Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Tips to Manage Preschool Portfolios


Today I want to give you my insight in regards of students portfolios in preschool. There are a wide variety of options for you to create portfolios for your students. 

A student portfolio is the collection of their work samples for specific purposes. In preschool, we use portfolios to show growth progress, document developmental milestones, and for identification of strengths and areas to continue to work on.

A preschool portfolio contains work samples such as art work, photos, anecdotal notes, dictation, and videos of the student in action - my favorite! How can you include a video showing the true essence of the student performing a specific task??? Not on paper, that's for sure!

Electronic portfolios are the best thing ever! It makes it easy to maintain, to keep the information updated, and the best part is that you don't have to carry tons of papers when conferencing with parents! 

Here are my 3 tips for managing preschool portfolios.

To be organized is my number one tip! Teachers must decide which type of portfolio to create. If you want to save time, money, resources, and have a quick and easy can go electronic! See my post on electronic portfolios HERE!

You also need to assign some time - daily or weekly - to work on the students' portfolios. 
I personally have a bin in the classroom where I place all the work samples throughout the week that I will include in the portfolios. My assistant takes pictures of the work samples or scans them. On Fridays, I dedicate one hour to upload, describe, and place in their correct e-portfolio. Once those are scanned, they go home!

It is very important the portfolios are complete. By complete I mean to date all of work samples, cover all the areas you've set your portfolio to be - for example: art, science, math, writing, language and literacy. The portfolio should also show a progression of the same skill, for example: name writing practice at the beginning of the school year, then in the winter, and in spring. You can create a master checklist with the activities and work samples you are intending to include in the portfolio and make sure those show progression throughout the school year.

Visual appeal is key! Don't you love a well-organized and complete portfolio that looks incredible?! Besides using the portfolios for assessing your students and collect their data, your administration can use it for your annual evaluation....AND you can use it for conferencing with parents.....AND it can be a gifted as an end-of-year keepsake. So well, it must have a visual appeal, neat, well-organized, and showing work samples of the academic year!

This is an example of my electronic portfolio created with the Learning Genie free app (up to 28 students). This specific piece of evidence is tied to my curriculum's learning goals/assessment measures (we use DRDP 2015 in CA),  for the specific domain of Language and Literacy Development.

This is a very comprehensive piece of evidence in my e-portfolios. It explains the area of assessment and the evidence I used. I found this information very useful especially when I meet with parents and administrators. 

Keep learning!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Social-Emotional Curriculum Giveaway!

Hello there!

My school district has made some changes into the kindergarten entrance birth date. Ten years ago when my now-high-schooler entered kindergarten she was only 4 and cut-off date was in December. After several years moving this date sooner, a child must be five by September in order to enter kindergarten. This was done for several reasons, but the reason that played the most impact was the maturity level of the students. Most of them were academically ready for kinder, although they were emotionally immature. With all the rigorous and new standards for kindergarten, teachers spent most of their time focusing on the social-emotional development of the students.

In PreK, besides teaching academics, our main focus is the social-emotional development of the child. Teaching them how to be a good friend, how to be respectful, and how to be safe when working and playing.

I will introduce a social-emotional learning curriculum that does just that : SecondStep Social-Emotional Skills for Early Learning. This curriculum offers tons and tons of information and materials to have your early learners ready for their biggest milestone yet .... kindergarten!

I was generously given an entire curriculum to use in my classroom. It is amazing! We love the picture cards, the boy and girl multicultural puppets, the posters, the songs, and the Brain Builders!
My favorite part of this curriculum are the Brain Builder Games.  Brain builders are super fun games designed to build's children's ability to self-regulate - managing their emotions and behaviors. It involves executive-function skills, attentive listening, focus development, self-talk, and following directions. The games can be played with a large group or small group of children.

The teacher's guide will guide you step by step with an overview of the game, the steps to teach each Brain Builder, and the game cards for each game. It offers suggested movements and it can accommodate different learners due to the challenging variations.

I personally love to play the Brain Builders right after recess, when we are transitioning from our playground back to the classroom. The games have helped my students feel calmer after active play and exercise, and they are beginning to feel more aware of their heartbeat speed. This has become an important part in our routine. Transitions are running smoother because my students have their attention on me waiting for the Brain Builder we'll do.

