Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Parade and Celebration

Hello Families,

I hope you have seen information about our Halloween Celebration and Parade from Ms. Millham's Family Newsletter. If you have not, let me know and I can forward that to you!

Our class plan is to have our celebration on Tuesday, October 31 from 1:30-2:!5. The parade starts at 1:50. From 1:30-1:50 our class will be getting on our costumes and taking pictures before we march in the parade. You are welcome to join us at this time to be part of the excitement! 

The parade will be a loop around the play structure and the basketball courts. If you would prefer to meet us out there, go for it! 

After the parade, we will all go back to our classroom to have a class party and eat some treats! I am looking for donations and ask that you use my online sign-up to let me know you would like to bring something. 

I appreciate your help and hope you can make it!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A week in Review 9/11-9/15

News and Announcements:

Thanks for holding tight, as I am a few days late posting! I really like to have something up for everyone by Friday, but back to school is always such a whirlwind! I was out on Friday attending a class for my graduate program, which kind of doubled the delay!

School pictures are on Thursday 9/21. If you are planning to purchase photos, please send the form in or send it with your student on picture day.

The PTO Fundraiser is due back to school on Friday 9/22.

Our first Early Release Day is on 9/27. Dismissal is at 12:45. Teachers use this release time to work on district wide curriculum plans and collaborate with teachers from other buildings, as well as work with our curriculum director and district specialists.

Open House is on 9/28 from 6:30 to 7:$5. This is an opportunity for you to walk through the classroom and school and see what your child has been working on! It is usually a very busy night, and I rely on your child to be the tour guide of their learning. It can be a little tricky, as parents sometimes want to use that time to discuss with me specifics of their child, however, I ask that you use this time to look at your student's work and set up a time outside of Open House if there are things you need to discuss with me.

Literacy:

Our understanding of letters continued this week, and we dove into handwriting practice. Handwriting is equal parts fine motor learning and and part connecting the shape of the letter to the letter name. We use a program called Wilson FUNdations across the kindergarten classrooms at PPS. The sequence in which we introduce letters is not ABC order, but rather based on the shape of the letter and the frequency in which you use them. We learned three "tall letters" this week. We practiced writing t,b, and f.
In addition to writing these letters, we also did picture sorts and found words that started with the same sound, like feather is a word that starts with f. We also brainstormed a list of our own words that started with t, b, and f!

We started to work on our All About Me books in Writer's Workshop. Each page tells a little bit about who we are and the things that we like. Having some guidance on the topic is allowing our young writers to grow more precise in their illustrations and bolster their awareness of the need for text on their page to explain their ideas.
Our writers are getting really great at a Writer's Share. We are practicing active listening and I have been encouraging students to look closely at each others work to give more specific feedback. We are slowing moving away from "I like your picture" to  "I like the way you drew your dog in that picture" or even "You did a nice job writing your letters!"

Math:

We continued with numbers in our environment this week, as well as matching a digit with a quantity. We did an activity called number stations. Every child worked with a specific number and a material to make a display of their number. For example, a student would receive the card 5 and a baggie of popsicle sticks. They would then try and come up with as many arrangements of the number 5 as they could. The goal for students was two-fold. First, a misconception many students have is that the more space objects take up the more there are. I modeled making a house shape with popsicle sticks, then making a long stretched out line still only containing 5 sticks. We checked and discussed how we new the arrangements were both equal to 5. The other goal for students in this activity was to have them start exploring some additive reasoning. By making a design with 5 sticks, and putting 2 in and X and then using 3 more to make a triangle around the X students are starting to make combinations needed for addition. We want students to visually and quantitatively understand why 2+3=5, rather than just memorize this fact.
Students also practiced writing their numbers in number journals this week. Similar to the notion of teaching how to print letters, it is important for students to connect the physical motion of writing a number to its shape. It makes number recognition easier, as a student has a concrete experience to draw from.
Dovetailing from number writing, we learned a game called Roll and Record. Students would roll a dice and then trace a number on a graph. The students really enjoyed "racing" their numbers and trying to predict which number would win!

That is all for this week!

