Tag Archives: learning

i thought it would be easy…

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…but as it turns out, it’s not.  When my co-teacher left at the end of last school year and I found out I would be in the classroom alone – I was super excited!  The idea of having half the amount of kids and not having to always okay my ideas with someone else (even though I was head teacher and didn’t have to – I liked to have my co-teacher involved and get agreement on ideas) gave me the impression that this year was going to be much easier then years past!  I envisioned being able to give each child all the attention each needed so that they could all succeed to be the best learners possible.  I thought that we could all be much more productive in class because there would be less kids.  I had visions of great projects and learning opportunities!

But, that’s not the reality I’ve been living this school year.  Instead, it feels like the exact opposite and I come home feeling exhausted and, more often then not, having a headache.  This is why I’ve been absent from my blog so much this year.  I work for a private, non-profit school so we don’t have any services available to our children.  However, I have 3 children who could use speech therapy and 2 others who I feel might have some sort of special need (but I don’t know what…something’s just “off” with each of them).  Also, I have about 4 children who have behavior problems (2 of those being aggressive towards others).  And this class is really young.  I only have 14 kids.  I get so discouraged some days.  Then there are other days that run so smoothly I begin to wonder if it’s not something I do to cause the “bad” days.

This class is young.  Needy.  Immature.  Whatever you want to call it.  There have been a lot of days where I feel like I’m failing them because I don’t always have the time or ability to give them what they need.  I’m doing the best I can – this is such a big adjustment not having another adult to help me.  I had thought I was doing well, and they were starting to “get it” – but then I did mid-year evaluations.  So many of them don’t know so many of the concepts we’ve been working on for months!  So once again, I think I must be doing something wrong.  But then I think, maybe they just aren’t ready?  I dunno.

Today I was reading through some of my favorite blogs to catch up and I read this post on Elbows, knees, dreams and I totally thought for a minute she must have a hidden cam in my class because I can totally relate to everything she wrote here!  They also don’t listen when I’m reading  (or talking) to them.  I can read something like, “The little girl ran away from the house to get away from the witch.”  And then I might ask, “So, why did the girl run away?”  And I get answers like “She ran fast!”, “She likes to run!”, “Because she’s having fun!” and others along those lines.

Anyway, I don’t mean to complain.  I do love my job.  And these kids aren’t terrible or horrible.  They can be sweet, cute, funny, inquisitive, innovative, helpful, caring, and silly.  We laugh and have fun together.  We ponder together.  We investigate together.  And we’re growing together.  Everyday.

 

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writing letters

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I recently received the following question from a reader and since I didn’t have an immediate answer (or the time to go looking) I decided to post it to everyone.  I figured that some of you out there might have the answer and at the same time others might be helped out by what everyone has to say on the subject.  Here is the question:

“I am looking for little rhymes or sayings to help children to print the letters of the alphabet. I can’t remember any, but have seen them on sites. Do you know what i am talking about and do you know where i can find them?”

I personally don’t use rhymes or sayings to help my children write their letters.  I simply walk them through the steps. For example if I were to walk a child through writing an uppercase F, I might say:  “Make a straight line down, then go to the top and make a straight line across so that it makes a corner, and then go to the middle and make another straight line across.”  While explaining  I model what to do so the child has a visual to follow. This has always worked very well for me.  I try to break each letter down and walk the children through the process to make it as simple as possible.

I would like to hear how some of you show your children how to write their letters!  Also, if any of you could help my reader that would be great!  I love hearing all your ideas!  🙂

going, going….gone

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Well, the end of the year came and went.  Monday marks the beginning of the new school year – and my new class.  A very bittersweet moment.  I already miss my old class – but I am excited to see what the new school year holds.  I have to admit that I don’t feel at all ready or prepared for what lies ahead.  I’m not sure why – I just have this nagging feeling that I forgot to do something important.  It’s probably just paranoia.  I just need to believe that everything will go smoothly and keep on top of things.  I sometimes have the tendency to to slack on organization during the school year and then have to clean my mess up during the summer.  I’m going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.

