Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whoops! Learn from our mistakes!!

So, everything didn't go exactly as we had imagined!  Who knew?!  But we've made some changes since then.  Here is a list of things thus far that have gone wrong, and what we did to change them!  Always good to learn from others’ mistakes, right?  Well here’s a long list of lessons for you!
  1. QR Codes for behavior
We thought we would be super amazing and make some QR Codes for our kiddos who needed reminders for behaviors.  Sounds smart right?  Well, what we failed to think of was this...when a child scans a QR Code that send them to YouTube, they are now able to click on a thousand other videos from there.  As you can imagine, some of these should never be ventured while at school...so we had to intervene.  We quickly changed all the QR Codes to links that were “quiet” instead of straight to YouTube.  If you don’t know about this trick, all you do is go to a YouTube video you want to show, then type in the word “quiet” right in front of the word “YouTube” in the address.  For instance, if the URL you want to use is this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU4FKj0OmWs, and you want it to be shown without all the comments, videos on the side, and advertisements, you type “quiet” in front of “YouTube” making the new URL this:  https://www.quietyoutube.com/watch?v=UU4FKj0OmWs.  Now the video can be viewed without distractions!  If you would like a copy of our behavior QR Codes to use in your own classroom, they can be found here!
  2.   Telling the kids, “You can sit anywhere you want!”
While this sounds like a GREAT idea, we found that some kindergartners are incapable of being able to handle this kind of freedom right away.  It would be silly to make every child have to go to a “table spot” or have a certain spot on the carpet for just a few kiddos who need those parameters, so we decided to give only the kiddos who needed some structure the structure they needed for now.  It doesn't mean they will always have a spot on the carpet, but it does mean that until they can learn and abide by the expectations, they will have a spot just for them!
On a side note, a really simple way to lay out expectations about the physical environment of the classroom was to actually walk through the classroom with the students and model what learning would look like in each area.  For example, asking and role playing what learning would look like on the carpet if they wanted to sit on their crates, lay on the floor, or sit on the floor.  Then  I had the kiddos show me what it would look like and I took their picture following that expectation.  Now a picture is hanging from the smartboard to remind them what we learned.  HUGE difference...and DUH!  That should have been discussed the first day of school.

  1. I absolutely love that my kiddos feel so comfortable and cozy in the new classroom environment that they always want to take their shoes off, because that IS what I was going for, but unfortunately because they are kindergartners and about 80% of them still can not tie, untie, or put on their shoes, I have decided that they need to keep their shoes on until they learn to put on their own shoes and tie them.  There have been multiple occasions where we are needing to leave the room in a timely manner to get to a special or heaven forbid get outside quickly due to an unexpected fire drill….Thank goodness the latter has not occurred YET, but it will; it is only a matter of time.  Due to the time it takes to help them untie the double, sometimes triple knots, that their parent or I have tied in their shoes to prevent them from coming untied repeatedly throughout the day because they just yank their feet out quickly, then help them to loosen the laces so that they can put their shoes on, only to then tighten up the laces to tie them back into double, sometime triple knots, I have just decided for the time being, until there are more classmate “experts” to help with this process, to not allow them to take their shoes off in class.  They now know though, that in order to be able to take their shoes off they must know how to put them on and tie them themselves.  It’s a GOAL and they are excited to accomplish it to earn that privilege back.