Thursday, May 31, 2012

Random Musings!

I just finished a day of working on our School Improvement Plan with my school's leadership team.  I was lucky to have a great group to work with and we were very productive.  Too bad these SIPs don't have any weight or benefit on getting additional resources.  But I digress...

Before I get to the good stuff...I created a Facebook page for my blog.  Here is the link: Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten on Facebook! I hope you'll go and like!!!!!  (And share with your friends and on your blogs and your twitter and everywhere!  I'm not too good to beg...)  Now if anyone in blog land can help this newbie post the Facebook like button on my blog, I will be your biggest fan.

Blog question 2:  How do you all get all of the cute fonts for your posts?!?!  I have thousands of fonts and would love to use them on my blog.  (Speaking of fonts, I have a GREAT IPad app that creates fonts from handwriting....should that be a future blog post?!)

I know some of us are enjoying our summer vacation already and I know that some of us are still chugging away.  To my friends who are still chugging away, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!    So...for those of you still at it, I wanted to share some photos and ideas from my classroom.  Maybe someone will be inspired to use something they see.  If you are inspired, please leave me some love and let me know and if you wouldn't mind telling your friends about my new little blog, I would be so grateful!

This is one of my all time favorite projects that my students do all year.  These are "self portraits" that the students create at the beginning of the year to practice cutting.  After we have introduced scissors and practiced a lot of cutting, we embark on our self portraits.  I absolutely love how they perceive themselves.  After we have discussed how many eyes and ears and noses we have, I let the students create themselves.  When we're finished, we display these in the hallway as our first art project.  Let me just tell you, these quickly become the MUST SEE display in our school.  I always know when people are seeing them for the first time because we will hear people laughing at just how adorable these are.  Every visitor that comes to our school is escorted down to our dungeon  corner of the school to see these creations.  They truly are a hit!  The pictures show the beginning of the year and the end of the year.  What I like about these is that you can see the progression of their cutting and coloring skills.  The blue portrait was done at the very beginning of the year and the red portrait was done the very last week of school.   Of course, i'm also intrigued by this particular friend's choice of skin colors, but that is another interesting aspect of this project.  The discussions that I overhear about skin colors are so enlightening and powerful.  If only adults saw race and color as a non starter, wouldn't the world be a much better place?!  It's interesting to hear 5 year olds debating the color of their own skin and actually being open to the idea that someone is seeing them differently than they view themselves.  Some day I would like to do a study on this very issue.  (Side bar:  I use colors to identify groups for my math and reading centers(pink, purple and green) and when the students asked me what they can do, I often (this is BAD teaching, I know...) will ask them "What color are you?"  Of course I am referring to their group color and not their skin color.  Most of the time and I mean 99% of the time, they know what I'm asking, however, I have one little friend, who I will call Fraggle because she looks like a tiny, adorable fraggle, always looks at her arms and seriously ponders the question, then answers me "I'm brown!!!"  Mr. Smedley needs to work on his teacher language and ask better questions!!!)

And in the top picture you can get a little tiny glimpse into what my classroom looks like!

This is another one of year beginning of the year and end of the year projects that the kids love.  We make our hand prints during the first week of school and then we do another hand print at the end of the year.  The students love seeing how much bigger their hands are after a whole school year.  It's a great, fun, quick activity for a unit on the five senses or the human body.  And it makes a great keepsake!  

Earlier in the week, I posted some subtraction cards I had created and got great feedback!  THANK YOU!  I was asked to post the recording sheets, so here they are!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gotta Have It!

Good Morning!  It's day two of summer vacation and I slept until 9:30 and now i'm laying on the couch with the doodle!  He sure does love having his dad home everyday!

I was talking to a fellow blogger yesterday about how excited I am that my blog has been so well received.  She was telling me she wants me to be a guest blogger at the end of June after I have some more posts and have become more established.  I told her that I have SO many ideas for posts that I could post several times a day, but I don't want to over do it.  How many posts a day/a week does everyone recommend?

