HELP!...Calendar time is ... Zzzzzzzzzzzz (BORING!!!)

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by McKennaL, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Oct 14, 2009

    (Quick recap...Monday starts my LTS assignment. I've been working in the room off and on -mostly on- for a month. My VERY-pregnant teacher is leaving Friday...and you can tell she is DONE! I'm doing the entire day myself -other than comments here and there. TODAY she tells me... you can change the furniture, you can change the room, in a few weeks you won't even remember me. Do it YOUR way..and you have the teacher next door [a 2/3 wall] if you need help. ....Last comment, this wasn't my choice grade. It's going well, but not something I have experience in.)


    Ok... So ..calendar is essential...but BORING as all get out. I HATE it...and the kids don't seem to like it too much either. One child is calendar boy/girl. They try to fill in the calendar...they take so long...and get so much help by those smarties who sit right at the calendar (while all the others zone out). Then they have to find the day names to fill in the chart. Today is WEDNESDAY. Yesterday was TUESDAY. Tomorrow will be THURSDAY. Then they ask the girls to stand up and magic wand them while they count the girls and do the same to the boys. Then they magic wand EVERYONE and put in the numbers. There are 6 girls today. There are 14 boys today. There are 20 children here today. Then they all read it. Then come the straws for counting. And then the money chart (coin names and values). SOMETIMES we sing days of the week and the months songs.

    And it's KILLING the day!!!!!!! 80% of the kids are not involved and either zoning out or poking each other. It's SO dull...and though we need to get this info in them...we have so much ELSE to do in the 2.5 hours that this is a HUGE waste of precious time.

    I hate to cancel it...after all-it's a rotating job, and I would sure like to do it everyday if it were MY job. But - yes sometimes it gets altered (shortened...and sometimes passed by). Not only by our side-but by the other's as well. Neither is quite sure HOW many straws there should be...it's a mess!


    I've seen it done elsewhere with slightly better results...but never done to keep ALL the kids engaged throughout. Considering this is the beginning of the day...and though we have enjoyable stuff later on...this is ZZzzzzzzzzzz. I want the kids pepped up and ready to go. (This screeches on the brakes!!)

    Any suggestions before I go out of my MIND??????
     
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  3. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oct 14, 2009

    Well, when I taught kinder for three years, I never minded calendar time. Actually, we enjoyed this time. It was the first thing I did in the mornign and the routine was the same, yet, I still varied it a bit (different songs, etc).

    Now, I had a helper for the whole day, so they helped out with the calendar, but only at certain moments. I was pretty much in charge the whole time. Made it easier and I kept it going pretty fast, whereas they tend to take forever. To make things interesting I would sometimes I would have them say things with a silly smile, sad face, angry, like a monster, etc. LIke, if I was asking them what today's number is going to be.

    You can have them stand up and count how many days we've been in school, using the clap for fives, and snap for 10s.

    You can use the balloon and pop it when they can tell you what yesterday's date was. Then, blow up a new balloon and then do some fun "teacher's magic" such to make it fun. What I mean is, have the helper tell you what to rub the balloon on and see if it sticks.

    Just some ideas. :)
     
  4. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Oct 14, 2009

    I just watched a you tube video with a teacher doing calendar...and from what i see that SHE does...and what YOU are saying... it's NOT as much STUDENT driven - as it is TEACHER driven. I think that is something i have to do. Because it's NOT working. I know that my teacher did attendance during their "figuring out the days and numbers" (and maybe some other clerical stuff, in her chair, while they puzzled it out) but oh my GOSH!!!! I want to scream.

    Like I say...the smarties sit themselves right at the calendar (it's down low) and they are basically doing it for the hapless calendar child who usually was one of the "zoners" during the other weeks.

    Hmmmm...

    DARE I change their morning routine? I mean, what happens when she comes BACK...and does it HER way again?

    ****

    I was told...we (meaning either of the kindergarten teachers) aren't puppet people...and we aren't funny voices people. We aren't ...make the classroom a magical forest teachers...we are GET IT DONE teachers.

