Friday, July 3, 2015

Five for Friday July 3

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Thank you for hosting, Kacey! Happy Summer!

Last week, Sharing Kindergarten shared these awesome Attention Grabbers on her facebook page. 

It's always fun  to have some different ways to bring the kids back and help them refocus.  My favorite was the Flat Tire... Shhhh! one.  I can't wait to use these.  

How excited was I when I found this fabulous freebie from Kindergarten Rocks!  She turned them into adorable cards.  I am going to print them out, put them on a ring, and hang them right on my easel so I can use different ones and keep the kids on their toes!  THANK YOU  Kindergarten Rocks!  
Attention Grabbers

I found some great articles this week to share.  Rachel, from Kids Activities Blog, shared How Ten Minutes Changed My Relationship to My Kids .  
ten minutes

No matter how busy you are, set that timer for ten minutes, and choose an activity to have fun doing with your child.  I absolutely love this idea.  Ten minutes can become the moments your child will remember forever.  You never know what a child will remember.  It's not usually the expensive, grandiose trips to Disney World that you think they'll remember as much as it is these spur the moment moments. 
connecting with kids J small

Valerie Strauss wrote a wonderful article in the Washington Post called  Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children.  That pretty  much says it right there- but the article is very interesting, and it's exactly what I see- probably what those of us in the classroom all see.

Lilian G. Katz wrote an article titled  Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic vs intellectual goals for young children  that discusses what expectations are appropriate for early learners. 

Yes, children CAN pass a level D in Kindergarten and write every genre you put in front of them- but is it really helping them in the long run? Are they "learning" what we're teaching? They will perform, but is it sticking?  Or will it stick when they are developmentally  ready to take it on, and are we missing valuable time to provide other learning experiences for our children?

PreK and K students are not little adults. They are children.

Many things have been assigned age appropriate limits- driving, drinking, seeing certain movies.  For some reason with academics, people who create curriculum and standards keep thinking younger is better to expect children to take on academic skills.  I don't mean learning to read and write, but I mean higher level reading concepts and genre writing.  Yes, they can do it.  I feel like many of my kids did it because they loved me and trusted that I knew best.  I felt like I could even see in some of their faces that they wanted to say, "Really?"  But they didn't.

Exposing children to different books, stories, and genres in writing, and letting them explore is wonderful! It's when we then take it that one step further and feel ourselves putting pressure on them and ourselves to have our students produce writing that is often unattainable that tells me it's too much for them. Some students are ready. (Those are the samples we show are professional development...)  Some are just not ready to produce what we are expected to see. It doesn't mean they're not listening or learning.  They're just not there yet.  And that's okay!

When I read the standards, they are clearly written as to what I need to expect from my students. When I see some little faces some days, I know better what is best for them.  I can  do my best and watch them do their best- and then praise them up for their efforts. What I can't do is let myself get frustrated at the outcome of the writing, because I have envisioned what it "should" look like. 

Writing is a process, and we are many times a child's first experience with it. We have an important task not only to teach,  but more importantly to make children want to learn more as they grow, and not shut down their creativity before it's even had a chance to begin.  

I have always felt that a more experienced based, "purposeful play" environment in PreK and K which is also academic with reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and character education- but not seemingly solely how much more you can get the children to read and try to write, gives children a much  more solid, secure foundation so they can really grow in all areas. Then, when they are more developmentally ready, the reading and writing come much more easily and naturally, as they should. Some students may be ready to read a J, and that is fabulous.  Let them read and take them farther!  Some need time.  We don't give them that anymore.  We somehow feel that those students are behind before we've even given them time to blossom.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the article:

Katz writes that longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models debunk the seemingly common-sense notion that “earlier is better” in terms of academic instruction. While “formal instruction produces good test results in the short term,” she says, preschool curriculum and teaching methods that emphasize children’s interactive roles and initiative may be “not so impressive in the short run” but “yield better school achievement in the long term.”

Katz also writes in the new report that “earlier is better” is not supported in neurological research, which “does not imply that formal academic instruction is the way to optimize early brain development.” Rather, she says, the research suggests that “preschool programs are best when they focus on social, emotional and intellectual goals rather than narrow academic goals” and provide “early experiences that provoke self-regulation, initiative and …sustained synchronous interaction in which the child is interactive with others in some continuous process, rather than a mere passive recipient of isolated bits of information for stimulation.”

Katz says that “intellectual dispositions” of young children may actually be “weakened or even damaged by excessive and premature formal instruction” and that they are “not likely to be strengthened by many of the mindless, trivial if not banal activities frequently offered in child care, preschool and kindergarten programs.” It is “incumbent” upon schools, she writes, to connect with high-risk students “in terms of the unique aspects of intellect and dispositions that they bring.”

