Kindergarten Teacher

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Using the Calendar Like a Calendar

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Last year I wrote about changing the focus of calendar time. The goal was to have the kids actually using the calendar. You can read about that change here.

Using the year-round calendar was a major success in my room. The kids used it daily and we referenced it often. It was common to see a kid counting how many days until the next big event, using the calendar to discuss past events and referencing the calendar in their journal writing. Since they had access to the entire year of dates they were able to use the calendar like adults us it, which is my goal.

If you want to give it a try I have the 2014-2015 file available for download below. As you can see in the picture above I simply cut sticky notes in strips and used those strips to add dates to the calendar on the side. The main reason for not writing directly on the calendar is so the words can be written larger and seen easier.

These calendars go from Aug 2014- July 2015. I display that as one full year.

2014-2015 Word Document

2014-2015 PDF Document

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Olympics, Math and Apps in Kindergarten

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The first app we have been using is Skitch! Each morning I Google “Sochi Medal Count” and this chart is displayed. I have been taking a screenshot of the graph and editing out the totals on the far right for each country. Then we use Skitch to circle who has the most medal of each type and to find out the total medal count for each country on the chart. The kids are very excited about adding three digits together and I love how each day it gets a little more difficult as more and more medals are won. The other thing I like about using this chart is the countries are ordered by the number of gold medals not by the total. This has led to a lot of discussion and understanding of how data can be displayed and used. Learn more about this app here

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Today we were asked on Twitter what was our favorite sport. So we used the apps Haiku Deck and Educreations to create the graph above. Using Haiku Deck is a simple way to create a quick and polished looking graph. Once we had the graph made I took a screen shot on the iPad and imported that image into Explain Everything to add the pictures. Obviously the pictures are not crucial but for Kindergarten they really help the kids understand graphs. Once the images were added in Explain Everything we saved the image to our camera roll and tweeted it to our friends! Info on the apps below.

Graphing with Haiku deck details

Explain Everything How To Video

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50 Math Web Games for Young Kids

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Find them HERE

Web games for counting, patterns, sorting, matching and number ID!

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Changes In My Calendar Routine

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This year I moved from the typical Kindergarten calendar to a year-long calendar (see the full calendar below.) You will notice in the picture below that I still have the typical calendar on my board but we are not really using it any more. Instead we are adding important dates to the year-long calendar like the image above. I did not want to overwhelm the kids so I started by only adding the important dates to the months of September and October. Now that we have been using the calendar for a few weeks we will begin to add the birthdays for every child as well as important dates in our school year. I am not exactly sure how this will all work but I know I want the kids to see and use the calendar as a complete year and not just month to month. Today one of the kids asked about the last day of school and it was a perfect time to add that date to our calendar. I feel the really were able to grasp the concept of how long it will be until that date. I have already noticed kids pointing out their birthday month or counting how many days in school on their own. The calendar is a tool and they need more than one month showing to really use the tool like we want them to use it. Below you will find the link to download calendar I printed. I found them online and edited them some to make the boxes bigger and to add the abbreviations for the days of the week.

I will post an update once we have used the calendar for a while. Anyone already doing this I would love to hear suggestions or experiences. Thanks!

Monthly Calendar 2013

Monthly Calendar 2014

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Examples Posts From A Kindergarten Classroom Blog

After three weeks of school our classroom blog has 48 posts. If you want to read more about why I use a class blog read here. For this post I want to show what I am actually posting in the hopes that people will see how easy it is to share learning from your classroom using technology. As I have said before I try to keep my posts short and sweet to make it easier for me to update often. Also, I use the blog app to update as things are happening during the day so I don’t forget after school (or run out of time.) All the major blog platforms have free apps you can use to update the blog. Here are some highlights from our class blog so far…

Our Class Schedule: with this post I included a printable schedule for the parents.

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Texas and USA Pledge: I posted a picture and a few sentences describing our morning announcements. We also used Explain Everything to create class pledge and I shared that video with the class (see here for example)

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Library Time: I posted several pictures of the checkout process at our school including how the kids pick a book and how they scan it on the computer.

