Monday, October 22, 2012

I can...

Hell Friends and Families!

I just wanted to update you on some of the great work that has been going on in Kindergarten today!

Readers Workshop has lead us into the wonderful world of sight words- that means words that children memorize to build fluency. These new words that we are learning have now been integrated into our Writers Workshop. Today, many children took a huge step by writing their own first sentence beginning with the words "I can..."

I was so proud of the work they did and as they explained their ideas it made me realize all of the wonderful things that they do.

I can count and recognize numbers!

I can read!
I can dance!
I can work together!
I can paint!
I can solve problems!
I can laugh!

Here's our writing....I'll post it on Mrs. Leggett's Kidblog

Or Click on the Log On Screen

Select Kindergarten Adventures A our password is mcs


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Thinking Chair

At MCS we strive to teach respect and responsibility. We've adopted a program called Responsive Classroom, and each teacher has been trained to implement the ideas of RC.

A lot of RC principles focus on the area of discipline- both proactive and reactive.

Proactive discipline includes working together to create classroom rules, and lots of modeling and practice.
The question is what do you do when a student misbehaves?

Soon after our rules were created in Kindergarten, I introduced the thinking chair. The thinking chair is one of the pieces of our "Steps to self control" plan. Steps to self control goes like this- If a student is misbehaving- they first get a "reminder"- really not a big deal, a reminder can be used if a child is calling out during circle time, running to line up, or any other type of rule breaking. I stress to everyone that all people- not just students- sometimes need a reminder and then they can fix the problem.

If a reminder is given, and the behavior continues (in a reasonable time frame of course) then the student is asked to "take a break" this means they quietly walk to the thinking chair which is in our classroom strategically placed where they can still see the lessons and sit quietly. I have a minute timer which they flip so that they know when to come back and rejoin the group. In general this is the end all of the behavior. I always tell the Kindergartners that everyone takes a break sometimes, and it's just a little deal. It really is- I always cringe when parents tell me that they ask their child if they had to take a break as soon as they get off the bus. I really stress that it isn't a big deal- just a tool to help us get our self control and remember rules and expectations in the classroom. I have even gone to the thinking chair myself. This form of a time out has proven very successful for most students and keeps our routines going smoothly.

After visiting the thinking chair if a student still struggles to turn the behavior around- they are asked to take a break in a buddy teachers room. This room is prearranged among teachers here at MCS and the expectations are consistent. This is where it turns from a "little deal" to a "big deal". This is also the time when I would notify parents and document the behavior with administration. This is rare occurrence in Kindergarten, but does happen occasionally.

The expectations in the classroom are clear, and students take responsibility for their actions.

On another note, we had a great week. Four Winds, 10 minute word writes, and playing were some of the highlights! Here are some pictures from a week of fun! Please enjoy! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Walk Around The Pond and Fall Fun

We have been enjoying the fall in Vermont. It's one of the best and most beautiful states to live in during this time of the year! On Friday we had our annual All School Walk Around The Pond. WAP is quite the event at our school. Families and community members are invited to walk along with all of the students and staff of our school. Some of the older kiddos run once or twice and the rest of the kids take a scenic walk through Monkton. At the end, there are treats and a movie for all to enjoy. This event really brings our school and town community together. It's really fun and this year we had a great time! Thanks to the families in our class who were able to walk!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Healthy Snacks and Movement

We do lots of learning in Kindergarten. Students' brains are constantly stimulated and they are learning so much so fast. They are sponges! There is so much research saying that kids need to move around at school, and that the best learning happens when children have had healthy food and movement breaks. Good news-we move all the time! Each morning we have an outdoor recess or Kindergarten movement break.  We also have an afternoon recess with the K-2 students and sometimes we get outside a third time at the end of the day. We also do many mini movement breaks throughout the day in the classroom. In addition to these class movement breaks, we also have PE twice a week for 40 minutes. 

Children are encouraged to bring healthy food and snacks to school. Our hot lunch program has come so far in the past couple of years, the food is really healthy and delicious. The kids usually love it. 

In the afternoon(as a station during choice) we have a special healthy snack for each class in the school.  This snack is provided by a grant written by our food service staff. The grant allows for each classroom to have a daily fresh fruit or veggie. Some of the snacks we've had this year are berries, apples, watermelon, peppers, even roasted squash! Yum~

Here are some photos of us being healthy in Kindergarten at MCS! 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Technology in Kindergarten

Happy Tuesday Friends and Families,

I wanted to tell you about something brand new that is happening in Kindergarten! It is so exciting. :)

Our school has a technology integrationist teacher.  His name is Kevin Grace, he's also a 5/6 grade teacher here- half time. Mr Grace's position enables teachers to have support integrating technology into our curriculums. In the past,  I have always spent time with my entire class in the tech lab doing various activities and projects. This year we are doing things a little differently.

