I just spent 3 days at the ETSU 51st Annual Early Childhood Conference. It was an incredible conference. Thursday was the Pre-Conference, there were three choices. Since I had never attended a Dr. Jean conference before I was so excited to find out she was coming. It was a day full of singing and dancing, with lots of learning crammed in. I came away with so many new transition ideas, it will take me a while to sit down and create a list of what I want to use. She also provided so many great ideas for teaching letters and letter sounds. I think the best thing was for every idea she shared she altered it to work for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grades. She also shared that she is posting a daily blog of ideas that she gets from people she meets at conferences, it can be reached from her website drjean.org.
Friday and Saturday were filled with mini sessions. I started Friday at the Foldables session from the Dinah Zike Academy. It was incredible. We were a little worried it would be a sales pitch for a product, but it wasn't. The presenter taught us how to make all the Foldables, and gave us the pack to make samples. She also provided a great presentation with so many examples of how teachers had used these. Again another session where I walked away with so many ideas. I was also able to see Jack Hartman, another incredible presenter. By the end of the conference I had bought two of his cds. I was disappointed however, the last session on Friday I could choose between another Jack Hartman or a behavior management session. Since I had seen Jack Hartman once, and would see him again on Saturday I decided to pick the behavior managment session. That was a mistake, it was a hour long sales pitch to have this company come to my school and do a full day inservice. The presenter would give a hint at an idea and then say and if this were a full day inservice I would give more examples. It was very frustrating.
Saturday was filled with even more great sessions. I started the day at a session on using pattern blocks. I was able to come up with some great center activities from this one. Then I saw the always impressive Dr. Pam Evanshen, discussing classroom environment. I had her in college and attend her sessions every chance I get. These come in especially helpful since I have had to set up so many classroom environments! Then there was another exciting singing and dancing session with Jack Hartman! The last mini session I attended was the author Denise Fleming. She writes and illustrates wonderful childrens books and then provides lesson plan ideas on her website for free.
The only complaints I have about the conference would be the following: First, the sessions get "stalked", people leave their last session early just to be waiting outside the door. Then when those of us who stayed for our entire session get to the next one they are out of seats. I was kicked out of a session I really wanted to see because there weren't any seats and I was standing along with about 20 others. This session was not a repeated session either (just so you know the sales pitch I attended Friday was repeated!). This should tell the Advisory board something. If you have a large group of people you are kicking out because they are willing to stand for 75 minutes, you should have a repeat session. Second, the vendors ran out of so much! Of course that is not a problem for them, just for me who wanted to buy things! I do have to say that the vendor who were out of what I wanted offered me free shipping if I mentioned the conference when I ordered so that was nice! Last don't book people who are just there to sale their product as presenters. Let them be vendors, but don't let them trick me into wasting my time. I went to two sessions where they had a product to sale but you would have never known from the presentation. I also went to the one session this year and one session two years ago that was nothing then a sales pitch. I felt like I should come away with a free dinner like the time share people give you!
Great conference again this year ETSU! I can't wait for next year!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
My reading loft is almost finished. I have just a few things left to do, such as place books of the month on the little shelf, put my listening books and tapes up, and decide how to decorate the walls. That I am looking for help with. I would love suggestions for what to put on the walls. I want something that won't be to distracting or overstimulating, since this should be a quiet center. Here are some before and after pictures, let me know what you think!
These are the before pictures. As you can see the loft was a storage area.
This is the bean bag I have added for independent reading, plus you can see the corner of my little bookshelf. I plan to use this for the Author of the Month books.
This is look from the top of the steps straight ahead. In this picture you can see the big book holder, and another bookshelf of choice books. There is also a table. I have 1 chair at this table already, but I bought 2 chairs at a garage sale for $1 and my husband spray painted them for me, so they will be at this table for buddy reading. Beside the bookshelf is a little rocking chair for independent reading.
In this picture you see the table for the listening center with 3 chairs. In the corner I have a basket of the PVC pipes for the kids to read into. I also have a shelf with puzzles (both floor puzzles and small puzzles). This will be used as a indoor recess center when needed. I thought puzzles would be a good quiet center so that the loft is ALWAYS a quiet area even during recess.
