Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Mr. Gurneys

My son visited kindergarten this morning to see his dad at work. James (aka Ted) Gurney is working for a Ph.D. in education at the University of Georgia. He's finishing his vacation with us before flying back to Georgia for summer school. His favorite part of the day?

Riding bikes with the class, of course!

Be well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At the end of the school year I need to see how much progress each student has made. The assessments, streamlined though they are, still take time and command a large share of my attention. They seem to leave little time for blogging. I've still got a ways to go and only a week left!

I am pleased with the progress of the class. It is gratifying to see the children read 100 words, those that can.

The Toolbox theme this week is Courage. Tonight's homework is for your child to teach you the gesture that signifies courage.

We talked about courage in class today. I define courage as, "Feeling afraid, but doing the right thing anyway." Courage is the opposite of allowing fear to control you. We talked about jobs that require courage. Students identified iron workers who build bridges, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and soldiers as occupations that require courage.

Everyone immediately understands courage in the physical sense. Toolbox encourages us to think about courage in the social and psychological realms. For example, it takes courage to be friendly to a social outcast. Courage is required to stand up to a friend who is bullying or teasing someone else.

Tomorrow my son, James, will visit the classroom. It's been quite a while since he's visited here and I'm excited to have him spend the morning here with us.

Be well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Open House Tonight

Aidan nailed the Soundabet Queen cards today. His achievement meant we'd earned a day off from centers and a day of choice time. Everyone was happy about that.

Way to go, Aidan!

The sixth grade class presents their fourth annual "Wax Museum of Ancient History" tonight in their classroom.  At the push of a button, each figure animates to offer the museum visitor a brief autobiography.

We went by this morning. The sixth graders have done a wonderful job. Their museum is not to be missed.

Ian listens to King Tut.
They will be performing tonight at Open House from 6:00 to 7:30. Swing by kindergarten to say hello, pick up the Handwriting Book & your Spring Lantern to take home.  Then go out and explore the other classrooms, ending up with the sixth grade. Your child will know where the museum is.

See you tonight.

Be well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Patience, Patience

This week's Toolbox Project tool is the Patience Tool.

Tomorrow's homework will include a letter from Toolbox creator Mark Collin about patience together with an activity you can do at home to spark discussion on this tool.


People sometimes say to me, "You sure have a lot of patience." Maybe so, but I wonder if that's really true.

Inside it feels like I have a normal amount of patience—not very much at all. I feel like I'm often just about out of patience.

What keeps my from "losing it" all the time is that I've cultivated my breathing tool. It's handy whenever my patience runs out. If I need more help than the breathing tool can give me, inside I use my Quiet Place Tool and take a quick vacation there. It's important to me to have a vividly-visualized Quiet Place to visit whenever the need arises. (The dentist's chair is one such place.)

And if the Breathing and Quiet Place Tools can't get the job done, there's always a ukulele nearby to pick up and strum.... well, not in the dentist's chair. But in kindergarten, yes.

Be well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Farewell, Dylan

We bade Dylan farewell this morning. He's headed for Boston where, no doubt, he'll become a Boston Red Sox fan.

In Dylan's honor we sang him "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (including "Root, root, root for the Red Sox") to bid him adieu.

We will miss you, Dylan. Thank you for being a part of our  kindergarten this year.

Enjoy the weekend, all.

Be well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2011

 Raegan brought her pet corn snake for sharing.

It was more scared of us than we of it....

Most of the kinders gave the snake a light touch.

Mark was here to teach an art lesson on how to draw the human figure. He showed the kindergartners a technique to get the proportions of the figure.

Mark's drawing/demonstration

 I think he got some good results.  Look—

Lots of energy in this figure, like he's dancing

Kayla Sue, Caleb, and Raegan have learned to read 100+ words. More to come. Congratulations, all!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

We're back to our regular morning schedule now that STAR testing is, but for the make-up tests, complete. Still quite a few students were out today, but my feeling is that the worst of the illness tsunami has passed. I hope so.

This week we'll be talking about the Apology and Forgiveness tool. It is one I teach quite a lot in the regular course of the year because it is a somewhat difficult tool to use for all of us, but particularly for five year olds. To use it effectively, it helps to have the other tools, breathing tool, quiet place, courage tool, patience tool, empathy tool, words tool, and listening tool all at the ready. The homework on Wednesday will include some materials on this tool.

Be well.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Olivia's Birthday

Today Olivia turned six years old. We celebrated with song and cake.

The other day the students who went into the quiet room were anything but quiet. When I went in to see what all the commotion was about, I found the room quite a mess. They were playing catch with balls.

Well. They know better.

