Yesterday was pretty much a wasted day at school.

Universal breakfast* for the first 20 minutes of the instructional day.  25 minutes later we had to be in the MP room for an awards assembly, by the time it was over it was a half an hour until lunch time.   Forty minutes after lunch we had Music and then we rounded out the end of the day by counting and gluing 100 Cheerios onto a hundreds chart followed by their class reward ice cream party.

It’s hard for kindergarten kids to sit on the floor for close to an hour while other kids are getting awards and they aren’t.  I probably had 10 kids decide they had to go to the bathroom during the assembly.  Then there’s the ones bothering the rest of the kids.  I had to move three of them to sit next to me.  One of those thought he was in trouble and had a meltdown.  Loudly.  Two kids had 101 fevers shortly after lunch and went home.

Oh, and I re-arranged the room and seating assignments Thursday night after school, so THAT created a lot of chaos.  They don’t take to change well.

*Universal breakfast- free breakfast for all children, every day.  We are a Title One school and someone thought this would be a good idea.  Usually the breakfast consists of  4 items, BUT they have to take all or nothing.  Last year kindergarten was allowed to eat theirs in the Lunch room.  This year we have to take it to the classroom like everyone else.  The carpet in my room is ruined.  There is some kind of spill EVERY DAY.   And the breakfasts are boring.  The same things over and over again.  Nutritious breakfast bars that taste like sawdust,  raisins,  canned fruit, apples (at least they finally started giving them pre-cut apple slices), cereal with little or no sugar (because they are all about HEALTHY) cinnamon rolls, hummm, that about it, oh, yeah, string cheese, but I haven’t seen any of them for awhile)

New Kid

I wasn’t thrilled to get him.  I’m at 30 kids now and 17 of them are boys.  Boys are just so much more ACTIVE than the girls.   This one came from the school down the street, and the grade level chair there used to be a kinder teacher at my school.  So I sent her a text.  I guess they had a lot of problems with this boy.  Stealing, lying, hitting……  He’s doing the same in my room.  The other children are constantly complaining about him hitting, touching, messing with them.  Today I moved him to a desk by himself.  He chopped his phonics paper into confetti, ate his glue stick and drew a picture of Sponge Bob on the wall in the boy’s bathroom.

Mom says he never had ANY problems at his other school.

Why do they do that?  I KNOW he had problems there, I talked to his former teacher.

29 kids and the Common Core

At least a third of them are behavior problems. Some of that is acerbated by there being 29 children and one adult in the room. With a smaller class size some of them might behave better due to receiving more individual attention and help. I have two kids from Special Ed Pre-K who are still special ed. in that they can not seem to get anything done without LOTS of individual attention. I have two that get pulled for Speech. I have one who I think is undiagnosed but could be in the Autism spectrum and another who started 4 weeks late, has a late August birthday and knows NOTHING. He’s ruined two glue sticks in two days by twisting the glue all the way out and then mashing it. Probably 60 % of my class is considered as non-English speaking, or very limited.

They have revamped the Common Core assessments that we do (AGAIN) and they are much more difficult to administer. They have changed our electronic grade book again (for the third year in a row). We had a meeting on Tuesday, and grade levels were discussing some of the assessments we were supposed to be doing, (new ones, with no training).  We used to have a 50 minute “intervention” time in the morning when we did Tier 2 interventions for those children who needed extra help to make progress.  This year they changed the intervention time to “whole group focus skill time”.  Alternating weeks between Language Arts and Math.  We are supposed to use the gradual release model of teaching.  I do, We do, You do together, and You do by yourself.  Then on Friday we are supposed to administer a 5 item quiz on the focus skill.  On the following Tuesday, we turn in our compiled results.   It’s just truly amazing. On Tuesday we were trying to figure out just what that would LOOK LIKE IN KINDERGARTEN and were a little frustrated. Near the end, our instructional leader mentioned to the whole staff that we (kindergarten, without actually naming us) were complaining too much and weren’t being productive. And it’s CLEAR that they have NO concept of what the issues that we are facing really are.

