Sunday, September 30, 2012

Control your Volcano

I was getting desperate.  I'm not too proud to admit it.  I have 5 kids in my class with real impulse control issues.  I reached out to my Kindergarten teacher community.  One person suggested books by Julia Cook.  I checked them out on Amazon.   My Mouth is a Volcano was out of stock and I needed something now.
So I improvised this lesson.  I took our volcano model and I brought the kids to the circle.  Each person took a small plastic person from a tub of math manipulatives.  I talked to them about how each of us is like a volcano.  We have thoughts and ideas inside us but when we erupt by yelling out, making purposeless noise and letting our bodies get out of control, it affects the learning of everyone around us.
I named specific behaviors and used the names of specific kids. (nicely of course)  I believe in corrective feedback and explicit instruction, so it was important for me to give real examples of what specific kids do on a daily basis, but in a teaching way, not a put down way. 
I had my 5 impulsive kids put their people in the mouth of the volcano (which they thought was pretty cool).  The rest of my kids and I put our people around the volcano.  Then I erupted it with baking soda a vinegar (which all the kids thought was pretty cool.)  We talked about how the eruption from a few people got all over us, and we didn't like it. When we get erupted on, we can't learn or do any of our jobs.  Then we role played disruptive behavior.  When someone "erupts" we say "Control your volcano!".  The "erupter" then takes a deep breath and says "okay".
We also talked about how we can do some erupting outside a recess.
This lesson has given everyone ownership of their own learning and a corrective statement for those disrupting that learning.  It also gives the disruptive students a calming action and the understanding that what they do affects everyone in our class, not just me.
I shared this strategy with all the teachers who work with my kids so we can have a universal statement with universal meaning.

I hope this helps all of us with impulsive kids.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The First Day of School

The school were I teach starts before labor day.  My first day of kindergarten was a lot like herding cats while running through sand.  Everything takes a long time because the kids don't know the routines yet!  Even though I know this, I always underestimate what this means until I'm in the mist of all those beautiful 5-year-olds, their shiny new outfits and expectant expressions.

This year presented extra challenges for me because I completely changed my room arrangements, which impacted how my routines worked.  I had to invent a new way to line up because of the furniture arrangement,  I had to search for my recess whistle because I stored the outside toys differently, etc.  I also have twice as many boys and I do girls.  Anyone who has experienced this type of demographic can tell you that a male-majority class requires different energy.  I will be learning a lot about that this year.

One idea that has helped me quite a bit over the years is to write myself a letter after the first day and remind myself about what to expect and what works and what I should absolutely not do!  I put the letter in box of beginning of the year supplies, on top, so I can read it right away.  This years letter was right on target.  I am so glad I listen to myself!

Have a great first day!  Don't stress and enjoy the new crop of kids.