Day 2

The teacher reads a bit from Junie B. Jones. Then she gets up when she gets to the end of a page that has an illustration and walks around, taking the time to be sure each and every student gets a chance to look at the picture. Then the teacher puts the book away.

Singing and dancing to counting by one’s song. The kids love dancing and singing, though most are only truly focused on one of these activities at a time. Sometimes they’ll do both simultaneously.

On Smart Board math lesson about comparing pieces of yarn. The technology seems to give the teacher at least a little bit of grief every time she uses it, but ultimately it works well enough and the students all seem familiar with the format, asking after the lesson if they’re having a quiz that day. Besides the lesson, the teacher has the on-screen options of doing guided practice or giving the students a quiz. Generally she opts for the former. The kids do quizzes and map their progress on the iXL program on the computers.

The teacher leads the students into the guided practice portion and the kids use the smart board marker to put pieces of yarn in order of length by ranking 1-4 (they write the rank next to the length of yarn). The teacher uses a lot of specific (though occasionally not exactly accurate) terminology. For instance, she’ll tell them to rank objects from tallest to smallest. Instead of tallest to shortest or biggest to smallest, for example. She also equates tallest with biggest throughout the lesson, which while I realize we’re talking about kindergarteners, still bothers me for its confusing inaccuracy.

Last before snack and recess is centers, I was in charge of the tangrams and the shapes the students use to make the tangram. I try to encourage them to tell me the shapes, and the numbers in the shapes that indicate how many of each shape they’ll need to make their puzzle. So far, this appears to be a case of knowing or not knowing. I didn’t have too many kids that knew some of the numbers, but not others (for instance).

Getting ready, and going outside. While you would imagine they are accustomed to this bit of the routine, it is a very unstructured time of the day and therefore (to my way of thinking) takes quite a while. Basically, they spend about 15 or 20 minutes eating a quick snack and gathering their things together so their backpacks are ready on the rug and they are sitting quietly in their seats with their outdoor gear on.

After recess, all that’s left is lining up to go home.

Day 3

Playing the, “I have __, Who has __?” math game twice.

Start with the counting by 5s song, and then on to singing/dancing to the count by 2s song. All the students seem to really enjoy this activity and most do the counting out loud, and correctly.

The teacher shows them containers, and they determine which will hold more, then the teacher does the lesson with the smart board, and after they learn about which containers hold less and which more, they do the exercise, and students go to the board to determine which holds less, which holds more, or which two stay the same by circling, crossing out, or underlining the objects on the board. Again, I find the use of comparative terms interesting, as they are again used indiscriminate to their meanings. In this context, tallest means the largest capacity (according to the teacher’s lesson), and the word volume never comes up. I am struck by how we spend so much time almost teaching students the right thing, only to have to teach and re-teach for countless years oftentimes, because of this slipshod way of doing things. Okay, personal rant over…for now. The kids seem to grasp the concept of the larger containers holding more, though they are thrown both in the real life and with the on-screen example when asked which holds more and the options are two equal containers, despite being told that’s an option several times.

At center time, I help at the table where the students are measuring objects on laminated sheets with cubes and recording how long the objects are. This is a task from yesterday, but most of the students haven’t finished it yet. Some have a hard time focusing on the task, which has a combination (like most school activities) of literacies going on. The students have to measure the object, write the word ‘cubes’ to show that that is the unit of measurement being employed for the task, and then write the number for how many cubes long the object is. Again, longest, length, shortest: these are words that don’t come up much.

After centers the kids eat snack and we go outside for recess before it’s time to go home.

Wow, this sounds like a typical day in kindergarten to me. I remember the cubes thing. It was interesting for me to hear about the smart board activities. We didn’t have those when we were in kindergarten. I would like to examine how technologies such as that promote literacy. How kids might learn more with a smart board rather than a chalk board.

One thing that stands out to me is the number of math-related activities that seem to be happening (maybe just due to the times you were observing?). Like Sarah, I think it would be really interesting to explore how the technology of the smart board can play a role in literacy. I have some experience working with fourth graders who were reading at a pre-school/kindergarten level, and I’m thinking specifically of how activities related to phonetical awareness and sight words could be played out on the smart board. Literacy in kindergarten is so interesting to me because most things are still so new to students and there is so much ability to learn. I liked how you pointed out the different literacies at work during the centers and how students are combining different awarenesses at one time. In my opinion, centers, when done correctly, can be a really strong way of combining different literacies into one space and helping students to make connections between the different things that they are learning.