Ms. Bennet and I have decided to do a monthly newsletter for our parents as well as write on our white board what we learned and did each day.  Hopefully the parents learn to appreciate this.  Also, since we have to do “paperwork” we decided upon practicing our name writing, doing some sort of math or science activity that will have a recording sheet to go along with it, and a letter of the week page.  No tracing or redundant line drawing for my class!  We’re hoping 3 papers a week is enough for the parents!  We want to spend the rest of our time actually being productive learners!  🙂

So, I wish my old class luck as they start their new adventures Monday.  I am confident that I let them out of the nest with the correct tools to continue on in their learning – I know they are going to soar high.  And I am looking forward to and anticipating meeting my new group of kids – and together we will all start another journey into the wonder and excitement of pre-k…

Artwork by:  Rachelle Anne Miller

perfect harmony

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Today was a great day!  It felt like our classroom was running like a well oiled machine.  The children are independent and confident enough to get through most of their centers without needing tons of help.  They are able to resolve their disputes without constant tattling…a very nice feeling.  Sometimes they need help finding the right words…but that’s natural.  They are happy and engaged…you can see it in their faces.  I like knowing this…it means I’ve done my job.

They are really enjoying our dinosaur theme.  We still have our jungle in the playhouse area…but now it’s a dinosaur habitat!  I put these inflatable dinosaurs in the playhouse/jungle area.  I bought them on clearance 50% off at the beginning of the school year and I’m glad I finally have an excuse to use them!  Despite the so-so reviews of them not working, mine seem to be doing fine!  There is one that must have a tiny leak because at the end of the day about 1/3 of the air was out.  But I don’t mind adding a little air each day – it’s a small price to pay for the children having sooo much fun with them!

I’ve also added some small dinos to our playdough – and the children have been having a blast using them to make footprints and landscapes with the playdough!  Some of the kids even put a couple of them in a ball of playdough and pretended that they were hatching from eggs!  Too cute!  There are dinosaur rubbing plates to use with the crayons as well – a new experience for most of my class – but they’re starting to understand how to do it correctly! 🙂  Our oatmeal table now houses these skeleton dinosaurs as well as some brushes and scoops so the children can bury and them and then excavate the bones.  I love these dinosaurs and the children seem to as well!

Right now, we seem to be working in perfect harmony with each other – an engaged, happy class!  Let’s hope it continues!  🙂

light play

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I’ve always wanted a light table for my classroom – something where the children can experiment with color and view the x-rays I bought my class this year.  I’m always open to new ideas when it comes to math and science and I’ve always thought that a light table would be a great learning tool.  One main reason I don’t have one is because they aren’t cheap are way too expensive!  I know it can’t take that much money to build some of the things these school supply stores try to sell to us!  I mean, come on – over $400 for a light table and over $200 for a tabletop light box?!  You have got to be kidding me!

So I had the idea to make my own portable light box to use in my class.  The only problem:  I have no idea how to go about doing this.  I don’t even know someone who would have a clue how to do this.  So, I’m at a loss!  By the way, if anyone has a clue how to do this or knows of someone who’s actually made a portable light box (kinda like this) let me know!  It would be ideal if I didn’t have to plug it in  (I only have two outlets in my entire room and they are not located in good spots).  I don’t have a lot of money am virtually penniless due to the fact that I teach preschool – but if it only costs a little – I will try to make it!

I’ve also seen that some teachers use overhead projectors.  I like this idea too.  I’ve often wondered if this is in place of a light table (because they are less expensive) or do they use it along with a light table?  I will have to look into seeing if I can locate a used or unwanted overhead projector as this can be another option for me.  I am certainly open to any suggestions you might have.  If I over think it – I start to wonder if I even need a light table because life in my classroom has been going along just fine without one for years – so why spend the time or money?  Does it really make that much of a difference?  I dunno – I’ve never had one.

