Back to School!

class picturesWe just finished our second week of the 2015-16 school year at the Park Care Center! I'm teaching 2nd grade again this year, so the photos above are my 16 little students. So far they have been pretty well behaved, and they're enthusiastic about school and love to participate in class! We spent the first two weeks learning the expectations for behavior, classroom routines, and especially our routine for independent reading time.

This year I have a new co-teacher, and I really enjoy working with her. She plays a key role in providing extra support, both academic and behavioral, for those students who need a little extra attention. She also teaches Bible class every day. I love sitting in the back of the room watching and listening to her teach our students about God's word, and watching their excitement and interest to learn it!

After a lot of reflection on last year, I made a few changes to my classroom this year. First, we got seat sacks! They're just pillowcases held together with binder clips, but they hold my students' notebooks, Amanezco Aprendiendo folders, pencils, and ticket envelopes (for our positive behavior management system). I feel like I'm saving time by not having to pass out notebooks and pencils three times a day!

Next, Amanezco Aprendiendo. These are morning work folders that my kiddos use every day when they come into class. It gives them meaningful activities (practicing the alphabet, numbers, calendar, writing their names) from the moment they enter the classroom, and it's a routine and structure simple enough that they can complete their work independently. This gives me the time I need to check in with my students, see who needs a little love at the start of the day, and make sure we're all set up to have a great day. I couldn't find a morning work binder in Spanish that I loved, so I made one for my students. You can find it here.

During math and science this year, we are using Interactive Notebooks. That means that instead of copying from the chalkboard into their notebooks like they do in public school, my students are cutting, gluing, coloring, and interacting with academic content in ways they can understand. We spent the first week of school learning how to hold and use scissors, how to cut on dotted lines, how to use glue sticks, and how to take care of our notebooks. interactivenotebooksTheir glue, scissors, and crayons stay in table boxes, so we're also working on sharing, taking turns, and asking for supplies instead of grabbing them. Our math notebook pages for the start of the year are from The Printable Princess's "Click, File, Print {and that's it!} Back to School for Kindergarten" packet.

My students spend more time in their seats this year than they did last year, which so far is helping with classroom management. Next week we will start Math Workshop, so they will be working independently with math manipulatives and games, moving around the room more.

One thing that has not changed is our focus on literacy. Every day we practice identifying letter sounds, tracking print, using strategies for comprehension and accuracy, and becoming better readers and writers. (My students are not at a 2nd grade level by US standards; they are closer to a kindergarten level.) We also have daily independent reading time. Each student has a book box and a pillowcase, and they find a spot in the room to read their books. As I finish beginning-of-the-year assessments, I will assign books to students based on their reading level, then conference with the students regularly to help them apply the reading strategies we're learning in class. I love the one-on-one time that I get with students during reading conferences to tailor my teaching to each student's reading level and learning style.

Check back soon for more updates from my classroom! You can see more pictures by clicking here.