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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Teaching and managing the kindergarten classroom

February 2, 2011

Suzanne, a friend and neighbor, just started her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom. She's a career switcher, having gone back to school after 15 years as a nurse and a Mom to 4 kids, including one with special needs. Student teaching is turning out to be a ton of work to juggle on top of being a Mom and a wife. Long days of teaching and long nights of homework and planning. Remember those early days of teaching?

More than anything, Suzanne is struggling with management: classroom and materials. Suzanne's cooperating teacher has her own style of running the classroom, and Suzanne is working to adapt to that while developing her own systems for quieting down the room and for distributing the materials needed for teaching.

Only a few of Suzanne's students started the year knowing the alphabet, and teaching letters and sounds is still a big part of the language arts time. As Suzanne put it, her kids are always sorting something: objects, picture cards, word cards and more. Together, we've been combing resources to find examples of material management systems that work for teachers.

Teaching ABCs with Ease is a very helpful post for organizing sorting. The post includes, and is presented alphabetically, ideas for letter sorting containers (Aquarium, applesauce jar for A), letter objects (battery, button, bone for B), letter movements (creep across the floor, clap your hands for C) and letter pretend (do the dishes, dig, walk a dog for D). And there's more! The pictures and video make this a fun blog visit.

Word Study in Action gives a lot of helpful advice and suggestions for managing a word study program in an elementary classroom. Although I'm not a fan of weekly spelling tests, I was encouraged to see that this teacher gives both assigned words AND new pattern words as part of the assessment.

The Classroom Procedures section of this site lays out many of the standard management devices teachers use: job charts, classroom rules, and others. Suzanne was drawn to the Talking Signal as one way to quiet down the class. She was going to make one last night to try out today.

Talking Signal

There are many, many resources online but that was enough for Suzanne this week! Feel free to pass along your own bits of wisdom for my friend!

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943