    You can't mock their results... they were just accommodated with high praise for how few tier two and three students they passed on (the lowest ratio in the school). The teacher said today... "you can use the puppets in any of the kits that you want...but..." "...but," I replied, "know that they won't be continued once you leave." EXACTLY!

    *****

    So how confusing would it be to change their calendar time some 29 days or so into the year...and have it change back in January?

    Sorry, I just don't see the majority of kids getting much from the way it is. ... And I am pulling out my hair!!!!
     
  5. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oct 14, 2009

    Do it your way.
     
  6. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 14, 2009

    I agree - do it your way. I am sure the kids will get more out of it. Sounds like the teacher didn't mind.
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oct 14, 2009

    Do it your way, if nothing else, for your sanity. Who cares if it gets changed back? At least you made it fun and interesting durng the time that you were there at least! :)
     
  8. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Oct 15, 2009

    But... please tell me.

    Let's say YOU went on a maternity leave. you come back, and your routine that you have worked with...is different. And they are ingrained to something YOU don't do.

    I DO have to keep in mind (and this is sort-of job-seeker forum stuff) that I want to get a reference from this woman. I think the way I would do it would teach them everything they NEED to know...BUT... she would come in to having it NOT as she left it and ...they would have to be re-trained.

    As a retruning teacher...would that pi$$ you off?
     
  9. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Oct 15, 2009

  10. SandyCastles

    SandyCastles Companion

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I student taught in Kindergarten at the beginning of the year last year. I think you will find that it HAS to be teacher driven at the beginning of the year. You can still have your helper come up and do the pointing, but you ask the questions so the kids are more involved. As time goes on, the helper is more able to begin taking over for you little by little. I would also use some of the suggestions on here to make the calendar time a little more lively. There are different days of the week songs you can use, and I know our kids always looked forward to writing a morning message together (we used inventive spelling that they sounded out and added quick pictures so the kids could read the words). It varies by each student of course but by the end of the year when I went back to visit the class they were doing it all on their own.
     
  11. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oct 15, 2009

    Hmmm, yes, I see what you are saying. Well, all I can think of is change it up, but maybe as the assignment winds down, start to go back to her old way??? Kids are very flexible. I am constantly changing things in my classroom, and they never minded it. I just explain to them why I'm changing it and to see if it work. Then, a month or two months later, I change it again. I don't know... just an idea.
     
  12. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I would say you could still do some of her stuff, but maybe a couple days a week & add a couple things you like to do a couple days. It might be a nice change for you & for them.

    When I taught first I did my calendar after lunch recess as a time to regroup & when children are using the bathroom & such they aren't "missing" the lesson... I hope that makes sense.

    Could you add a weather graph, we did counting but I would have the kids (even when I subbed in K I would do this) count in football, cheerleading, mommy, scarey (especially with Halloween), baby voices. They LOVED it!!! I would also use my thumb as a dial & we would speed up & slow down. They really liked this as well!!!

    As a teacher who had a long term sub, I knew I would come back to stuff being changed. The stuff that was changed wasn't so big that we couldn't either stick with or go back to our own. Just remember that there will be a "flex" time for you with them & for them when she comes back. The only thing I was not happy with with my sub is she did the report cards (which was fine), but she filled in comments using "I." She did not even go over or talk to me about the report cards either. So when I came back I had to do conferences & the admin didn't even have her there to back what she said!!! UGH!!!
     
  13. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I've found that the secret to calendar time is to keep it short. I keep it to 20 minutes at the MOST, and we're basically filling in the Daily News. I write the following on chart paper:

    Daily News

    Today is _________,
    October _____, 2009.

    The weather is
    _____ and _____.

    _____ said, "


    _____ said, "

    I have the daily leader come to the front of the room and choose 1 helper at a time. The calendar helper puts up the next number, and tells me yesterday, today, tomorrow (they just tell me and I put it up). I write the information in the Daily News.

    The weather helper chooses 2 pictures to describe the weather and places them in the pocket chart. I color in our weather graph, and call on 3 students to comment (Ex: "Windy needs two more to have the same amount as sunny.") I write the weather words in the Daily News.

    The next helper turns over the next number in our 100 grid to tell us how many days we have been in school. They then add a straw to the place value pocket chart.

