Erin Biddle enters her third year at The Cooper School as the Kindergarten teacher. Erin brings fourteen years of classroom experience in Connecticut, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Erin received her BA in Education at Mercyhurst University. She is a certified early childhood and elementary educator. Erin believes her mission is to instill the love of learning. She is thrilled to be a member of The Cooper School team! Erin enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris and daughter, Abigail exploring Charleston and going to the beach.
Atam is originally from Evansville, IN but lived in Memphis, TN prior to moving to Charleston. This will be his 2nd year at TCS as the Kindergarten Assistant Teacher. He previously worked as an assistant in a Junior Kindergarten class at Immaculate Conception Catholic School. Outside of the classroom Atam has a passion for teaching as a summer camp administrator, theater teacher and private swim coach. Atam is so happy to be in Charleston working with Miss Erin.
Kindergarten students and teachers were thrilled to have parents join us to participate in Morning Meeting on Tuesday. Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Morning Meeting has four components: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and a Morning Message. Students practice social skills in structured ways during our daily greetings. They learn the valuable life skill of greeting another person while making eye contact and saying the person’s name. During the sharing part of Morning Meeting, students learn to articulate their thoughts and feelings in a positive manner. During the group activity portion of our meeting, students build community with classmates through active participation. Finally, academic skills and community building are both embedded through class discussions about our daily Morning Message.
Daily Morning Meetings help to create the positive power of community in our classroom! Students are able to fulfill the need to belong, to feel significant, and to have fun! Each day, your child is being taught the skills of friendliness and social interest through sharing, listening, inclusion, participation, and speaking in front of a group. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we do!
Kindergarteners were elated to spend time with their Fifth Grade buddies on Wednesday morning. Fifth Graders read an assortment of spooky Halloween stories and then helped your youngster write a spooky story of their own. Your Kindergartener used their imagination and creativity to produce spooktacular work! Kindergarteners can’t wait for the Halloween Carnival where one of them might win a prize for the best spooky story.
Kindergarteners were thrilled to welcome their first Mystery Reader on Wednesday. Every week, they ask yes/no questions to try to guess who the Mystery Reader is. Then they decide on three people who they think it could be and they participate in a blind vote. Kindergarteners are always so excited about who it will be. Kindergarteners also love that a special person is here to read to them and hopefully hang out with them during snack. We can’t wait for everyone to experience this magical moment of fun!
Young pumpkin enthusiasts are deep into our study of pumpkins. Kindergarteners learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin during Science this week, through read-aloud and class discussions. We read Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Jack. Our young scientists learned about the life cycle and parts of a pumpkin. They know that the beautiful yellow flowers that grow from a pumpkin vine are the promise for a future pumpkin. Scientists also observed our “Pumpkin Jack” and recorded daily observations of the changes occurring. So far they have noticed that it is getting “fuzzy” or “furry” and there is a lot of pumpkin juice at the bottom of the container. Stay tuned as we continue to learn more about the decomposing process through our pumpkin unit!
Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin experts were thrilled to go on their first study trip to the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch on Wednesday. Kindergarteners spent the morning jumping in the sun on a gigantic trampoline, going down giant slides, and just having lots of fun! Your child then enjoyed going on a hayride through the plantation. They saw ghosts, spiders, pirates, witches, and so much more!! Kindergarteners learned all about the life cycle and acted it out in movement and song and then picked a pumpkin in a large field. Pumpkin experts then enjoyed eating lunch together among the pumpkins. It was a fantastic time!
Kindergarten scholars have been learning sophisticated words each week during their vocabulary study. These rigorous words come from our Text Talk curriculum. In this curriculum, we focus on one book each week. The book is read aloud to the class on Monday and Tuesday with frequent pauses to scaffold comprehension. Students develop deep understanding through comprehension skills such as summarizing, identifying problem/solution, recognizing story structure, clarifying story ideas, making inferences, and building prior knowledge throughout each story. Wednesday and Thursday’s lessons each explicitly teach 3 new words with robust conversations about the words in child-friendly examples. Students extend their understanding by illustrating examples of our vocabulary words. They have quite a collection of illustrations in their vocabulary journals!
Kindergarteners are so excited to be learning these robust words. They delight in hearing these words outside of our vocabulary instruction and enjoy applying them to different situations throughout our day.
Strawberries and Bananas
This week, Kindergarten writers met with their new “Strawberries and Bananas” writing partners. These helpful partners can give each other support by listening and asking questions about each other’s writing. Forming writing partnerships give students another tool in their tool belt to help prepare their writing for an audience. Kindergarten writers discussed ways to write stories that people will be eager to read. Ask your brave writer what they learned this week in Writer’s Workshop.
