Organisez vos centres d'apprentissage

Here I am... a day late! I forgot when I planned last week to blog on Monday that I would in fact be in Halifax watching the greatest hockey team in the NHL (the Ottawa Senators) kick some Toronto Maple Leaf butt. It was a belated birthday present and it was super fun! Go Sens Go!!!

If you missed last week's post, I am doing a little series on my blog all about centres and how I run them in my maternelle classroom. Last week I talked about how I launch them in the beginning of the school year. And now, without further ado...here is a post all about how I organize my centres/rotations in a way that allows my students to be completely autonomous (or as autonomous as possible for a group of 4- and 5-year olds haha)!


Keeping your centres organized makes life waaaay easier and really helps your students become more independent. Click to read about how I keep my literacy centres organized in my French kindergarten classroom!


Keeping your centres organized (and keeping your organization consistent) makes life waaaaaaaay easier. It also really helps your students become more independent - I very rarely have to tell my students where to go and what to do...I just show them where to look in order to figure it out on their own. As I mentioned last week, you only have 5-7 minutes to teach your students something new before each rotation. You don't want to spend all of those minutes telling your students what to do and where to go! Once my students are able to stay at their station for about 10 minutes and have behaviour expectations down pat, I move into teaching them about how our centres are organized. Here are my top four tips!

Starting centres... en maternelle!

Do you use centres in your primary classroom? I LOVE centres!!! They can be awesome. When you have centres in place that run like a well-oiled machine, you can easily pull small groups of students to work with, while being confident that the rest of your class is engaged and practicing important skills - independently. This helps you ensure that you are teaching your students EXACTLY what they need to know, and you're not wasting their time or your time. Centres can also make differentiation a snap, if you have different "levels" of activities for both centre time and time working with you.

I feel like by now, most teachers are aware of how valuable centres and small groups can be. However, centres can be a challenge to implement, especially in maternelle. They take time to teach and prepare, there is sometimes a lack of quality French resources, it can be hard to make sure your students are working responsibly and independently while you pull a small group, and it can take a lot of organisation. It has honestly taken me a few years of trial and error (lots of error haha) to get my centres running exactly how I want them. I figured some other teachers may be able to learn from my experiences and mistakes, so I will be sharing how I start and run centres in my kindergarten classroom over the next few weeks, along with some of the resources that I use!

Centres are a great way to keep your students engaged and learning while you pull guided reading groups. But, en maternelle (especially in September!), your students can barely sit still long enough to hear ONE center explanation, let alone a bunch. And they may not even understand French yet!! But, we all know it is important to start building stamina and routine from the very beginning. Here is how I start literacy centres from the very first week of school in my French kindergarten classroom!

Today's post is all about what to do in the first few weeks of centres - how to get started. But before I get started on this blog post, here are a few things you should know about my classroom centres:

Parent communication en maternelle

Happy Sunday!

I know that school has probably started for most of you (we started back on the 8th), but I wanted to talk about a super important topic today that is especially pertinent to the beginning of the school year - parent communication. Obviously, it is essential that teachers of all grades communicate with their students' parents, but I believe that this communication is especially precious and especially important in maternelle. Parents of kindergarten students are unique - for many, it is their first time having a school-aged child. For others, even those whose siblings you have previously taught, things may have changed significantly since their older children started school. At this age, you cannot count on your students to inform their parents of goings-ons or of your expectations, so it is important that you communicate clearly. New school-aged parents are often nervous, have no idea what to expect, and may not know about things that are "obvious" to teachers and parents who have had children at the school for a few years - through no fault of their own. Parents are like students - they can't be expected to know things that they haven't yet been taught!

Parent communication is so key, because it is how you can ensure that your classroom parents are aware of your expectations for them and for their child. It is also a way for you to make sure that they know what the school expects of them. I pride myself on being a good communicator, and have had many thanks and expressions of gratitude from my classroom parents in the past. Read on for some tips and ideas of how I communicate in my class!

It is essential that teachers of all grades communicate with their students' parents, but this communication is especially important in maternelle. Check out this blog post to see how I communicate with parents all year long!



BEGINNING OF THE YEAR
The beginning of the year is information overload for most parents. They are bombarded with forms, notices, reminders, and procedure information. It is essential that you have an organizational system in place for all of this info - you do not want to be sending home a form or two each day, only to have them lose the forms or forget to return them. You also want to be sure that you set a clear date for when you want that information read by, and forms returned by.

It is likely going to be overwhelming for parents to receive all this information at once no matter what you do. Here is what I do to make it as simple as possible!

Plans pour la rentrée 2016 (maternelle)

I cannot believe how close we are to the first day of school!!! Such an exciting time of year...but, let's face it, it's also a STRESSFUL time of year. I am actually feeling a little guilty for pausing in my preparations to write this blog post! My to do list is still longer than humanly possible...and time is running out. I figured that some of you may be feeling the pressure as well, and looking for some ideas to help your first few days run smoothly. La maternelle is especially challenging - most of our new munchkins have no idea about school/classroom expectations yet, someone is usually crying most of the morning, and everyone and their supplies are ALL OVER THE PLACE! Kindergarten is always exhausting, but never more than the first few days of school. Read on for some of my tips & tricks for first day planning, as well as a peek at what my first day plans look like!

Tips and tricks to planning the first day of maternelle, as well as a peek at my actual first day plans!


TIP 1: PLAN THE ORDER OF YOUR ACTIVITIES...BUT NOT THE LENGTH
We all have schedules with how many minutes we should be spending on each subject/activity. Once you know your students and their pace, these provide great guidelines. On the first few days...forget it. I plan the order that I want to complete my activities (and sometimes change it on the fly if necessary), but I try not to rely on them being completed within a certain time frame. I try to stick to the order as much as possible, but don't panic if one activity takes forever, or if another is done and over with in five minutes. Here is a photo of my plans for the first two days (don't judge my handwriting or my franglais, ha!):



You may notice that my first day plans are written in, but my second day plans are on sticky notes. Usually, I plan out my weeks via my pacing guide (see image below), and then write my daily plans the morning of in my planner. This way, if we don't get to an activity, or if we have extra time and start something I had planned to do the following day, I don't have to erase anything, cross anything out, or ruin my pretty planner with white out. It also helps me mentally prepare for the day to come, and ensure that I have everything ready. The first two days of school do not go into my pacing guide, so I planned on sticky notes first.