Saturday, 31 January 2015

My first week of Kindergarten!

This week was the start of the 2015 school year in Australia.

I was super excited to start the year with my new class. My room is pretty much finished, the only things I need to add are my tote tray labels. Once I have that set up, I can post some pictures of the different areas in my room :)

There is one particular item that I am quite proud of; my class letters. This was a project that I worked on with my mum over the school holidays. She bought me some plain, white letters and we jazzed them up with some paint, paper, rhinestones and stamps.

They sit on the shelf behind my desk. They have been getting a lot of attention from both the students and colleagues :D

The first day flew by. I started off by introducing them to our morning routine (greeting, song and calendar). I made sure to teach them the quick "Good Morning", not that slow "Gooooooood Moooooorning Miss.....".

Once that was done, I introduced them to the activity rotation. Eventually these will be literacy activities/centers, but for now they are fine motor activities. Each table had a different activitiy;

1. Name and Number tracing with dry erase markers
2. Peg Boards
3. Threading Animals
4. Puzzles

I let them roam around to each table. I wanted to see how they would go with the option of free choice. It went smoothly. Each student completed each activity, there weren't any fights over materials and if an activity was full the students would just move to another free spot. This allowed me to spend time with each student and take their photo for the First Day Certificate.

After that, I read them a story; I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child.

I love Charlie and Lola books. They are always a big hit with the students. I think this book fit in perfectly with the first day of school.

By the time I finished the story, it was time to go for a toilet break and start eating lunch. I couldn't believe how quick the morning session went!

After lunch, we did some singing as a whole grade. I am a little rusty with the hand actions that go along with some of the songs! I'm sure I will get better with them as this will be a regular thing :)

Our "first day take home craft" were these super cool First Day of School Crowns made by My Heart Belongs in Kindergarten. Click here to check them out!

It looked awesome seeing all of Kindergarten walk out of the building to greet their parents with these crowns on. I'm sure the parents loved it too! :D

Before home time, we had developmental play. This was a good opportunity for me to see whether the students were interacting with each other or just playing by themselves. It was nice to see that they were all interacting with each other.

I had a great first day, though I was pretty tired by the time I got home. I need to get back in the swing of things!

Day #2 was just as good.

We started off with the morning routine. Then we had a discussion about classroom rules. I introduced one of the most important rules "We listen to each other". We talked about how we listen (Give Me 5) and then I read my Listening book (I like teaching things through stories).

That became our goal for the day, to work on our listening.

Then we moved onto the activity rotations. I wanted to see how they would go by spending 10 minutes at each activity and then moving on. I had put out their name plates before school, so this also served as a test to see if they could recognise their own name.

I just love how awesome these look!

Overall it was a success. I now know who needs a bit of work on name recognition and will be making up some activities to help with that.

The activities were the same as the day before. I explained the routine of having a timer; when the buzzer rings, it is time to stop and listen. Then we had a go at tucking chairs in and moving to the next activity in a calm manner. The timer I used can be found here. Once again, that took up the whole morning session and it was then time to have a toilet break and start eating.

After lunch it was singing, and then we learnt about the colour red. During the activity rotation, I did a quick assessment of colour knowledge. Most students knew all their colours, but there were a few who only knew a few.

We started off by singing two songs; I can Sing a Rainbow and the Colour Song. Then we made a list of things that are red. After that, I made a drag and drop activity on the IWB where students had to sort the red items from the rest. We then did a "Red Apples" paper piecing activity. They came out pretty good and I cannot wait to hang them up on Monday! That took up the time until recess.

We finished off the day with play. I joined in with the cooking corner :)

I had a fantastic first week with Kindy! Am looking forward to the year ahead!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Technology You Should Try : PDF to JPG Converter

Today I'm sharing with you an awesome tool that can help fix printing issues with .PDF files!

Some printers have issues printing .PDF files made up of different layers. I've never had this problem with my home printer, it's usually the printers at work. It can be quite frustrating, especially if you keep wasting ink by trying to print the file over and over again.

I have found a nifty online tool that can help overcome this problem. It's called 'PDF 2 JPG' and it will convert the file to images for easy printing!

There are many .PDF to .JPG converters online. Here is the one that I will be talking about; PDF2JPG.

It's a fairly straight forward interface. Upload the file and select 'Excellent' for crisp printing quality. Press the 'Convert' button and wait.

It will then take you to the next page where you will be able to view and save your images. You can even download the images as a .zip file.

Then, you can easily print the document as image files. This should eliminate any printing issues as the file is now broken up into parts and no longer has layers :)  Of course, use this tool wisely and refrain from breaking any copyright laws.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Robot Themed Alphabet & Number Centers

You know you're a teacher when you see something super cute and think "I can make a ______ activity out of that!".

I had that moment yesterday when I saw this robot jar!

Those "bang!" style games have always been quite popular in my room. What is a "bang!" game? it's where players take turns picking a card our of a container and say what's on their card. If they pull a "bang!" card, then they must put all their cards back. The game continues until all cards have been won.

As soon as I saw this jar, I knew this would be perfect for a "bang!" game :D

I'm on Kindergarten this year, so one of my big focus areas will be on letters, sounds and numbers.

Last night I created an alphabet & numbers pack to go with this jar. I know it's the holidays, but I am still very excited about having my own class again!

As you can see from the pictures, the pack covers;

* Lower case letters
* Uppercase letters
* Numerals
* Number names
* 10's frames

Simply select the cards you want your students to focus on!

The special card is called "Robot Dance". If a player draws this card, they must move their arms like a robot and then put all their cards back in the jar.

The cards also lend themselves to being used as a match game.

As the year goes on, I intend on making more cards to go in the jar. For now I am just sticking to the basics. If you would like your own copy, you can get it here at my TPT store by clicking on the picture below. The pack also includes mats that can be used for a Roll, Say & Keep style game. Don't you just love when one resource can be used in multiple ways?

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Stay tuned for more posts and sneak peaks of my latest resources :)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Comprehension - Part #5. Questioning

Questioning involves students asking and answering questions about a text. I'm not talking about basic questions like "what colour was the house?". I'm talking about deeper questions like "I wonder why the character....".

To get students familiar with asking the deep questions, introduce the thinking stem "I wonder". This automatically lends itself to deeper questioning as it requires students to come up with a question where the answer is not immediately obvious.

When introducing this strategy with my year one class, I used the wordless text, Window by Jeannie Baker. Any wordless text would do, but I love Jeannie Baker books as there is always so much going on in every picture.

As we looked through each page, I gave students a post-it note and asked them to write down their "I wonder..." questions. I got responses such as;

"I wonder why the birds are flying away from the park"

"I wonder why the boy is playing inside and not outside"

We then shared our questions with the class, and used these questions to start a discussion and hopefully find an answer to them. For the question about the birds, one student suggested that the birds were flying away because trees were being chopped down to make room for the houses. Pretty awesome for a year 1 class right?

By providing students with a thinking stem, I helped scaffold their learning, as opposed to just telling them to come up with a question about the text.

Once we had this down, we moved on to other thinking stems that promote deep questions, such as

What would happen if?

Why would...

These stems work best with a rich text, simply use the same procedure as introducing the "I wonder..." questions.

After the introductory lesson/s implement deep questioning as part of your guided reading groups. These questions also link really well with any scientific investigation!

You can even set up an "I wonder..." wall in the classroom that can be used throughout the year.

I have a bunch of Comprehension resources in my store that are very useful for implementing the strategies in your classroom :)

Next up, Summarising!