This week, Kindergarten storytellers worked with their “Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners” to retell storybooks! Your reader retold stories by looking at the previous page, saying the words first, next and last, and by using dialogue that the characters use. Kindergarteners can’t wait to continue learning how to make facial expressions and voices like the characters so they can act out the poplar story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
Reading and Lunch Buddies
Kindergarteners were thrilled to the gills to participate in reading and lunch buddies with Third Grade and Fifth Grade this week. This builds a yearlong friendship and community across grade levels. Kindergarteners love spending time with these older friends talking and playing together.
Observing Red Worms
Kindergarten scientists have been observing the structures and behaviors of living red worms during Science this week. Our young scientists observed and identified the parts of a red worm and labeled them on a diagram. We investigated the wiggly world of a red worm by observing their behavior and how they move. Kindergarten noticed that the red worm’s body contracts and stretches to move forward. Ask your young scientist what they observed about red worms this week!
Our butterfly experts have been busy writing fascinating facts, painting stunning monarchs with true life colors, creating life cycles, and preparing their individual monarch butterflies during Learning Centers, to form a cluster of butterfly “ambassadors” for The Cooper School. Our Kindergarten class, along with students across the United States and Canada, will participate in a project to send symbolic butterflies to Mexico for the winter. Children at the monarch sanctuaries in Mexico will protect the butterflies and send them back north in the spring! Stay tuned for more information as we continue to prepare for our exciting symbolic monarch departure.
Comparing, Ordering, and Making Number Stories
Kindergarten mathematicians have been working in small groups to count, compare and order numbers through 20. Young mathematicians have been introduced to the double ten frame as a tool used to count and show numbers to 20. Ten frames also help students identify ten as an important benchmark in our number system. Students have practiced counting backwards from 20 and making number stories about finding sums. Kindergarteners have been using counters to count and compare numbers, and know to touch each object as they count. When comparing numbers, students use the words “more” or “less”. We have examined our line order to determine who comes before and after each student in line and then applied this to what we know about numbers through 20.
Kindergarten had an exciting week filled with dramatic expression as they used their creative minds to act out skits and perform with our fabulous coaches from Charleston Stage! During drama class Kindergarten enjoyed listening to the story, “Strictly No Elephants” and acting out different parts. Students truly enjoyed exploring their space with creative movement, playful songs, and imaginative dance (especially the activity called “Boppity-Bop”). Ask your young actor or actress what they enjoyed most about drama class with Charleston Stage.
Wonder and Curiosity
Every trimester at The Cooper School we pick two social and emotional topics to discuss, explore, and learn all about. This trimester we are discussing wonder and curiosity. Kindergarteners listened to the wonderful book, “Ada Twist Scientist” in which Ada is a very curious and inquisitive child. Ada’s wonders take over her mind and her parents teach her how to channel these wonders and learn in order to support her curiosity. We discussed how asking questions, being curious, and having wonders is a great thing and also helps us to learn as much as we can. Students learned that wonders can start with who, what, when, how, where, if, did, and can. They can’t wait for you to see their wonders at Curriculum Night!
High Touch High Tech
Kindergarteners explored the world of butterflies and insects on Thursday afternoon. Miss Jennifer from High Touch High Tech came to share interesting facts about insects, brought in real bugs for us to touch and observe, and taught us all about the beautiful life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Entomologists participated in centers where they created life cycles with stamps, looked through goggles like a bug, touched and observed bug exoskeletons, and completed fun colorful puzzles. Ask your Kindergartener what their favorite part of this fun afternoon was!
We Are Problem Solvers!
Kindergarten friends have been learning the amazingly valuable and life-long skill of conflict resolution during our “Minds Up” sessions this week. Students have practiced using the “Peace Wheel” as a tool to guide them through the conflict resolution process. We have discussed and identified problems that can be solved at the “Peace Table” as well as problems that can be solved more quickly with a compromise.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Go Hand in Hand
This week during our Reader’s Workshop, Kindergarten readers were quite busy working with their “Peanut Butter and Jelly” Partners to take turns reading, listening to partners read, and retelling stories to their partners. Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners have practiced placing a book in the middle as they sit knee-to-knee, shoulder-to-shoulder, and take turns reading. Kindergarten readers know how to retell a book to a partner, using the characters’ names and the sequencing words “first”, “then”, and “next”. Your young readers took turns identifying the title, author and illustrator while turning the pages gently.
I Spy a Monarch!
Our young scientists are watching for monarch butterflies on the playground. To help support this incredible migration, Kindergartners planted milkweed and lantana plants in our garden box. These plants are essential for monarchs. We have been checking the leaves daily for tiny monarch caterpillar eggs. How many monarchs have you spied?
