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Calendar for Classrooms in the 21st Century

Calendar for the Classroom

Since I began teaching kindergarten and first grade in 2002, calendar time has been one of my favorite parts of the day. Classroom calendar activities are the perfect way to start the school day in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classrooms. (I even used a classroom calendar to teach second grade!) In the 21st Century classroom it may seem like there's not enough time (or space) for a classroom calendar set or songs and activities. BUT, the daily calendar routine is vital to students' growth in math and is a great way to the school day with consistency and predictability.
calendar-for-the-classroom
Calendar for Classrooms in the 21st Century

Classroom Calendar Time Research

Research shows that students need a consistent spiral review of math skills in order to reach fluency and mastery leading to better problem solving strategies. When the basics of math come easier, then more "brain power" can be spent on the application side of things. Standards for the early primary grades are heavy on number sense. Teaching daily calendar lessons gives students consistent spiraled review, practice, and preview of basic numeracy skills IF they are planned with the standards in mind. Some research shows rote calendar activities that do not change over the course of the year to match the developmental learning process of students are less effective than other teaching strategies. BUT, when calendar lessons are planned and implemented with the intent to teach standards (rather than merely following a routine), they can be incredibly effective! My students excel on standardized math tests and easily use their numeracy mastery in application to solve higher-order math problems in large part because of our focus during calendar time. In addition, other standards can be worked into calendar time including science (weather and seasons), social studies (citizenship, holidays, customs), and literacy (morning message). 
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Classroom Calendar Bulletin Board 2012

Traditional Calendar Time

As a new teacher I took pride in my classroom calendar bulletin board set. I started by buying a cute calendar and all the coordinating numbers and holidays. Very quickly, I began seeing and studying the value of calendar time. With daily math practice my students were learning many basic numeracy skills. They also loved leading the class through the songs and routines. I spent countless hours creating, printing, and laminating everything I needed for a complete classroom calendar bulletin board. At one point I filled an entire wall of my classroom with our daily calendar routine activities. Later in my career, after some years teaching reading intervention (read all about that life-changing experience HERE), I went back to the classroom to teach Kindergarten. The FIRST thing I worked on was my calendar. I could not wait to fire up the CD player, gather my friends on the carpet and revisit a part of teaching I had missed so much. BUT, I was not prepared for the reality of calendar time in the 21st century classroom... my students were not engaged, not entertained, and (worst of all) not learning... I was devastated!
classroom-calendar-bulletin-board-set
Classroom Calendar Bulletin Board 2019

Calendar for Classrooms in the 21st Century

As a result, I knew my beloved calendar time had to change. I even considered abandoning it all together asking myself, "Is calendar time just a thing of the past?!" In my heart I knew the content was valuable so I decided it was the delivery that was not working. Students today are used to high-impact experiences that involve direct interaction and increased audio AND visual stimulation. Kids love YouTube videos so I began searching for ways to incorporate the thousands of videos online that teachers (just like me) were posting to improve student engagement and learning. I added videos on the Smart Board instead of songs on the CD player and things improved. Then the day came that I needed more wall space to display learning targets and standards goals and I had to take down my precious classroom calendar bulletin board. That's when it hit me... it's time for the classroom calendar to GO DIGITAL!
Finally, I found the inspiration I needed to bring old school calendar routines to life using my interactive whiteboard for calendar time!
interactive-calendar-for-classrooms
Interactive Classroom Calendar for Kindergarten

Why an Interactive Calendar for the Classroom?

After switching to a digital classroom calendar student engagement increases exponentially. I  am able to create interactive slides for students to come to the Smart Board and manipulate the parts and pieces that we used to move around the calendar bulletin board. But now, students eagerly volunteer to answer questions and take part. On each slide I can hyperlink songs and videos from YouTube and other sites to which I have a subscription for quick clicks and transitions. Incorporating songs and videos in this way provides an opportunity for all students to participate and review vital skills. By going digital with my classroom calendar I open a world of theme and design possibilities. I can change the images and video links to coordinate with months, holidays, seasons, or thematic units. Keeping calendar time fresh gives me leverage in maintaining engagement at times when traditional classroom calendar activities become boring and flat. 
Above all, the interactive classroom calendar gives me limitless options for my curricular choices. As the year progresses, calendar activities and routines become progressively more challenging as students master standards. We go from sorting shapes by color and size in August to identifying shape attributes such as edges and vertices in December to comparing shapes based on these attributes in March. And that's just a quick geometry example! Since math skills build one on the other, spiral review and increased rigor are vital to any primary math curriculum!
interactive-classroom-calendar
Calendar for Classrooms in the 21st Century

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