KinderGals: March 2012

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Where are the Tables? Rethinking Classroom Seating

As many of you know, Megan and I don't use a lot of tables in our rooms. In a traditional classroom we often find rows to desks or tables with names taped down to identify the "spot" for each child. If we follow the lead of children, we will find that these are the "least" desired seats. Given the opportunity to pick a table or a pillow, beanbag, or bench, the children very rarely pick the table!
Look at this picture! She has made her own seating! I love that the storage unit is now a work surface. This frees up room in the classroom for other desired items.
Little rug from Target Dollar Spot, Dollar General or Big Lots can easily become work areas.
Look for seasonal items such as folding chairs. I found these in the summer with the other lawn chairs.
I found this park bench at a local grocery store!
There are some times that we WANT to use a table. We just try to give our kids a choice, when it makes sense.  Here's what I try to remember: there is nothing magical about a table. It doesn't make the kids any smarter, it doesn't make them work harder, or learn faster. Give kids a choice, when it makes sense. Assign a seat, when it makes sense! Follow what feels right and works for you!
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Graphing with the Student Calendar Notebook

Do you do a daily calendar with your kids? Hands down it is the easiest way to spiral standards and review previous learning! I have written several posts about using The Student Calendar Notebook. I've put links to those posts below.  In this post I will share the various graphing/data collecting opportunities during Calendar time.
Weather Graph
Each child has the monthly weather graph in their Student Calendar Notebook.  Each day, we observe the weather and record it on the picture graph.  Instead of waiting until the end of the month, each Friday we discuss the weather data collected for the month.  This is a great way to show how data can change over the course of time.
 At the end of each month we write the analysis of the weather for the month. (This picture is from our first edition. We have since updated the unit and the graph looks like the one in the first image.)
We created a list of deeper thinking questions that we could use to lead our discussion both during the month and at the end of the month. We made a flip book for the calendar questions. As we discussed the various parts of the calendar, we could use these questions to be sure we were challenging their thinking.
Lost Tooth Graph
Another graphing opportunity is the Lost Tooth Graph. As the children lose a tooth, we record their name in the corresponding month.  While the weather graph collects data for a month before beginning a new graph, the lost tooth graph continues to collect data throughout the year. 

 Love how my friend Kathleen displays the graph on her smart board. (This is also from our first edition.)
Here are the questions we used to guide our discussion on the lost tooth graph.
Birthday Graph
 Each child has a monthly birthday grid in their student calendar notebook.  At the beginning of each month we add the names of the children who celebrate their birthday that month. We can compare the data of the current month to the past month.
 This is our older version of the birthday graph. 
Here are the questions that we used to help guide our discussion.  In our unit, we have written detailed descriptions for each part of the calendar. This ensures that we are getting the most from each part of the calendar. By having these various graphing opportunities, standards can spiral as we develop number sense and mature as mathematicians. The brain would rather see the same thing 20 times for 1 minute than one time for 20 minutes. Perfect! That is just what this calendar provides!
If you want to read more about the other parts of the calendar, here are a few more posts.
These ideas are from The Student Calendar Notebook.
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