Welcome to Kindergarten! {Covid Style}

Well, this is a first - teaching kindergarten during a pandemic!  Things look a little different, that's for sure, but we are definitely trying to make our classroom feel warm and inviting.
I have shared lots of videos on my Instagram account (@mrsalbanesesclass) under "Covid Classroom" in my highlights if you'd like to actually tour my room!
We set up "friendship pods" for the students to sit and interact with (keeping social distancing in mind).  The idea came from our board and we loved it!
We used hexagon tables and butterflied them!  I got that idea from some amazing kindergarten teachers in my board!

Each student has an "X" so he/she knows where to sit at the table.  Each student also has a chair and a personal bin marked with his/her name.

Each bin has a whiteboard, marker and eraser (made from a cut up piece of felt), scissors (SK students only for now), glue stick, pencil, white paper to draw, Alphabet Chart (from my Just for Me! Alphabet pack) and name tracing sheet.  We also added a "doodle book" for students to draw freely.  It's just a small blank notebook.
I also added a Name Printing Book for each student which we worked on during the first week (see below for more!).
You can download this editable name printing sheet for FREE by clicking below.

I added these name tags to each student's individual bin as well as chair.
You can download these for FREE by clicking below.

Each "friendship pod" consists of 4 students.  These students will be able to use all the materials around them.  You will notice how we taped the floor to set boundaries.  Each pod has a large shelf with materials as well as "big ticket" items (which are our usual classroom centres - dramatic play, paint, light table, computers, etc.)  Since students are not able to freely flow through the classroom anymore due to Covid, we will be rotating the pods through the room - so the centres don't change, the pods do! They stay at their assigned table and play with everything on the shelf and big ticket items for one week.  Then on Monday we move their chairs and individual student bins to the next pod!

We placed a whole bunch of materials for students to use!  In the baskets and trays that sit on top of the shelves, we placed focused activities for language, math and fine motor (trays are from Ikea).
Here's a closer look:

I've been using ready-made activities from my Just for Me! Bundle if you'd like to see more!
The rest of the materials are things you would normally set out for students to explore in your classroom - Lego, play dough cutters, small toys, anything you have!

Our board gave us a disinfecting spray which we use ALL.THE.TIME!  It was so hard to constantly clean the first day that we came up with a system.  Each student chooses one bin/basket from the shelf or a big ticket item.  We ask that he/she stays with that activity for at least 10 minutes.  Then if they are done they can place it on the middle table or we can collect it to disinfect.  We leave the middle rectangle table as a cleaning hub.
We also turn off the lights and call out "What time is it?  SANI-TIME!" every 30-45 minutes.  Students shake their hands in the air and the DECE and I walk around with hand sanitizer for the students.  That's another way to keep everything as clean as we can!

We prepped a 1st day of school crown for the students to decorate.
You can download that for FREE from my blog post from last year.  
We offered a couple of different kinds!
Click HERE to download your copy!

Throughout the first week, we had students work on their name printing book.
You can find that HERE if you are interested.

We also made these beautiful name plates that we displayed on the wall!
Mrs. Caruso (the DECE I work with) showed the class how to design different lines and paint on top using watercolours.

You can download this editable name activity for FREE by clicking the link below.
***Be sure to download and save this PDF on a computer (will not work on tablet or phone) and open with Adobe Reader (free to download) in order to edit.

I'm definitely going to do a blog post in the weeks to come outlining how my small group mini lessons work.  I set up this cozy corner of the classroom to use.  There are 4 "X's" marked on the floor.  The children in the friendship pod may come over, sanitize their hands and sit on the floor.  Our board has allowed students to use the floor as long as they all sanitize/wash hands before and after.
I have lots of materials stored in the teacher bench and on the shelf nearby.  Some activities I have started this week here include number bingo, dice games, dot plate flashing game and sorting pictures by beginning sounds on our pocket chart.

We are going to be starting more formal literacy and math lesson this coming week.
Each student will have a journal, printing book, poetry journal and writer's notebook.

If you'd like to download the cover page for the journal (small and large sizes), click the picture below.

More to come soon - all about small group mini lessons as well as a closer look at our timetable and how we run the week (just finalizing our schedule)!

How I write Kindergarten Report Cards (Communication of Learning)

It's that time of year....report cards!
The Full Day Kindergarten program in Ontario refers to them as "Communication of Learning", and reflect the child’s learning and growth in relation to the overall expectations in each of the four frames.

They can be very overwhelming and confusing, but if you have some basic tools in front of you, I promise life becomes easier!

