Friday, June 19, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

Monday,June 9 was Michelle's last day of kindergarten. They held an end of the year celebration. First, they had a singing program. They sang a couple of songs about feelings and getting along. Then the dual immersion classes sang "My Mother is a Baker" in Spanish (Mi mama es panadera...). Michelle was the abuela (grandma) in the song.

After the performance, the students were handed a certificate and their report cards. Then the students got their sack lunches and we had a picnic in two of the kindergarten classrooms.

I am so pleased with Michelle's growth this year. Both of her teachers were so happy with all that she learned. She is reading at a DRA level 6 and is above benchmark on all sections of the DIBELS. Her reading in English and Spanish has improved. She speaks Spanish much more often now and will respond in Spanish when people talk to her (most of the time). Before she could understand most of what people said but she would answer in English. She is a good friend and is kind to the other students. She has made many friends this year, with her closest friends being Liliana and Mia. She has learned how to add and subtract, she loves patterns and notices patterns everywhere. She has begun to learn about recognizing and counting money. She knows her letters and sounds, shapes, colors, numbers and months of the year and days of the week in both languages. She was given Spanish books to read over the summer as well as some math and reading workbooks in both languages and has happily done work in them nearly every day. She loves to write and fills pages and pages with writing. She loves school and has done so well.

This is Maestra Tiburcio, her Spanish teacher. Michelle loves Maestra Tiburcio. A few favorites: On your birthday, Maestra cracks an egg on your head and "'fetti" (confetti) comes out. Earlier in the year, Maestra constructed a huge castle out of cardboard boxes and they had a bunch of activities relating to castles and fairy tales that lasted a week or more. Maestra has a fun kitchen area that they get to use during center time. It has a sink and lots of food and is very fun. In Spanish, Michelle kept a journal throughout the year. It is so fun to see how her writing in Spanish improved. At first, she would only write a word or two, but by the end she was writing one to three sentences in Spanish independently (with a few spelling errors, but very close to conventional spelling).

This is Mrs. Pereira, her English teacher. In English, Michelle really enjoyed all the songs and poems they learned. (She also loved the Spanish songs and poems.) She loved calendar time. She loved making puppets. Mrs. Pereira taught her to count to 100 and to count by tens. She gave them little toys when they learned all their letters and sounds and learned to count to 100. Because the kitchen was so popular in Maestra Tiburcio's room, Mrs. Pereira bought a kitchen too. She was very nice.

This is Michelle in "Mi Mama is Panadera" dressed up as the abuela.

Some of the things I loved about Michelle's school:
They have a great music program. In kindergarten through second grade, they have a music teacher that teaches them many songs (Michelle's favorite is "blue bird, blue bird through my window", to recognize rhythm, to use their high and low singing voice, and to recognize and know about several classical composers. Then in third through sixth grade, every child learns to play violin. (At most schools, they don't start violin or band until 5th grade and don't have music instruction until second or third grade).

Michelle has the opportunity to become literate in English and Spanish.

The counselor comes in to teach Second Step which teaches about feelings, conflict resolution and violence prevention. She has learned a lot from Miss Maggie.

Jackson has a partnership with The University of Utah. College students volunteer in the dual immersion classes each week. The students in dual immersion attend a week long science camp at the U. Michelle's was called Ladybugs and Lily Pads. They learned about animals and did lots of fun activities including going to the Natural History Museum. In addition, they take 3 other field trips to the U. Michelle went to the library, saw dancers perform, had a story time, and did some other activities. From kinder on, they talk to the students about how important and valuable college is and let them know that they can go to college and how to prepare. I think this is especially great at a school like hers where many of the parents didn't go to college. Many of these kids will be the first to go to college if they go.

Jackson really focuses on positive behaviors. They have a student of the week from each class, a student of the month, end of term citizenship rewards and other recognition for good behavior.

I've decided I really do like the school uniform. It looks nice to see all these kids in their uniform. And they do have free choice on Fridays,if they earn it.

They have a great after school program.

Michelle thinks her school is the best one ever. (Although I'm confident she would be happy anywhere and I'm sure we would love Hunter if that is where she went.)
Michelle loves it there and that, in my mind, is the best reason to love Jackson.