Allison

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A week in review: 9/6

News and Announcements:

The theme this week has been building independence in routines. It is important for us to take time to get to know the room, the places in our school, and each other. This groundwork allows us to be independent in our learning jobs later on in the year. It is very important to me that every child feels ownership over the expectations school. There are a lot of rules to learn, but giving children the time to process why these rules matter, and why these rules help us, creates an environment of respect and the confidence to move through their day. You will see this theme reflected in our learning in each subject this week!

A big part of student buy-in and self-motivation lies in our schools' use of PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). Every week we collect warm fuzzies in our classroom bear. On Friday mornings we bring the classroom bear down to Whole School Morning meeting, The entire school works to fill up the cafeteria bins with warm fuzzies. This morning we filled the first bin! The celebration, set by our celebrations committee, is always something new and exciting for the kids. We earned a movie celebration today and got to watch and episode of Arthur in our classrooms! The feedback of good behavior for fun is incredibly important for our young students as they learn what we value as a school community.

Literacy (Reading and Writing)

We started our week meeting a very important pal, Baby Echo! Baby Echo is an owl finger puppet who helps us learn our letters and the sounds that they make. Baby Echo is part of a literacy program our school uses, Wilson FUNdations. Baby Echo sits on my finger and when he is hiding the students watch and listen as I hold a flashcard, recite the letter name, a word associated with that letter, and then I produce the sound the letter makes. Then, when Baby Echo is out from behind the card, students echo what I just did. "A, apple, aaaaaaa" is something you may hear your student saying in the next few weeks. This practice is something we do every morning.

After Baby Echo helps with letters and the sounds, we transition to literacy jobs. This week, we explored Wikki Sticks, magnet letters, and letter puzzles from the Word Work center. Eventually, students will have daily independent practice in the Word Work center. Right now, my focus is not on students' knowledge of letters and sounds, but rather the care and purpose of the materials in the Word Work center. We discussed why this work is important and how to care for the materials. We decided that if we want to learn how to read and write we need to know what the letters are shaped like and that letters make sounds. We also had conversations about how letters and numbers are used for different things. We explored the materials by going on letter hunts, matching pictures and the correct letters together, and shaping the letters using Wikki Sticks.

In writing, we start the learning time off with a read aloud and then I model telling my own story. We are focused, this trimester, on telling true stories from our own lives. After I tell a story, I then use my document camera to show how I get my story onto paper. At this point, Kindergarteners are approximating everything. I can liken it to playing pretend...you have probably seen your child pretend to be a doctor, a scientist, or even a ballerina. They don't know exactly what those adult jobs entail, but they love pretending to be that profession! Being a writer is not very different! Our mantra is, WE ARE WRITERS! Right now, kindergarteners don't know exactly all the steps of exactly how an author writes a book. Maybe they know there are pictures in books or maybe even that words and letters are written alongside pictures. This week, students did their best guess of what writing looks like. I guided them in how to sit, how to think of an idea to write, and gave them feedback on what they put on the page. Most students are able to draw a picture of something that happened in their life. Some, add letters that may or may not go along with what they are trying to record. This foundation is where we start from. Every child needs to first believe they are a writer before they are able to learn the very complicated process of recording a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Students got a chance to come up and put their work under the document camera, just like I do, and "read" what they wrote. The sense of pride is what I am trying to foster. When a child is excited about writing and believes that they can do it, the business of learning how is much easier to undertake.

Math:

We continued our work with numeracy this week. Our routine in math is station work. Students will listen to a lesson whole group, then they have group work. Ms. Santarcangelo has come in twice this week to work with us.
We went on a number hunt to see how many numbers we could recognize around the school building. We talked about why numbers are important and the different places we found numbers. We asked questions like "What is the name of that number? How would you describe the way it looks? Why do you think those numbers are on the clock (sign, license plate, and so on)? Where else have you seen that number?"
We started number collections this week as well. Over the next week there will be a featured number, this week we discussed the numbers 0 and 1. We each collected objects to match the number of the day. We are learning that every number matches a quantity or another way to phrase that idea is that every numeral is associated with an amount.
We finished the week playing "Target Number". The kids stood in a circle and passed a ball. The students holding the ball would say the next number in the sequence. The student who said the number 10 was out. We played until their was one student left and they were crowned a winner!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Allison

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Three Days Update!

