Wednesday, August 09, 2017

I Sit



I sit during our "Meet the Teacher" event. 

Yes, I *sit*. 

I tell families before they ever get to school that I'm going *to sit*, and I explain how I don't want to make kindergartners even more nervous or anxious (or wound for sound) than they already are as they see and explore our learning space for the first time.

Sitting works. The cautious ~eyeball~ me as they wander, put supplies away, and explore. The confident and/or practiced come right up and offer to shake my hand, and say "nice to meet you," while parents lip sync "nice to meet you" behind them. Some kiddos pull up a chair with me at the reading table much to the surprise of their parents. Two or three might try to hide behind Mom's or Dad's legs, with one outright refusing to so much as take a peek at me. Through it all, *I sit*.

Then there are the take-chargers... they don't always talk to me, but I notice a little side-eye action as they navigate the room, dictating to parents which supplies go where, explaining the correct use of play-dough to their siblings, and expressing their approval over some, many, or all elements of our classroom that they've critiqued. Because I'm sitting, they know exactly where to stop with their peripheral glances.

One take-charger did it all tonight, then gave me a thumbs-up as he walked out the door, saying "I'll be back tomorrow. I am going to be one of your best helpers. Your chair must be really comfy."

No *sit* people, it's going to be a good year.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Send-Off Gifts

It's the end of another school year (my twenty-first as a kindergarten teacher), and goodness, what a difference twelve months can make.  Different students, different stressors, new goals and new paths.  Unanticipated problems, incredible solutions, mucho appreciation, and copious amounts of laughter left indelible marks on each month, August through May.

While my Stars bloomed in all the right ways, I'll admit that I do love a good double entendre, so "blooming" seemed like the right inspiration for this year's summer send-off gifts for my colleagues.  Our students bloomed all right, but ~some~ parts of the job were blooming ?!@*#! awful. 

Cue the sunshine-loving plants, simple pots, a quick printable, glittery cardstock and some colorful party straws:


I added three or four flowering plants to each white pot, and then created a quick printable (I love PowerPoint) for the stakes.



I glued the printable onto a punched glitter flower, and then used an x-acto knife to cut slits on either side of one end of each straw, creating a pick:





The cardstock flowers were still a little wobbly, so I secured them by adding some hot glue to the backsides where the flowers were tucked into the slits of the straws.  Then I slid each straw pick into a pot.


I hope these pretty little pots bring a happy splash of color to porches and picnic tables this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I've Learned Something New Every Day This Year

With only one and a half days of school left with my Super Star kindergartners, I have to tell you, I've learned something new from them every day this year.

Sweet, sassy, inquisitive and inclusive, next year's teachers are going to love my soon-to-be former students. They'll appreciate their eagerness, kindness, and energy, and something tells me they'll love their humor, both accidental and purposeful. 

Here's what I learned yesterday:

Star: Mrs. Sommerville, Mrs. Sommerville! Do you know Indiana Jones?
Me: Indiana Jones, you mean the movies about him?
Star: Yes! The boulder and skeleton and snakes movies!
Me: I've seen them before, yes. Why?
Star: Well my mom let me watch them with her, and they're kind of scary.
Me: You're right, there are parts of the movies that are scary.
Star: My mom isn't scared of the boulder or the skeleton, but she DOES NOT like those snakes!
Me: I don't blame her, that many snakes would bother me too.
Star: Uh, Mrs. Sommerville, you don't *really* have to worry about those snakes though.
Me: Oh? Why not?
Star: 'Cause they're just, uh... they're just... special... SPECIAL EFFECTS!
Me: Special effects? What are special effects?
Star: My mom told me that special effects are when scary parts look real but they really aren't. That boulder probably wasn't a REAL boulder, it was just a big lumpy ball that looked like a rock. And the skeletons were just plastic or something.
Me: What about the snakes?
Star, dropping voice to a whisper: Oh, those were probably real.
Me: If they were real, *HOW* did Indiana Jones stay safe?
Star, looking around to make sure no one else could hear: *~Movie~* *~Magic~*
Me, also whispering: ~*Movie Magic~*?
Star, nodding, with a wow-can-you-believe-it expression on his face: Yeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh. ~*Movie magic.*~



****

How many days do you have left in the school year?