Kindergarten is full of eager readers! We are busy learning about what good readers do; searching the cover for information including the author’s name, taking picture walks to help us understand the story, and tracking each word on the page with our reading finger. At the beginning of each Reader’s Workshop, we begin by naming our Zoo Phonics animal letter names and sounds. Can your child name all 26?
At the end of each day, we engage in various studies and activities during learning centers. Students start each day in a “have to” center (i.e.: math, science, writing, reading). When they finish that activity they rotate around the room to various free choice centers. Centers are an important way we individualize instruction, and allow for student inquiry.
All About Me
Kindergarteners have been busy learning all about themselves and their families. Young learners shared their favorite object from home, named many favorite things, and discussed their favorite thing to do. Kindergarteners have learned what makes up a family, how families are special and different, talked about their family traditions, and how a family is a community. As a culminating activity, your child is working hard to create their recycled family. We can’t wait for you to see these creative and innovative crafts.
Our young mathematicians are learning to use their math manipulatives to count and sort. Students are learning to count up and back down to zero through games and activities. Students learned what a ten frame is and how to use it to create tricky teens and to begin simple addition. This week kindergarteners used buttons to sort by color, shape, and size. Students created and extended color patterns with a partner and then independently. Ask your kindergartener what their favorite math activity was.
Kindergartners are learning what good writers do as they use pictures and words to write stories from their life. Young writers have been busy writing across several pages. Students are brainstorming topics that interest them or things that they know a lot about. Writers are brainstorming ideas in order to keep writing more and more. Stay tuned for this great work!
Each morning, Kindergartners gather on the carpet to learn more about themselves and our classroom. They practice using eye contact to track the speaker and using their “loud and proud” voices. Students are finding friends with similarities and differences during these games. How many friends can your child name?
Getting-To-Know Each Other
This week was all about getting to know the classroom, specific routines, and getting to know each other!! Young Kindergarteners participated in various energizers to build community and friendships. These energizers included “Just Like Me,” “When the Warm Wind Blows”, “Would you rather?”, “Collaborative Musical Chairs”, and “A Tangled Web”. Kindergarteners enjoyed doing a classroom scavenger hunt to get familiar with the classroom. Ask your Kindergartener what their favorite Get-To-Know each other activity was this week!
This week, Kindergarteners not only got to get to know each other, but they also got to know friends from other grades. We joined First and Fourth Grade for Lunch Buddies and a backyard scavenger hunt on Wednesday. It was so much fun! On Friday, we had Lunch Buddies with First Grade and will partner up with them again on Tuesday for movement. This buddy time is a great way to make new friends. Students love this time when they get to branch out and play with students from other grades. This leads them to feel more comfortable playing with these other students later on. Lunch Buddies is something we return to throughout the year.
Hopes and Dreams
Every year at The Cooper School, students create and display their hope or dream for the school year. This stays up for the entire year so that at the end of the year, we can look back and reflect to see if their hope or dream came true. This week, we started our discussion by brainstorming, “Why do we come to School?” We wrote these responses on chart paper. Some things your children said were: to learn new things, to learn to be kind, and to challenge themselves. We will use this later to help each other create hopes for the year.
Investigating Diverse Cultures
Young scientists spent time discovering the wonders and uniqueness of the Yanomama people of the Amazon Rainforest! Brave scientists took a peek at the different aspects of this traditional tribe’s culture including: clothing, food, shelter, transportation, and celebrations. Scientist enjoyed learning about this tribe’s traditional ways of living off the land and their ways of respecting nature to protect the rainforest. Kindergarteners spent time illustrating and writing about their Yanomama discoveries. One of our favorite discoveries included the fact that the Yanomama don’t eat sloths!
This week Kindergarteners spent Writer’s Workshop time putting the finishing touches on their best piece of persuasive writing. Students have been writing about problems they see and offering fix-it ideas to make our classroom, school, and world a better place! Their pieces may look like a poster, song, list, petition, or how-to book to convince their reader to help. After choosing their very best piece, young writers collaborated with their writing partners to practice listening and speaking, in preparation for their final Kindergarten Publishing Party. Partnerships took turns offering each other feedback, following their practice readings. Writers were busy adding illustrations to match the words in their writing. Kindergarteners were very mindful in using true-life colors while illustrating their writing.
Reading Closely to Understand Characters
Young readers have been busy investigating story elements and discovering the ways we can observe characters in books to develop big ideas about characters’ traits. This week, Kindergarteners practiced observing characters’ dialogue, actions, and problem-solving strategies while asking themselves, “What does this tell me about my character?”. All of this close reading left us with a growing list of character traits as we analyzed characters throughout the week. Curious readers examined clues like quotation marks that help us know when a character is speaking. They noticed that they often found the word, “said” very close by when they saw quotation marks. Finally, readers noticed that sometimes a narrator tells the story as an outsider looking in on the characters.