Would you like to try brain builders in the classroom??? I'd bet you do! 
Enter the giveaway for the opportunity to 
win a Second Step  
Early Learning classroom kit.

Keep learning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for all your support 
and for your participation!
The lucky winner of this fabulous Early Learning social-emotional classroom kit is.....

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Newspaper Art: Celebrating Earth Day

Hi there!

This week has been really busy in our classroom. We are celebrating Earth Day, getting ready for the Day of the Child, and also getting ready for our ABC countdown fun!

As part of our Earth Day celebration we did a super cute activity inspired by Proud to be Primary. We recycled old newspapers and did a self portrait.

I loved this activity. It gave my students the opportunity to work on several days on a project while doing their part conserving the environment.

After collecting old newspapers, we used permanent markers to draw the outline 
of the bodies and all the body parts.

The following day we colored all of the inside of their pictures.

These are some of our creations!

This beautiful environmental-friendly bulletin board is proudly display in the classroom!

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Conference Checklist FREEBIE

Hello PKP fans!

Today I will be sharing with you some tips I consider very important to have a successful parent teacher conference - either as a teacher or as a parent.

Having two daughters myself, one of them in high school, I have attended quite a few conferences. My 12 years of experience as a teacher also has given me mental notes on do's and don'ts.

My #1 tip is the most important for me: BE POSITIVE!
Assure parents your ultimate goal for the student is to succeed and develop a love for learning. During the conference, highlight all the wonderful qualities and efforts of the student. Of course you will be addressing areas of improvement, but focus on the positive!

Students have different areas of strengths and areas of improvement, we all know that! So, when addressing an area of improvement such as {the student struggles in writing because the small-motor skills need more development} you can also add {.....and this is what I'm doing in the classroom to help him}. At the same time encourage parents to do the same at home.

I just can't stress this enough! Preparation is key for a successful conference. Being prepared will allow you to use your conference time productively.  Have all of your documentation, work samples, folders, journals, forms to be signed, progress reports, resources to be sent home, and even pens and sticky notes at arms reach! It will save you time, will reduce the stress levels (for parents and teachers), as well you will have time to share everything on your checklist.

Talking about checklists... for several years now I have been creating a checklist to use as a guide when meeting with parents. This checklist is only for my eyes, I do not share this with parents. It guides my conference as I divide my conference time wisely and don't forget any important  topics to discuss.

These are my actual fall and spring checklists I use during my conferences. Both checklists are pretty similar, only changing key discussion topics based on the time of year.

The parent teacher conference is part of my 100+ pages of my Editable and Bilingual Conference Packet. Click on the picture below for more information.

Grab the EDITABLE conference checklist by clicking on the picture!

Keep learning!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Electronic Preschool Portfolio

Hello there!

I've been teaching preschool-age children for 11 years. I have tried over a dozen of data collection systems to save my students work samples for assessments. I have tried file cabinets, individual portfolios in binders, pocket folders, envelopes, storage boxes, plastic crates, and many others. At the time these systems seemed to be working for me, until it was time to update the information - from one assessment period to the next. My boxes/folder/envelopes/crates became heavier and heavier, papers would get torn and sometimes ripped, papers would fall out of got the picture. Then I started researching for electronic versions for data collection. The few systems I found did not really meet my needs because those were not specific for my state and the type of assessment I use.....and I found myself back to square one :(

A year ago a teacher-friend introduced me to Learning Genie and I can honestly say it has revolutionized the way I store my students data, the way I score, the way I communicate with parents, and the amount of time and money I spend.
Learning Genie is an evidence-based electronic portfolio and assessment tool that makes teachers' lives easier. This tool meets the needs of teachers, parents and caregivers, program directors, as well as children - making the scoring process accurate and objective. I truly appreciate the best practices recommendations from teachers and professionals offered to parents.

The best part is that I can work from my iPhone, iPad or my computer. Android users can also access the website an app. I personally prefer to use my iPad because is where I store all of my photos and work samples.

This is how Learning Genie works:

Once you create your teacher's account, you can input your students or retrieve them from a third-source, in my case DRDPTech. In California we use the Desired Results Developmental Profile that ranges from early infancy, preschool to school-age students. The website also allows you to select your state and the frameworks you use.

Each child will have a folder to start collecting data according to specific areas of assessment. Photos and videos can be collected as well!

Once data has been collected it's time to score it. A window pops up showing all of the possible developmental levels for that specific area of assessment.

