Tag Archives: worksheets

where we left off and other updates

Standard

The last time I posted I was talking about our valentine grandparents tea and that went off without a problem and everyone had an awesome time!  Even Ms. Lezze-Faire made an appearance and seemed to enjoy herself!  The children made little flowers with sucker centers for the favors…we had enough left over to give each teacher one!

The rest of that school year went fairly well with the majority of my students being more then ready for Kindergarten.   That left me feeling good for what this year would bring.  But, being the buzz kill she is, Ms Lezze-Faire came to me literally days before school was to start and told me that I basically sucked at doing my job.

She said that a certain parent (and that parent’s kindergarten teacher) had complained that the child wasn’t ready for kindergarten because I hadn’t done my job properly.  She said they had complained that the child couldn’t sit still for long periods of time and couldn’t color correctly.  She said this was due to the fact that I didn’t do worksheets in my class.

Um, hello?  Are you serious?  First of all, if the only 2 complaints they had were about attention span and coloring, I think that’s pretty good.  Secondly, some children will always have a hard time sitting for long periods, especially if what is being done doesn’t hold their attention.  Thirdly, who cares if they aren’t perfect at coloring?  It’s coloring…not brain surgery.  Duh.

So anyway, she told me that I had to do worksheets or that she’d fire me and find someone to replace who would do them.  So there.  That’s what I got 2 days before school started.  Fine.  I’ll do what I have to do to keep my job.  No one wants to be out of work in this economy.  So i started scouring the internet for paperwork I liked…which wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Let me be clear on this:  I am not against paperwork…I’m against worksheets.  They are different.  I don’t like the thought of children tediously tracing something or counting pictures and circling a number.  I don’t like the thought of children drawing a line to match two pictures on a paper.  It’s just too passive…and doesn’t really engage the child in learning.   I have no problem if the children are doing an activity and recording their findings (that’s what real scientists do after all).  I also have no problem with my children creating books and filling in letters or stamping a certain amount of items or something similar.  So for a lot of my paperwork, that’s how I set it up…the children are simply doing a hands-on activity and recording what they find (much easier with number activities…letters, not so much).  It has seemed to work so far.

This year I have 10 children showing up consistently.  I have 12 on my roll.  I only have 3 girls…and lots of wild crazy boys!  Sooo….I’m trying to find ways to keep them interested and engaged…which is not as easy as it sounds.  So far, I have done okay…but I think I can do better.

Mid year progress reports have just gone out and most of my kids are right where I want them to be…so I’m happy.  I’m hoping they continue to progress over the next 5 months…and hopefully the ones who are behind start to catch up.  Now that I know where they are all, I know who to spend more time with and what area they need extra support.  I look forward to telling you all stories of our days together…it feels good to be back.

unbelieveable

Standard

Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time knows i abhor worksheets for preschoolers.  That’s not to say that there isn’t some developmentally appropriate papers that can be done – but those certainly do not include worksheets!

So one morning last week I was talking to 2 of my co-workers and this was thier brief conversation:

Teacher A:  “Oh, I almost forgot to ask, did you give Teacher C those worksheets she wanted?”

Teacher B:  “Yes, I almost forgot but I gave them to her right before I left yesterday.”

Teacher A:  “Oh good, because that parent has been bugging Teacher C for a few days now telling her she needs to send papers home with her daughter!”

Teacher B:  “Well, that’s good, it will give the child something to do and it never hurts to start young.”

Me:  “Why would Teacher C be sending home worksheets when she teaches 2 year olds?!”

Teacher A:  “Because she has a few kids who are really bright and are getting bored and in trouble so thier parents asked for paperwork for them.”

Me:  “So, you’re telling me instead of educating her parents on what is developmentally appropriate for thier children and giving them ideas of activities they could be doing with thier children she is just going to give in to their demands and send home worksheets?!  They are 2 for heaven sakes!  They can’t even hold a crayon correctly – much less do a worksheet!  I teach 4 year olds and I have not sent 1 worksheet home all year and, as young and needy as they are, they are still picking up on what I’m trying to teach!  I don’t get this at all!”

Teachers A and B stared at me as if I had lost my mind.  They were literally speechless.  After a minute or two of silence they made a feeble attempt to defend worksheets at Teacher C – they soon realized I wasn’t going to change my mind.  It bothers me how easily teachers (and parents) of young children turn to worksheets.  Parents ask me all the time what they can do to help their children.  When I give them age appropriate suggestions, most of the parents ask, “Can’t I just get them one of those get ready for kindergarten workbooks instead?”  Are parents really that lazy?  Or is it the teachers who make the parents believe it’s okay because it’s what they do in class?  I don’t know.  I can’t believe what they world of education is coming to these days.

a little update

Standard

I was thinking this weekend that some of my faithful followers (thank you!) out there might be wanting an update on the dilemma I am having surrounding the dreaded worksheet.  This is a topic I have vented/complained/bitched (sorry for the vulgarity) about before and it is something I am being forced to do in my classroom this year.

Here’s how it works out for me:

One worksheet I send home each week pertains to the Letter of the Week (something I also hate doing because it never seems to really teach the kids the letters – in my experience).  Since I simply refuse to do any tracing in my class I had to go another route.  I found this paper to go with every letter of the alphabet.  I  modify it by using white out on the bottom to get rid of the boxes and just leave a line.  There is no way my 3/4 year olds can write small enough to fit in those little boxes – and I wouldn’t expect them to!  Sometimes I type new directions to say something like put a square around the letter or highlight it a certain color.  I try to switch it up – keep it interesting.

