I hate listening to people talk, but I did listen to this.
I'm on the fence about ditching Calendar in Kinder. I agree time is a developmental concept, but I also think it introduces sequencing and math concepts. Maybe the majority won't master it, but it's foundational.
I agree letters need to be taught in a meaningful context, and not as a random, irrelevant, stand alone. This is why my class creates their own dictionary pages; they come up with words starting with the letter and I illustrate it. They use these dictionary pages in their writing all year.
It was very interesting to listen to. My thoughts:
I have been teaching kindergarten for 20 years and have always had a calendar/morning circle time. I agree that many kids do not understand the concept of time at that age, but I don't see anything wrong with exposing them to a calendar. I think many teachers call it "calendar time," but do many things during that time block. I actually call it the "Morning Opening" and it lasts about 15 minutes. During that time period I usually only spend 3-4 minutes working on the actual calendar day and date. I do, however, use the calendar to practice many skills that we are working on in math and reading. Just some examples:
-My calendar numbers make a monthly pattern. So even if kids don't get that "Today is Tuesday," they can work on their patterning skills.
-When we are working on tally marks in Math class, we will practice representing the calendar number with the correct amount of tally marks. If it is March 15th, then we will make 3 sets of tally marks and count them by fives.
-When working on coins later in the year, I might have the kids represent the calendar number with coins. If it is March 15th, then one child might use my big magnetic coins and show a dime and 5 pennies. Someone else might come up to the easel and use 3 nickels to make 15 cents. My kids get pretty good at this by the end of the year and it is a daily routine that we do in the spring months.
-We put up "Reminder Cards" in the calendar at the beginning of each month (Birthdays, holidays, special events at school etc...) We may look at the calendar and discuss. "How many days away is Halloween." We then count and figure out what calendar number / pattern picture will be in that calendar spot. By the end of the year, I often see kids up at the calendar during free time, counting the days until special events are happening at school.
-The calendar provides print in the room. Later in the day, when we are doing journal writing, I often see kids up at the calendar copying Months of the year and Days of the week to use in their journal writing.
-At the end of the month I have the kids help me take down the calendar. I will ask questions like "Who can take down the first number, the last number, the number that comes after 14? Who can take down all the numbers that we put in the calendar on Mondays? Who can find the number that is 2 more than 10? What number is is 2 less than 10?" Once we get all the numbers down we lay them on the floor and put them in order so that they are ready to go for the following year. My kids love this activity.
I also do several other quick activities during my morning opening, including a morning message. At the beginning of the year I read the message, but by the end of the year, they read it to me. We look for punctuation marks, sight words, letters etc....
I do have a sharing time (I usually start off with this) and I agree that it is great for community building. I end my morning opening with some movement songs before starting the thick of our school work.
I totally get what they are saying in the radio interview, but I just think that many educators out there are doing much more with calendar than pounding concepts of time. I try to change it up throughout the year and make it fun. I see nothing wrong with that.
As far as Letter of the Week, I think many school have already gotten away from that a while ago. My district still focuses on 1-2 letters a week, but we are constantly working on all the letters and sounds. We have to. The expectations in kindergarten are so high (sadly) that we no longer even have the time to dedicate an entire week to one letter. We are expected to have them reading level 4-6 books and writing 3-4 sentence stories by the end of the year. If we spent the entire week on one letter, we would never get there.
I participated in #kinderchat on Twitter on Monday night where this was the topic. I read these two articles and, as a result, I've given up the calendar routine that I've been doing and loathing for so many years.
I now have a calendar wall that has large paper copies of Sept - Aug and will add events as they come up. Next week, I'm planning on showing the children where their birthdays are on the calendar and we'll have a discussion about the amount of time until their birthdays. It'll be much less structured and more interesting.
I don't have much opinion about Letter of the Week except to say that I don't do it.
I haven't listened to all of it, but I love calendar time in kindergarten! I certainly agree that it shouldn't be done in preschool. I also agree that many of the concepts are developmental and many k's are still not ready for them, but like others here I use it for counting, and for skills they are ready for like making patterns etc.
If nothing else, it's a way of convincing admin that I'm teaching "content" during my morning group time and a way of giving the kids a daily routine to cling to as we sort of center ourselves and start our day.
At this point of the year I do very little with the actual calendar during calendar time. We are mainly counting the number of days we've been in school at this point. I don't care if they "get" the actual length of time, I want them to start to recognize as we count to 3 (that's how long we've been in school) and that we have been in school longer and are learning more as the number of days we've been in school increases. It also gives some of the kids that ARE ready something to intellectualize.
People who don't like doing the calendar and feel it's a waste of time should stop. I used to have a colleague that hated it. Those of us who feel some value should be able to use that. I haven't had a group yet for whom I felt it was wasted time. There's no one fix for everyone and forcing all teachers into one mold is exactly what causes wasted time in the classroom. I believe good teachers will figure out what to drop and what to go with based on the interest and abilities of their classes.
I find calendar time to be an easy, fun way to get in skills I am required to teach according to common core standards.
My post could look almost exactly like kdgstar's. Very little of our calendar time is spent on the day and month, other than singing two songs about them and putting up today and tomorrow's days (which is more about word recognition than the actual day). The bulk of our time is spent on math concepts - counting, skip counting, counting on, counting how many days until something special, tallying, regrouping, using tens frames, representing numbers in different ways, patterning... I think that the 20 minutes we spend during "calendar time" is the richest math time we spend every day!
I love these discussions. Thank you for sharing. I agree that most teachers do a lot more with their "calendar time" than just discuss "today is, yesterday was, tomorrow will be." I had some visiting teachers in my room last week and they asked me why I didn't post all the months of the year on my calendar wall. I had to point out all the other relevant things I had up that took the place of those words that my students can't read anyway! Why put up something that is not important for my students? In place of those things I have what our daily special is, tens frames for counting, links for counting the boys and girls in our class, an ASL chart that we use to learn finger spelling, a sight word song that we change and sing, etc. Those things mean more to my students.
It's really good to figure out why we do what we do and the traditional calendar time can easily be revamped to be what students need to know and not just concepts of time they don't understand. We spell the month, count the days in school, discuss the pattern, count the # of boys and girls in our class and make a number sentence to match, talk about what we are going to do during the day, what's for lunch, etc. The time spent on actual calendar talk is very little compared to all the other math and literacy components we add in.
I agree with kdgstar105 in the discussion about letter of the week - we have to do more than what the letter of the week format gives us otherwise we'll run out of time. The letter of the week format (as most people would see it) moves to fast for some students and too slow for others! It's not developmentally appropriate to teach letters out of context. Why would I read, for example, the book "Tops and Bottoms" during letter T week!? It has nothing to do with the letter T except the word "top." I have never understood teacher reasons for doing it that way. Teaching letters in context, such as the letters in our names, is much more meaningful to kinders.
Thank you for the rich discussion