    The pattern helper reads the linking chain pattern and tells everyone one comes next.

    Then, I choose 2 students who have been sitting quietly and paying attention to be in the Daily News. They write their name on a line and I write something that they say. For example:
    __Ava__ said, "I went to dance last night."
    I use this as shared writing time and the students help me write certain words.

    After we have filled in the entire Daily News, we read through it. I sometimes make mistakes that they have to correct, or we'll look for a certain letter, count the number of words in a sentence, circle periods, etc.

    Like I said, it takes 20 minutes at the very most. My class isn't really a singing class, so we don't do songs every day. I try to keep everyone involved the entire time. I have them help me spell the words that I write in the Daily News (October, Thursday, cold, sunny, etc.). While waiting for someone to write their name in the Daily News, we might take out our imaginary pencils and practice writing a word in the air. Keep it quick and keep them all busy.

    Personally, I wouldn't be upset if you came into my room and changed things around, just as long as you were still doing the things that I wanted to do. I wouldn't care if you added a song, changed the order, etc. I'm always changing my morning routine. If we did the same exact thing every morning for 180 days I would go crazy!!!

    Good luck!
     
  14. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I do pretty much what you do with just some slight differences, which might help.

    First of all, I have SEPARATE jobs.

    Calendar helper - just helps with date and days of week.
    Weather helper
    Number of the day helper
    Attendance helper

    You get the idea. By breaking the jobs up, you give more kids a chance to participate. I also sing songs for almost every task we do. The kids love the songs and it helps them learn the days of the week, etc.

    Also - about halfway through the calendar routines, we stop, stand up and SING AND BOOGIE! Usually a nursery rhyme (Jack Hartmann, etc.) or something fun. Sometimes we just boogie to some music, but they need a break. It really helps them when we go back to the routine.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Oct 15, 2009

    IT's Your Job NOW!

    She gave you the OKAY,
    So do it your own way!
    When she returns & don't like it @ all,
    Then let it be her call!

    Remember to keep it short & fun,
    So y'all enjoy it until it's done.
    You now have the power.
    Make it all smell like a pretty flower.

    Congrats on your new job.
    Show her that you are no FOB!:lol:
    You can win this, IF it was a bet,
    And never let them see you sweat!
    :Dby Me
    Good luck,
    Rebel1
     
  16. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oct 15, 2009

    What kind of letter would she write if she came back with you doing it her way, and it was still a complete mess?
     
  17. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I haven't read any one elses post. So if I repeat what they said I'm sorry.

    9:00 to 9:20ish is my calendar time. I have a calendar person, a weather person and a counter. The first thing we do is sing the days of the weeks song by Dr. Jean and Months song by Dr. Jean.
    The calendar person, points and counts to the numbers already up on the calendar, tells me what pattern we need next in our pattern and what number is on the pattern piece. They than use a pointer and the whole class says Today is Thursday, October 15th, 2009. Than the magic pointer (a finger on a long stick) held by me whispers questions in my ear than zooms around the circle and picks the kid it wants to answer the question. (magic pointer doesn't come out everyday).
    The calendar person than changes the days of the week on the yesterday was, today is, and tomorrow will be things. I have it so they change it using velcro not writing.

    After that the weather person comes up and tells me what the weather is outside and if their prediction was right from the day before. They also read the thermometer (with my help).

    counting the straws. We use different voice volumes to count. We count in a volume 1 (whisper), volume 2 (normal voice) volume 3 (yelling) volume 0 (just moving lips). They love the volume 3 (we also don't do every volume every day).
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 15, 2009

    I didn't read all the results yet and I have no experience with larger groups of students (only up to 8 in our classrooms), but do not be afraid to change it up and know that each group each year is different. This year what FINALLY worked was moving calendar time. I had it first thing in the morning and for 4 years that worked. This year it didn't. Calendar time was FOURTY minutes every morning for something I knew shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. It took a lot of playing around with it to finally find the solution. NOW I do literacy learn through play type centers mixed with guided reading and word study FIRST and THEN do calendar math. My students just didn't care enough about calendar math to be energized by it so it was setting the wrong tone for the entire day.

