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Below you will find videos and files referenced in my presentation at the Oregon FDK Conference.
**Please note that as a result of the conference, I’ve been requested to add more information to this page. I will work to get them up as quickly as possible, but please remember that I’m teaching during the day and in a Masters program at night! If there is anything specific that you would like to see, please email me or leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll do my best to support you on your journey towards closing the gap!**
A lot of what I use was created by other people and found on Pinterest. For Behavior, EdTech, and Kinder items that I use, you can visit my:
Kinder Pinterest Page
EdTech Pinterest Page
School is Cool Pinterest Page
Mindset Pinterest Page
Closing the Gap Powerpoint
Theme 3-6 (We don’t have Themes 1-2 because we do ABC Bootcamp during that time.)
*Please note that as our current HM adoption only teaches to reading level B and we strive to have kids at C/D, these checkouts may not directly align with HM themes, but what we teach during those themes. We still call them “themes” as a way to track where we are in the year. I’ll upload 8-10 as we revise them.*
There isn’t really a curriculum we use for ABC Bootcamp. It’s more so that we find worksheets and games that teach letters and sounds and really hit that hard until all kids know them. I wish I had a magic bullet for you, but I don’t. You can use anything as long as your goal and focus is letter names and sounds. A lot of what we use is copyrighted, so I’m looking at what I can share with you and what I need to find sources for.
Our general schedule is that after a week or so of getting used to school, we hit one letter per day, following the year-long HM pacing. We use letter cards on the way out the door so that kids tell you letters and sound before going anywhere. We find daily letters in the room. We practice writing them. After that, we use phonemic awareness and phonological awareness tasks to hit those skills, all while keeping the focus on names/sounds. It is slow and steady.
– daily Yes/No name sort: Do you have an A, B, C… in your name? (laminate kid nametags so you can highlight the letter of the day in each name)
– handwriting practice pages
– Alphafriends songs
– letter (beginning sound) coloring pages
– I Have Who Has games (see below)
– scavenger hunts in the school/classroom
When it comes to behavior, I am relentless with them. I teach, reteach, practice, teach again, practice again and again and again. We practice everything. Everything that you think students should be able to to, I teach. I don’t assume that they know what I want them to do (because most of them don’t.) Behavior isn’t something I set up at the beginning of the year and then drop because they’ve “got it.” At a PBIS conference, a presenter said, “You can assume they know what to do, but remember that they’re only 5. There are lots of adults who need to be reminded of the right choices, so you can’t expect kids to be experts at it.” I make sure that my classroom is set up in a way that sets them up for success. We practice how to sit and how NOT to sit on the floor/at desks/on the risers. We practice how to line up and how NOT to line up. We practice how to walk in the school by taking walks when they kids are restless. Kids who struggle have to attend “line school” or “walking school” during recess or free choice time. We make a game of it. Reminders and practice practice practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. If kids practice (read: get away with) something wrong, that wrong behavior will become the permanent one. Even now, at the end of March, I ask them to remind me of what “whole body listening” is, what their good choices are going to be, or tell them explicitly what I’m looking for before EVERY lesson. It takes 10 seconds and saves me many headaches.
We adapt the above Biscotti Kid from saying “Mouth quiet” to “Mouth waiting.” I don’t want kids to be quiet. I want them to wait until it’s their time to talk. No interrupting, no talking when they should be working. Yes to increased student talk when the time is appropriate.
I have two major behavior systems that I use in class. One is the fairly common behavior clip chart and the other is our Good Choices cards.
Click here to download the words for the chart.
All students start they day on green. They move up or down depending on behavior. In the beginning of the year, it’s easy to move around the chart. Kids get moved up for very basic things like sitting the right way or hustling in from recess. They get moved down for multiple reminders or any of those undesirable traits. As the year goes on and the kids become accustomed to school, movement is less frequent. “Teacher’s Choice” is exactly what it sounds like. Depending on the infraction, they could lose some or all of recess or have to write an apology note. Kids communicate their end of day colors by filling out an apple chart daily. I can tell you that I have roughly one kid per year call home. And THEY call home, not me. I dial for them, they are on the phone with mom or dad taking ownership of their behavior. It’s powerful, and rarely used.
These behavior cards are my best friend.
We sort them in the beginning of the year multiple times, as well as the kids doing the cut/paste activity included. I also have kids sort them for me after any long break. We’ll do it again after Spring Break just to remind them. After a few weeks in school, we say goodbye to the poor choices (literally, we say, “goodbye kicking!” “goodbye interrupting!”) and I file them away. Sometimes they make an appearance if a habit reappears, to which I make a big deal. “I thought we got rid of this! What is it doing here?!” The good choices stay in a pocket for sticky tacked to my white board and I pick two or three for everything we do. EVERYTHING. This point in the year, the kids tell me what they think the good choices are going to be. Reminders, ownership, and expectations.
The behavior chart and the good choices work hand in hand. I move kids up for making those good choices (and tell them so) and move them down for making the bad choices (and discuss which good choices will get them moved back up.)
These goal necklaces (from A Rocky Top Teacher) are a huge motivator in our kindergarten rooms. Kids earn them for various things and wear them around the school for the day. I emailed our staff (EAs, lunch ladies, and custodians included) and asked everyone to stop a child and make a BIG deal of it if they see one. The kids are so proud to show off their smarts. Note: they get ripped, bent, stained, lost, etc throughout the year, but they’re just laminated cards on lanyards, so I don’t make a big deal of it. I don’t want to diminish the pride because of general use.
No more arguing about where to line up!
Using construction paper and contact paper, I stick names to the ground where I want kids to line up. (This is custodian approved – contact paper is easy to remove.) No arguing or pushing to be first (or last!) in line. No cutting. You go where your name is. In the beginning of the year, I use the colors for training them. “Let’s see who can do a better job lining up, the blues or the yellows. Blues, line up. Yellows line up…” (variations: girls/boys, glasses/no glasses) As I mentioned before, I want to set them up for success. This is one way to help them be successful. They know exactly where to go and what to do when they get there.
A couple other behavior things:
1) I don’t talk/teach if they’re not listening. No exceptions. I tell them, “My words are important. Your words are important. When you talk, we listen to you. When I talk, you listen to me.” And I wait.
2) I don’t let their home life make consolations for their learning. As I mentioned, my class is 50%+ ELL, 100% low-SES. Lots (but not all) of them have struggles at home. I cannot hold them to a lower standard because of this. It’s not doing them any favors. I know it sounds rough, but it’s the unapologetic truth. I love them. They know I love them. Just like you do with your students, I know when that kid had a rough night. I change my interactions with them, but their overall expectations stay the same. Kids with struggles at home need that security of being held to high expectations. You may be the only one who expects anything from them.
3) I trust them when they say they’re doing their best. My best changes daily (some days are better than others – it’s the human condition) depending on a whole variety of factors. Kids are no different. We don’t have 100% great days. “Tomorrow is another day and we can start all over again.”