For the next 6 weeks or so, during our literacy block, Mr. Grace will come to us with a laptop cart. As of yesterday, he has become a station during our Readers Workshop. So far, it's been great. Since we are now working in leveled reading groups, Mr. Grace and I are working together to use technology to create and find activities that are developmentally appropriate for each leveled  group. These activities vary from letter identification games to sight word games and eventually there will be some online reading and comprehension activities. So cool! The kids are doing great using the laptops. They are so excited about the new technology we are using, and are so eager to learn! I'm really proud of them!

I have also set up a classroom skype account. We are in the planning period of setting up some whole group skype activities such as video chatting with Kindergarten classes in other parts of our country! I hope to have this opportunity rolling soon! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Literacy Updates

Hi Families,

I just thought I'd give an update about what we are doing in literacy.

The first six weeks of school focuses on social behaviors as well as how to use materials, work independently, and be responsible. Students have worked really hard  practicing being responsible by doing their reading, writing, or math jobs even when a teacher is working with other kids. It can be hard for students to use self-control and independent thinking skills while managing the impulse to just ask a teacher for help. These Kindergartners are amazing in that they are using self control, helping each other, being responsible, and building stamina for activities. I'm impressed.

We begin Readers Workshop with a whole group activity. During this time I have been implementing a program called Fundations.This is a program which begins by helping kids learn letter names and sounds by giving them key cards with a letter name sound and picture. It is beneficial for almost all kids, and it's also really fun! For more information on this program click here.FundationsThis week we also practiced retelling skills by reading and retelling  a story about our owl, Echo. We also learned a new poem and added it to our poetry and song book.

I have administered the common core literacy assessments, and AimsWeb(letter naming) assessments to all students. Using this information, I have broken the students into 3 "reading groups". I have explained to the children that every learner is different and by working in small groups it's a good way for teachers and students to make sure that everyone gets what they need and are ready for. I also have worked hard to teach the format for RW incorporating whole group, small group, and share time. Luckily we also have Mrs. Cota during this time so she and I both can work with a group and then switch, so at some point in the workshop every kids spends ample time reading with a teacher.

Now that we have our first reading groups established it is easy to plan for developmentally appropriate activities for all students. Some readers are working on letter identification and beginning reading skills, some kids are working on letter sounds, sight words, and even reading beginning level books independently.

Beginning on Friday, students will bring home their first "homework". Each student has a new canvas book bag with their name on it. Inside they have books that they have practiced with their book group, a sight word ring, and their poetry and song book. They are asked to read with their families over the weekend and bring back their book bag and contents on Monday to start fresh. This can be a really rewarding time for both students and families.

I just blogged about our Writer's Workshop- so I'm going to skip this part today :) Make sure to check out our work at Kid Blog though! Mrs. Leggett's Kid Blog

In addition to our Writers and Readers Workshops, we have also learned letters F, E, D, B, in our Handwriting without Tears Workbook. HWT is another awesome program to teach handwriting to young kids. Here's more info.Handwriting Without Tears

Thanks for all of your support with literacy skills at home!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writer's Workshop

Hello Again,

We've been writing in Kindergarten. Kids love to write stories, they love to draw pictures, sound out words, and copy words around them. I love to encourage the creativity and learning that comes during our Writers Workshop.

The format for WW is similar to our Math Workshop and Readers Workshop.
We begin with a mini lesson, then work independently, and finish with a share of some kind. 
This year, we are taking sharing to a whole new level. It's called Kidblog.  Please, check it out!

Mrs. Leggett's KidBlog Page

Log in: Kindergarten Adventures A
Password: mcs

I hope to use Kidblog as a way for kids to share their awesome writing with more than just their peers. It's really a cool tool and even though they are 5 and 6, we are learning to use it together.

I hope you'll take the time to check out your child's great work!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

FYI- Our Kindergarten class is now on Twitter. I'll be posting lots of things students are doing and saying. I hope to be able to teach them to Tweet too! Check it out!

caitlin leggett@MCSKinders

Enjoy your night! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Study Buddies

Study Buddies seems to be one of the most popular parts of our Kindergarten year. Study buddies has been a tradition at MCS and when I joined the staff here a few years ago, I too eagerly looked forward to this time in our schedule. This year we are study buddies with Ms. Pierpont's fifth and sixth graders. Each Kindergartner has one (or two) study buddies. We meet with them every Friday for an hour of activity. We try to plan activities that are engaging to both the younger and older students but that also fit in some way with curriculum going on in our classrooms and school. Study buddy time has proven to be rewarding in so many ways to everyone involved. As a Kindergartner it gives students someone to look up to, someone to help them with special projects, and a familiar face in the school community. As an older student it supports important life skills such as patience, nurturing, understanding, respect, and a feeling of importance and need in our school community. It also is just plain fun!

This week we used our study buddy time to celebrate fall by doing some art projects using leaves. We had three stations for buddies to visit. a) A leaf paint and press station b) a drawing/watercolor leaf observing and recording station and c) a create a leaf creature station. Creativity was out in it's finest! We had fun and the products were all of beautiful, funny, and adorable. Here's some shots of our leaf study buddy adventure!

Have a great week everyone!