One Sunflower

mid-year magic

on February 15, 2010

This is the time of year when I need to provide the broadest curriculum.   The children that were barely 3 at the beginning of the year are now comfortable in school, and have the confidence and skills to benefit from everything that came earlier in the year – so I’ve got to present them again.  With most of my 4 year olds turning 5, the spectrum of abilities that existed at the beginning of the year continues to exist and in some ways has widened.   Our interactions must continue to be infused with targeted goals.

Most of my students have learned the classroom routines and don’t need support during transitions.  Most don’t need reminders to obey classroom/school rules and respond to the needs of others.  However, I have one three-year old who becomes non-compliant in small group settings – and seems especially resistant to requests from me.  A few of my students are becoming sassy and it is not enough to give them verbal reminders, I usually have to remove them from their peers.  Asking them to sit in a chair with a sand timer usually does the trick.  (I’m still having a lot of problems with Alpha, but he is an extreme.) 

All of my students have made friends with at least one peer and while I delight to see these relationships blossom, occasionally the camaraderie becomes overly physical or downright silly!  Luckily, I am now familiar with each students personality and know the sort of cues that will bring their attention back to the task at hand.  My concerns are for those students who remain awkward in their interactions; their peers are becoming less forgiving as they mature and often come perilously close to teasing.  I’ve added a new corner full of games that will encourage skills practice, turn taking and inclusion.   

Academically, I have some students that need support to perform what I call the basics – writing and naming the letters in their names, naming colors and shapes, counting, cutting, following directions to complete a project.  There are some who have the basics but need lots of  practice to become solid performers.  While they work on these “basics,” I also want to make sure I’m adding depth to the skills they have by layering in new challenges and the acquisition of new skills.

One  curriculum component I like to strengthen is sorting and classifying.  My students love to create piles, towers, strands of stuff for counting, measuring, patterning.  (Preschoolers are amazing little mathematicians when given lots of “stuff” to mess around with.)  It is crucial that I scaffold this work, helping the students make connections between what often begins as random behavior to meaningful practice, i.e. cutting loads of cookies out of playdough can become an activity in sorting by shape, identifying size/thickness, creating and noticing patterns.  Supporting dialog, strengthening vocabulary and the ability to explain thinking is another necessary component to these activities.

This is usually the time of year that some of my students begin to add meaningful writing to pictures.  They are understanding letter/sound relationships and just need a little prodding to write words.  Again, it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time to capitalize on their interest and inspiration.  Our conferencing during  journal work is helping to support these new understandings.

I’m also adding a “math magic” time to our day to involve the kids in different kinds of sorting and classifying activities. The students have become complacent with our routine and it takes energy to organize and inform the students about new expectations for these activities.  Last week my principal happened to observe one of our sessions and asked a question that helped me discern next steps in this process – (it is so helpful to have outside eyes looking in!)  Hopefully we’ll have this new part of our routine in place and successful by the end of the month.

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One response to “mid-year magic

  1. Matt says:

    So helpful to get a sense of your milestones and the kinds of things you’re looking for in terms of your students’ developmental progress (and the necessary “side steps” to reinforce skills/strategies already learned). I enjoy reading about the different areas of focus, from social development to sorting to literacy work to routines and how it all comes together in terms of your planning and preparation.

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