I found this linky party today at Kindergarten Schmindergarten and wanted to participate because it's fun to see what people "Gotta Have" and I want people to get more of a glimpse into the classroom and world that is Mr. Smedley!  Beware, it's a crazy, colorful and sparkly world!

What do you GOTTA HAVE?  Join the linky party at Little Miss Glamour Goes To Kindergarten!

I will be posting some more creations later today!

Thanks again for following my little blog and all of the great comments and encouraging words!!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shock and Awe! And my FIRST Download!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday with friends, family and lots of good food and beverages! I know we sure did!

I am quite shocked and humbled that I already have 25 followers!  I get excited about little things as you'll learn from my blogs so every time I receive an email about a new comment or follower, I get pretty excited.  I might even be checking my email a little more often!    I really didn't expect people to be interested in what I had to say and share.  But a HUGE thank you for following me and for all of the wonderful comments!  I truly appreciate it!  To celebrate 25  followers I am sharing my first download!

During our literacy block, my students LOVE to write the room so much that I decided to extend it into math and learning our addition and subtraction facts.  We started off with facts from 0-5 and everyone was using the same facts.  This helped with management and helped my friends learn the procedures for writing the room during math.  Once we had the hang of this new and amazing center (no, really, they were AMAZED and begged to write the room!  I know, kinders begging to do math facts?!  It's true.  I promise!) I decided to differentiate the center.

I created 3 sets of write the room cards. One set was for my struggling students and covered the facts from 0-5, the second set was for my middle group and covered facts from 0-10 and the third set was for my high group and covered facts from 0-20.   I color coded them to match my math groups and added color coded recording sheets.  This made it easier for the students to find their cards that were hung up all over the room (even on the ceiling)!  Once they filled up their recording sheet and there answers had been checked by me, they turned the paper over and kept working on the back.  This was such a great success and really helped us strengthen our math skills.  And it was simple to differentiate and manage.

This is one of my first creations so any feedback/criticisms/snide remarks is welcome and helpful!  I hope you can use this in your classrooms next year!

Write The Room Math Facts

Write The Room Math 1
Write The Room Math 2
Write The Room Math 3
Write The Room Math 4
Write The Room Math 5
Write The Room Math 6
Write The Room Math 7
Write The Room Math 8
Write The Room Math 9

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's a Bear! It's a teacher! It's a four-legged tutor!

Today is one of my proudest moments as a teacher.  I am very modest about my teaching but today I am very proud of the job I do!  

Two years ago I was put in touch with a lady who owns a llama farm.  She had a special llama named Pearl.  Pearl the llama is a certified therapy animal.  She is trained to not spit or kick.  The spitting was a big concern, but I was more worried about the kicking because I was on the wrong end of an untamed llama's foot while visiting Ecuador.  But I digress.  Pearl came to visit the kindergartners and Pearl adopted us as our favorite students.  Pearl returned to visit us this to help us celebrate Read for the Record day.  My students were convinced that Pearl was Llama Llama from the Llama Llama books.  Pearl even gifted us her grand champion ribbon from a contest she won.  I just want to say that PEARL ROCKS!  It's OK to be jealous of our friend Pearl!  

Following Pearl's first visit,  I received a call from a lady who had a dog who had just been certified as a therapy animal and they were looking for a volunteer opportunity.  I told her I had been looking for a therapy dog for my classroom.  It was a perfect match.

I had read about reading dogs and read the benefits of having a reading dog.  It boosts the confidence of young readers, it excites them about books and reading and it helps students develop into fluent readers.  And it's a lot of fun.  I had no idea how to go about finding a therapy dog but thanks to Pearl the llama, my class now had our own reading buddy, Bear the dog!  Bear has been coming to my class once a week for two years.   During his visits, each child gets a turn to read two books of their choice from their book bags.  They also get to give Bear a treat.  I think this is the highlight of their time with Bear.  They love when he licks them!  And Bear loves school.  Bear's owner tells me how excited Bear gets when he hears the words, "You want to go to school?"  Bear even came to our end of the year to help us celebrate our success.  