News and Announcements 


Wow! What a fantastic start to our year together. It has been a full week with so many new things to get used to! I know your students are returning home tired, but hope they come home smiling!

Thank you for class wishlist items! I really appreciate you donating to our classroom.

I have really enjoyed reading the introduction letters I have received. Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your families and your child. If you haven't sent in a letter yet, please do so soon! It helps me build my relationship with your student when I have a bit of background to connect, the name of your pets or the names of siblings, hobbies, and dislikes are all things you can include to help me get a picture of your student outside of our classroom. When you send in your letter, please include a family photograph.

Lunch 
Lunch is still a routine we are learning. Kids have been practicing ordering in the morning with me and Miss Cindel has been checking their lunch boxes to make sure they are ordering correctly and have enough food for the day.
Two bits of information for you at home-
Every morning we start with lunch count. We individually ask students "menu, sandwich or cold".
If your student does not like the menu item for the day and would like to order a sandwich at school(the cafeteria offers turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, or sunbutter and jelly) remind them to order a "sandwich" for lunch.
When your student gets to the cafeteria they will be expected to tell the cafeteria worker "I ordered a sandwich." I am still walking through the lunch line with our class and supporting them in this routine. When you have your morning conversation about their lunch plan, this could be something to go over with your student should they decide to order sandwich. The more practice we get the better!

If your child has cold lunch, they still have the option to take a milk or water from the cooler in the cafeteria. The way our cafeteria is set up, we walk right past the cooler on our way to sit down. I find the first few weeks many students will grab a chocolate milk because they think they are obligated to or just because chocolate milk is yummy! Please talk with your cold-lunch student about taking milks or waters. Make sure they know if you want them to be drinking school drinks or just what is in their lunch box. This is another tricky routine to get used to, please let me know if you have questions or need me to support your child in remembering your family's preference.

Buses
Dismissal has been going smoothly in Room 14. THANK YOU! for providing the most up to date information and triple checking that we have the correct dismissal plan for your child.
I will be making permanent bus tags this week. I know the paper ones are flimsy and most tags have ripped by Day Three! Now that we are certain, I can make laminated tags that should last the year.

Unified Arts
We have had double P.E. and a Music class this week. The kids have loved meeting their unified arts' teachers!
I also would like to update you that our Guidance class is scheduled for Fridays. We had our first half hour Guidance class was today. Our counselor, Mrs. T, comes into our classroom to help us learn us about feelings, socializing, and how to get help. Mrs. T put a not in your go-home folders about her role as an elementary school guidance counselor.

Literacy
We have used our morning literacy time this week to get acquainted with one another and our classroom. As I mentioned to the group at Smart Start, we spend a lot of time building routines and familiarity with each other before launching into academic curriculum.
We start the morning together on the carpet for our Morning Meeting. We greet each other, sing a song, play a name game, and then do a morning message. I use the morning message as an opportunity to sneak in some letter identification and practice listening for sounds.
We also learned how to use the art center, the playground equipment, how to have second snack on the carpet, how to use the bathroom, and how to "Whole Body Listen".
Whole Body Listening is about making sure every part of your body is focused on the speaker. We often go through a checklist to help students monitor their focus. This helps our group of 20 try to think about the same thing at the same time!

Math 
Similar to literacy, teaching students how to use materials and their space allows them to have more independence in our classroom. We have a had a few math explore periods where students are able to play with manipulatives that they will later use to represent and understand math.
We built with pattern blocks and counted their sides. Ask your student if they can name the shapes that I posted in my Twitter photographs!
Ms. Santarcangelo joined us on Thursday to teach us about sorting. She explained that when we sort we put the things that "match" together. Some students sorted by color, others by shape, other by size.
Today, we engaged in counting activities. The strategy I taught today is called "doorbell count". This is to help students avoid errors when counting. We need to build student's one-to-one correspondence. Often, while students are learning how to count they get disorganized and count the same object many times. Or, students will count in sequence from memory and not match a number with an object and miscount a group. I use the analogy of a doorbell to help students remember to touch the center of the object when they say the number.

I am so excited our year is underway! Let me know if you have any questions!

