Saturday, March 29, 2014

Katy Smith- 2011 MN Teacher of the Year... I really do love her!

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Katy Smith speak you MUST take it! Katy is a parent educator in MN and was selected as MN Teacher of the Year in 2011. She has been traveling the state sharing her knowledge, passion, and humor with MN educators, parents, and policy makers.

We we blessed to have Katy present to our PLC group on Friday. What an incredible experience it was!

She empowers people who care about children to TAKE ACTION!
She validates what we all know is truly DAP in early childhood!
She makes you LAUGH!

Read more about Katy here.
See what the 5 things are she has learned about successful kindergartners here.
Follow her on Facebook here.
Find more info on having her present here.

Thank You Katy! Thank You!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Book Study- The Read-Aloud Handbook! by Jim Trelease

I started loving this book right from the very beginning!
You can read all about my thoughts and reflections at my other blog 2care2teach4kids!

Join the study at PreK-Pages

Sunday, January 13, 2013

School Bears! Oh My!

So things don't always go as planned in preschool... Most teachers have experienced this in one way or another. So what do you do??? Improv right?

We had a visitor from a zoo planned to visit our preschool classroom before winter break. She however, had a last minute job interview out of state so had to cancel at the last minute. This left us wondering what will we do? My partner in crime Miss Anna (who teaches preschool next door) said how about we dress up in the costumes she had sent and we will just be silly School Bears... Ok why not, I said... So we did. Miss Anna and I went to the "office" and left the students with our assistants. We did a quick change and came back into the classroom. We named ourselves School Bears and told the kids we were visiting children in schools because we liked to read with them and that we had heard that they were learning to read books. We asked them to help us read. I being the brown bear, read Brown Bear Brown Bear of course. Miss Anna read Polar Bear Polar Bear. Then for sure we had to go on a BEAR HUNT! We laughed and laughed and the kids had a blast. Some were unsure about us, some thought we were really School Bears, and some couldn't be fooled at all! One little girl told me "Miss Kelly, I know that was you because that bear had the same shoes on as you do." lol :)

You gotta love this job!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

I just finished reading the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and basically… I was SO inspired by Donalyn Miller’s passion for authentic, thoughtful, intentional teaching and her commitment to teaching in a way that brings about real, life changing, learning for her students. Ms. Miller shows us how she brings about genuine learning that becomes internalized, as opposed to the kind of temporary superficial learning that is often the result of unexamined teaching practices ( “unexamined wallpaper”) or practices is which the main objective is to produce an acceptable score on a standardized test. She demonstrates the motivational power of tapping into children’s interests and building honest, respectful, trusting relationships with students.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

When people criticize or question how she is preparing her students for the negative experiences they will no doubt face as they move on to other grade levels she writes…

“Why should I subject students to negative experiences now in order to prepare them for negative experiences later?”

She also says, “The purpose of school should not be to prepare students for more school. We should be seeking to have fully engaged students now.”


This is often the frustration we feel in early childhood education when there is pressure to be teaching preschoolers as if they were kindergarteners or first graders, all of which is developmentally inappropriate.  What results is most children feeling frustrated and they fail to see themselves as learners.  I think we are doing children a terrible disservice if children leave our classrooms feeling school is a negative thing.

I appreciate her stand on standardized tests. “I have no issue with standardized testing per se; I believe that students who cannot pass the minimal expectations set by these tests are not good readers. What I have grown to mistrust is how the high-stakes nature of these tests has disrupted quality reading instruction.”

I agree that accountability is necessary in this day and age. However, when good teaching practices are being jeopardized in order to guarantee high test scores, I think teachers and administration have a responsibility to reevaluate those teaching practices and ask what is best for the students “real” learning… Not just how do we get them to pass this test… Miller has shown that with authentic, intentional, instruction, students will pass those tests, no need to “teach to the test.”

I love that she addresses the use of promotional programs that give out rewards…

And I love that she addresses practices that are left unevaluated because they are “… so entrenched in school culture or a teacher’s paradigm that their ability to affect student learning is never probed.” She goes on to ask, “Are the activities and assessments we use accomplishing our intended instructional goals, or are them simply what we have always done?”

Miller offers a priceless insight into her very successful Language Arts program but more than that she gives us a glimpse into a reflective teachers mind, helping us as teachers rethink not just how we teach children about just one subject like “reading” but how we teach everything!