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Our Mission in Kindergarten: Read more about the video we made HERE

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Math Centers: At least once a week I post an image of kids working in each math center and describe the center to the parents.

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Literacy Centers: At least twice a week I post an image of kids working in literacy centers and describe the center to the parents. If you want info on the monster painting below look here.

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All About Me: I posted the All About Me project images on the blog (without names.) I thought this was a fun way for the families to get to know about the kids in our class.

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Specials Teachers: We shared an image of the “specials” teacher: art, music, library and PE. I used the iPad and Explain Everything app during large group instruction to create the image below. I had the words and pictures ready on the page and the kids helped me match them.

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School Leaders: We posted a video of each leader (principal, nurse, counselor, secretary) on the blog. We asked them what their most important job was and a kid recorded the video on the iPad. Example video here

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Wonderopolis: We visit this site most mornings and after watching them we often have mini lessons. For this word web we used the Educreations app. Look here for my 50 favorite wonders!

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Observing Outside: We explore outside often, each time I post pictures of our adventure.

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Monster Story: We read a story about a monster that had a tough day at school. The kids helped me make a T-chart (using Skitch app) after reading the story. We shared the finished T-chart on the blog.

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 Word Web: We used Popplet for these word webs. My large group instruction looks similar to any Kindergarten class but instead of using the white board or journal paper we use apps most often. This allows us to share the finished product easily on our blog.

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How We Look

 Balance Scale Lesson: I shared images of exploring the balance scale after our lesson on using them

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Lockdown Drill/Fire Drill: Each time we have drill I share an image with the parents so they can discuss at home

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Journal time: I explained what journal writing looks like in K and the typical steps kids go throw in their writing journey during the year.

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Recess: 

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Hopefully that will give you an idea of how we use our class blog!

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Flipping In Kindergarten: Connecting Home and School

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Photo Credit Nick Moise

One question I get asked often is about flipping my Kindergarten class. If you have never heard about a flipped class read more about it here. The quick answer is I don’t flip my class for my students. I simply haven’t seen a need for this for my young kids. What I have been doing the last few years is flipping my class for the parents by using a classroom blog. This might not be flipping in the true sense of the word but it is as close as I have come. My goal is to use blog posts and videos to help parents understand the learning that is happening in our classroom. With that knowledge my hope is parents can support or even expand on that learning at home. I believe that informing parents about our learning is important at all levels, but especially for young kids.

My main focus on our classroom blog is the vocabulary we are using in our lessons. I really try to keep the wording short and sweet (mainly to make it easier on me) while still using the vocabulary from our learning. My goal is to post at least twice a day. This may seem overwhelming but one way this is possible for me is I use the Blogger app. This app (all main blogging platforms have apps) allows me to post as things are happening directly from my phone. I can take pictures, add a few sentences and publish in less than a minute. I found a good guide to using the blogger app HERE. Pictures also make blogging simple, they are worth a thousand words after all.

This year our classroom blog is off to a great start. After three days we have 14 posts, 1,000 page views (all from parents) and 15 comments from 8 different families. I always start the year by posting about the basics of our day. I want parents to know what library check-out looks like, about literacy centers, where we sit for lunch, etc. After I have shared most every aspect of our day I then focus on sharing our learning and the fun that happens daily.

Today I was reminded why I try so hard to make our blog a space that supports learning when I got this message from a parent  “Johnny was excited about the sign “spider web”. On our drive he pointed out all of the signs that were part of the class “spider web”. Now I understand!” What she is talking about is the word web we posted yesterday on our blog about signs (see below). Her son called them spider webs and she was able to understand what he was referring to because of our blog. I wonder how often the kids remember just enough to start a conversation but not enough to help their parent understand. This is where sharing our learning can be such a great tool for parents.

A couple of tech tools that we use often for sharing our learning are Skitch, Popplet and Educreations. All three of these tools are FREE apps and also available for FREE as a web based tool for the computer. One of my goals this year is to use Educreations more to create videos to share with parents. Since Educreations offers the ability to embed the video directly into our blog it is a great tool to use for this purpose.

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