All the best,

Allison


Monday, August 7, 2017

Welcome to Kindergarten 2017-2018!




I am thrilled to welcome you and your family to Porters Point School! If we have not had a chance to meet yet, my name is Allison Donnelly. I will be your child’s kindergarten teacher this year. This is my sixth year teaching at Porters Point School. I have taught in special education, first grade and this is my fourth year teaching Kindergarten. Kindergarten is such an amazing year for a child. I am always impressed to see the growth that every student experiences. Students are involved in so many new opportunities to learn and play! I am so excited to start this school year and am honored to be a part of your child’s educational journey!
August  is our Kindergarten Smart Start. This will be a day where just kindergarteners can acclimate themselves to Porters Point School. Your child will be able to meet me, their classmates, other teachers in our building and practice things like, eating lunch and riding a school bus. Smart Start begins at 10am on August 29th and the kids are here until 1pm. We serve lunch to students, too.  There will be a time for parents to sit and meet me, as well as ask any questions.  You will need to provide transportation because there are no buses running that day. August 30th is our first full day of school.
The only thing I need from home is a short letter introducing me to your child. I have always found it helpful to hear your thoughts about your child’s strengths and what you hope for them in the upcoming year. It will be greatly appreciated if you bring that with you to Smart Start. Also, if you have a photograph of your family for a class collage please include that with your letter. I will provide folders and other classroom supplies for your child. If you are interested in donating any items from my wish list please consider:
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Tissues
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Colored Pencils
  • Glue Sticks
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Post-Its
  • White Cardstock Paper
  • Classroom snacks to share (i.e. Goldfish,granola bars,cheese sticks)
These items we use frequently and we often run out. Anything you would like to donate would be greatly appreciated!!


My goal is to have a weekly blogpost informing you of the happenings in Room 14. Stay tuned to missdonnellykinders.blogspot.com for updates! I also love posting photos throughout the school day on my Twitter account: @missdroom2.


In the coming weeks if you have any questions e-mail me at allison.donnelly@colchestersd.org or call me at school, 264-5920. I can't wait to meet you and begin our learning adventure together!


Sincerely,

Allison Donnelly

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Week in Review 5/30

News and Announcements:

For a short week, we sure have packed a lot in! Mighty Makers kicked off this week and kids got to work on making our playground a more beautiful and fun place to be! Thank you to volunteers who have joined us! Here are those links again if you would like to volunteer you time or donate materials:

Materials Donation
Supervision Volunteers
Behind the Scenes

Check out the Mighty Makers SeeSaw blog for breaking news from our Community Unity projects!

Make sure you send in Last Day of School BBQ forms by Monday :)

Reading:

This week was a heavy assessment week for Ms. Lawrence and I. We spent our reading time going through snap words, phonological awareness, and the reading inventory with every student. Our students proceeded with their independent work as we focused on our assessments.
Students are doing wonderful! They are demonstrating all the skills and strategies they worked so hard to learn this year.

Science:

We continued our work with the five senses this week. We finished our last 2 diagrams that show how the body parts send messages to our brains.
We also performed two activities this week to see the connection to our brains in action. We talked about how our senses are connected and often times to learn and understand our world, two senses work together. We talked about how our sense of hearing and sight work together. I challenged students to see if when they heard a sound, they could name what they were hearing without seeing it. Most students proposed that their sense of hearing was strong and that their brain could remember sounds and name what they were hearing. I used a sound effect app on my ipad and played various sounds. Students then recorded when they hear a siren, a dog bark, or a phone ring.
We also did another activity that challenged the brain's memory. Students were shown a tray with several objects on it, then students would only get a few seconds to see what was on the tray. Afterwards, they would draw from memory what they saw.

Math:

With Mighty Makers, we only had 1 math class this week! We used the time to reflect on our year as mathematicians. We looked over old pictures that stretched through the year. Then, we made a list of the things we learned to do in math this year.
As a follow up activity, students were then asked to create two word problems. The first word problem was to a problem for a kindergartener to solve at the very beginning of the year.
Students wrote problems like "I had 1 cookie and then my friend gave me 2 more. How many do I have all together?"
The second problem was to be a challenge problem for a kindergartener to solve at the end of the year. One student wrote this problem, "I had 151 pizzas. Then, I bought 23 more pizzas. How many do I have now?"
It was a great math class to have in the middle of our week to celebrate all that we have accomplished.

