In Kindergarten at Akiva, our students are introduced to a world of exploratory learning in both English and Hebrew. Our small class size promotes individual attention and opportunity to build strong skills in language, literacy, math, science, and most importantly, community! Our students cherish their close relationships with teachers, classmates, and older students here at Akiva. Students are fully immersed in Hebrew language and instruction on a daily basis, where they celebrate their learning through song, dance, and small group centers. Our kindergarteners lead the school in Shabbat ceremonies and the Shavuot holiday in the spring. In the classroom, our students participate in regular storytelling and dramatization experiences, building their identity and competency as literacy creators and learners! Some of our favorite science projects include our study of worms and our unit on baby chicks, where we watch the chicks hatch from our incubator in the classroom! In kindergarten we learn through vigorous play and rigorous instruction!
Reading in Kindergarten is broken into two types of instruction: Guided Reading and whole group reading. Guided Reading allows students to work with the teacher in a small group at the level suited for their learning. This provides multiple levels of instruction and allows students to progress at a pace fit for them. Time in Guided Reading includes word decoding and reading strategies, phonics instruction, and comprehension. Our whole group reading is broken into reading skills and themes throughout the year (theme ex. ABC books, Nursery rhymes, environmental print, author studies, etc.) We also use a program called Junior Great Books that uses rich stories to foster discussions and critical thinking.
At Akiva, we use a workshop method for teaching writing. This approach centers on getting students actively involved in the writing process on a daily basis. As a resource, we use Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study for Primary Writing. This is made up of three components: Teacher Lesson, Independent Writing/Teacher Conferencing, and Share Time. This is a great program for building independence as writers and allowing students freedom in what they are writing about. It also allows time for the teacher to give students one-on-one time to conference about their work.
Our science program builds budding scientists through its inquiry-based approach, where students learn science by participating in investigations and exploration. The students will study two units this year: Wood and Paper and Animals Two-by-Two. These units are part of the FOSS Science curriculum. For more information on FOSS Science, visit FOSS on the web at www.fossweb.com.
Students will explore the relationships in their’ lives with their families, friends, teachers, and neighbors. Students explore ways to get along with others and how to solve problems. They learn that people live differently in different places and that they can help care for the world. Students practice the lessons they learn in activities such as creating “Who Am I?” books and identifying ways to help reduce waste in the environment. We will use Social Studies Alive! Me and My World as the basis of our program.
Handwriting Without Tears
The HWT Kindergarten program incorporates hands-on activities and good handwriting habits to develop strong writers. Students are engaged in music, movement, fine motor activities, and child-friendly language. They learn capital and lowercase letter and number formation and how to print using hands-on materials and developmentally appropriate activities. Fine motor work prepares students for pencil and paper success in the student workbook. www.hwtears.com
Hebrew and Judaics
One of our main goals in Hebrew at Akiva is that our Kindergartners leave their first year with the ability to engage in casual conversation in Hebrew with guiding questions and a clear foundation to implement reading and writing in the first grade. Our program focuses on helping build our students’ comprehension and ease with Hebrew and key themes in Jewish Studies through interactive music, dance, pictures, lessons, and stories. By the end of the year, our students have full recognition of all letters, a working knowledge of the vowels and their influence on reading, and an ease with certain phrases, function words, and the idea of learning Hebrew. In Judaic Studies, our students learn the weekly Torah portion, and learn and celebrate Shabbat and the holidays throughout the year. This is a time for our students to ask questions, share their ideas, and is often a time when they share their customs and traditions from home with their friends at school.
Both Jewish Studies and Hebrew are further enhanced in center work. Students rotate through 10 centers that review their exposure to reading, writing, comprehension, art, ,music, drama, math, fine motor, and holidays. In addition to this, the students engage in the oral component of the class routine during whole group time. The students review the day of the week, the weather and are introduced to other key themes of the year: colors, clothing, family, etc. Hebrew in Kindergarten is a year to explore and to find joy in learning, taking risks and trying to things
Nursery Rhyme Unit
In the unit students study classic nursery rhymes and create a book or rhymes and correlating activities. The unit ends with Mother Goose Morning, where parents are invited to hear students recite their learned rhymes and view their books.
