Sunday, 25 August 2013

This was how it began in Australia…

I felt a bit out of it with all of you guys showing your new rooms so I decided to head back to my start up in January.  Remember in Australia our school year begins in January and finishes in December so we are actually in term 3 now
…a little over halfway through Kindergarten!
This was how I began the school year…
My classroom is not very big so organisation is the key. I can hear my colleagues laughing and whispering..."She's a little OCD." Perhaps I am but hey, what's not to like about neatness and organisation!
Let's take a look around together. This is the main area with my brand new 2013 Smartboard...yay!

And this is my teaching nook. It's little, cosy and the kids love it...especially Big Ted and Snowy Bear.

Winnie the Pooh
features as my class theme/mascot. I was never a huge fan of the Winnie the Pooh stories. However, the theme stuck after a dear colleague, Ruth, many years ago, gave me a pair of Winnie socks that she bought for me. Thanks Ruth!!
From there my collection has grown incredibly and I now have to disclaim to all new families that I am not some weirdo collector and it really is safe to leave their littlies with me!!!
Actually I love it when kids bring me their beloved Winnie the Pooh items because they sincerely want to share with me. It was really cute ...until the kids started calling my room Kinder Pooh!
Now let’s look at my Class Rules. I use, standby and love many Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) techniques. After watching a few free video's at I downloaded these cute rule posters from Pinterest then added some gingham backing paper, a little red card stock and laminated them. I have a small A4 sized set in my class nook area that we run through every morning as a reminder of our rules. The Little Learner's take turns in leading the class in rule gestures as they all chant them. This definitely helps to reinforce the rules and the kids just love using gestures. Throughout the day I sometimes just perform a gesture relating to one of our rules and instantaneously the child is bought back into line without a spoken word. Alternatively. I call out rule 3 or rule 2 and the Little learners all recite the rule aloud, continue working and the rule offender is brought back into the cohort without being singled out by name. I plan to write a blog solely about these basic rules and how effective they really are in the future. If you haven't tried are going to love it!!!

Class Rule reminder
Next its the Birthday Wall. Simple... yes. Bright and cheery...yes.
The kids love to see their names on display and are always checking to see how many months until their birthday and who is having a birthday. We have also used this information display to graph birthdays in our class. We have used it to name the various colours, count the months, say the months in order, story spelling and of course it keeps me on red alert as to who has a special day coming up. This too was a free download from Sparklebox.

Birthday Balloons - months of the year chart
Special Five Sound Houses. I have a sound house for each alphabetic letter. The humming House, The Royal House, The Quiet House, The Noisy House and The Vowel House. The divisions were not my idea but I did make up the roof tops and cards. Eventually I will provide a link to these for anyone interested. I run through these each morning with the Little Learners and they seriously LOVE vocalising them in the appropriate tone.

Sound Houses

The Behaviour Clip Chart. I down loaded this from Pinterest then mounted it on matching card stock and laminated each for durability. I soaked some wooden pegs in yellow food dye and used a black marker to write each Little Learner's name on a peg. The idea is to move the pegs up and down over the course of the day, week, term. All pegs were in the starting position to start the year and now...well they are all over the place.

Behaviour Clip Chart & Colour words on Cats

The Coloured Cats surrounding the chart were a freebie from Sparklebox. Having the names of each colour on the cat means the Little Learners can refer to them when writing as well as practise their colour word reading anytime.
Here is my first ever Super Improvers Wall. Another brilliant WBT idea. I wasn't sure how the Kindergartners would respond to it but it has been a huge encouragement for the Little Learners. When I took the photos below it was January, the day before my new class started therefore, all of the stars are the same colour. After just one term our wall has three different coloured stars and my Little Learners are striving for the next level constantly. Motivation Maximum I can assure you.

Super Improvers Wall at start of 2013
 As you can see the display board has a bright background with cute little letter flags making up the title. Underneath the title each Little Learner has their own star with their name on it. I made up stars in 10 different colours for each student because each colour represents progressive improvement. I made these up before I started the year so that all was ready to go before I began using the reward system. You know how busy things get during the term and we need instant follow through to maintain motivation for this age group. I keep each set of coloured stars in a separate snap lock bag for quick access and efficient storage. Before a student can move to the next level/colour they earn 10 stickers on their star. Stickers are awarded for individual improvement in absolutely anything. For example; lining up without touching others, good manners, neat colouring, clever thinking, fact recall, waiting turn, helping others etc I now have a chart which is on the wall next to the Super Improver Board in place of the birthday cake. This shows the Little Learners what the name and colour of the next level is so it adds to the whole motivation. I will photograph this after holiday break and add a link to that post to share with you.