I credit Bear with helping my students last year and this year become much better readers.  His visits really build their love and excitement for reading.  I love that my students have had this opportunity that most students don't get.  It's such a powerful experience for them.

Last week one of the local tv stations spent an hour in my classroom working on a story about Bear.  I had to wear a microphone for the entire hour.  It's a little unnerving to have everything you say for an hour recorded.  The story about Bear and my students aired tonight.  As we watched (at a restaurant during dinner!)  I was so proud of my students and so thankful to have Bear.  You can watch the story if you click on the link!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Summer Bucket List!

My summer officially begins Friday at 3:30.  But me being who I am,  I will be back at school next week working on some projects and working with the school leadership team to finish up our School Improvement Plan for our district.  After that I have a week of workshops and PD that I'm looking forward to.  And then I start my summer job at a daycare!  And of course I have a huge summer bucket list to work on!   Of course, that list includes a lot of school projects and lots of sun and sleep, but also preparing and planning for a life changing list!  Here is my "manly" summer bucket list!

1.  Wedding planning!  10/6/12 is the big day and we are well on our way to planning an amazing day!  We actually met with the florist tonight and we're able to get the final major element nailed down!  And can I just say that our flowers are going to be AMAZING!

2.  School projects!  Of course, there are always school projects to work on and dream about working on.  I hope I can be very productive this summer and get some of my Pinterest finds made and ready for a new year! My overall goal is to get more organized, especially with my arch enemy, PAPER!  It's everywhere.  It takes over.  It disappears runs away.  And it drives me crazy.  I will tame the beast!  I will.  I will.  I wi...I might.   With that said, here are a few of my projects.

3.  I plan to read!  We have a book study for school so of course I will read that book but I plan to do some fun reading too!  I am very excited to get to read some books on my IPad!  No judging of my reading choices allowed!  And yes, I am obsessed with Bravo and all things Andy Cohen and the Real Housewives! We all have our vices, right?!


Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm A Rockstar!

Greetings! Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog. This is my first of what I hope will become many, many posts! As I read all of the great teacher blogs out there, I keep telling myself that this is something I want to do and should do. With the encouragement of my fiancée' I am finally taking the leap! I want to introduce myself to everyone. I am a rock star of sorts. It's true. Everywhere I go people react the same way to me. They "oooh and aahhh" at me. They get very excited and sometimes get a little giddy. That effect is multiplied when I'm attending workshops and professional development. What makes me a rock star, you ask? I am a male kindergarten teacher. We are a rare breed, but we're out there! I don't know what it is about being a male kindergarten teacher, but it really does make people a little giddy. I always tell people that I absolutely have the best job in the world. And to think that 4 years ago when I was dragged kicking and screaming into kindergarten, I was calling my mommy telling her I couldn't do it and I didn't want to do it. And here I am starting a blog to share my ideas, creations and stories of being a male kindergarten teacher. I teach at an urban school that serves the largest public housing project in Nashville. Our school is very poor with 99% of our students receiving free lunch. Another sad statistic is that 85% of our students have no father or other male role model. Along with those statistics and the threat of violence and lack of exposure at home, my school and my students face huge obstacles. But I'm here to tell you that these little scholars don't allow those things to slow them down on their quest for excellence. I set very high expectations for my students and we don't allow excuses as to why we can't! Our first rule is that we never say the words " I can't." Our second rule is that we expect ourselves to better than the best! I have been teaching kindergarten for three years. I have also taught second grade and fifth grade, but my heart and my passion is kindergarten. I love seeing my students grow and soak up every piece of knowledge they discover. I love finding new ideas and resources for my students and I love creating for my students. I love doing art projects with my class as well as science experiments. I get a lot of comments on our very, very decorated hallway! I am very excited and a whole lot anxious about starting this blog, but here goes! I hope you'll follow me and come back often! I plan to share ideas and stories from my classroom and I also plan to start posting units and activities that I create!
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