Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Whole Group Instruction/Calendar Time

and Mary from Sharing Kindergarten with her Calendar Linky Party since my post covers both topics.  :)
My class is comprised of morning and afternoon sessions. There are two times per session where I bring my little learners together to teach as a whole group.
The first is circle time/calendar time which is actually pretty lengthy.
My circle time consists of a hello song, jobs, pledge, calendar, weather, music and movement and alternating days between colors and alphabet or shapes and counting.  I usually assign jobs every day so all get a chance to rotate through them and I have a chance to see how much everyone is learning.  Every once in awhile I will let them pick their own jobs.  Here are a few random shots during the year of our circle/calendar time.
This is a picture of us singing our hello song.  My favorite song is from Jack Hartmann called 'Beautiful Day'.  I have tried different songs from time to time and always go back to this one.
Here we are saying the pledge.  I love how even three year olds can memorize it!
My calendar helper points to the months and days of the week as we sing two more Jack Hartmann songs.  I use Dr. Jean's weather song during our 'What's the Weather' time. I tried to do my circle/calender time on our interactive whiteboard at the beginning of the year, but quickly went back to my original circle time set up.  I like how it is up all the time and my little ones  have access to it throughout the day.  I find many will go over during free play/centers and pretend to play school with it.  :)

I used to do all four together (colors, shapes, counting and abc’s) but found I got more out of my sweeties if I broke them up.  Even though I only have one designated ‘music and movement’ time, I use lots of songs and moving around during my entire circle time to help keep all engaged.  My circle time rules consist of my ‘Give Me Five’ rules. (see previous post of explanation and a copy of your own 'Give Me 5' rules.  These 5 little rules usually do the trick.

Whenever it gets loud with too many people talking or it appears as if some are not paying attention I will hold up my hand and say “give me 5” and repeat the rules.  My little ones know to stop what they are doing and look at me.  When I say “hands in lap” I show them what I expect by modeling putting my hands in my lap and they do as I do.  When I say “crisscross applesauce” or “quiet feet” for those sitting in chairs, they know to show me that behavior.  I cup one of my ears to demonstrate “listening ears”, put my index finger to my lips to demonstrate “voices off”, and point to myself to demonstrate “eyes on me”.  This usually does the trick.  I also pass out mini m&m’s or skittles randomly to those who have been demonstrating following our rules.  (Ahh, the power of a little piece of candy or sticker :)) I also use my red, yellow, and green smiley face system with names on clothespins if I need to get someone’s attention.  The beauty of the age of my sweeties is that they are truly heartbroken if I have to move their name and will work extremely hard to get back to the smiley face by showing appropriate behavior.  I also use a visual schedule during circle time, showing what activities are still to come.  For my morning class (which is usually comprised of younger students) I will actually pull off the picture/icon after the activity is completed.  For my afternoon class of older students, I usually can just point to the picture of what we are doing next.  The following is an example of my visual schedule for a Monday/Wednesday circle.  I also add a daily note to my afternoon circle. I have a long piece of Velcro that runs down my bulletin board next to my circle time calendar where I have my pictures attached.  This allows me to switch them out on different days and pull them off after an activity is completed.
In the past, I have also used a circle time book with some of my students who may have trouble attending for any length of time and/or have severe communication delays.  The students (with the help of my awesome para) follow along with us using their book. This year, I am going to make circle time books for all my students to use in an attempt to make circle time more interactive for all.  I just added my circle time book to my Teacher’s pay Teacher’s and Teacher’s Notebook stores. Click on the links to take you to the stores.  Here is a peek of what is included.
For my learning time I expect the same behavior as circle time, so I use the same ‘Give Me 5’ rules.  My learning time is not as long as my circle time so I do not use a visual schedule.  It is also pretty interactive. We usually read a story, answer questions about the story or another activity on the interactive whiteboard.  We also work on listening to following directions to complete an activity or put together an art project.  If we are gluing and need to be in front of the interactive whiteboard or if it will be too crowded sitting at our u shaped table I will pass out materials on trays for my little learners to put in front of them while sitting on the floor to complete the activity.  I have also found that keeping small pieces and crayons together is much easier with the help of the little black containers/trays saved from individual frozen meals.  You can kind of see what I mean from these pictures.
My room is also pretty small, so if we all don’t need to be on the floor to put something together I will divide the class and have half sit in chairs and half sit on the floor.  For the little ones sitting on the floor I will have them sit on a mat so they have a defined place to stay.  My mats are cut from shelf liner.
 I buy a roll of the liner and cut it to size.  At times I have even cut shapes from the Ellison machine and written students’ names on them and attached the shape with clear packing tape.  I then will place the mats on the floor according to where I want my little ones to sit.  This way I have some control of where I want certain students to sit and who I may or may not want them to sit by. :)  I also have a ‘chair chair’ posted according to which students sit in chairs on what days.  That saves lots of time figuring out who sat in a chair last time.  My littles get pretty good at looking at the chart and knowing whether to get a chair or find their mat without me having to tell them.  This past year my afternoon class was so amazing.  I would announce that it was time for circle/learning time and while I was gathering needed items or finishing putting things away they would go look at the chart and by the time I got to my spot they would just be sitting their quietly waiting for me to start.  I am going to miss those sweeties this upcoming school year.  They graduated and will be big kindergarteners in the Fall.  LOVE THOSE KIDS….they made my heart happy!
Well, I think that’s all I can remember for my large group tricks and tips.  I look forward to reading about other teachers’ successes!  Be sure to check out The Applicious Teacher’s post and add your own!
Thanks for reading!  Have a great day.  :)

1 comment:

  1. Such great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing. I especially am loving your recommendation for music. Love the Jack Hartmann song that you posted!

    Teaching with Grace