Source: The “BUZZ” of learning…
What is the “buzz”????
The “buzz” is self-directed learning.
The “buzz” is asking questions….problem solving….talking.
The “buzz” is dancing, singing, and moving to stay regulated.
The “buzz” is hearing giggles.
The “buzz” is planning and prepping and then throwing it out the window for natural learning situations.
The “buzz” is admitting frustration, admitting dis-regulation and problem solving.
Enjoy our movie and get a glimpse…a SMALL glimpse into the BUZZ of room 101
We are 33 school days into the 2015-2016 school year. I have been assigned 20 little people who have all come to me with different school experiences, daycare experiences, family structures, learning experiences, and just straight up LIFE events. The AMAZING part of it is that it feels like we were meant to spend 185 days together playing, talking, learning, crying, reading, counting, questioning, arguing, and LEARNING from one another. Not only have I asked and facilitated situations for these little people to think, work, play, and dance, I have asked each and every one of them to be vulnerable, be focused, be kind and be patient. This is hard work, and you know what….they have stepped up to the challenge. These little people are not only stretching their brains to write, read and communicate, they are also working to problem solve, share, and be independent. As hard as I know I work on a daily basis, it is NOTHING compared to the amazing EXCITING WORK these little ones do each day. During one of the busiest, CRAZY, candy-filled week of the year, I am INSPIRED by my hard-working kinders and their STAMINA to learn what it means to be LEARNERS! Cheers to kids! -Bebes
Listening. Let’s be real… Listening is an art. What I have come to realize is that children and adults alike have trouble with actually listening and processing what another person is saying. I’ll share my “a-ha”… Or my “oh-crap” moment with you all. About two years ago, sitting with my husband and four and six year old we were eating dinner (it was even sort of healthy!) we play a game called high low where each person goes around and shares their low and high part of the day. I remember feeling so proud of my little ones manners… They were eating, looking, and seemed to be listening…. Then I pulled a total teacher move: “Sophie, tell me what your daddy said was his high today!”…. It was like a deer in the headlights. My polite, well spoken, good eater of a six year old had been faking it!!! She had no idea what daddy had said. She was being compliant, but was totally NOT engaged in the conversation. She wasn’t trying to be rude, she just didn’t feel the urgency to actually be listening. At that moment I started to wonder: How many of my students are faking it,and just waiting for their turn to talk about themselves?
Some things I have done in the last couple years to encourage and promote “whole body listening” with my students and family include, but are not limited to the following:
- I tell them that after a couple people share, I am going to ask them to tell me what that person said. This holds everyone involved accountable,and gives a purpose to the sharing. This also tells the listeners involved, that it’snot all about THEM, it’s about LISTENING and being PRESENT.
- I give every kiddo who says,”What are we suppose to do? What did you say? Huh?”….the response: Tell me what you think you need to do. Tell me what you think I said…..I find that some kiddos just naturally ASSUME they need to hear it two or three times….as a parent I am TOTALLY guilty of feeding my children questions, ideas, thoughts 2-5 times within 15 seconds….Kids need time to PROCEss, TIME TO think….kids need to realize that they are capable of listening to another person and processing what they say. After the kiddo tells me the answer to the question they thought they didn’t know I say..”I KNEW you were listening!”
- EXPECT eye contact. I know this seems silly, but I am a believer in holding people accountable in eye contact and manners. People need to commit to the listening they are doing. YOU have all been around and frustrated by the adult who is writing lists, talking to a neighbor, or checking his or her phone during a meeting or conversation…it’s rude. It;s unexpected, and it models poor listening skills for our kiddos.
- MODEL listening for our kids. I work daily to make eye contact with…stop, bend down, and TRULY listen to what each kiddo says to me…(even if I’m in a rush, even if I have to get attendance in, even if I am running late….) We can’t expect our little people to be attentive friends and people if they are not SHOWN and taught what that looks like!!
I challenge you to “quiz” you family members at the dinner table. Can each memebr recall what another memeber said about his or her day? Are the people at your table engaged, focused, UNPLUGGED??? Having conversation and asking and answering questions is part of being a SMART, KIND, ENGAGED person….let’s help our kiddos be these things!!