Did you get your free blogger T Shirt yet?  I DID!   Go get yours! The shirt came very quickly, and it's awesome!

custom teacher blogger sample shirts
A+ Images has a wonderful offer for bloggers.  I just found it - or I would have mentioned it sooner (before Las Vegas!).  If you blog about their fabulous site, you can receive a FREE t-shirt with your blog button or information on it!  HOW exciting is this?

For a limited time, we are offering teacher bloggers a free custom blogger shirt!
To take advantage of this offer, visit designtool.aplusimages.comand upload your blog logo and/or TPT store info to design the front and/or back full color shirt! You can add text and clipart found in the designer. Please, do not upload any copyrighted material you are not legally authorized to use. You can choose from ladies or unisex t-shirts in any color offered. Your shirt can have any design on it, but at least one side of the shirt must have your blog logo/name/website, etc. PLEASE DO NOT USE ANY IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET (except this TPT logo if desired)! ONLY UPLOAD ORIGINAL, HIGH QUALITY ART!Please include your blog name in the comments box.
In return, we ask you write a post about us. There's nothing exact you need to say. You can talk about the site, the design tool you used, our Classroom Faces shirts, have people follow our FacebookPinterest, and Instagram pages, show pictures of you in your shirt (or one of our other shirts), etc.
We will generally ship your shirt within 2 business days of receiving the design through the website. It will take more time if artwork is not print-ready.

UPDATE 6/1/15: Due to high demand, these may take longer than 2 days.  If you order by the 15th, they should still arrive before the end of the month.  To speed up the process, please use high quality artwork!  300 dpi vector-based art is ideal.  If you pull a 1" image off your site and blow it up to fill up the front of the shirt, it will not work and we will hold your order until we get better artwork.
Limit one shirt per blog during this offer. Offer expires 9/30/15.

I didn't even believe it could be true, so I made my T shirt and sent it in for a quote.  Next thing I knew,  I received an email saying my T shirt had shipped!  I wrote back saying I didn't even know how much it was or didn't even realize I had paid for it- and it was because DUH- I didn't have to!  It was FREE from this awesome site.

A+ Images, Inc. is a full-service garment decorator. We offer screen printing, embroidery, vinyl, direct-to-garment, and rhinestones. We also have in-house graphic designers to help you make the custom t-shirt of your dreams. If you are tired of working with massive online companies with no customer service, come see us. We sell directly to four niche markets, plus act as a contract printer for customers in the Indianapolis, IN area. We can supply blank shirts, drop-ship orders, and help you start a website or company store with order fulfillment. School programs are easy to start too. Give us a call...we'd love to work with you!

Look at what you can get!

It is such a great site to know about.  I love the Classroom Faces shirts!  My friend gets one for each of her students for a Christmas gift, and then they all wear them several times during the year- and finish up wearing them at our outdoor field days toward the end of the year.  What a wonderful idea. 

Thank you, A+ Images!  Go check them out!

Finally, I decided that my theme this year is going to be Superheroes!  I made the bulletin boards for the hallway already.  I'll post them when I put them up.  (Our school is AES- Apalachin Elementary School.)

I also decided that these are going to be my main classroom rules this year.  When I think about what I want for and from my students, it is to be kind (to each other, to me, to others as we walk quietly in the hall, to the things in our classroom...) and to be brave (to try new things, to try to write words when they think they don't know how, to read when they say they can't read, to be away from home all day...).  I love the simplicity of this- but yet how at the same time, it sort of covers everything.

Have a wonderful weekend, and a Happy 4th of July!


  1. Wow! What a great post. I found you from the Five for Friday link-up, looking forward to checking out your blog. I ordered a shirt from A+ Images too, hoping that I receive it soon! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

  2. I think you need to wear that t-shirt in Vegas! And I think I need one with an avatar from Susanne! Wonderful post, Carolyn. I'm concerned for my class next year. In California we have TK (transitional kinders -4 years old-bdays from sept. 2 through dec 2) mixed in with our regular ks. In Urban areas they are in their own classrooms with lots of peers to play with, but in rural areas you may have only 4 Tks with 20 regular kinders. I have a separate curriculum, report card and assessment. Worried about those babies being exposed to the high paced kinder standards and the pressure that is ever present. Sorry for the long comment!

  3. Thank you for such an insightful, thoughtful post! I read Strauss' article in the Post and I'm printing a copy to have on hand in my teacher binder...just in case I need a little documentation backup for a meeting or conference. We used a superhero theme last year, and it was a hit all year long for K-6.

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