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Start the School Day with Calendar Time

 How do you start each school day? My favorite part of Kindergarten was starting the day with everyone gathered on the carpet for calendar time. We had so much fun following our songs and routines! It was a great way to start each day anew and share the schedule for the day, too. As my students took over leading the activities they truly owned calendar time and learned to teach and collaborate with each other. Since all of my Kindergarten math standards were built in and activities grew increasingly more challenging throughout the school year, my students were also learning!

So, now that I'm teaching fourth grade reading, calendar time has taken on a whole new meaning. Since I teach on a block schedule I have very little time for morning homeroom. We take attendance, make sure students are prepped for the day, and we are off to the races. With students trickling in and out of the classroom to their lockers and/or to breakfast the time is disjointed and there's really no way to have a formal, everybody-on-the-carpet-style meeting like I loved so much in Kindergarten. Side note - If I taught fourth grade self-contained I would ABSOLUTELY make time for a morning meeting and calendar time each day!

Since this type of calendar time just wasn't in the cards I started thinking of how I might implement it in a new way. I decided that the benefits of calendar for older students are slightly different than younger students. I began to view calendar time as a way to give students autonomy as well as teach them about planning, reflection, and time management. So, I created a slide deck of calendar-type activities and assigned in Google Classroom. Students aren't required to keep up with the calendar, though they are more than welcome to do so each day, if it's something they are into... but they do have to check in at least on Mondays. The potential it there for so many benefits! 

I love "passing notes" with my students on the the morning message slide!
A quick check of their decks is all I need to respond to their morning thoughts or add an emoji.
It's amazing how much good this little bit of interaction can do for upper elementary students learning how to communicate with others online.

A weather forecast and graph may seem "too primary" for upper elementary students, but that's not the case at all! There are far fewer questions about whether we will go to recess or have soccer practice when students have access to the information themselves! And learning to use and read informational graphs and charts is part of fourth grade standards, too!

Similar to a weather report, an interactive schedule is helpful for older students, too! No matter their age, most students feel more secure and thrive when they know what to expect next.

It's never too early to start teaching students the importance and usefulness of a personal calendar and planner. With these easy-to-use slides and digital "stickers" students can begin to set goals, make plans, and get organized!

This fun tool helps students become more aware of their feelings and put a label on them. It's also a great way for the teacher to pop in and get a feel for how things are going. Students can track their moods for a month and notice trends in order to become more self-aware and improve social emotional health. This slide is also a great place for students to set goals or write personal affirmations.
If you think your students would love this daily activity, be sure to check it out on TpT!


You can take a teacher out of Kindergarten...

 But you can't take the Kindergarten out of the teacher.

I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff... with a choice... I could turn back - continue doing what I've always loved, what I was comfortable with, what I had worked so hard to perfect and establish... OR... I could jump into the unknown, try something completely different, and stretch my wings... I chose to jump...

Last May I left my position as a primary (K-2) teacher and transferred to fourth grade, which, in my district, is housed at the middle school along with fifth through eighth. After 20 years at the same wonderful school I decided now was the time to jump. 

So many factors went into making this decision... from knowing I'd able to drive my own children to school, to feeling the call to push myself professionally. But, mostly, I just felt in my heart that I needed change. The last 2.5 years have been hard on everyone, but this online Kindergarten teacher found herself burnt out. My candle blazed hot during the Covid years as I worked so hard to provide for more students. I count those years as some of my most successful and fulfilling years in education. But, as my candle burned so bright I failed to notice the wick was slowly running out, and at the end of the 21-22 school year I found myself discouraged and struggling.

Thankfully, I was able to make a change. I'm putting my reading expertise to new use as a fourth grade reading teacher. I'm expanding my technology-teaching prowess by using Google Classroom. For the first time, I get to teach one of my own children as I join my youngest son in fourth grade. I'm excited about school again. My spark has been reignited and I'm looking forward to my 21st year in teaching with great anticipation.

As I was pondering my career change someone told me, "You know, kids are kids... fourth graders may be bigger, older, and smellier than Kindergarteners, but they are still kids. If you meet their needs, love them, and challenge them, they will grow."

And you know what? They were exactly right! 

Since making a career change I have found I am less stressed, more connected with my family, and newly inspired as a teacher. All areas of my life have improved! All areas EXCEPT my online teacher-presence.

I have been "silent" online because I don't ever want to portray or promote anything other than what I am... and currently I am NOT a Kindergarten teacher. Since most of my online presence involves Kindergarten resources and ideas, I just haven't felt "right" about continuing to promote that part of my teacher-self. So, I've just put 21st Century K on the backburner while I sort things out in my head and in my heart.

And I've finally come to a couple of new realizations...

1. My Kindergarten resources are STILL RELEVANT and useful in the 21st Century Kindergarten classroom! How do I know this? Because MY HUSBAND IS A KINDERGARTEN TEACHER and he uses 21st Century K resources in his classroom EVERY SINGLE DAY! So, although I am not personally teaching Kindergarten this year, I have a close teacher-ally still putting all my Kindergarten ideas into practice. 😉

2. I am still a Kindergarten teacher at heart - the content may be more rigorous and specialized (I teach reading), the students may be older (and louder), and the grading/scheduling may be (way) different, but in the end Kindergarteners and fourth graders aren't all that different. And the values I held onto as a Kindergarten teacher are still my values today - I still believe in age appropriate integration of diversity, technology, STEAM, play, and Calendar Time!

So, I've updated my logo, I'm adding upper elementary resources to TpT, and I'm excited to continue sharing my teaching journey and the parallels between primary and upper elementary.