With Love, Passion, and Patience….
Sometimes I talk about my day as a K teacher and realize people have NO idea what goes on in Kindergarten (why should they? They have been out of it for decades!) So for parents, people, HUMANS alike, here is a GLIMPSE into the magical, tiring, fast-paced, funny, stinky, loud, quiet, messy, organized, and FABULOUS world of kindergarten!
***(I will warn you, this is LONG, our day is LONG and productive, and BUSY! This is meant to TRULY give you a glimpse into the “work” the hard WORK that goes into EVERY day for these little minds….thinking, reading, sharing, counting, problem solving,and exploring their way through a school setting!…ENJOY, I know I DO!)
- Arrival:This sounds simple, but this consists of making their way from their particular mode of transportation be it car,walking, biking, kids choice or bus down to room 101 where they are greeted by me and asked to unpack folders and snack and fit all of their “stuff” into their lockers…NOT easy, but AMAZING to see them figure out!
- Breakfast: Yup, breakfast.Kiddos get a stick that has their name on it and walk down the hall, put it in a bucket and grab a breakfast bag. They then have to open, eat, clean-up and be to the carpet by morning meeting! (this includes, but is NOT limited to, bagel with cream cheese, fresh fruit, milk, cereal bars, strawberry cups, and cereal…NOT EASY when there are 20 kinders and 1 me!) I teach the kiddos to ask a friend, ask a friend, and then ask me. Not only are they learning responsibility, they are learning to clean up and help each other! They are also learning to VERY quickly get to the paper towel if something spills!!
- Morning Meeting: Probably the BEST part of the day! We great each other by saying hello, ask each other questions,share about ourselves and we read books, check the calendar, play games, share, listen and laugh! The kiddos work to be whole-body listeners and learn about each other….(it’s an amazing 20 minutes in a kindergarten room! You should come see it for yourself!)
- Letter Work/Phonics: This is weaved into our morning routine and consists of songs about letters, writing letters, reading letters, chanting sounds, making sounds, un-scrambling words, doing sight word exercise, and thinking about language and words. It requires work, concentration, focus and direction following…(all very tiring-thing for little people!)
- Writer’s Workshop/ Puzzles: You read it right…we WRITE in kindergarten. We think about something that has happened to us, we visualize what has happened, we draw a picture of what has happened. We then say a sentence that MAKES sense and matches the picture. We then CLAP and count the words in that sentence. We try to make lines to write WORDS for that sentence and at the end we have become WRITERS!!!! (This process is SLOW, and this process takes TIME…) At this point in the year the kinders are watching me MODEL the process and helping me do the work!!! We learn to think, plan, and write….it’s AMAZING! (when the work is done kiddos pick puzzles and work in teams daily to complete them…they learn to plan and communicate about the task and I have time to pull individual kinders over for name practice, writing practice, letter sound practice or just a check-in!)
- Movement Break: Yup, we move our bodies again…we might do the stretching song, sing a silly song, do push-ups, do the hockey pokey, or just breathe deep, but we do move our bodies and expel some ENERGY to help us focus!! Little people…BIG people need to move! (Let’s just say, on average I have 13,000 steps at the end of a work day….these little people must have about 20,000!)
- Shared Reading: This is a five-day process where I am presenting a text (either literature or informational text) and emphasizing the text features of the book. This means we are focusing on checking the picture, thinking about the story, the author and illustrator, finding our sight words, fluency of reading. This includes modeling decoding strategies for unknown words and modeling what beginning readers do. The text is generally in the form of a Big Book and is about a C/D reading level! Students start to discover what it sounds like to be a reader and decode as a reader!
- Snack and Potty Break: Seems silly, but you wouldn’t believe the work that goes into getting 20 little people through the bathroom…(QUIETLY!) and back to the room to get out their own individual snacks and eat! (during this time I am helping and usually reading a story or showing ABC, number videos that we are using throughout the day!)