Here’s a sample of what the Common Core Math exam has on it for Kindergarten, (items changed slightly)

Make a group of ten ones (students do this on their own) Now using that set of 10, compose a group of ten ones and some more to make 16. Draw a picture or write an equation to match your work.

Using a set of 10, you cannot make 16. Yet that’s the way I read it………

Second example:

Make a set of 14. Now decompose that group of 14 by making a group of 10 ones and some more. Draw a picture or write an equation to match your work.

I know they use the words compose and decompose in the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) but they are stupid terms, they aren’t in any of our math materials (I’m sure they will be in the NEW math materials that reflect the CC, but they are dumb terms. I could just see going into the grocery store and asking a checker or even a bank teller to “decompose” a $20 bill into smaller bills……. I’m calling it Zombie Math.

One of my friends over at Kindergaten Today wrote a nice post today……..

Six Weeks Until School is Over

And we started the end of the year testing for the Common Core State Standards.  Why open the testing window so early?  I know it will take me forever to do it all, but SIX WEEKS!   I have to keep reminding myself that I have to individually test each kid on 100 sight words, etc, etc.  But still!

I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged as much this year, but I decided I wasn’t going to fill this blog with negativity.  And it’s hard.  I really don’t like where we are at as teachers right now.  And it isn’t just my district.  I follow my education blogs on Google Reader and I have noticed that many of the educators I follow aren’t posting as much lately as well.

On the plus side, from what little testing I’ve managed to do so far, my kids have made amazing progress.  I love this time of the year in kindergarten.  Most of them are really starting to put all of the dots together.  I can see amazing progress, even in my very low kids.  I have to remind myself that they only look really bad when compared to the high ones.  As far as the standards go, they are still low, but they have made great progress, especially for kids that knew no English at the beginning of the year.  Our district has a list of 100 high frequency words for kindergarten and they want them to know at least 50 of them.  Our Trophies Reading program used to have about 32 or so words, so we have had to step it up a bit this year.   My highest readers are reading on a Second Grade level.  I had two girls fighting over an Amelia Bedelia book today, it had a reading level of 2.3, and they could read it.

Oh, and then there is the kid that moved in from out-of-state a month ago and has less than 60 days in the classroom for all year to date.  I tested him on the alphabet and he knew the letter “O” and a few sounds.  No words.  I don’t “get” some parents.

Anyway, I’m still alive.  My wife thinks I should move to 1st grade and smaller class sizes.  But it’s also smaller rooms, different curriculum to learn, etc.

The first five weeks of testing

Yeah, five weeks.

I hope to be done by Friday.

Dibels, mClass Math, and Common Core State Standard baseline testing.  All of which is done basically one child at a time.  And they are all given multiple times throughout the year, the CCSS test with the same content, will be given 4 times throughout the year to measure growth (and whether or not the teacher is a good teacher…….)

Besides duplicating much of the same stuff in each of the tests, the CCSS test is particularly difficult for them because it basically is meant to show end of year objectives.  So we are basically testing at the very beginning, what they should know at the end.

For the ELA portion, we test letters, upper and lower case, and sounds (78 items).

We test recognizing rhyming words (5 items), producing rhyming words (5 items),  segmenting syllables (5 items), blending onset/rime (5 items), initial sounds (5 items), medial vowel sounds (5 items), and final sounds (5 items)

Then there are 100 sight words

Reading comprehension – read a short passage and then ask 5 questions about major events. Read a short passage and then ask 5 questions about key details.

For the first trimester they have to write an informative passage about their families with the pretest now and the post test on the same topic at the end of the trimester.

There is a 4 part rubric to grade the writing sample on.

