The small class sizes at The Academy enable me to understand and appreciate my student’s developmental and confidence levels, and to challenge and support each child accordingly.
I encourage my students to appreciate and build upon their knowledge and abilities. My expectations are high, but developmentally appropriate for five and six year olds. The small class sizes at the Academy enable me to understand each of my student’s developmental and confidence levels, and to challenge and support each student accordingly.
Our full-day kindergarten allows for an in-depth, highly integrated, and child-centered teaching and learning experience. I employ a vast array of teaching strategies, and guide my students to be independent, self-assured, and confident learners and thinkers who care about and respect each other and the world.
I provide opportunities for continuity of day-to-day activities, exploration of topics and units, language development, independent thought, critical thinking practices, and an ongoing integration of subject matters. The children share their ideas, interview their peers, predict and check the weather, provide and repeat calendar information, count, read, and recite songs and poems. Also, each day one student acts as the class “reporter,” giving everyone the opportunity to lead the class. I encourage the development of social skills through a balance of small group and individual activities.
CORE SUBJECTS TAUGHT
I use reading clubs in my class, which consist of intimate guided reading groups. Each day, my students practice good reading strategies and behaviors, including phonics, phonemic awareness, high frequency word and sight word recognition, comprehension, fluency, listening, identification of fiction and nonfiction, story retelling, oral and silent reading practice, and the singing of poems and songs. Through this immersion in reading, I can instill a joy of reading in each child.
My students practice writing every day, which makes them confident in their written voice. I teach both technical and creative writing.
I take a balanced and developmentally appropriate approach to writing that incorporates phonics, sight word recognition, phonemic awareness games and activities, and spelling practices. I provide many opportunities for my students to use writing to anchor what they read in books to their real life experiences.
With respect to technical writing, each week I give the students two new “high-frequency words” to learn and practice. Each day they practice writing and identifying these words, and each week they take a spelling test using the words they have learned. We repeat and circulate these “high-frequency” words throughout the year.
The students also practice their handwriting: letter formation and holding a pencil correctly. Students trace and sign their names, practice in their handwriting books, copy sentences from the board, and write numbers and words during instruction in every subject. I create opportunities to strengthen fine motor skills through games and activities.
When our students write creatively, I focus on the transfer of ideas onto paper. I don’t require, or even encourage, correct spelling or grammar during creative writing activities. Rather, my goal is for students to express themselves and develop their written voice.
I also use an integrated approach to teaching math. I bring math problems to life for my students by using the world around us. Math is ultimately about problem solving, and I give students multiple paths to solutions. My students learn to identify and count numbers through one hundred, add and subtract, read and solve story problems, recognize patterns, perform algebraic exercises, identify and count coins, tell time to the half hour, and measure units.
Consistent with my teaching philosophy, I integrate social studies with the rest of my curriculum. I teach the students social studies through calendar events and holidays, thematic units, global occurrences, and lessons about cultures provided by our own diverse community of parents and students.
ABOUT EMBER CRIPPEN
Ember Crippen has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Oregon State University and an M.S. in Elementary Education/Reading from Buffalo State University. She began her teaching career as fifth grade teacher in a private school in Redondo Beach, CA in 1985. Since then, she has taught grades K-8 in both private and public schools. Her first kindergarten teaching experience was in Buffalo, New York in 1999, where she fell in love with teaching Kindergarten! Ms. Crippen has been teaching Kindergarten at The Academy School since 2003.