I am very excited about the loft and I am looking forward to using it. I am a little nervous about the management of it since I have never had one before. If anyone has suggestions for me please leave a comment. I would love to hear what others think!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I have found this great website to help teachers get materials they need. It is www.donorschoose.org. I am on my second project, my first was a little big and did not get funded. I shared this site last year with my coworkers and two of them got projects funded! My new project is much smaller so fingers crossed! If you want to check out my project or others to help follow this link: http://www.donorschoose.org/mrs.gillenwater
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I was exploring the Internet this morning and googled Kindergarten (something I do frequently). Today I discovered a great website for parents of students coming in to Kindergarten. http://www.education.com/grade/kindergarten/. This site provides articles about preparing for Kindergarten, what to expect, and how to handle the dreaded first day. Some of the information will vary based on where you are in school at, I know that "what your child will learn" section did not have all the things TN standards require. If you communicate with your child's teacher like the site suggests you will know what is expected where you live. My favorite article with the best information is "10 Things About Kindergarten You Need To Know Now". I am thinking about printing this and placing it in my welcome folder, then next year giving it with registration packets (if my coworkers like it the way I do).
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The following pictures are from my new room on the very first day I walked in it. I have not touched anything in this room in these pictures.
These first two are looking in the room from the door.
This picture is the storage space under the loft.
These two pictures are taken standing under the loft looking out into the classroom.
These two pictures are the room from above, taken in the loft.
These two pictures are taken in the loft.
This picture is looking at the loft from across the room. You can also see the girls bathroom door in this picture.
Looking across the room at the classroom door and the door to the boys bathroom.
These are taken from the opposite corner from the loft.
Other bits of information about my classroom:
1. I have a SMART board!
2. I found 9 computers, 3 were Apple 2Es, 1 is the teacher computer, and 1 computer does not work. Once I have moved them out I will have a total of 5, 4 student computers and 1 teacher computer.
3. The loft has previously been used for storage, so there was lots to go through and find new homes for in order to create a reading and listening loft.
4. I will have an assistant, so there is an extra teacher desk in the room.
5. There are a ton of books. I have a huge library, but there is not organization to it (at least not one that worked for me).
Here are my plans:
1. Move the teacher desk and TV down on the wall where the SMART board is.
2. Move all computers on one table and remove the extra table.
3. Create two shelves with math materials. Create 1 shelf with reading materials. Create two shelves with books.
4. Divide the group "rug" area from the seating area using a material shelf.
5. Create a better small group area near the bathrooms.
6. Create a reading/listening area in the loft.
7. Organize books based on themes and topics we study in Kindergarten.
8. Bulletin Boards that will contain the following: A word wall; A hundreds club board; a rules board; a letter of the week board; a center chart; and an area for student work.
These are my plans for room setup only. I will post about management things later, but my biggest focus right now is getting the room organized and welcoming.
Teaching is an adventure!
Starting this blog has been a goal of mine for a while now. I use the Internet constantly looking for ideas in my classroom and I just feel like I need a place to share ideas I have and links where I find other good ones. I hope this is helpful to anyone that reads it. I thought with this first blog I would just share about my career. I have become a master of short term room setups. I got my first job five years ago teaching 3rd grade 3 hours away from where I lived. I was hired on a Thursday, found a place to live on Friday, moved Saturday and teachers started back to work Monday! It was one crazy week of getting setup and ready. The next year I stayed in the same room and grade (that has yet to happen again!) My third year teaching I was moved to a new room teaching 1st grade. The problem with this was our school was being remodeled and I had no access to my room until two weeks before school started and I was pregnant!that was an adventure. After that year of teaching and having our first child my husband and I decided to move back home. He transferred in his job and I applied to local school systems. I was hired to teach 1st grade one week before teachers returned to school. The very next day I was moved to 4th grade, so I began preparing that room. When it was almost ready I found out I was being put back in 1st grade due to numbers. So I began preparing that room, only to find out the positions at that school were cut due to funding and numbers and I was going to teach Kindergarten at another school. Again it was one crazy week of getting setup and ready! At the end of this school year we found out we are having another baby and I felt pretty good about coming back to the same school, numbers seemed like they would be about the same. Unfortunately the numbers dropped over the summer and I received a phone call that I was being moved to another school, but still teaching Kindergarten. I will have a little over a month to prepare this classroom, which is the longest amount of time ever! It is a good thing I like challenges! I have had lots of help from my husband, mom, and dad in preparing so far, plus lots of support from the faculty at both my last school and my new one. I have been fortunate to always work with the best people! In my next few posts I will give pictures of my new classroom before, during, and after pictures! I will try to describe my classroom management plans I have used and what I want to try this year.
Teaching is an adventure every day, and I love it!
Teaching is an adventure every day, and I love it!