Monday, October 31, 2011

Update: Chair Raffle Winner

Four times a year, I find myself staring at the computer monitor as 6:30pm approaches and I watch the completion levels slowly creep towards 100%.  It's stressful and makes me anxious, but there's no denying how fantastic my teachers are as they thoughtfully complete the Checkpoints (we use Teaching Strategies GOLD).  The data that we get from their assessments and documentation effects the weekly planning and individualization for the classroom.  It's very important work (VIW?).

As stressful as it is for me, I know it's also a lot of work for the teaching teams.  So this year, I thought I'd put some incentive behind it other than the customary thank you that I always send their way.

Teaching teams who had all of their work done before 6:30 tonight were eligible to have their classroom entered in a drawing to win this beauty.  Certainly something to desire for one's classroom environment; as it has been sitting in our living for about two weeks, I've grown somewhat attached to it, but I will deliver it to whomever is declared the winner.

The process was simple.  I monitored to see who was done, slapped that classroom's name on a mini Post-It note, and prepared to launch it into the great pumpkin.  Using some foresight, I realized they'd all stick together, so I folded over the top to make even mini-er Post-Its.

What I love right now?  Is that as I'm writing this post, several teachers are trying to reach me via Facebook to inquire about the winner.  Ha.  Joke's on them as the winner hasn't been pulled yet.  I'm all about suspense.  I wrote a nice email to our Executive Director acknowledging that they had accomplished their task and then left them hanging' with this:  "And the winner is..........................  going to be announced on Monday."  Bazinga!
The Great Pumpkin

The excitement is building... who will win?!
I'm waiting for my hubby to get home to help me draw the name so that I can avoid a conflict of interest.  I'm not sure if he knows this is his task, but I do know that he'll be happy to get that mini recliner out of the house.  He even cut his finger on it bringing it up to the unit the other day (don't worry, all has been since fixed).
Now we're cookin' with gas!  And doesn't he look thrilled?
He reaches in to pull out the winner....

Hurry!!!! Who is it?!

And finally... the winner is revealed.   Congratulations to the classroom below!

Those toddler/twos will be so excited!!!
The next Checkpoints are due in February..... leaves me plenty of time to find another fabulous prize!  Thanks again to my amazing teachers for all of their hard work!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mini Recliner Raffle

Bribery will get me everywhere.  Our Progress Checkpoints are due next Friday and I have offered a fabulous prize to be given away in a raffle; each classroom that has their Checkpoints done by 6:30pm on Friday will get their name entered into the raffle.  Usually I offer "semi"-fabulous prizes; this one though?  Deserved to be called fabulous.  Downright amazing!  I can't wait to see who wins!

Isn’t this chair so inviting? It’s practically begging a child to crawl in, recline, and dig into a book.

Building a Study

Whew!  Feeling a little overwhelmed today as I attempt to encourage teaching teams to begin studies rather than randomly choosing random activities with the sole purpose of covering objectives for observation.  Not to say that meeting objectives isn't important; it is.  However, it's almost important that learning experiences be meaningful to the children so they are engaged and excited about learning.  We want children to retain what they've learned, not flush it because now we're moving on to something new.

I helped one teaching team better understand this today as I asked them to identify the integration of content areas with their recent study of pumpkins.  We uncovered something that was a little alarming -- there was no literacy tied into their study!  Of course, now that we've identified this, we can address it going forward.  I demonstrated how to create a map with the content areas and how to tie those objectives into the learning.  We need not pull children aside into small groups to show us how to do something just so we can say we've observed it!  Pish-posh.  Identify what you need to observe and document and then think outside of the box on how you can create the opportunity for observation.  Need to see some gross motor?  Offer the children a structured activity outdoors.  I fear teachers are so overwhelmed by the notion of objectives that they're missing the teaching component.  We learn best when we're invested and interested in the topic. 

Personally, I hated math and science growing up and my grades properly reflected this fact.  It wasn't made fun and exciting and it certainly wasn't integrated into something that I did enjoy.  If you have a child who loves to visit the art area all day, rather than trying to redirect her to another area, consider how you can bring other content areas to that interest area.  Work smarter, not harder.