, I wanted the teacher to love my child. In kindergarten, I knew the teacher would grade him. I volunteered in the classroom hoping, perhaps, the teacher would at least love me. With three children, I went to kindergarten three times.

Even then -- when kindergarten still had a play kitchen in one corner -- it was asking a lot of a 4-year-old. Students spent a week studying the letter "A." They traced it and glued rice to outline its shape. On Friday, they ate apples.
Most states require a child to turn 5 by Sept. 1, but California is one of only four states enrolling children younger.
This year, after 13 tries, the state lesgislature passed a measure to change the cutoff date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.
It's about time.


In Danielle Zavala's class at Horace Mann Elementary School in Anaheim, kindergarten feels like postgraduate work for preschool.  Apples still get a lot of attention -- but not as the letter of the week. Apple is a word in a sentence.
Small groups of students rotate to their teacher where they read and write.

 They build sentences starting with "I," (the "high frequency word" of the day; there are 29 more.) They read it and write it - "a stick" with "a hat" and "shoes." Each child then chooses from the list to complete sentences that begin with the words "I see..."
Irwin Mancilla reads his finished paper: "I see a red car."
"Very good," Zavala beams. "You're reading."
The first group traces words, but the next is able to write their words independently. Another group only creates one sentence all together.

In this classroom, six of 33 students are 4 years old. They could be as much as a year younger than the oldest students. One was born on Dec. 2.
"Usually," Zavala notes, "the students with challenges have a fall birthday."
Her own son has an October birthday, and she did not send him to kindergarten until he was nearly six.
Later, the class will describe the color of apples, write a sentence about it and count the words in that sentence. Each child then will read it aloud before leaving the rug.

It's intense – and this is only day 27 for this kindergarten track.
The state revised its curriculum standards for kindergarten about 10 years ago, leaving very little familiar to me except for stories, songs and recess.

The morning rushes onward, a train with a schedule to keep. It includes a timed math paper – touching and counting. Later, the class reviews numbers. Today they start studying the teens.

State standards include early foundation skills for algebra and geometry. So a new concept this day is "more" and "fewer."
Zavala, a 14-year classroom veteran, teaches and tests to the standards. We expect a lot from kindergarten, she agrees.
"Each year the expectations increase. You teach things a lot sooner."
Do we expect too much?
She hesitates.
"It's do-able because it's what I have to do."
The color of the day is yellow, and Marcos Briones colors his duck with brute force.
"It's hard work," he says, pressing harder.
Yes, it is.


The point is not to start school already behind. Linda deCoup, a former teacher and administrator turned tutor in Mission Viejo, says parents ask her to tutor kindergarteners in reading. She also works with children who started school too soon and stayed at a disadvantage.

"They get put in the lower groups and that follows them all the way through school...that affects their self-esteem." Teachers can name the groups whatever they want, but eventually everyone knows that "purple" is the slow group.

Educators generally agree that extra time does not guarantee kindergarten readiness. Just as important is what you do with that time. An extra year at home with no enrichment offers little preparation.

"That extra year must have enriching activities," deCoup stresses.

In Zavala's class, some children trace their names, while others write them independently. She says that whether a child attended preschool matters as much as age.

That's why SB 1381, written by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, addresses the larger issue.
It uses the money saved by fewer kindergarteners to fund transitional kindergarten classes for younger students. For families that find preschool unaffordable, this two-year program is perfect.

The new age requirement, affecting about 120,000 children per year, would be phased in over three years starting in 2012. If the governor signs it, state law will finally catch up to what many parents already do: give their kids an extra year.

In Room 58 at Horace Mann School, expectations are high. Kindergarten is school without training wheels.
As the children line up for recess and their turn at the coveted tricycles, I'm kneeling to tie sneakers.

Students no longer learn how to tie their shoes in kindergarten.

It's not in the state standards.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 27: Zander's Day

Today was Zander's Day to bring in snack and a story to share. It was his day to lead the lines and so on. Since he had to wait until everyone else had a turn, I let Zander be the first to take over the duties of pointing to the Soundabet chart as we sing the song, and he did a very good job. Way to go, Zander!

Here are photos to get good conversations about what happened in school today going in your home tonight.

 Zander's snack of bagel and cream cheese, goldfish, and strawberries.
As Mrs. Grönlund said, "It's almost a lunch!"

 Zander brought in a wonderful big book.
Mrs. Grönlund read it aloud to the class.

 We talked about these words in the morning.
Help your child read them all.

 Check out this article about our school in today's Press Democrat.
There's a link at the bottom of this post.

 P.E. featured three activities

 Including frisbee throwing....

A happy disc flyer.

Here's a link to the article about Dunham in today's Press Democrat.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day #26 Samantha's Day

With apologies for a late posting (I've been really busy!!) here's a look into today's activities:

 I'm doing DIBELs assessments of basic early literacy skills.

 As they wait their turn to be assessed, 
students make things with linking cubes.
Marley made albino alpaca llama with rider. 
The rider has orange chaps, brown boots, 
and a sunburned noggin.

 Makayla made a flower.

 Justin made a T-Rex. Now I couldn't "see" it at first.

Those white cubes are his incisors; the red cubes his tongue.

How many words can your child read?
 Miss Roach taught a math game using spinners.

 Thursday means a day for bikes. 
The first full fall day gave us splendid pedaling weather.

 It was Samantha's day. 
We visited the school garden
now resplendent with harvest time bounty.

 Today's note home

Samantha and the Magic School Bus book she brought for sharing

Room Parents for 2010/2011

We have two mothers who have stepped forward to offer their services as Room Parents for Kindergarten this year.

They are Ryan's mom, Shari, and Elsa's mom, Sonja. I welcome you to the Kindergarten! Thank you.

Here, let me introduce you to them.



Please say hello and get to know them. Towards the middle of next month they will begin to think about the Halloween classroom party and they may ask for your assistance. I hope everyone will offer to help them when they ask for a hand.

Need Volunteer for At-Home task

Mrs. Gronlund needs a volunteer who would be willing to help with scissor work for a project next week. It involves an estimated two hours of work.

Would anyone like to step forward to help? Leave a message in the comments, or see Mrs. Gronlund tomorrow morning.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (Autumnal Equinox)

Today's news in pictures:

 Hudson taught me to count to ten in Japanese.

 A group effort on a floor puzzle.

The puzzlers pose for a photo.

Can your child read any of these words? Each and every student read at least one of these words this morning.
If your child can read them, I encourage you to leave a comment saying so.

 We tasted apples with our buddies from third grade.

All the news that's fit to print.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Please Send in Fiber Egg Cartons

Can you donate fiber egg cartons? We need them for an art project we'll be doing in the near future.

We will be painting them, so they need to be made of paper pulp fiber, not styrofoam so that the paint will adhere to the surface. Mrs. Grönlund would prefer whole cartons, not the cut in half ones I have at home, like the one in the photo here.

Tuesday's News

Tuesday was Rielley's day and the 24th day of kindergarten.  He brought chicken salad sandwiches, grapes, and cheese for snack. We grew our collection of eucalyptus fruit to 2400. We had lessons in math, handwriting, and Soundabet reading.

Can your child read any of the words in this pocket chart? If so, leave a comment, say which ones! You can do it!

Well, not the E or the Y, they're not words, are they?

 Rielley shared a book about a library cat called Dewey.

We did a floor puzzle at the end of centers.

And we sat in our own spots on the mat!