Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How do I reach them all?

Differentiation. It's one of those education "buzz words" that seems to constantly be floating around. Many of my curriculum and instruction classes focused on differentiation in the classroom. I thought I understood the concept; I thought I had a firm grasp on how to implement differentiation in my classroom.

However, I'm discovering that the real-world application of differentiation is very difficult. We just finished our third six-weeks' assessments with the kids. By this point in the year, I can almost predict what my students will be able to do. The majority of my kids are right where they are supposed to be, but then there are a few that have been struggling since the very beginning and keep falling farther behind. I want to do my best to help these students succeed. But I'm not sure what to do. Maybe I'm just using this as an excuse, but it seems to be extra hard to create differentiation in a Kindergarten classroom. The difficulty is that my students are unable to do much independent work. If I give them directions for an activity, they can only remember one or two directions at a time. They can't read well enough for me to give any kind of directions on paper. So, I have difficulty finding time to work one on one or in small groups with these students that need extra help.

My students that need extra help are especially weak with their numbers. My students are supposed to be able to identify numbers 1-50 at this point. A few of my students still are unable to identify the numbers 1-10. I have some time to review with them during centers, but all the students look foward to centers so much that I hate to pull these kids out during centers and burn them out with extra review.

So, basically I'm at a loss for what to do to help these students have a chance to catch up in time to be ready for first grade. Any suggestions for real-world proven techniques that work in Kindergarten to help students?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow Day Without Snow?

After five days away from school, it was finally time to return to the chaos of Kindergarten today. We had a wonderful four day weekend thanks to Lee-Jackson Day and MLK Jr. Day and then yesterday we had our first snow day of the year! I'm ashamed to admit that I was thrilled to find out school was cancelled. Being a teacher, I suppose I should be upset about missing days of school. I know the research that states how much children regress after just a few days away from school. But, the thrill of having an entire day free from responsibilities is just as exciting as a teacher as it was when I was a student! Interestingly enough, I didn't actually see any snow yesterday. The county I teach in is rather spread out and while some parts of the county received a "dusting" of snow, other parts (i.e. where I live) were completely clear. So, I survived my first snow day...even without the snow!

While I was not a happy camper when my alarm went off this morning, I was excited to return to my class. Believe it or not, I do start to miss my kids after being gone for so many days. One of my favorite things about Kindergarteners is their unfailing love for their teacher. (Yes, I realize it is pathetic that I need validation from 5 year olds, but it makes my day so much brighter!) While I have some regular "huggers" in my class (you know those students...the ones who hover next to you every ten minutes in anticipation of a hug?), today the whole class seemed to have gotten the "hug bug." I couldn't go more than five minutes without a child latching onto my back, middle, leg, arm, or whatever body part was closest to their reach. It makes me smile to see how many times they come up for hugs...however, I'm still trying to find the appropriate balance between letting students come up for hugs and keeping them in their seats long enough to learn something! Ah...the things I never realized I'd be contemplating....

While I'd love to muse a little more about my day's events, I must return to report cards. (I'm beginning to think that nine week grading periods are better than six week gradings periods solely for the reason that you would not spend as many hours entering report card grades!!!!) Hopefully next time I'll be able to share some more delightful stories from my students!