The second page I send home each week is a blank piece of paper that I put 4 black lines on.  I made the lines with my word processing program so I know they are straight.  On the first line I write the child’s name in red sharpie and on the lines below I have each child try to write their name (they basically try to copy what I wrote for them at the top).  I make sure to leave a nice wide space between each line so the children who write big have plenty of room.  The lines are basically there so the children don’t write random letters all over the page or write their name vertically.  It seems to be working so far.  Right now we are only working on our first names – when I see a child has mastered their first name, we will move on to their last name.

The last page is usually some sort of science or math paper.  This last week it was recording the length of ocean animals.  Next week I think maybe a sink/float recording sheet.  At other times it might be sorting or counting or something like that – whatever I manage to find free online (usually through teacher websites) that fit our theme or look appropriate for a preschool aged child.

At parents night I told my parents to only expect 2 – maybe 3 – papers a week.  That’s all we feel are necessary as we don’t want to overload the child with paperwork.  Also we want all the part time children to complete one paper so we can all move on to the next together.  I wanted to tell them I was being forced to do worksheets and that I was sorry for offering materials to their children that were not developmentally appropriate – but I felt that would be out of line.

I do feel guilty though – and I just can’t seem to get over it.  Everytime I sit a child down to do a worksheet with them I think, “They could be doing something way more productive right now!”  But, we do what we must.  If anyone has any good resources for paperwork (free) post a link on a comment – I’ll be glad to give it a look!

Hopefully my parents are happy this year and don’t complain a lot like my parents last year.  I’ll keep you posted if any worksheet drama pops up in the future!  🙂

going, going….gone

Standard

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

knowing their stuff

Standard

Wow – 7 days without a post – it’s been awhile!  Sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog lately – I’ve been busy with some family matters as well as suffering from some pretty bad headaches…but now I’m back – I know I was missed!  🙂

I don’t have much to blog about that’s work related – just one tidbit that makes me very happy!  A few of the children I have left have been going to their respective Kindergartens to go through their orientations and preliminary readiness testing.  Knowing this always makes me nervous – it reminds me of all the subjects I didn’t have the chance to cover as well as I’d wished (we all have those I think) – as well as the ones I might not have touched on at all (I’m always afraid that I forgot to teach them something important)!

Anyways, after two of my girls came in from being absent for a couple days (turned out they were at their Kindergartens) I was informed by their very happy mother’s that they were completely ready!  YAY!  I was sooo happy!  One mother even told me that her child’s kindergarten had told her that she tested above average in almost every area!  So, I guess my no worksheets approach really worked this year despite what anyone else had to say!

I’m hoping that when the rest of my children continue onto kindergarten their teachers feel the same way – but in the meantime, I’m rejoicing in this small victory!  🙂

new approach

Standard

Okay, so I need to send “paperwork” home so the parents “can see what their child is learning each day.”  A quote from the meeting.   Because God forbid a parent interact with their child through games, songs, books, outings, etcetera to find out what they know…God forbid they actually be “parents”.  (sigh)  Don’t get me started.

Back to the topic at hand – paperwork (as some would say, worksheets).  As you know – I pretty much hate them and don’t feel like they belong in a developmentally appropriate preschool learning environment.  But I must do what I have to so that I may keep my job.  But I will do it on my own terms and in my own way – it’s time to get creative!

I’m not against all paperwork.  I just want that to be made clear.  I believe in “appropriate worksheets”.  For example, a data recording sheet for a science experiment – perhaps recording what was magnetic and what wasn’t.  You get the idea.  I’m against repetitive tracing or drawing a line from one rhyming picture to another – etcetera.

The problem is I need more appropriate worksheets – for all areas of learning – and I don’t know where to find them.  Or, perhaps I can make them on my own if I had a good idea.  I would appreciate any ideas or perhaps teacher websites or free printable sights any of you might know of that has the kind of stuff I’m looking for to help me out.  Something that can get the children more involved but still be “paperwork” to send home.  Thanks!

stubbornness!

Standard

I’m very frustrated right now!  I just got home from a staff meeting where the law was laid down about how we have to do things in our classrooms no matter what – we were informed failure to comply means our position will be terminated!  The law was laid down by our director’s boss.   Okay, that’s understandable – but I’m having a hard time accepting what they are asking of us.  We were told that next school year we will have to do worksheets on a daily basis.  No if, ands, or buts about it – do it or be out of a job.  End of story.  Don’t like it – leave.  I can’t leave – I need my job.  But knowing what I do about child development and developmentally appropriate practice – I don’t know if I can do what they’re asking.  Well, I know I could do it – but it would be hard to look myself in the mirror everyday.  I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I have to come up with a way to do paperwork without doing worksheets.  How do I accomplish that?!

We were also told we had to do letter of the week next year.  I don’t like letter of the week.  I hate it – always have…it makes no sense to me.  My children (for the most part) learn all their letters without letter of the week.  I just don’t see the point of changing my entire teaching style (when I’ve been allowed to teach this way already) to “comply with what parents expect”.  I get it – the parents are our clients – why can’t we just take the time to educate them?  Why do the children have to suffer because of their ignorance?  I don’t know what to do.  I need a job – so I have to comply.  I just need to find a way to make everyone happy in a developmentally appropriate way.  I just wish I knew why they were being so stubborn about this!  I know I was being singled out here – and so did everyone else.  I am the only teacher that does not currently do these two things – but my children still learn.  They are still ready for kindergarten.  What’s the big deal here people?!

I feel sick – and I’m in panic mode right now.  And I’m venting – but I’m done for now.  Any ideas would be helpful.  Really.  But please, don’t suggest going to talk to the people in charge.  I’ve done that – and lost the battle…I need a new strategy now….