We held our first of four Parent Workshops yesterday. These workshops are held school-wide and we call them PTPs (Parent-Teacher-Partnership). The purpose of them is to empower the families of our students through classroom knowledge. Teachers know that parents can be a huge support pillar in the educational journey of their child. So we try to bring them in every chance we get!
Many of you asked for some details on how our workshops are organized, so I'll give you a quick rundown:
We schedule our PTP workshops according to the cognitive development of our students. Hence, the schedule follows the pacing of our lessons. If you teach kindergarten, you know that the beginning of the school year is taken over by letter names, rhyming, word play, introduction of letter sounds, and implementation of sight words monitoring procedures, etc. This is why our PTP Workshop #1 covers the alphabetic principle and sight words. PTP #2 is scheduled for November and it will cover the math key standard: Counting & Cardinality. The reason we cover this topic during that time of year is because we begin those "number sense" math lessons in early October (beginning with numbers 1-5 and then 6-10). By November we have moved far enough along, that we start to see the gaps that usually come with learning the teen numbers (parents begin to see those gaps as well). This is also around the time that we begin our RTi leveled groupings. PTP #3 is on writing and this is scheduled for Jan. As you know, writing is the academic area that takes longer to develop, so we hold off on it a bit. But we also don't wait until it's too late. PTP #4 is scheduled for the end of the school year because that is when the kindergarten families have an opportunity to meet the first grade team and learn about the standards and expectations that await them the following year.
We begin by inviting our families to the workshop about 2 weeks in advance with the flyer you see above. Interested families must respond by returning the tear-off in order to be guaranteed a "goodie packet." We ask parents to sign-up in advance because we need to know how many packets to prepare ahead of time.
We feel good about the feedback that our families give us every year. Parents are appreciative of the time and effort we take to make this a worthwhile event. Do all families attend (especially the ones that need the information the most)? No. But we don't feel that is a reason to deprive the many that do get a lot out of the experience. We've been doing these workshops for over 10 years, by the way! Some of our families do not speak English and we realize that for these parents, this workshop will serve as schooling for them, as well. We welcome and embrace this dual learning experience. Hope you find this information on our parent PTP workshops helpful.
Our school has always done an great job of teaching math. Our test scores have always surpassed scores of other schools in our area (even those in higher socioeconomic brackets). Chandler math scores were the envy of others for a number of years, and we were proud of that fact. We are now taking advantage of the transition into the Common Core to explore other innovative math strategies. And we were lucky that our very own Cessy Truex was sent to SDE National Conference in Las Vegas this past summer to attend a week long conference on Singapore Math (along with 2 other super Chandler teachers). And she has come back with ideas galore! And as always, Cessy's ready to share.
But first, I'd like to give the disclaimer that our grade level revised the math pacing plan some years back to better fit the needs of our students. We start the school year off with ENVISION'S topics: shapes, positions, sorting for a variety of reasons. First, these tend to be universal topics and most students seems to have some sense of them as they come into kindergarten. This becomes important during the time of year of continuous change and shifts. Second, the first month of school is taken over by mandated assessments. And truth be known, teachers need to plan for "busy work" during those first weeks of school so that we can get all of those assessments done (cuz you know in kinder it takes forever!). Our heavy duty work in math begins with topic 1 in mid-September with the math standard Counting and Cardinality. Classes have usually settled down by then and we are ready for the "meaty stuff." Here is a sneak peek at the student materials we will be making in the upcoming weeks.
This is why Kinder League had to happen... The above is an example of the product that makes us so proud for two reasons. One, extensions like the ones pictured above have simplified our lives! Our mandated curriculum simply did not offer the type of practice that benefited our students best. Today for example, our Treasures Reading lesson had us sort Mm and Aa photos in the pocket chart. And during workshop, students completed their own sound sort activity. Later in the day, they wrote about those pictures using the sight words that we are currently covering. Reason number two, we get to share it with you! Thank you so very much for the positive feedback. Its great to hear and it continues to inspire our mission. Win-win!
So it's great to see that so many teachers have picked up on the magic of this Bill Martin Jr. favorite. As you know, Kinder League is made up of two kindergarten teachers and one TK teacher. Many times we like the same projects and work hard to present them in a different way for our little TK students so that they don't get a repeated lesson two years in a row (Transitional Kindergarten is a two year program using exposure to the kindergarten curriculum).
If you are familiar with the book, you know that the story is about naughty lower case letters that decide to climb a palm tree. When they fall out of the tree, their "mamas and papas" (aka. upper case letters) come to the rescue. It's a great way to introduce and distinguish between upper case and lower case letters. It is also a fun way to introduce letters in names. The above bulletin board is from my TK classroom. The focus here is the first letters in your name. The tags read, "J is for Jaxson." (Again, this giant bulletin board pays tribute to my mentor Mrs. Rodi. She was great about creating huge bulletin boards that grabbed your attention.)
The photos above show what our kinder students did as their extension project. As you can see, Cindy and Cessy had their students spell out their entire name on the palm tress. And the hand print palms look so cute!
Today's selection of multimedia gives you an array of additional resources. We also like to include some kind of music or movie fun. These are ones we would recommend:
Here We Come to Save the Day!
We are three energetic kindergarten teachers who want to share our kinder experience with you!