I put their names on a list and I calmly told them that if the room wasn't all picked up in very short order that list would be posted and they would not be allowed in the quiet room for the rest of kindergarten. They could tell I meant it. I did.

When I returned a few minutes later this was what I saw:

It was as quiet as could be. Even the stuffed animals seemed sorry for their behavior.

The whole quiet room was orderly. The dwarf house was all picked up.

Cake is served

Tyler got his 18 sight words.

Way to go, Tyler.

Another weekend is here already. Work on those words!

Have a Happy Mother's Day.

Be well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Catching Up/Parent Volunteers Off till Monday

It's been a few days since I last posted. It's not for lack of things to report. Just the opposite—we've been so busy I haven't found the time to report. So let me cut to the chase:

Last Saturday I was able to make it out to see some Cal Ripkin League baseball. I saw the White Sox play the A's and the Rangers play the Brewers. I was particularly interested in seeing the players who hail from this classroom.

It's been Teacher Appreciation Week at Dunham. We've had Starbucks drinks, decorated doors, and, today fruit bouquets that Nathan's mom April made for me and Mrs. Everson. The bouquets are placed inside bowls made from watermelons. Fabulous. Thank you April!

Drew demonstrated his mastery of the Queen's cards and the ability to read his classmates' names. His accomplishments helped us achieve a play day tomorrow at Center time.

Ditto for Phoenix. His brother happened to be there when Phoenix did it, so I took a photo of Phoenix together with his proud big brother.

If you're a regular parent volunteer on Thursdays or Fridays you have 5/10 and 5/11 off duty. We're between sets of centers and we may want to work on something for Sunday.

At the close of the day today, Kayla Sue's mom brought their 4-month old puppy, Brutus to share with the class. This puppy loves kids. Kayla Sue answered the questions asked. Amazing how many times the same question (How old is he?) was asked. We could figure out he was born in January.

Here's the list of words that kindergartners can study and learn as early readers. A letter was sent home to guide you in practicing these words at home. As I've said before, we depend upon families to give the one-on-one practice at home. If you think it's hard to provide that practice at home, imagine trying to do one-on-one practice here with 28 kids to look after! Difficult at best. (If I could give a kid 100% of my attention that would mean 27 others get 0%. If everything were divvied up evenly, which it isn't, that would mean to get 1 minute of my undivided attention your child would have to spend 27 minutes with none of my attention.)
Read the letter sent home today for directions.
Finally, please reinforce at home the importance on washing hands. Right now there is a number of Dunham School students, including kindergartners, out with illnesses of various sorts. As I like to say,

Be well.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Farewell, Cale!

Friday was Cale's last day in kindergarten. He's moving to Texas with his family. I think Cale's family will be very happy in their new home. I know Cale's dad is excited by the prospect of moving to Texas. He's in the restaurant business and he relies on teenagers to serve customers. He's quite sure that his new employees will come with enhanced social graces.

The thing is, Southern hospitality is for real. When we visit my son in Georgia, we notice the extra measure of friendliness and the willingness to take the time to see, to talk to, and to connect with people—even in casual encounters, say with a bus driver.

So fare well, Cale. May your new kindergarten be a safe, happy, kind, and hospitable place for children.

By the way, our next tool in the Toolbox kit is The Please and Thank You tool.

So we'll try to add a dash of Southern hospitality to our California kids.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012 Writing Names

At long last we have completed the pages in the handwriting book through all the upper and lowercase letters. That means we can now work towards writing names with an uppercase letter to start with all lowercase letters the rest of the way.

Please teach and reinforce this skill so that it becomes a habit. Ms. Buchner will thank you for it. To help, we've switched out the red and yellow names around the room to serve as a model of what we hope to see:

Dominic (not DOMINIC); Drew (not DREW)
Be well.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It is good to be back in kindergarten after two days of meeting the incoming kindergarten class that will start school next August.

We got the month of May off to a good start with a math lesson on the meaning of the word, "hour" which is actually a big chunk of time from the point of view of someone who's five years old.

We spent some time, maybe a half hour or so, talking about hours and looking at clocks.

As you know, the earliest clocks were sundials. The first mechanical clocks had only one hand, like sundials before them. Early one-handed clocks were made by people for whom telling time to the nearest hour was plenty precise.

The first clocks looked something like this one in kindergarten.

Someone got the idea of putting a minute hand on the same clock face thereby upping a clock's degree of precision sixty fold. I imagine everyone's stress went up accordingly. This is not even to mention whoever thought to add another hand to divide minutes into seconds.  Grrr.

Question for the day:

What would it be like to live in a world where clocks needed to have only one hand?

My first guess is that that world would be a whole lot less stressful.

Be well.