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Kindergarten Cop: I've Got Questions

When I began my teaching career in 1994, Kindergarten Cop, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had already been seen in theaters.  For whatever reason, I didn't watch the movie until after I had taught for two years, and like everyone else, I thought the most entertaining and hysterically charming scene was the one featuring a student sharing his prior schema about anatomy:



Over the next fourteen or fifteen years, I could watch maybe ten minutes of the movie at most when I'd stumble across it while channel-surfing, especially the comedic scenes of the first fire drill, and the awwwww Gettysburg address.  I had the predictable and appropriate visceral responses when Mr. Kimble hit the father who had a history of wife and child abuse, and when firearms were taken into the school and used by the father/grandmother villainous duo.  When introduced to someone unfamiliar with teaching, I'd occasionally be asked "Oh, so you're just like Kindergarten Cop, right?" to which I'd jokingly respond "Yep, only they don't give me a gun."  Laughter all around.

Then around five or six years ago, I couldn't bring myself to watch any of the movie at any time, anywhere, for any reason, thanks to the day-to-day routines of my profession evolving to include the real life possibility of school shootings, standardized test overkill posing as pedagogy, and kindergarten being turned into the new first grade.  There was no charm to be found in the movie any longer.  My husband even noticed that I wouldn't watch it, so we moved on to establishing a new list of ol' faithfuls and preferred standbys for our movie nights, none of them kindergarten or teaching-related.

Last weekend we were flipping through cable channels on a rare afternoon of not having a Netflix mini-series to watch, and there it was, Kindergarten Cop.

We didn't watch all of it, but we did see enough to generate some fresh questions, such as "Who gave Kimball a jeans day coupon on his first day of work?" and "How did the custodial staff refrain from hiring a hit man to off Mr. Kimble?"  Seriously, LOOK at the walls and floors.



If anyone needs PD on Teaching With Love and Logic or The Leader in Me, it's Kimball, am I right?



Where are the nut/food allergy warning signs?  Perhaps we'll find our answers in the straight-to-DVD Kindergarten Cop 2, yes, TWO.  And this time it's Dolph.

Is that peanut butter on his face?



Have you seen it?  Will I enjoy it?  Here's hoping.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pigeon and Duckling Craft Patterns

When you're blessed with an awesome student teacher like I am, you might find yourself with a few extra minutes on your hands, just... watching.

Listening.

Observing.

... reflecting on your own memories of growing into an effective teacher.

And if your student teacher is as thoroughly capable as mine, you'll probably end up twiddling your thumbs, careful to not interfere with the rhythm of learning that's occurring in front of you.

I'm not a terribly good thumb-twiddler.  My hands have to stay busy, so I created a craft pattern, all within range and earshot of my student teacher and our Super Stars.

Our letter of the week after spring break will be "W," so of course we'll be enjoying lots of books by one of our favorite authors and illustrators, Mo Willems!

Hello, Pigeon and Duckling!


You can find the patterns for these fun characters at my TPT Store.  I suggest printing them onto cardstock which is thicker and easier to trace around.  They'd certainly be fun bulletin board decor, writing prompts, and author study crafts!

Do your students have a favorite Mo Willems book?




~Michaele~

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Celebrating Seuss



Our painted truffula trees and construction paper cats-in-hats will greet our guest readers this week as we celebrate Dr. Seuss and our love of reading!

Click here for my blog post about our truffula trees, and click here for a cats-in-hats tutorial!

~Michaele

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Painting Truffula Trees

This week the Stars painted truffula trees so that our hallway bulletin boards will be decorated in time for our guest readers during Read Across America and our celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthay!

I preassembled the background and frame, using 9 X 12 sky blue construction paper, backed by 10 X 13 white and 11 X 14 black paper.


Students wrote their names in the lower right-hand corner and then chose their truffula tree color from orange, red, and yellow tempera paint.  They painted a circle onto the sky blue paper:


... and filled it in.  The brush strokes helped give the truffula tree top a fluffy, textural look:


Using a thin brush, students then added a black tree trunk, letting the brush move this way and that, stopping right before meeting the edge of the blue paper:


It looks like a balloon, doesn't it?


After letting the tree top and trunk dry...


... the Stars painted white stripes onto the trunk using a Sharpie paint marker:


... and dabbed some green grass at the base of the blue paper.



Once our bulletin board is finished, I'll share it here on the blog for you to see!

*****


It's almost time for the annual wearing-of-the-Sneetch-shirt!  Click here to be taken to the tutorial.

~Michaele