Schooling in Pajamas

Kindergarten Work Expectations

Before I start posting on the first grade stuff, I want to show some pictures and information from our kindergarten year.

When we first started kindergarten, we went exactly by the daily plan as outlined. It was not long before I noticed he was bored. Not only bored but that the lessons that were split up into more than two lessons was becoming repetitive. As a consequence he did not want to do them at all and became outright argumentative about it. So we began to merge several lessons from a unit together and voila- he began to settle down. Add in to the mix some cool and fun field trips  and an awesome year was had.

I’m going to post on “school work” first then check out the next post to capture pictures of our year.

  1. Portfolios and testing-

Throughout the year, we were to work on portfolio assignments. The recurring theme was saying the alphabet, counting to a certain number, writing their name, etc. Each portfolio would add something to get a feel for their progression. We had to draw a picture and then write about it or narrate if they were still having writing problems. The middle of the year we had to mark what vowel and consonant sounds they knew and then by the end we had to mark off sight words they could read. I’m sure there were a few things I’ve forgotten to mention but that is the jest of it. I’ll include  a picture of  one.

During the year, we also had Dibels testing. This involves reading sounds, words, and nonsense words to the teacher over the phone. The kids will eventually be timed when reading nonsense words. They will also end the year (and possibly one other Dibels test) by reading from a phonics book. They are allowed to pick what book and story to read from the set that is sent with the school books. But not the first book since it is an easy book for the end of the year.

We also did on online math test. I think it was GKids or something similar. It asks about shapes and other things. A really simple test that doesn’t take too long.

The parent will fill out a survey that helps set goals for the year. This is done two maybe three times a year. There are several sections but nothing too lengthy.

All of these are gone over during the teacher conference phone calls and sent by Kmail. Kmail is the school email system.

  1. Class Connects-

This are virtual classrooms that the students sign into and interact with the teacher. Our class connects were the same time and day every week except on holidays. Many of them are recorded so you can watch again or if you could not attend them. For kindergarten, we had math and language arts (reading). This is also an option for those who are struggling with something. Our teacher would schedule a certain class connect and make it mandatory for those who needed it. For the most part, Devin enjoyed them. However, he did get a bit bored waiting for his turn when a lot of classmates would be on at one time. Plus, he wanted to shout out an answer exactly when the question was asked. We eventually stopped going because he was so far ahead of the class connect session topics.

We did attend some of the ALP sessions which he loved. But again, class size and disruptions from some of the kids drawing over the screen and stuff caused us to stop attending. We did manage to watch the recordings and do the journal stuff  on our own.

  1. OLS-  the online learning system

This takes time to master. You really have to play around with it, ask questions, and watch any helpful videos that are offered. Once you are familiar with it you can just breeze right on through using it.

Several things I like about the set-up.  1. You get a daily view and a weekly view. I loved the weekly view. It really made planning easier. Also, you can look further on the calendar at other weeks and move out further months. The daily view list everything you need to do for the day except P.E. and health which you are responsible for. When you sign into your account, you see a view that shows each subject. You can click on it and go right to it or you can click at the top on daily or weekly to open the planner and click from there.

You will also be able to see your progress in broad view (all subjects at once) or individually by clicking on just one subject. You are expected to do 2-3% progress each week. This is really helpful to see how far behind or ahead you may be. You can even have it calculate estimated completion time such April 14. It will automatically figure this out by number of lessons and percentage of progress. This is extremely helpful.

Another feature is clicking on each individual subject and bringing up the scope and sequence for the entire year listed by unit and then lessons in the unit. Very helpful to order library books, to plan field trips related to a unit or lesson, and to learn exactly what the objectives are for each unit/lesson.

You can also adjust what subjects and number of lessons for each day. They already have a “suggested” plan but you can adjust it to fit you. For example, they might have science on Tuesdays and Thursdays with History being on Wednesday and Fridays with each being one lesson a piece. We went in and adjusted it to have Science on Thursdays with 2 lessons (depending on the lessons we did two and sometimes more) and History on Fridays (same as science). This held his attention better and allowed for a solid time block for a project if needed. This comes in handy for the subjects such as vocabulary where you have the same words for three or four days yet you may not need that long. You can quickly get through them as long as the assessments are passed at 80 or above. If not then I would suggest taking them as planned out for you.

You can also adjust your calendar. The calendar is preset with the school’s schedule. You can adjust these. My brick and mortar kids had more time off in the fall and at Christmas break. So I adjusted some regular holidays off such as MLK or Labor day and we worked on those and added the days of to the Christmas break so all three had the same amount of time. It really works out. No distractions and makes visiting family for an extended time easier.

As you can see, you do have some flexibility. It is not all set in stone. Just keep up with your progress, log in the required hours, and you are good to go.

  1. Kmail-

Kmail is the in house email system that is used. This is how you are contacted by teachers, administrators, and how you contact them. It is very efficient but does take some getting used to. After all, it is not google or yahoo. You will swear at times that it has it’s own personality but overall it is very good. You will be able to tag and file plus archive. I would recommend tagging items with labels such as assessment info or weekly newsletter. Items you will not need to go back to or do not pertain to you, then archive those and they will not show up in your list every time you open kmail. The items you tagged, should be printed out or saved to your computer. Sometimes a glitch can reset kmail and you lose everything. I did not have that happen but have heard it happened to others. When you send a kmail, you will search by teacher or administrator then by student. That is really the only big difference from regular mail. Another tip is to save as a draft before sending. Last year, I would hit send and it would not send it. As a result, I lost the body of the email and had to start over. This year I am saving as a draft then sending. That way no lost emails!

  1. curriculum-

I really enjoyed the curriculum once I got past a few subjects I thought were busy work. The main subjects and materials are very good. We both enjoyed how phonics is taught. The online lesson portions really worked for him. I like that we did not have to do the online portion if the paper part was enough or if I wanted to teach it a different way as long as he took the assessment and passed with 80%. (80% is required to pass the assessment. Anything lower and you must retake the assessment. But not immediately after the first time.)

Overall, a good curriculum and one that he was able to move at his own pace for.

You are able to order math and ela for the next grade once you have reached the correct percentage completed, assessments show progress (no struggling etc), and the teacher has consulted with you. We were able to begin first grade math and ela right after Christmas break. You can not move ahead in science or history.

We also got art as an elective. You have the choice between art and spanish. After reading comments from  others and talking to his teacher, we chose art.

Thanks for making it this far. Look to the next post for pictures from school itself and from our outings.


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