That's all for this week!
Best,
Allison

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Week in Review 5/22

News and Announcements:

I hope you all had a chance to read over Carolyn's newsletter explaining Project Based Learning(PBL). The kids were introduced to PBL this morning at Whole School Morning Meeting. We are calling the school-wide project "Mighty Makers". The kindergarten team will specifically be working on the Community Unity project. Here are the links to sign-up to volunteer your time or materials:
Materials Donation
Volunteer to Supervise Students
Volunteer to assemble projects "Behind the Scenes"

Next week, we will get to decorate our team hats and get started with our projects! It is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and get creative with the whole school.

If you have any questions about PBL or any other end of the year events, send me an e-mail! I know I am very dependent on my calendar right now and trying to keep all the dates and times straight!

Reading

This week Ms. Lawrence and I started end of the year literacy assessments. We are assessing snap words, letters and sounds and phonological awareness. Next week, I will assess students reading as a whole using the Fountas and Pinell Reading Inventory. This will give us a picture of your student as a reader, their ability to read with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. I am confident in all of our super readers!
We started a new unit in our reading this week that is really about bringing our year as readers full circle. We started the year with a unit focused around students seeing themselves as readers. We role-played our way into behaving like readers then dug in and did the work to learn how to read. Now, we are becoming avid readers. We spent the week exploring the question, "What is an avid reader?" I want students to leave kindergarten with a love of reading strong enough to push them through the summer straight into first grade. This unit is not about new skills but rather making sure students really understand that the learning they have done actually belongs to them. They have the strategies to read in new settings, be flexible, and transfer what they have learned anywhere. Here is the list our class brainstormed about what an avid read is:
1. Avid readers sometimes want to read alone or with someone else
2. Avid readers want to read books again, and again, and again, and again...
3. Avid readers read night and day
4. Avid readers read everywhere!!
5.Avid readers read all different types of books
6.Avid readers like to listen to books
7 Avid readers LOVE to read!
8 Avid readers never stop reading!
9.Avid readers read for their whole life
10. Avid readers read to relax
11. Avid readers never give up

The energy in our room was fantastic when we made this list! You could see the pride that every student had. It was so joyous to watch the students scurry off to grab their books and settle in.

Science and Writing

We are finishing the year with our stacked unit of writing and researching the Five Senses. This week we read several books about the senses, We are concentrating on several Big Ideas or learning objectives in this unit.
We want students to understand that every sense is associated with a body part. Students can name the five senses and the body part used with that sense. We also are working to understand that your sense help you learn about your world. Each sense sends messages to your brain.
This week our focus was learning the structure of each body part. We made diagrams to show the parts of an eye, the parts of the ear, and today the parts of the tongue. We will make a page for each sense and then create a book. After we learn the vocabulary and structure of the body parts, we will begin to conduct experiments to learn about how our senses work together, help us understand the world.

Math:

This week our focus was on place value. We played a game called Craft Stick bundles to represent two-digit numbers. Children were given a bag of craft sticks and needed to estimate how many were in the bag then count how many sticks were in the bag. We talked about using bundles of ten to make counting easier. We extended the activity by using ten frame recording sheets to represent the number in 10 frames as well.
Then, the challenge was to roll a dice with a 2-digit number on it and build the number using bundles of 10 and leaving the ones place out of the bundle. For example, students would roll the dice and get a number like 32. They would then have to visualize building 3 bundles of 10 and 2 ones, or 2 popsicle sticks on their own.
On the final day of this activity, students rolled 2 double digit dice and try to add the numbers together. Some students were solving the problem mentally and then asked to prove it using the bundles of craft sticks. The challenge problems came when regrouping was involved in the addition of the two dice. For example, what happens when you add 19+22. It was a great way for students to visualize making a new 10 when you add.
Ms. Lawrence spent the week teaching concepts around capacity. Students used their backpacks to measure the length, compare weights, and compare the width of backpacks. She also reviewed addition and subtraction games to always be practicing our fluency!

That is all for this week!

Best,

Allison