I like to lay out all of the materials that will help me:  my Kindergarten Guide (full of report card comments and more!), each student's portfolio, inquiry binder/notes, anecdotal notes (I carry a binder around and add notes for each student) and my iPad.

Yup, you read that right!  I actually open up a file on PowerPoint and layout each of the 4 frames, per student, so that I can quickly flip between students if there are comments that can be shared.  See photo above.  Once I'm done, I can quickly copy and paste into the report card program.  I also love that they are now saved on my computer so next term, even next year, I can access them quickly to see what I wrote about that student and make sure I don't write the same thing!
*I have an editable PowerPoint template ready to go in my Kindergarten Guide so you can type your students names and cut/paste comments directly into that!*

Throughout the year, you will have accumulated a variety of documentation and anecdotal notes on each of your students.  I like to record things I notice or hear in a tabbed binder that I carry around everywhere.  Literally everywhere!  I even take this home each night because I can't lose it! 
It has so much valuable information!
 You can find a blank, editable version of this template in my Kindergarten Guide.
(There are 2 versions - religion is included for those teaching in Catholic schools)

Now here's where it becomes a personal choice - I like to work on one student at a time.  I write the entire report for that student before moving onto the next.  But my colleague is the opposite - she likes to write one frame for all students in her class then moves onto the other frame.
I use the comments right from the Kindergarten Guide to help me.  There are over 300 comments included!  I printed the sections and organized each in a binder so I can quickly flip through and choose the comments right for that student.

TIP:  I printed this huge pack and placed everything in a binder.  I tabbed the report card comments by frame and placed all the blackline masters at the back of the binder.  Everything in one place!  Easy!
*I just added the title pages for each of the 4 frames to the pack to make organizing this huge resource a little easier for you.  If you own this product, go back and re-download!*

So this is the tricky part...you want to make the comments personal, maybe even add a quote from the student, so where do you start?
I flip through the student's portfolio looking at documentation.  What photos, notes, etc. do I have from that child that would reflect their thinking and learning?
In this photo, I set up a game called "Fill Your Cup" at the table.  A few students came over to play.  As they were playing, I took a photo and wrote a quote for each student using PicCollage.
TIP:  If you have a photo with more than one student doing the activity, use the comment you write for all those students!  You may want to change the qualifiers (and quotes!) but that makes life so much easier!

You can document in so many ways!  As I mentioned above, I carry around my teacher binder all the time and jot down notes about students.  I use my iPad for nearly all pictures (and sometimes I turn them into a PicCollage - where I add text so I know what the child is doing/saying), I have students take a picture of their work (i.e., loose parts story, block creation, art, etc.) and print it on half a page so they can write on the bottom, etc.

You can find an entire section on how and what I use to document, along with the template I use in my binder, also in my Kindergarten Guide.

Using assessment is also very valuable - what does the child know?  How do they show their learning?  What areas do I need to focus on for next week/month/term/year?
I use these assessment forms throughout the year and add them to my binder, filed under each student. 
*Keep in mind that using these assessment templates reflects just one small part of the overall student.* 
How else does the child communicate their understanding of something?
Here's an example of an assessment template I use for Canadian coins:
In this case, I would also want to observe the child playing with coins/money at the Dramatic Centre (for example).  This will also give me insight as to what the child knows about money and I can use these notes I take on the reports.
I can also use this information to better plan moving forward - if there are a few children who still do not understand the concept, I will tweak my plans and revisit the concept.
You can find all of the assessment templates I use throughout the year for both literacy and math, as well as diagnostic assessments, in my Kindergarten Guide.

Provocations and centres are a great help in writing report cards!
I like to set up activities around the room to provoke students, spark an interest and see where it can lead.  Many notes and photos I place in each student's portfolio comes from the student visiting and exploring these activities!
I have a whole section on provocations (setting them up, taking notes, sample report card comments, etc.) in my Kindergarten Guide.

I like to have students reflect on these questions:
What do you see?
What do you think?
What do you wonder?

Here's a closer look at what I mean:
I have a whole bunch of pictures of provocations I set up in my classroom that are simple and easy to do.  I have also included which frame you could link comments/quotes to as well as examples straight from my own report cards!

Everything you see above (over 300 report card comments organized by both frame and category, editable templates, photos, examples, and more!) can be found in my NEW Kindergarten Guide for the Ontario Kindergarten Program.  This huge pack has taken me nearly a year to complete, as I wanted to be sure to include concrete examples from my own experience.

You can find this product HERE if you'd like to see more!