- Yoga: This is a newer piece to my Kinder puzzle, but we spend 10-12 minutes a day doing yoga positions and deep breathing. I am finding that stretching, good posture, and focus are tasks that prove to be quite difficult for my kiddos and these activities help me teach that stamina and those skills. (People, it’s only 11:00!!!….these kids need a time to re-focus, re-center, and move their little bodies!)
- Close Reading: This is also a 5 day process where we “dig deep” into a piece of literature or informational text. The text is at a higher level and requires deep thinking about vocabulary, problem/solution, retelling, and character traits. The conversations and information that is found during this time FLOORS me coming from 5-6 year olds….(you should come and see it!)
- Recess/ Lunch: Kinders get their lunches, find their lunch tags, put on appropriate clothing and are off for 15 minutes of play….they are then quickly brought into the building to wash hands, find seats, and eat! As simple as this seems, this is one of the more difficult tasks for our beginning students. THey have to decide which choice t take, open lunch boxes, get ranch, carry a tray, EAT, and stay focused on filling their tummies….the kids do an AMAZING job of adapting and figuring out the routine. I enter the lunch room with five minutes left to remind them to eat, eat, eat, and we line up in ABC order and are out the door!!
- Free-Choice: Yup, EVERY DAY my kinders will play. They will find a spot to be creative, work with friends, share, think, and WORK. During this playtime I am either facilitating problem solving between certain students or calling over student one-n-one for practice or focus on certain assessed skills that need help. This play time is some of the HARDEST work my kinders do ALL day!
- Specialists: (this is my break to make copies, make calls, plan, clean, go to the bathroom and re-group!) This is when kinders go to gym, music, art, and media!
- Math Lesson: This is the whole group concept that i present in about 7-10 minutes…it usually includes new vocabulary or a new concept of math!
- Math Small Group: Kinders do two math rotations a day spending time sequencing numbers, sorting, making patterns, comparing numbers ipad games etc. I am also able to pull two small groups to re-teach or teach new concepts to students who are ready!—kiddos work in groups of 2 or 1 and complete differentiated tasks for math! It’s all very hands-on and interactive…THEY LOVE IT!
- Movement Break: Yup…again. Let’s be real…if you have EVERY spent time with a 5-year-old you know they need to MOVE, MAKE NOISE, and MOVE!!!
- Read Aloud: This is another literature rich time of our day where I am reading a higher level text to the kinders and they are having to visualize the story n their heads. I am modeling fluent reading and a LOVE. FOR. BOOKS.
- Social Studies/ Science/ Health/ Content Theme: Weaved in all the content you have already read about is generally a theme or concept (i.e. fall, apples, pumpkins, community, health, safety, etc.) This part of the day I am able to use a teat of activity to emphasize these concepts!
- Jobs/ Reflection: This is the part of the day when the kinders are in charge of cleaning their space, emptying their cubbies, stuffing their folders, and putting up their chairs…(again, all items sound SIMPLE, but PLEASE imagine 20 five-year olds doing these things all at the same time!) Students then pack their bags and meet me in the room! We talk about the awesomeness of the day and they say their goodbyes!
- Dismissal: This is the time for organized lines to specific buses, high-fives, hugs, handshakes and praises. This is the time when teachers check, double, and triple check that each kinder is headed to the correct line/ spot. This is the time for last-minute potty breaks, folder checks, and checks on missing apparel! This is the closure after a LONG, FUN, HARD-WORKING day…and in this moment, all I hope is that the kinders I say goodbye to will be happy, excited and READY to say hello to me in the morning!
Kindergarten is AMAZING, kindergarten is BUSY, kindergarten is a place to be safe, play, work, think, and breathe! In the age of complaints, stress, and worry, I feel confident that my kinders are learning and growing to be really kind, smart, hard-working people. You should come see it! It’s not stressful, it’s not boring, it’s not too hard-or too easy, it’s JUST-right! It’s what I want for my own children and what I hope for all children!
This is not meant to be a tutorial about how “busy and hard I work…” this is about our little people working to be learners, working to be friends, and working to find FUN in the life of a learner!
Thanks for sticking with me and reading the WHOLE thing! Any questions…comments….concerns….let me know! Educating our youth is a TEAM effort, and all I want is to create kind little learners….