    Another thing I tried that I stuck with was adding www.starfall.com and using their calendar activity FIRST and then doing the traditional calendar. This class is literally transformed every time I turn on the smartboard whereas some groups like it but not in the fixated way this group does. I used that to my advantage. They focused and interacted there first and then applied it again on our traditional calendar (makes them have to think whereas starfall gives away some of the answers).

    Another thing I did was clean up some of the clutter activities and separated them. Counting 100 days of school was simply confusing because they thought that number was the date and didn't differentiate between 100 days of school count and the calendar as being 2 separate things. By separating them visually (in another part of the room) and at a different time of the day (including the straw activity), that worked for us. Some kids can handle it all together.

    My point is not that any of these solutions are right for you but rather that you have to think through what is the root of some of what is causing them to zone out. Is it not interactive enough? Is some of it confusing? Is there too much of it all at once? Is there too much sitting? Is the order of what you are doing not stimulating them in the way you would expect? What are the issues? Study it, play with it, change it.

    Like my teacher specialist says, you don't have to be completely traditional to teach the exact same concept. One example of that was one year I made all my morning messages the last quarter of the year animated on the computer, used their names in the slides, included interactive stuff where they had to read to do it (simon says, following directions, graphs, etc.) just to keep it going but I included the things we traditionally teach during morning message. This year I also stopped doing it on the board because this group loves the computer but they can't handle that much stimulation in it yet. They can't even handle more than 1 sentence per slide yet. They need the white space and to see what they are supposed to focus on. They need it to be simple yet attractive. Different things work for different groups and for different ages. Think outside the box. It's kinda fun!
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    OH, I forgot to add. By studying what was happening, I learned something amazing that never occurred to me. I could not get kids to do the yesterday, today and tomorrow thing no matter how many times I modeled it and explained it. They weren't even attending to it. They were completely guessing it. When I took the days of the week and put it on the floor and put the today card (that goes behind that date in the pocket calendar) and explained the same concept and asked the same questions, they got it right (even my group). What was happening is they can't track the day of the week visually. In other words, they look at the word "today" behind the number 14 (on a Thursday). They look up and see it is Thursday. When they go to look for the date before Thursday, they couldn't track it that far up to see it appropriately. Seeing JUST the days of the week and the word today, there was less visual space and less visual stimulation and suddenly they saw the answer. We kept practicing this so they could get the concept more firmly and THEN I helped them find strategies to physically track it using their hands to guide them. It worked. Like I said, every group has something but I would never have figured this out until I just gave up in frustration one day and pulled my lowest 2 students and then voila I found out even the high students were having the same issues.
     
  20. woobie5

    woobie5 Comrade

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    Oct 15, 2009

    Ugh! I need ways to spice up Calendar time too! I'm enjoying reading the responses! I struggle with it too b/c it's boring to me and to them! What are YOUR ideas (OP) to fix it?
     
  21. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Oct 15, 2009

    It's rather late at night ...and I have to get some housework in before I go to bed and get back to school again. But I thought i would bring you up to date.

    Today...the discussion that the two teachers were having turned to the calendar. Seems they don't like it either. And they feel that there is SO much to be done in the short afternoon (2.5 hours) that they almost want to cancel it.

    I feel that if I could get it to 10-12 minutes... that it would help. I feel that there ARE some wasted minutes in the day that with pre-planning I can eliminate and find time FOR calendar (instead of cutting it off or out).

    Tonight, I went to the teachers store and picked up a few things to change calendar over to on Monday.

    --The past few days have been strange at school. I am going to assume that it's just the turn over, people saying how much they will miss the mom-to-be, and her being tired. But ...well, it was strange. --
     
  22. Lumi

    Lumi Companion

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    Oct 15, 2009

    This year I realized that even at the BEGINNING of the year I am bored with calendar time. That's not a good thing... So I decided to look for ways to spice it up and make it more kid interactive.Fun for them and for me. Really, if you want them to learn, it has to be FUN. The Flylady says, "Make it fun or it won't get done". If this is true for adults surely it's even more true for children since they are so fun driven. In order for it to be fun, it's got to be interactive. I disagree with the notion that in the beginning calendar time needs to be "teacher driven". Yes, the teacher needs to direct things to keep the flow going but the students need to be given the opportunity to interact. That way they are learning with even more of their senses if they use their bodies, (if even only to put a calendar number up on the board) and not just their eyes and ears. I have a really low group this year so just sitting and listening won't keep them engaged, not even for three minutes, much less 15 or twenty or more, so I've got to change things up to create interest on a continual basis.

