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Did You Bring Seaweed Salad Today, Rita?

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Did you bring seaweed salad today, Rita?

Little kids are a riot. Big kids, too. All the same, really, just size variations. Some of the funniest things happen at school, pretty much all day long. 

As the year rapidly draws to close and I'm sneaking in a few unexpected days off, I am also gearing up big time for what lands on Jan 2nd. I just checked out our school syllabus for winter/spring and I need about three of me to tackle even number one on the list.

Starting over in preschool was the best decision I ever made. I am finally learning how to teach. I think I have the basics down for this age group and took a lot of classes which helped. My master teachers are extremely experienced and have my back, and sometimes my front. Talk about lifelong learning. 

I just got moved back out of the art room, which I requested. Toys are in there, too and the distractions are the pits. Also, teachers Cheryl and Thom discovered I am really bad at crafts and they redid or finished whatever we had started.

So I am back where I really like it, the little room in the middle, with a kidney shaped table, alphabet on the walls, flannel and magnet boards, a chalkboard and some storage. This is where I teach best. Our inner sanctum. 

And just in time. Today I read expectations for the literacy grant I need to accomplish like the speed of light. Multi-age, 2-8, fully included kiddos.

Fortunately I like a challenge and believe me, I'm up to this. At least I hope so!

School List Sampler:

Basic skills, as expected, thematic. 

Teach 50 states.

Teach where littles live, grandma, etc.

Teach 50 states in alphabetical order.

Two spring concerts.

My list Sampler:

Never sit in teacher chair. Sit at eye-level on little, uncomfortable chairs.

Always carry kleenex in pockets, but check pockets before washer.

Carry food in pockets. Kids are like magnets to you.

Wash hands all day. Keep lotion handy.

Watch with eyes on all sides of head.

Keep laser-like focus every minute.

Kids are gross and like bugs, snails and magnifying glasses.

Wipe down playground equipment before their pants get wet.

Expect spills. Pour minute amounts of milk, then refill.

Model manners. Please and thank you.

One rule: Keep hands and feet to self.

Each one, teach one, big w lil' buddy all day long.

Morning Circle:

I lead Circle two days a week, Mondays and Wednesdays. I like to start off with a strong Set based on a theme, featuring a favorite classic book.

I have fun bringing in old things like my tap shoes, since they do tap and have prior knowledge. The kids all got to try on my mother's beaded shoes she had made once in Hong Kong, which leads to another lesson.

That's my best teaching- those aha! teachable moments. Children's quesions and direct experiences focus and shape the lesson. I just provide something to work with once the kiddo's natural interest starts my creative side glowing.

Sometimes I bring in a talking little box, chatter teeth or gag, then I always tie in with the story for the day. Sneaking in Story Grammar happens a lot. Making reading manipulatives works great. So far we've made a pop up flash card, 4 and 8 box folds, etc. I plan to start making more books.

Book handling has been a huge focus. I've been modeling concepts of print, left and right. Of most fun, kids have used tons of scotch tape, repairing books. I never thought I'd need to model how to gently turn book pages, but I notice all the children being careful with their chosen books and wanting a lot of tape to repair miniscule tears they find in older, loved books. A culture of loving books.

We're already making predictions, sequencing and summarizing. Phonemic awareness, singing constantly. Some nursery rhymes. Doing things I thought were imposssible only a few months ago. Some of the kids are starting to get word families, so I'm using books with ryhyme, rhythm and predictable patterns. A lof of Brown Bear! Chicka Boom!

Monday is also Show and Tell, highlight of the week.

Literacy is all day, every day:

Stations and Maker Spaces. Tech.

Teaching toys, large and small motor.

Arts. Music, dance, Swimming classes.

Library visiting, and at-school visits.

Reading during breakfast, snacks, read-alouds.

Reading the room all day. Charts, realia.

Reading groups. I teach three small groups a day. Mini-lessons.

Reading on mats before nap. Alone, to each other, by teachers.

I like to put books, book marks in their cubbies, sometimes a sticker.

"Yo, Yes" is my favorite book ever.

Circle Time Funny Story:

I read the book "Everybody Cooks Rice" and brought chopsticks. We used them to sort, count, pick up raisins which of course, got eaten. That day for lunch I had brought Japanese food, including seaweed salad. The two year old kept asking about it, but wouldn't taste any, of course.

Every day after that for several weeks, the children would ask when I came into school "What's in your pockets today? Maybe a bean bag, floating eyeball, who knows? Then always, "Did you bring seaweed salad, today, Rita?".

So, right before Christmas vacation I bought a large carton of seaweed salad. The teachers knew the joke, so asked me to put the seaweed salad on the childrens' plates, first. A few kids tried it and said "eww", etc.

The couple who did, just loved it and ate a bunch. Lunch was quickly served when one little thought seaweed salad was all he was going to get and started crying. Greatly relieved when a second later lunch was served.

Art Linkletter had a great show for many years when I was a little myself. "Kids Say the Darndest Things". I never know what the littles are going to say or do, so it keeps me on my toes.

It's another rainy day in Eugene, the horrid ice storm is over, we weathered the storm and read a lot of books. On the worst ice days I still made it to school, except one. Managed to get to the Dollar Store for art supplies.

Afterall, a day without the littles isn't as special. The most special thing in a long time was the Christmas concert, but that too is over, now. Spring Concert to look forward to, and prepare for, no small feat.

Children of all ages warm us to see the new and good in all things, to feel our collective hearts beating.

It's my pleasure to be among the first to say a most happy New year to you and yours. To fresh starts and new beginnings.

Let us share New Year's hopes, dreams and wishes for the literacy lives and good life of all our children. 

This time of year, as we reflect hope and dream our dreams, I wish you all a blessed, healthy New Year to you, your school and home families. Take time to share the children's stories and laugh with colleagues and loved ones.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

 

 

 

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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 46 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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