Thanks for Reading!
I’m a scrapper….for those of you who don’t know what that means, it means I scrap-book! I make book after book after book of pictures/memories/ and cute cut-outs basically documenting my kiddos lives. It’s therapy for me. It costs money. It’s not totally necessary, but I. Love. It. One thing that I hear over and over again is “Oh, I just don’t have TIME to scrapbook…” This used to bother me.It used to make me think that I was a person who had so much extra time on her hands that I could just spend it doing something as “silly” as scrapping…well, NO. What I have come to realize is that people MAKE time for the things they believe are a PRIORITY. So now, when someone tells me they don’t have time to scrap, i remind them that they just don’t MAKE time to scrap, (or, let’s be honest,WANT to scrap at all!)
The same thing is true about reading. People have said to me,”I just don’t have time to read for fun…” Well, I think what those people are really saying is that it isn’t a priority in their lives to MAKE time for reading. I am a reader. I love books, stories, ideas…at any given time I am involved with 3-5 texts…fiction, non-fiction, educational, motivational, parental guidance ETC! As a fulll time working mom, full-time grad student, full-time friend, wife, teacher, learner PERSON, it is a prioroty for me to READ! I love it, it makes me better, and I sacrifice, willinging, time to be with various texts.
So here’s the thing. As a teacher and a mom, I want to model the need to PRIORITIZE time for reading. My students hear me talk about reading, see me reading, hear me reading, read with me….I want them to FEEL what a person who LOVES reading feels and hope that they can find a passion for and a desire to PLAN and PRIORITIZE time for reading as they develop into BUSY, productive, over-scheduled, over-worked humans. Regardless of the busy, the work, the energy, there is ALWAYS time for reading in my world and that is what I want for my own children and my own students. We must model a passion and a NEED for literature…realistic, informational, scientific…etc!
The picture below is one of my own daughter’s bedroom. We read before bed downstairs in the living room or our porch every night….EVERY night….after that, they are off to brush teeth, set out clothes…etc. etc. After kisses and hugs they are left to their own beds, a book light and a bin of books they have selected to spend time with. Text that excites them, challenges them, makes them think, makes them laugh. They spend 20-40 minutes reading to themselves, looking at pictures, drawing, reflecting, reading, laughing etc. They read together, they read alone. They read the pictures, they read the words. They spend time with text without guidance or questions from me. I am trying to show my children that regardless of the CRAZY in a day, the activities in a DAY the busy schedule of a DAY, there is ALWAYS time and ALWAYS a need to find time to get lost in text. Always.
I want the people in my life to realize that they are in charge of prioritizing what get’s they precious time, and BOOKS are something that DESERVE our time. We must give our children permission and praise them for being with text and thinking deeply about characters and stories…..this will send them places that are unimaginable and impossible without words…..time spent in front of a phone, video games, the tv and computer won’t give them the same power(I have NO research to back that up, but believe it with EVERY morsel my body!)
Let’s teach our children to PRIORITIZE and find time for and embrace their time with literature of all forms! Let’s stop making excuses and read more. Let’s really think about what we make time for and make sure it’s the right things to make us thinkers, workers, and better people. Let’s make sure that our children are surrounded with books, words, stories, facts, poems, comics, magazines, articles, and ALL THINGS TEXT!
This year I decided to try a different system for playtime… Kinders would be given an opportunity to chose areas around the room for play. To start the year each area only allows 2 students at a time. The things I am looking for are:
1. The ability to actually make a choice ( this seems simple, but you wouldn’t believe how many kiddos wait for me to chose a spot for them!)
2. The ability for the kinders to find the activity they have chosen (again, make NO assumptions…. This is not easy for little people!)
3. The ability to actually interact with the materials and the other kinder at the station ( this is the part when I walk around and help students talk to each other, make a plan and or just PLAY!)
4. The ability to “reset” the area and clean up the materials quickly, safely, and efficiently!
The WORK that goes into this process is exhausting for me and for my little kinders…. The buzz of fun, frustration, excitement and choice echoes throughout the room and each day I am reminded of the life skills that are being taught, modeled and practiced in this sacred “play”!