Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday SOL Rush to the end of the year

This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


I am beginning to wonder if I will ever catch my breath enough to blog again! Non-stop, race to the finish. Three more days of school.

Here's what the crescendo of these last few days and weeks has included:

  • Creating/finalizing portfolios for each child

  • Finding time for each child to draw end of year self-portraits (and delighting in the obvious growth from the beginning of the year!)

  • Completing the end of the year data
  • Entering GOLD data...oh, how tedious it is to finalize data!

  • Dance party with the children, a gift from our families at our school's silent auction
    What fun we had dancing at our DJ Party!
  • Our final Learning Showcase of the year, a big exciting evening event with families,
  • Documentation of our water investigations, for our Learning Showcase
  • Writing and editing report cards (haven't yet stuffed the envelopes - may it go better than last trimester!)
  • Family conferences, reflecting on each child's school year
  • Supporting my Resident as she searched for a teaching position next year - YES, Melissa will be teaching kindergarten! In Spanish! Go, Melissa! Well done!
  • Hard hat tour with my colleagues of our new school (opening this fall!)

  • Touring our new school!
  • Packing instructions - boxes, boxes, boxes

  •  Teaching my Resident how to close out a school year

    • Going down "memory lane" with the children - re-reading our favorite books, re-visiting our favorite activities, playing lots of games
    • Washing toys with the children
    • Splash party in the side alley - and washing those large foam blue blocks
    • Field day in the side alley, hosted by our YMCA - so much fun!
      Field Day - we sure made good use of our side alley!

    • In, between, around, and in spite of these many demands and milestones, trying to savor special moments with the children.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Tuesday SOL Water exploration - let's build bridges!

    This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

    We have been doing lots of science and engineering about water...this past week, we engineered bridges using our recyclables and tape.

    This engineering problem is based on the book Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince, which shares the true story of how Phineas Barnum marched his circus elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge to test its soundness. The children test their bridges by seeing how many toy elephants their bridge supports (our goal was five toy elephants). It's been a couple years since I've done this particular engineering problem with children (see my  blogpost from that time)...and it was no less thrilling for these preschoolers than for previous students.

    I, however, noticed one big difference between this week's bridge-building and previous attempts -

    I led this engineering effort in a fish bowl,

    with two large groups of adults visiting my classroom during the course of the morning. We are a demonstration school, and, at least once a week, there is a tour of classrooms. On bridge-building day, we were having the last tours of the school year, and, I'm not exaggerating, some 20-30 adults visited my room.

    When the adults entered my classroom, I did my very best just to tune them out, to focus on my preschoolers.

    After three years at my school, knowing this is a part of what we do - opening doors and letting people observe us in action - I am practiced at teaching "in the fish bowl."

    But, wow, what a weird sensation!
    I found myself both
    "on autopilot" and,
    yet, sweating up a storm,
    relaxed about the children's exploration and,
    yet, terrified that they would say or do something outrageous.
    All the while, I felt as if time was standing still and,
    yet, the morning flew by.

    The children were mesmerized by the task at hand and
    oblivious to the visitors.
    I may have been exhausted by our engineering fun
    (well, the pressure of these visitors), but
    the children were energized.

    Let me share just a few photos of our fun together....

    Let's get building!

    To build is to focus.

    Testing the bridge for its soundness.

    One bridge gets tested, while others investigate the water.

    These two worked together to create one enormous, awesome bridge.

    I promise - more details about our other water investigations work very soon!!