I would like to hear from those of you who have one – how do you utilize it in your class and would you recommend it for other classrooms?  Thanks, in advance, for all you have to say!

letting go

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Having taught for 7 years now, I’ve learned to let go and let the children do what they need to do.  Experiment with how they do things – even if they do something I hadn’t wanted or intended them to do.  As long as they treat items respectfully and follow the rules in our room – I’ve learned to let them learn, play, and explore how they need to – so they can get the most out of an activity.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn (and in some ways I’m still learning it).  I think it’s hard for a lot of teachers.  That’s understandable.  It’s the most important lesson (or one of the most important lessons) that a teacher can learn.  I’m glad for the most part I’ve learned it – it makes teaching easier – and learning more enjoyable for the children.

Ms. Bennet has not learned this lesson yet.  She is a first year teacher…she is learning.  I’ve mentioned it to her a few times – but you can’t force someone to learn something they are not ready to learn.  But I can see that very slowly she is starting to learn it – she is starting to understand.  I don’t think it will fully happen for a long while still – but she is starting.  And I’m glad.

Children are stubborn – and good at ignoring you.  If they want to do something a certain way – they will – regaurdless of what you say.  Within reason, of course.  And I’ve found that if the teacher is very clear about her rules for the class and the general boundaries of the activity (no paint on the carpet for example) the children will be respectful and won’t push too hard.  And in the end everyone will be happy.  I like a happy class – it just makes for more sucessful learners – and I like my children to be successful…

The Joy of Books

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I love my class this year!  This is the first class I’ve had in the past few years that I absolutely adore!  Don’t get me wrong – I always like my classes – and I have always loved my job – but this year – everything has just fallen into place!  I am sooo going to miss them when they leave!  It will be one sad day.  I also love that they play so well together.  They all just get along so well!  There is almost no fighting and the tattling is down to the bare minimum!  I think it’s a miracle.  They work out their own problems and don’t seem to hold grudges – a near perfect class!  I LOVE them!

One thing that they love to do is “read” books in our book area.  I constantly find a group of 5 or 6 sitting in the book area with one child pretending to read a book to the others!  It’s sooo cute!  Our book area always has children in it “reading”.  I have gone out of my way this year to teach the children that books are special and we need to treat them that way.  Ms.  Bennet and I have made a point to teach them the various parts of a book (the covers, spine, title page, etc.) and what purpose those parts serve.  We repeatedly go over how book are to be held, how pages are to be turned, and how nicely we put books away.  We are trying to teach them to be respectful to them.  And I think our hard work has paid off!  As a book lover – that excites me!

Today I overheard this conversation between two children in out book area:

Friend 1:  See how nice I can hold the book?  (Places the book in her lap and opens it)

Friend 2:  And we turn the pages like this… (Gently turns a page in her book)

Friend 1:  That’s right because books are special!

The two of them continue to “read” their books as a few more children come to the book area.

Friend 1:  Let’s play teacher!

Other Children:  Okay!

Friend 1:  (Holding up her book)  I am going to read this book for you.  Let’s go over the parts:  This is the front cover.  (Turns book around) This is the back cover.  (Turns book to show spine) This is the spine – it holds all the pages together.

She opens the book and “reads” it as the other children listen.  When she is done:

Friend 1:  Can someone show me how we hold the book? (Another child demonstrates)

Friend 2:  Who wants to show us how you put the books away nicely?  They are on the floor!  (Two children volunteer and clean up the books)

Friend 2:  Good job class – you are good listeners!  Remember, books are special and we always need to take care of them!

Friend 1:  That’s right – now you all can go play!

This was just too cute!  I enjoyed watching them and they seemed to be having a lot of fun!  I’m glad that what we’re trying to teach them is actually sinking in and that they are listening!  It was great too see!