Social Studies Fair
Students will share their learning in Social Studies with their parents during an evening of fun at Akiva. We will do a class project around our unit of study at the time.
Eric Carle Study
Students study the writing and art of Eric Carle. The unit includes Reader’s Response writing to Eric Carle books, making art in his fashion, and performing a Reader’s Theatre presentation of an Eric Carle book.
An end of year celebration of different pieces of writing published by students.
“Trip” To Israel
After studying about Israel in the weeks leading up to Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, the students have the opportunity to ‘fly’ to Israel. They simulate a plane trip and highlights include going to the Western Wall, and a trip to the shuk, the Israeli market place.
Signature Field Trips
- Honeysuckle Hill Farm – October
- Fire Station – February
- Grassmere Zoo – May
Classroom Policies and Procedures
During the first weeks of school we spent time with the students talking about the Kavod Loop and using it to create our classroom rules. These weeks will be dedicated to making students feel comfortable and welcome in our classroom, as well as modeling and practicing our classroom rules and procedures.
Students did an excellent job coming up with a large list of important rules for our classroom. We then came up with our main rules, and used colors to categorize each rule to make sure that all of the things they brainstormed fit. Here are our final class rules:
- Take care of yourself.
- Treat everyone nicely.
- Take care of our classroom.
- Everyone gets to learn and play.
Kindergarten is a wonderful time to learn and grow. This is a time for students to learn about expectations, appropriate behaviors, and positive responses to challenging situations. Our job is to help each child develop the social skills needed to work through difficult situations and expect that over the course of the year, every student will have moments that are easier and more difficult than others. At Akiva, we believe in helping students repair situations and do not focus on the negative behavior. Logical consequences are ways we work with students not following classroom rules or exhibiting inappropriate behavior. Though there can always be variations, these are the 3 main ideas that inform our practice.
- You break it, you fix it. Children take some responsibility, the best they can, to fix any problem or mess they have created; e.g., a child accidentally runs into another child on the playground. He stops and helps the other child get up.
- Loss Of Privilege Ex. A child waves scissors around. She loses the use of scissors the remainder of the art period.
- Take A Break When a child needs to take a break from the current situation for a brief period of time. The Take a Break chair can be teacher directed or student directed, if a child feels that they would like a break from a particular scenario. We will practice using the Take a Break chair in the first weeks of school and introduce it as a safe place to rest or regain composure.
If our behavior plan is not effective with a child, we will work with the parent and child, and counselor if necessary, to come up with an individual behavior plan. As always, we encourage open communication and look forward to helping your child learn and grow.
Communication between your family and us is one of the most crucial components of a successful year. Everyday your child will bring home a folder. Akiva has provided us with durable folders for this purpose. The folder is labeled inside with return to school and keep at home. Each morning students bring their folders to me to check. If you need to send anything in to school, please put it in the folder.
Also your child’s daily page and a monthly calendar will be located in the folder. The calendar will hopefully keep you up-to-date on current school and classroom events. The daily page is something we use to allow your child to self reflect on their day and to keep you updated on our days at school. At the end of each day, students will have the opportunity to fill out each part of the daily page, which correspond to the parts of the Kavod Loop. They will color green, yellow, or red to show how they think they did that day in each particular area. We will be teaching your child how to use this and what each part means during the first weeks of school. If the teacher disagrees with a color that a child marked, we will write TD underneath it, for Teacher Disagrees, and will write you a note telling you why.
Thank you in advance for all your help and hard work at home!
Art: The art program at Akiva is presented to students using the Discipline-Based Arts Education approach. DBAE includes four disciplines: arts production, arts history and culture, criticism, and aesthetics. An introduction to the use of various materials concerning both two and three dimensional art will be implemented as well as an appreciation and understanding for various historic and contemporary artists. Students will be exposed to a broad scale of exciting projects appropriate for each grade level.
Library and Technology: The Library program at Akiva is based on the Standards for the 21st Century Learner created by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The four main standards are that learners use skills, resources, and tools to: (1) Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge; (2) Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge; (3) Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society; and (4) Pursue personal and aesthetic growth. Additionally, in the Technology classes, students will learn computer basics (hardware, software, typing) as well as databases, the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), Web 2.0 tools, and Internet safety.