FB Pixel

Pin it!


Interactive Slides for Calendar Time


When I first started teaching almost 20 years ago, I taught an ungraded primary class and I had kindergartners and first graders together. I switched with my partner teacher for the core academic areas and I just taught the first graders, but for our thematic times, our lunch and specials and home room times we were together as a mix of K and 1. Calendar was the perfect way to start our day. It gave us a routine, we learned lots of basic skills and it was completely age appropriate for my kindergartners and my first graders. I absolutely loved it and we did it up right. I had a huge bulletin board. I bet you had one too. It had a flip chart on it for all the days of the week, a calendar where we would put the date up and it would be a pattern every time, or those really cute picture ones that went with the month's theme. We had the weather bear and we would change his clothes based on how the weather looked outside when we peeked out the window. Kids would help. And oh the songs. We would sing a song for every activity on our calendar board. It was the best way to start the day. It was a routine. Kids loved it. Kids joined in. It was like the quintessential kindergarten picture of all these little friends on the carpet listening and learning and singing and talking and counting. It was my favorite part of the day. It still is. 

But after I took some time to be an interventionist and then went back to the kindergarten classroom, my favorite time wasn't my students favorite time. When I got my new classroom set up to teach kindergarten after funding was cut and I was no longer an interventionist, the first thing I did was set up that calendar bulletin board. It was new and improved. I had learned how to use the computer so everything was typed out and laminated, that we had Velcro, we had straws and bundled them together with rubber bands, and we even were going to make a paper chain of all the days of the year to hang around the classroom. It was going to be epic, except that it wasn't. It was an epic fail. My kids did not love it. 

I had been out of the classroom for about five years and just doing intervention and in that amount of time something had happened. Teaching had changed, classroom resources had changed and kids had changed. And I was still the same, trying to do calendar like I always had, and I even had a new CD player with new songs. And I was devastated when my students were disengaged, misbehaving and not learning. I was completely at a loss. But each day that passed I would leave another activity off. I would get more frustrated when my children didn't know what tomorrow was going to be. 

After we had chanted the days of the week over and over for two weeks, I was sending more children away from the carpet and back to their seat to not be part of the group, because they couldn't behave, because they weren't attending, because I wasn't providing instruction that was engaging for them. Kids just five years later were not engaged by the same activities that my students had once loved, and I was heartbroken. I thought about ditching it all together, but I knew that this traditional kindergarten practice still had validity. It was still an important thing for the kindergarten day. I just needed to make it better, more accessible, more engaging, more involving of the students and more appropriate for 21st century kindergartners. I began thinking about how I could change things up. In a couple of days, I decided not to play a song for my CD player and to show YouTube video that maybe reviewed the same concept. It was like magic. My kids on the carpet were paying attention, they were singing along, they were learning, they were engaged with the content. 

But my work didn't stop there. I began to realize that a traditional bulletin board calendar with all the bells and whistles of years gone by wasn't the best thing for my current students and that I needed to change my delivery and my content in order to meet these kids where they were, because they were different. They were not the same. They have a world with the internet in their hands, and my first students did not. Even though the time between was so short, big changes had happened and were continuing to happen in the classroom. I had a smart board for the first time and I started thinking maybe I could use the smart board for my activities and started learning about the program, smart notebook and also PowerPoint, learning more about YouTube, and decided to start incorporating all of those things into calendar time instead of the traditional bulletin board. I came up with five steps to creating a better, more engaging calendar time and it really changed my classroom. It changed my teaching, it changed my outlook on teaching, it changed our classroom community and it just improved everything from that point forward and it bled into other areas of my curriculum as well. You don't have to use the smart board or technology to make calendar better, but when you incorporate these five steps, I guarantee your children will learn more, enjoy it more and be more engaged. 

First I made calendar time more challenging. I realized that doing the same exact thing over and over and over and over again for days and weeks was a routine that I enjoyed and maybe students from five years previously had enjoyed, but these kids didn't. They crave a schedule and a routine, but not monotony. They're used to their life going the speed of light and they're used to a screen that flashes at a rate far faster than me and my weather bear bulletin board and my CD player In order to keep them engaged. I had to keep them mentally challenged, and so I began thinking about how I could incorporate my standards and change activities over the course of the school year. So, month by month, I would sort of up the ante on the activities that we were doing and change things up to spice it up, and found that my kids really were learning and really were advancing along, especially in their math instruction, in their math areas, math standards. 

The second thing I did to improve my calendar time was to keep it Current. Kids wanted to do things that were current to them, not old school. So, yes, we gave up the Adams family days of the week chant and we started finding more fun things online. Harry Kindergarten became a quick favorite and Jack Hartman I don't care what anybody says, he's a classic. The kids love all of his videos and he continues to change and go with the flow. In order to keep his content current and it just played right into my hand I started keeping calendar time concise. 

Oh, in the day I can make calendar time take upwards of an hour or more, but I started losing my current students when I did that by condensing it down and clipping through some of the activities a little quicker or focusing more on one activity than others each day. I found that my students were engaged and by mixing the time up, it sort of kept them guessing and they were able to anticipate what was coming next, while also being surprised with new activities, and that really, really helps with student engagement. I began to use calendar time more as a way to build classroom community and by building classroom community during calendar time, students were able to take are able to take a turn leading, they're able to contribute. Many times calendar is the only time that some of those most struggling students can throw out an answer and feel confident. So by using those students as leaders and helpers and getting them up to the smart board to move stuff around and engage with technology and each other, really, really improved my sense of classroom community and gave that calendar time a new meaning and it's really become the anchor of our school day. 

Lastly, I had to get creative. By making my calendar time more seasonal. With fun graphics, with cooler activities, with interactive components and, of course, with engaging songs and videos, I'm able to keep my students attention. Here's the crazy part that stuff that I was so worried about teaching them. It just comes naturally and my students excel in math because I've carefully planned and thought out my calendar time. It's not just to pass the time, it's not just to check a box. I'm really incorporating my standards, and any time you are intentional about incorporating your standards in your school day, you're gonna be successful. So I took this old school kindergarten practice of calendar and tried to bring it into the 21st century. It has been epic this time around, instead of an epic fail like it was when I first started, and it's still my most favorite part of the school day. 

Hey, have you ever thought about making your own interactive slide decks? Maybe the thought has you feeling overwhelmed because you don't understand the technology, or there are just so many options you don't even know where to begin. Well, don't worry, I've got you. I am working on an interactive slides masterclass, a one-time course you can take at your own pace to learn all the tips and tricks I know for creating interactive slide decks that you and your students will love. We'll talk about how to create interactive slides like my calendars and literacy reviews, and also daily focus slides that you can use in your classroom every day of the school year. We'll even talk about how you can come up with your own ideas to create slides that you can sell yourself. I mean, if we're going to do all this work for our own classrooms, why not help other teachers and make a little passive income on the side, right? If you are interested, CLICK HERE to register!

No comments:

Post a Comment