To get a 4 on the rubric and be rated as exceeding the standard their passage must

  • Provide a clear topic (name what a student is writing about)
  • Include 4 or more supporting ideas (supply information about the topic)
  • Include a closing

To get a 3 or to meet the standard

  • Provide a clear topic (name what a student is writing about)
  • Includes 2 or 3 supporting details
  • includes a reaction
  • uses a combination of drawing, dictating and writing)

To get a 2 and be approaching the standard

  • Provides a topic (names what the student is writing about)
  • attempts to write words: drawing is easily recognizable

To get a 1 and be rated as Emerging

  • off topic
  • random words or letters
  • unrecognizable drawing

the second trimester writing is for a narrative topic

and the third trimester is for an opinion piece.

Then there’s the math part of the test.

Count to 100 beginning at 0

Count to 100 by 10s beginning at 0

Write numerals 0-20

count 10 different groups of objects and write the number to represent the number of objects (0-20)

compare 5 sets of numbers, identifying the greater, lesser and equal numbers.

5 addition or subtraction to 10 story problems students are to draw the story problem and write the number sentence,students may use manitpulatives.   Credit is given for either the accurate drawing or number sentence.

Name 8 shapes, 4 of them 3 D.

Show understanding of 8 position words by moving an object to the correct location, behind, under, over , on, beside, etc.

Five weeks of testing, and very little direct instruction.

And they are having a hard time transitioning to regular instruction.  Because we haven’t been doing any of that since school started…………..When do we teach?

Back to School the first OFFICIAL day- staff development

Our official work day starts at 8:15.

The agenda for the day (given out at 8:30)

8:15 – Breakfast in the Lounge (who knew) since we didn’t, a second breakfast………

8:30 – Introductions in the Library  (one new teacher)

9:00 – Criterion Referenced Test Results (grades 3, 4 and 5 last year) twiddle thumbs…….

9:30 – Teacher Handbook and Mandatory Videos (Handbook, page by page, Videos, not the actual videos, just talking about the videos)

10:00 – Opening procedures : Office/Universal Breakfast/review of all papers in the teacher packet  (every child gets free breakfast this year at our school-during instruction time –  we discussed it and discussed it, then discussed it some more, but who knows how it will work, we have never done it…)

Picture this, kindergarten, the first day of school,  lets go to the MP room and eat breakfast……….  Four classes of them, we don’t recognize our kids yet, they can’t walk in line.  They know NO procedures for ANYTHING……..

11:30-12:00  Lunch

12:00 – Work in grade levels on specified agenda (don’t think it was really specified)

3:26 – End of contract day

Mind numbing.  Just mind numbing.

Back To School -Two

How many of you teachers, go back to school early, or put in extra time (that you don’t get paid for) before school starts so that on that first day, everything is ready for your new class?  You want the room to look its best, and everything to be perfect for the kids.  Sometimes after you have taught for a few years, maybe you let go a little on the “perfect” part, but I don’t know any teachers who don’t put in some time to get ready for the new year.

There are a number of things that I like to get ready for the kids that I need a class list for.  But for most of my teaching career, I have had to wait almost until the first day to get the list.  We have three days we report to school for before the kids come back and those three days are chock full of meetings and training.  There is very little time for our rooms.  The parents and kids know who their teacher will be in early August, but for some reason,  the teachers were the last to know.  When I was the school technology specialist a few years ago, I actually got in trouble for accessing the lists and printing some of them out for teachers.  It backfired on them of course, when they took away my network rights to the program that allowed me access, I told them they could have ALL my extra rights.  I was a full-time kindergarten teacher at the time and only doing the technology on the side.  It didn’t make me sad to devote all my time to my class and give up the technology, but they were surprised.  I don’t know why…….

This year, we have a district website, that we can login to using our district email login and access our students, it has their addresses, phone numbers ELL (english language learner) status and lots more.  For upper grades there is even testing data from the previous year, although in kindergarten we don’t get that.  It’s a big change and makes so much more sense.  Now I can do their name tags, homework folders, etc.