The interactive sharing tool definitely closes the gap between school and home. The picture above shows an example of media sharing. Type the book title o songs you'd like to share, write a note for parents, and this learning experience will continue at home! I think this feature will put an end to the infamous "I didn't do anything at school" answer parents get at the end of the day :)

This is my personal favorite! Creating reports is done in just a couple of clicks! I will definitely will be using these reports during my parent teacher conferences. It shows all of the areas of assessments, the developmental levels, and the work sample and observation notes used for scoring. These also can go in the students' files when they move up to the next age-group class or kindergarten.

Like me, several of the teachers in my school district are thankful 
for this tool and this is what they have to say:

Mrs. O. "I really like the feature that tells you the progress. The portfolio status tells you what measures are observed, rated, and the ones to be completed".

Mrs. R. "I like to be able to see all of the evidence in one place during scoring. It saves me time and everything is organized in one place".

Mrs. M. "I like the ability to quickly go to a specific student for a specific area to refer to. I can downloaded into my computer and print if I need to".

Keep learning!

Blog post sponsored by Learning Genie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Happy 3rd Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!!!

Hello there!

PreK Partner is three-years-old!!! During this time I have learned many dos and don'ts (mostly dont's!) about blogging. I have 11 amazing teacher bloggers and TpT sellers joined me in the celebration of this milestone. 

We have a HUGE giveaway for you!!! Starting today until March 26, you can enter our Rafflecopter to win over $150 worth of amazing TpT products.....your pick! 

One question I being asked frequently is: 
what I have learned about the blogging world? 
Well, I also asked these talented ladies the same question and 
here are our answers! 
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and celebrate with us!

I'll start! My name is Janice and I am the owner of PreK Partner. "I have learned many things in this bloggin' world. One of the most important things I have learned is to be transparent and honest with your readers. The readers deserve information from someone who is real, someone who shares some of the same struggles as you, and someone they can relate. Another thing I've learned is to have blogging buddies (or non-bloggers) for support. Someone who teaches your same grade level or maybe someone who shares your same passion would be very helpful to get those creative juices flowing and support you when you're feeling discouraged....yeah, it happens! The most important thing for me are the many relationships we have formed through this platform!"

Next is Kate from Fun in ECSE. "The blogging world has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I was able to collaborate with and share resources with other teachers in similar fields as myself. I have made some wonderful blogging friendships and learned from these teachers new strategies and ideas to use in my classroom. I was able to start to up a TPT store and help other teachers find resources that are more specific to Pre-K special ed. I have been able to stay up to date on the current research based teaching strategies to use in the classroom and has allowed me to share those with other teachers too."

Ms. Moran from Ms. Moran's Kindergarten  . "I have learned so much, especially from others.  The relationships that I have formed with other bloggers has been amazing.  They are so willing to help you out and give you feedback and advice.  It really is amazing!"

Up next is Michaele from Kidney-Garden. "Blogging has been a great way for me to share what I know and how I feel regarding our youngest learners and the decisions made that affect their perception of school and learning. There's a wide array of education related blogs from which I draw inspiration and much needed affirmation after a stressful day or week. Teachers in BlogLand not only WANT to share, learn and encourage others, they NEED that support, guidance, and occasional commiseration that can sometimes be missing or unavailable within their own grade level, building, or district." 

Here's Elizabeth from Kicking it in Kindergarten. "I have learned so much professionally and personally. The best part had been the relationships I've made and friendships I've formed!" 

Behind Mrs. Price's Kindergators is Mrs. Price. "I have learned how open, honest and trusting it is. They open their world to you and they just let you in! This world is full of passion, enthusiasm, talent, collaboration, cooperation and just a pure love of education! It is a world full of valuable resources and support! It is a world that once you enter, you never want to leave!"

Jackie from Pocket of Preschool. "Everyday I learn something new and grow as an educator and mom as a result! There are so many amazing teachers and mom out there.  I LOVE being a part of the blogging world and am grateful for all the new friends I have made."

Last but not least we have Erin from Kindergarten Dragons. "I've learned that i really enjoy writing about my classroom adventures, while at the same tim realizing how hard it is to get a blog post done once the school year starts. I still have a lot to learn in that area. I'm grateful for all the amazing bloggers I've met along the way and for everything they've taught me, and continue to teach me."

Thank you for your support!!!