Putting together my daily schedule for this coming school year has been a bit of a nightmare since I am going back to teaching half-day kindergarten after a year of teaching full-day. Three hours is just not long enough to squeeze everything in! I am waiting for the day my school district decides to do away with half-day for good! I know some of you other half-day teachers were interested in my schedule, so here is what I'm planning for this year:
Half-day Kindergarten Schedule (A.M. Class)
8:45 Arrival and Seatwork (handwriting practice or independent reading from book boxes)
9:00 Shared Reading (alphabet chart, poems & big books)
9:10 Writing Workshop (mini-lesson, independent writing, and then sharing)
9:40 Guided Reading Groups & Literacy Centers (three 15-minute rotations)
10:40 Specials (art/music/P.E./technology classes)
11:05 Math (10 minutes each for: calendar, math lesson in workbook, and 1 math station)
11:35 Theme work (quick science/social studies activity or read aloud)
I didn't post the schedule for my P.M. class because it looks pretty much exactly the same, I just do everything all over again with my afternoon class from 12:20-3:25 p.m. The most important thing for me as I made my schedule was that I carve out big chunks of time EVERY day for the kids to have guided reading and centers (45 minutes), writing workshop (30 minutes), and math (30 minutes). My half-day students will be going to first grade with kids that have been in full-day kindergartens so they need to spend lots of time on literacy and math each day so that they aren't behind.
You'll notice that lots of things on my schedule only get 10 minutes. A 10 minute mini-lesson is totally doable though! Especially in the afternoon class, because you'll have already taught that EXACT same lesson in the morning and you'll probably be better at teaching it the second time (at least that's what I remember from teaching half-day in prior years).
For my 10 minute shared reading lesson, we do the alphabet chart each day, and then usually just work on one poem or big book per week (although depending on the length of the big book and poem, sometimes you can do both). I have found that having some sort of weekly schedule for shared reading works best when you have so little time. For example:
Monday: introduce the new big book/poem
Tuesday: work on new vocabulary and comprehension skills with the book/poem
Wednesday: work on concepts of print (locating: first word/last word, specific letters, spaces, punctuation, counting letters and words, etc.)
Thursday: work on sight words in the book/poem
Friday: work on rhyming words/word families in the book
This way you make sure you cover lots of different skills throughout the week, even though you only have a tiny bit of time each day (in full-day kinder I had time to do many of these things everyday in shared reading).
I have set aside 30 minutes for writing workshop each day since I think it's really important for kindergarten kids to practice writing every day. I plan to spend about 10 minutes on my mini-lesson-this will usually be a modeled writing or interactive writing lesson. Then I will give students 15 minutes of independent writing at their seats. I will end with 5 minutes of sharing time (I let one table share per day). 15 minutes isn't much for independent writing, but my students will also visit the writing center each week during literacy center time, so they can also work on their writing then as well (and of course we practice writing skills during guided reading groups some days).
I think math is going to be my biggest challenge. In full-day I had so much time that I could teach my lesson in the workbook and then still have a full half hour for my students to do math work stations. This year I will only have 30 minutes for math each day and that will include my calendar time. My plan is to start the year splitting that 30 minutes into three 10-minute sections. So I would start with 10 minutes of calendar, then do 10 minutes of whole class math in the workbook, and then finish with 10 minutes for the kids to do 1 math station with a partner. By January, I plan to do calendar every other day since the kids will have many of the basic calendar concepts learned by then, so this way some days my kids will have an extra 10 minutes to do a second math work station. Actually, I have found that doing calendar every other day when you teach half-day kindergarten is ideal. One day you can do calendar with your morning class and then the next day you can do calendar with your afternoon class, and this way you can avoid having to re-set the calendar and everything else that goes with it on your lunch break so your second class can do it all over again.
Ok, but what about the fun stuff? Well, each class gets 25 minutes a day for specials. Then they also get 15 minutes each day for recess as well. I like to do indoor recess some days instead of going out to the playground so that they can have the chance to do some play centers (housekeeping, blocks, puppets, art, etc.) because my centers during our literacy center time will be more strictly academic (writing center, library center, alphabet center, work work center, pocket chart center, big book center, listening center, etc.). I also try to squeeze in some fun theme-based stuff at the end of each day-but I only give 10 minutes for this. If we have a longer project or craft to go with that week's science/social studies theme, then I will have to end math a little earlier to squeeze in some extra theme time. I also try to make sure the poems/big books I read with the class during shared reading go along with whatever theme we are studying that week.
Finally, my biggest tip is just to stay flexible. Teaching half-day kindergarten is tough-especially when you have colleagues teaching full-day and see all the awesome stuff they have time to do. I think it's okay to occasionally throw out the schedule for a day and do some of those fun activities-we still have 100 day, holiday parties, assemblies, and other days where we just cannot keep to our schedule and that's okay because most days the kids are getting lots of academic instruction even in half a day.
I also don't make myself stick to my schedule the first 6 weeks of school-you are so busy setting up the classroom community, having everyone get to know each other, and working on learning rules/routines/centers/etc. that it is impossible to get with the schedule right away in kindergarten. I also like to have the freedom to spend more time on alphabet activities the first 6 weeks since many of my students come in not knowing their letters and so I don't introduce writing workshop right away so that I can have more alphabet review time. The first month of school we do one letter per day-once that's through I start up writing workshop. Same with guided reading, first 6 weeks we learn and practice centers but I don't pull groups (although hopefully I can squeeze in time to do some initial assessments in between monitoring their attempts at centers).
I find that with half-day I also need to rely on the parents a lot. I send home flashcards and books for the kids to read each night, and I ask the parents to help kids practice things like the alphabet, sight words, and numbers at home since our school day is so short and we just won't have as much time as I want to practice those skills.
Have you decided on your schedule yet for next year? If so, please share! I'd love to see how my blogging friends will be spending their school days- and of course share any scheduling tips you have!