Sunday, June 21, 2009

Year End Slideshow -- June 25, 2009

This is a copy of the year end slideshow presentation that we played in the classroom on June 24th (B Day) and 25th (A Day). Thanks to Mrs. Kunz for making this amazing slideshow that really captured our terrific year in Kindergarten. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful summer!

Aviva and Cassi





video

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our Forty-Third Post -- The End of the Year

I cannot believe that this year is almost over! It has been a wonderful year, and I think that the students and I have both learned a lot. For the last journal activity of the year, the children were asked to write about what they learned in Kindergarten. Since this is my last year in Kindergarten too, I thought that I would write about the top 5 things that I learned in Kindergarten (in no particular order):

1) Young children are capable of far more than we think. They can learn to read, write, and think, and they are excited about learning all of these skills too.

2) All students can learn. Some students may learn faster than others, but all students can still learn.

3) Kindergarten does not just need to be about "play." Play can be incorporated into a structured environment, and students can learn through hands-on, focused centres that target higher-level thinking skills.

4) Teachers do not need to have all of the answers. Students can help us learn too. If I didn't believe this, I would have never learned how to use a SMART Board, let alone a set of iPods.:)

5) Technology helps engage students. One of the most valuable teaching and learning tools that I have in the room is the SMART Board, and I know that my students agree with me.

Thank you to all of the wonderful parents, incredible students, supportive colleagues, and fantastic administrators that helped me learn and become a better teacher. Teaching is all about working as part of a team, and I am lucky to be part of such a terrific one.

I would love to hear about what you and your children learned this year. Please feel free to post a comment here or e-mail me directly (aviva.dunsiger@hwdsb.on.ca). I hope that we can add to my list of five.

Have a great weekend! I will see you next week for the last week of school.
Aviva

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our Forty-Second Post -- Report Card Information

Report cards will be sent home with your child on Monday, June 22nd (B Day) and Tuesday, June 23rd (A Day). Here are some important things to remember about the report cards:

1) SK students should be receiving primarily M's (demonstrates most of the knowledge and skills) on their report card this term. If your child still has some S's (demonstrates some of the knowledge and skills) on his/her report card, this indicates areas of need. Next steps in the report card will focus on these areas. These next steps suggest ways that you can help your child over the summer and ways that the classroom teacher can continue to help your child next year.

2) Some students receive C's (consistently demonstrates the required knowledge and skills), which is our top mark, but is not necessarily equivalent to an "A" (the top mark) in Grade 1. In Grades 1-8, an "A" indicates that children exceed expectations, where in Kindergarten, a "C" indicates that children consistently meet expectations. Sometimes the wording can be confusing.

3) JK students should be receiving primarily T's (additional time and experience needed) and S's (demonstrates some of the knowledge and skills) on their report card, as the children have not been exposed to all of the specific expectations yet that match up to the overall ones that we assess. Please remember that the Kindergarten Program is a two-year continuum, so the JK students should be receiving higher marks next year as their skills continue to develop.

4) Most importantly, even though it is difficult to overlook the marks, please take a closer look at the comments first. These comments really reflect what your child is doing well and what your child still needs to work on. They also indicate growth regardless of the marks, and that is really the most important thing to see.

After the report card is sent home, please take some time to complete the last page of it with your child before returning Page 3 back to school on the next school day. Kindergarten students are now being asked to reflect on their own strengths and needs, and this is a great opportunity for them to do so.

If you have any questions about your child’s report card, please let us know (aviva.dunsiger@hwdsb.on.ca). We hope that all of you can use this report card to help celebrate the gains that your child has made throughout the year, while also helping your child set some goals for the next school year.

Have a great day!
Aviva, Cassi, and Dianne

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our Forty-First Post -- Almost Getting Knocked Down By Sponge Bob

As I was helping clean-up at the Spring Fling last night, I was chatting with a Kindergarten parent, who warned me just in time to "watch out" before getting hit in the head with the Sponge Bob board that was being carried inside. I told this parent that this Sponge Bob incident would be in the title of my next blog entry, and I didn't want to disappoint her.:)

This Sponge Bob anecdote though is the perfect segue to my Spring Fling discussion. I would like to thank all of the parent, student, and staff volunteers for making this year's Spring Fling such a tremendous success. I feel very fortunate to work at a school with such a strong community atmosphere, and last night, the community really came together to have fun and celebrate with each other.

I think that the pie toss/wet sponge toss was the highlight of my night, even though I was one of the pie toss "victims" too.:) Watching the pie and water fly made for a fun and amusing evening, despite the mess.

Thank you to all of the parents and students that came to Spring Fling last night! It was great to see so many of you there. If you came, what was the highlight of your night? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to post them here or e-mail me directly (aviva.dunsiger@hwdsb.on.ca).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Aviva

Our Fortieth Post -- Slideshow of Literacy and Math Centres

This week we completed our fifteenth round of literacy and math centres. The children have come so far since September! It is amazing to watch them read, write, and talk to each other, and to really see just how much they have grown as learners. Using One True Media, we created a slideshow presentation of the children working at their literacy and math centres. Click on the thumbnail image below to view the slideshow. Watch it with your child and talk to your child about these exciting centres.

Have a great weekend!
Aviva and Cassi

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Thirty-Ninth Post -- The "Play" Problem

We had another busy and exciting week in Kindergarten! It's hard to believe that it's June already. The children are continuing to develop their literacy and numeracy skills as they prepare for next year.

This week, I (Aviva) decided to devote our blog to a Letter to the Editor that was in Friday's Hamilton Spectator. This is one of my favourite topics to discuss, and I am very interested to hear your thoughts too. Please post your comments here, or you can e-mail them to me directly too (aviva.dunsiger@hwdsb.on.ca).

When people talk about learning in Kindergarten, the discussion often quickly changes to a discussion on "play" and the merits of "learning through play." In most cases, it is expected that Kindergarten classrooms will include shelves of toys, lots of blocks, a sandbox, a water table, and a house centre, and that children will spend much of their day using these items. When I first started teaching Kindergarten eight years ago, I structured my classroom much like this, and my children spent much of the day playing too.

My teaching has changed a lot in eight years, and the look, feel, and sound of my classroom has changed too. Over the past two years, as I have had the benefit of team-teaching, my program has become a lot more structured, and due to space restrictions in the room, one of the first things that I got rid of was the house centre. I have very little "free choice" time during the day (15 minutes at most), and not only do my students not miss it, I think that they even benefit more from not having it.

In my opinion, the key to having children love learning and learning literacy and numeracy skills at the same time, is to incorporate hands-on learning (structured play) into meaningful learning centres. As just a handful of examples, this year the students made bear puppets to retell Goldilocks and the Three Bears (art and literacy), scooped out and identified words and letters from chicken soup, hot chocolate, and Spooky Stew (water centre and literacy), completed numerous SMART Board and computer literacy and math activities (technology and literacy and numeracy), identified and used three-dimensional figures to build dinosaur houses for various plastic dinosaurs (play and math), created pattern apartment buildings out of cardboard boxes (art and math), and measured the volume of different containers using scoops of sand or rice (sand/rice centre and math). All of these centres were differentiated, and all of them allowed students to develop their academic skills at their level while having fun and being creative too.

Just yesterday, I told the class that beginning the week of June 15th, the children will be working on their own to complete the math problems that we are now completing in small groups, and initially, completed as a class. Here is the response from one of my students: "Oh yeah! We are so ready for Grade 1!" I couldn't have said it better myself. This child is not sad about a lack of free choice time, but excited about the many possibilities of academic learning time. As a teacher, I cannot imagine anything more rewarding than this!

Aviva