Kinder Cottage
Super Improvers Wall Title

Super Improvers Wall
The Little Learners spontaneously applaud when a classmate achieves a new level. It's very cute and honestly required no prompting whatsoever. I take down the star which has 10 stickers on it, hand it to it's owner and immediately replace it with the new coloured star. Usually the Little Learner keeps the sticker filled star on their desk for the day then takes it home to share with their family. Absolutely gorgeous, motivational system and simple to implement I promise.

Our News Week is a display board that prevents many 5 and 6 year olds from talking all day - everyday! I cant actually believe how many times a day the children check their names on this chart. Each child is allocated a day to present a news item to the class for approximately 1-2 minutes. I have a timer to prevent the talks going longer which the days leader controls.

Our News Week display board
My 'News' rules are simple.
  • Everyone must take a turn... every week.
  • Children are free to talk about one object of their choice per session or News Talks may be based on the 'question of the week' which is usually theme related. For example, 'What's you favourite Australian Animal?'
  • Anyone who is speaking during a presentation loses their turn for that week. Very strict on this rule right from Day 1.
  • The presenter may select one question from the audience to answer.
  • If someone is experiencing difficulty they may opt for five questions from the audience rather than presenting news. Most Little Learners take this option once in term 1.
  • If someone is away they may have their News on the day they return.
Little Learners Kings & Queens
I have a student run the news session as supervisor and I sit with the audience checking eye contact, volume, oral sentence structure progression etc. (I usually jot down any of the little pearls of wisdom the Little Learners reveal too. Later to be shared with Mum or Dad or a colleague. You have to admit we hear some hilarious stuff!)
Kids love to Be King or Queen during News because they sit on our class throne and wear their choice of royal cape and crown, of course. They also have the privilege of selecting 2 students to receive a gold glitter star sticker on their Super Improver Wall - a huge motivator for my class.
Meet my Scoreboard...Smileys and Frownies!
I LOVE using The Scoreboard with Kindergarten, another fabulous idea from wholebrainteaching. Although I admit that I was uncertain of its potential success at first. In fact I was sure it wouldn't work with the Little Learners but could see it being effective in older years But guess what??? It worked a charm.
(I simply printed my icons, cut them out and Blu Tack them to my chalkboard)
Give it a go - I am so glad I did!

Kinder Cottage Smiley and Frownie Scoreboard

What is this Scoreboard?? I hear you ask. The Scoreboard is a whole class motivational tool. You simply put two icons on a board, one representing success and the other room for improvement. Every time your class is achieving your expectations you exclaim, '1 second party!' hold up one finger and add a tally point below the Smiley on the scoreboard.
Now this next part is priceless - Your Little Learners then shout 'Oh Yes/Yeah!' They raise their arm and punch up into the air.

If you see or hear something that you want to discourage you simply exclaim, ' Mighty groan! shrug your shoulders, hang your head down and add one tally point below the Frownie on the scoreboard.
 Now for the priceless part - The Little Learners voice 'Ohhhh!' and sadly sigh loudly.

It doesn't take long before the children are checking the scoreboard and quietly encouraging each other to do their best to ensure Smiley wins. You need to maintain a difference of no more than 3 tally points between the Smileys and Frownies all day for optimum motivation and give points frequently. 100 points is suggested for the first few weeks.
I know, I know, you are thinking doesn't this distract the Little Learners from their work tasks?
Quite the opposite which is hilarious. The Little learners very quickly make their responses then continue with their tasks without prompting to do so. It really is funny to listen to their responses, watch gestures that accompany the words then to have the Little Learners immediately back on task....all without you saying a word.

The Scoreboard needs to be in a prominent position allowing quick, easy access.

By the way...there isn't any reward at the end of the day, week, month or ever. Kids just enjoy the challenge. After about a term you can crank it up/refresh it by telling the kids that they are soooo amazingly good that they have moved to the next level. Simply write 'Level 2' on the board above the icons and off you go again. Hilarious...but this genuinely motivates the Little Learners. Theory suggests that they are so used to playing computer games that progressing to the next level is mental reward.

