What people are really asking is, "Why do you teach kindergarten?" and my answer lies within the growth and change you can make in individual students (you usually have about 20 chances a year!) and the marked progress EACH and EVERY child makes in a year due to experiences they've been exposed to throughout their kindergarten year. Setting the standards aside for this discussion, I like to focus on how far each individual child has flown regardless of where they end up: A child that can identify half of the alphabet and less sounds than that is now potty trained and able to speak in complete sentences. A child who began as a decoding reader is now reading and understanding at a 3rd grader level. You get the point.
Although you can see the progress in your students presented in the form of data, I, myself am more intrigued by the artifacts that tell an even bigger story. For example, I have the students color a simple picture that has a handful of opportunities for them to change colors and demonstrate color appropriateness on the first day of school. Then, they do the SAME picture at the end of the year before I pass back the one from the beginning for them to compare (and often tell me, "That's not my name!" or "That's not mine, I didn't color like that!". I created a new one that I want to share with my readers to use with their students during this upcoming year.
|Click on this picture to get the updated version of this freebie!|
The pictures are so fun to get out and see the differences and the apparent growth that has occurred over the course of the year. It is rewarding for them and, you as their guide. I thought I'd share some of my most obvious changes that occurred in my room this year:
Another tool I use for tracking progress is my "Journey Through My Kindergarten Year" project. It tracks childrens' drawing skills, as well as writing name skills and more. There is a place to put a first day of school photo in the front and a last week of school photo in the back, as well as a beginning of the year story and an end of the year story. There is a page for each month that allows the children to draw a self portrait that I always do on the 1st of every month. It is so, so fun to see the obvious progression throughout the year. At the end of the year when it is all done, it is a gift for their parents. What a treasure to have (well, I would think anyway, as a parent!). Here are some photos to give you a better idea what the project entails:
|Click on this book to see the updated version of this portfolio.|
This is the cover. Some years I copy the cover onto colored
card stock, but I think them coloring it adds a nice touch.
|This is in September.|
|Same boy completed this in June. It is adorable!|
|This was done in September...|
|..and only 4 short months later in January!|
Tracking the progress of our students is so much more important to me than just looking at the final data. Every child has his or her own story and it is much better understood when demonstrated through their work, rather than the numbers that represent them!