    One thing I can't believe that it took me so long to figure out is to lay the calendar pieces on the floor and give one child a flyswatter. Once the class decides that we are looking for the number 15 to put on the calendar, that child searches through the pieces and when she finds it, she swats it with the fly swatter! They LOVE doing this and they all beg to do it. Once interest wanes in using the flyswatter, I have decided that we will use long tongs to pick up the calendar pieces and after that we will use a big sticky hand to swat (and pick up) the calendar piece. Not sure what I will do after that.

    I also use a lot of varying pointers. Once we figure out how many days we have been in school, and we put the number in the 100s chart, I have one child who has been sitting quietly and has been showing good listening skills and politeness (by not interupting by shouting out the answers) pick a pointer and stands at the 100s chart and we begin to count together as a class. Around row 40 (after 40 days) I start varying the counting style, "Let's whisper count.. Let's yell count, Let's fish count (fingers bobbling the lips as they count) let's sing count, let's mad count. They LOVE doing this!

    I also use days of the week in my pocket chart. First, we sing a song by Dr. Jean on her All Day Long CD. It's the Days of the Week song where she actually spells each day of the week, "Let's spell monday, marvelous Monday, M-o-n-d-a-y..." This song is a brilliant song because the kids learn to spell the days of the week and it incorporates simple body movements like bouncing, clapping, snapping and blinking. As we sing the song I have one student with a pointer point to each letter as it is spelled in the song. Then they give the pointer to another child who gets a turn at the next day of the week. Towards the middle of the year, I start incorporating sign language when she spells the day. I finger spell it with her. The kids get so excited when they realize that we can also spell words with our hands! (They also love it when I spell their names- they try to guess whose name I am spelling- this of course would only happen when they know a lot of the letters.)

    Then, we have a matching activity where I have the days of the week on shape cards (September's is apples, October- pumpkins, etc.- I got both the pocket chart days and the matching shape days through Shelley Lovett's Childcareland.com) The kids are given a shape card to match up with the days of the week that are already in the pocket chart. This reinforces basic matching skills. Once that gets old, I mix up the days of the week in the pocket chart and we take some time to learn how to make a move by switching two cards to put one day in the right order. We practice that one all year long, but it works great at teaching days of the week recognition and ordering. About mid year, I make it more interesting by doing a tally of the moves, one tally mark for each switch) sometimes it takes 15 or more moves to get it right but once they really start figuring it out, they can do it in four or five moves. Keeping track like this reinforces the math process of representing numbers through tally marks. Once I get five or more tallys I show basic additon on the board.

    This has been long and I thank you if you've read this far, but my encouragement is to make it more kid interactive and you will get more interest and better learning.

    Don't worry about changing things from the way the classroom teacher did it. I'm sure she expects it to be changed up. A good teacher usually changes things anyway to better suit the needs and learning styles of her students. I'm sure your teacher will understand that.
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 16, 2009

    I love the flyswatter idea. I may try that with yesterday, today and tomorrow! Thanks!
     
  24. stillkickin

    stillkickin Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2009

    My advice: Keep all of the teacher's routine but add your own touch. When she gets back the routine will still be in place as a base. You don't have to reinvent the wheel just customize it.
     
  25. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    Oct 16, 2009

    I just wanted to add my :2cents: - I will be leaving in December to go on maternity leave, and I actually hope that the sub does things her own way! Like another poster said, kids are very flexible, and they will adjust well to whatever way the teacher leads them to- and if you make it faster/more fun, they might tell the teacher what you did and it might end up helping her for the future!:p I agree that shouldn't cut out calendar time altogether, but keep it short, and keep the other kids involved by saying things chorally, having them do hand motions for everything...and most of all, be excited yourself! Kids will take their cues from you. If you say something smiling and in an excited voice, they will too! Good luck! :)
     

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