My Little Learner's respond quickly to this simple Classroom Noise Visual Display. They often remind me to set the display for the lesson! I think it gives them comfort or maybe they just like to 'dob' on peer violators!!!

Kinder Cottage Visual Noise Level Display

This Visual sits at the front of the classroom to the right of my Smart Board.
Easy visual access for all.
I Blu Tacked 3 brightly coloured, purchased, call outs to the chalkboard. The Little Learners and I agreed on the noise level labels as a class and I wrote them in semi permanent chalk pen. We chose a Tigger mascot magnet to be the pointer and added the title,
"Tigger is happy...".

Kinder Cottage Noise Level Visual Display
Following teacher instruction... I set the level of acceptable noise allowed for task completion. I say,
" Tigger is happy when you work silently. "
I place the Tigger magnet on the matching callout. During the lesson if necessary I say,
" Oops! Tigger is not happy."
...Alternatively, I say,
"Tigger is bouncing on ..." This triggers the Little Learners look to the board and see where he is bouncing. Sometimes I add, "Tell your neighbour that Tigger is bouncing on ...whisper voices" Then the kids start working. However, if someone breaks the set noise level, the Little Learners very indignantly remind the 'rule breaker', often pointing to the display board as a cue. It's great...the children participate in the classroom behavioural management!
Super Improver Levels after a few weeks!

I didn’t create the gorgeous level graphics that you see on the right in the photo above but thanks to a Tara West freebie on TpT we have them beautifully prepared for us to use.

Thanks Tara – very cute Smile
I personalised the premade levels after printing them by adding the gingham paper backing boarders.
I LOVE gingham!!

     Luckily I was able to match a gingham backing paper, from my craft supplies, to each level card before I laminated them. Happy days - the final product looks effective and as I mentioned in a previous post, the Little Learners LOVE the Super Improver Wall.

You may also like to check out my previous post about how this system works.

Check it out here… Super Improver Wall.
The photo below shows the angle that the Little Learners view the Levels.
Kind of looks like a colourful ladder don’t you think?

If you’d like to know more about the Super Improvers Wall visit
- it’s fabulous or follow my blog, Mrs Stowe’s Kinder Cottage.  I regularly post about whole brain strategies and I PROMISE that my post is never, ever this long!
Happy Sunday!
Mrs Stowe


Lauren Kuhn said...

Hi Julie,

You have some amazing procedures and spaces set up in your classroom! I wish I was close enough to pop in for a visit!

Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep!

Jessica Berggren said...

Looks great. I love the super improver wall and cards. Your teacher nook looks so inviting. Thanks for linking up! Dont forget to link back to my page or copy the button onto your post.
Tales of a First Grade Teacher

Miss Trayers said...

Love the little nook-it does seem cozy and inviting. The bears are all just too cute! :) I wish I was that organized.


Becky said...

Your classroom looks great! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm your newest follower!!

Heidi Harrell said...

I love Whole Brain Teaching - love your scoreboard and Super Improvers wall. Your room is beautiful!

Julie Stowe said...

Thank you for your encouragement. Sorry to the wonderful,Jessica from Tales of a First Grade Teacher, for forgetting to link back to your site. You are so gracious! (Im silly...thats the idea of a linky! All I can say is NEWBIE) I have fixed it now. I just got super excited about joining in ...I forgot.
Have a happy day!
Julie :)

Barbara Leyne said...

I really like the way you do the weekly news, Julie. Your visual sound display is cool, too!

Julie Stowe said...

The sound display is an oldie that I have returned to after many years and the kids absolutely love it. :-)

Alison Hislop said...

WOW! What a great room! Don't worry - I am neat and organised too!

Teaching Maths with Meaning

Mrs. Bartel's School Family (Alyce) said...

Loving your letter houses! What a wonderful idea.

Mrs. Bartel’s School Family

Julie Stowe said...

Thanks for your kind words. :-)
I love reading your comments.
Julie :-)

Cary Estes said...

Hi Julie~ I just started teaching Kindergarten in January. I taught HS Art previously. We moved to a new state and I substitute taught and this job opened. I took it and have been SOOOOO Happy! We still make creative things and the students are darling. Your blog is fun to read and I can imagine you speaking. It has been an AWESOME set of tools too!!! So helpful. I am so pleased I found it and will be using several of your ideas!

Post a Comment