Friday, August 7, 2015

Making the TK/K Combo Work

Meeting Students' Needs In A Combo Class:

I have been asked by several people to blog about how I managed my TK/K combination class, but I think that many of these tips can apply to most combination classes.  I have just retired after teaching for 37 years, mostly K. I present at Pre-K and K conferences nationally and have taught many combination classes over the years.

If you are unfamiliar with T.K., you can read about it HERE

My Combo Classes:

I taught a TK/K combo for the last two years. One year I had 32 students and last year I had 24.
Both groups participated in the Early Bird/Late Bird program. That's when 1/2 of the group comes to school early (8:00 AM) and is dismissed at noon. The 2nd group comes in at 10:00 AM and is dismissed at 2:00. The overlap time was 2 hours, but only 90 minutes of that was class time. The rest was lunch. Both classes had a mixed Early Bird group of TK and K students with only TK students in the Late Bird group.

Today, I will talk about my class schedule:

Our Schedule:

8:00      Welcome Chit-Chat, intro the day's theme with a story & introduced the independent work for both TK and K. They would also complete a journal entry which could range from copying a short sentence to eventually writing their own sentence. (Yes, even most of the TK kids!)
8:20      Students move to their independent, heterogeneous tables groups where the T.K. and K. students each have their own special work.  I'll blog about lesson content tomorrow.

Students work on their independent table work in heterogeneous groups.
During the first week, instead of going to a center when your work was completed, the students played with the center materials placed on their tables. This group has books to read after making their 1st Day Hats.

Once students are settled at the tables, I begin meeting with small homogeneous groups. 
Mondays & Wednesdays were reading lessons.
Tuesdays & Thursdays were math lessons.
 Fridays were writing lessons. 
As I pulled 4-6 students for small group lessons, it left very few students at the tables. 
(Class of 32 had 5 tables of 6-7. Class of 24 had 4 tables of 6.)

Small group lesson with a homogeneous group.This was my aide who was credentialed, so she was leading this lesson.

Reading lessons ranged from Close Reading to informational text
 in content areas such as Science or Social Studies.  
Math lessons ranged from hands-on math activities 
such as making individual Rekenreks to completing our Math Journals. 
Writing was usually integrated with Science or Social Studies 
and could include a short experiment. 

Here is an example of a hands-on math lesson. I gave the kids a handful of Fun Foam letters. They glued two hands on the page and then letters to make the statements true. Click the image to grab my More or Less template. 

This is the perfect time to differentiate your lessons for T.K. and K. students. I will blog more about that tomorrow.

For a class of 32, I met with 5 groups for 20 min each.
For a class of 24, I met with 4 groups for 20 min each and then I spent 10 min meeting with
individual students. This is the perfect time for me to do a little one-on-one testing with individual students. I used ESGI to test my students because it's super easy, it provided me with so much data, and my kids begged to be tested!
This sample screen shot shows me the % of students who have mastered each test.
You can also view the data for each student. 

If I click on the gray bar, a list of students who have not mastered each skill pops up.Instant RTI groups for my intervention!
 You can get a 60 day FREE trial.
Use my code: B2174 
and you will save $40 off of your 1st year.
And... you can download my T.K. assessments
and try them out with your students.
Learn more by checking out their videos.

While I meet with small groups, students work on their 
independent table work and when they are done, 
they may go to a free-choice center.

Provide a lot of free exploration at your centers. K students need this too.

If you have an aide or parent volunteers, they can supervise and assist at the tables.

10:00      Recess
Provide lots of opportunities to develop large muscles.

10:15      Whole group calendar lesson, literature, one 30 min whole group lesson and one "special" 30-40 min class such as music class, computer lab, science lab, library, or PE.

Our music class.

Our Computer Lab.

Our Science Lab.

Visiting the school library.

The 30 min whole group lesson might be a craft project that goes with a letter, number,
or a science or social studies theme. It could be a whole group
"give me a sentence using this sight word" lesson,
we could practice letters, numbers, or sight words
with a variety of resources such as Heidi's Songs,
or we could take a brain break with
I'll blog about lessons tomorrow.

32 Little Learners on Halloween during Whole Group Time.
11:30     lunch

12:00     Repeat all of the pre-recess activities from above. 

2:00      Late Bird dismissal.

If you have an aide, you can set up Intervention Zip Lock bags labeled with each child's name.
Inside the bags I placed little cards that had 1 skill on each card, such as "Name the letter 'a'." My aide was given tons of resources, such as Wiki Sticks, paint brushes & water, lined dry-erase boards, counting chips, etc. to practice the skills on the cards.


I will continue my post about managing a TK/K combination class and I'll talk more about differentiating your lessons to meet the needs of all of your students. So drop by this weekend to see part 2 of "Making the TK/K Combo Work"

Let me know if you are teaching (or have taught) a combination class. 


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