Monday, September 18
At present I have not gotten into the “row time” teaching activities. However, during the 30-minute period of free time, I have been getting involved in smaller group activities and one-on-one activities with several of the students. Free Time occurs between 9:30 and 10:00 daily, 15 minutes after I arrive for the day.
Today was the first anniversary of the accidental death of James Shapiro, Mrs. Shapiro’s son. He was killed in a car accident while walking back home from an NFL football playoff game, and was honored two months later by the high school he had graduated from with a special football game by the team he himself had belonged to in high school with a special memorial football game. Mrs. Shapiro had taken the day off to grieve, and there was a substitute in the room—Mrs. Friedman. However, I still helped out in the classroom as scheduled.
Once I entered the room, I was hugged by Patrick, the student who had hugged me the day before. Since Mrs. Shapiro was absent, and I did not know what the rules were in the classroom, I let him hug me. Mrs. Friedman did not seem to mind.
Mrs. Shapiro allows the parents to come and volunteer time during the school day. Today, Joan McCurdy, Brittany’s mother, was there, officiating a Bingo game at one of the class tables. I’ve known Joan for a year from the JCC daycare center I had previously volunteered at as she works there as a swimming instructor for preschoolers.
During Free Time on Day 2, I received requests by the students for the sheet music I had prepared on Day 1 for the school song. Patrick in particular was excited to practice playing the song on the vibraphone. I took out the music I had currently written, which was the first verse of the song in its original key of F. However, since the vibraphone was set in the key of C, only the first verse was playable on the vibraphone in F.
Patrick played it and then I realized that if I transposed the song into the key of C and rewrote the first verse as well as the entire song out in C, a child could actually play the entire school song on the vibraphone. I asked Patrick if he wanted to learn the rest of the song, and he said yes. So I wrote out the first line in the first verse of the song in C, and he played it. However, since I saw that it would take quite some time to write out the entire song, I decided to wait until the end of free time to continue composing the sheet music.
Patrick then asked me to write out the numbers to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I wrote them out quickly and then he played them. Then he asked me if he wanted to show me his baby pictures. (There is a poster of all the students’ baby pictures on one of the walls in the classroom.) He showed them to me, and then I told him to find another activity.
I then went to the table where Joan had started an activity with paper dolls. The paper dolls consisted of animals, trees, and of course, boys and girls. Joan also had toy murals out that the students could use to arrange the paper dolls in any way they wished. I went and asked each student what mural they were planning to design.
Then I saw Mark playing with an alphabet train set. The alphabet train set consisted of train cars, each with a letter on them that could be hooked together. I went up to Mark and asked him if he wanted to try to arrange the train cars in alphabetical order. He said yes, and then suggested that we move the train set to another part of the room where we would have enough space to arrange the train. We did.
I then take the train cars, unhook them, and start to ask Mark what the first letter of the alphabet is. He knows it: A, and shows me the “A” car. So he hooks the A car to the caboose. Then I ask him what the next letter is. He knows it: B, and shows me the “B” car. I hook the B car to the A car. Then I ask him what the next letter is. Not only does he know it, but the C happens to be missing from the set. I tell him the next letter is C.
This attracts the attention of Ken, another student who was playing with blocks beside us. I tell him we are arranging the train in alphabetical order, and he starts to look for letters. I tell him we are looking for the letter after C. However, once I ask him, the bell rings a minute later. It’s clean-up time.
I help Ken and Mark clean up the train, and then Mrs. Shapiro seats the students for row time. Now that she is teaching, I go to a corner of the room and start composing the sheet music to play the entire school song. I spent the rest of the day doing this. This was worth it—when I got there the next week, the kids were asking me where the sheet music had gone, and wanted to try playing the school song.
Mrs. Friedman talked about sounds in some of the student’s names. She introduced them to the letter S, and talked to them about words that began with S. Then she read to the students: “My S Sound Box,” a book about words that began with S.
Snack time occurred afterwards, and Mrs. Friedman had the students return to their tables for snack. Then she asked them to return to their rows for a game of “Simon Says.”
At 10:55 it was gym time, and the students went to gym. After gym Mrs. Friedman read to them a book called “Moira’s Birthday,” and it was time to go home.
During the school day, while I wrote my sheet music, Mrs. Holmbeck, a speech therapist working for the school district came in to give a personal evaluation to each student. She was assigned to evaluate the student’s reading ability. She called each student to a table she was sitting at and gave each student a “mad minute” in reading letters and sounds. In other words, she gave each student a sheet of paper with letters on it, and saw how many letters each student could read from that paper in a minute. Then she gave each student another sheet of paper with letters and saw how many sounds each student could identify from each letter in a minute. Later, she would evaluate each student in their handwriting abilities.
When kindergarten was over, I sang the traditional song to end kindergarten in Mrs. Shapiro’s place, since Mrs. Friedman did not know the song and did not sing it when it was time for her to do so.