Chapter 3: Curriculum in a Transitional Kindergarten Program – TKIG

Transitional Kindergarten teachers have a
unique opportunity to plan and implement a curriculum reflective of a developmental continuum.
This continuum reinforces and builds upon preschool learning expectations to prepare
students for success in traditional kindergarten. So basically the difference between Kindergarten
and Transitional Kindergarten is in the method of instruction. In transitional kindergarten,
we introduce standards, but we don’t necessarily teach the kindergarten standards to mastery
because we know that they are heading towards kindergarten. We started with our Preschool Foundations and the Common Core Kindergarten Standards to see what we wanted to identify
as being important to kindergarten and then how that would vary from transitional kindergarten. Then we took those two documents, and we started
looking to see: ‘Where were there connections?’ Because what we were really looking at is
a continuum of instruction. So they are the guide for transitional kindergarten. The California Department of Education has
developed a resource that highlights the alignment between The Preschool Learning Foundations,
the California Common Core State Standards and the Kindergarten Content Standards. I feel very fortunate to have the alignment
document to work from it where I can look at the preschool side and the kindergarten
side, because then I know where my students have been and where they’ve come from. I know
what I have to do and then I know what they’re going to continue to do and grow from. The fact that we have the Preschool Learning
Foundations as equal partner to the standards, really I think emphasizes that importance
of the affective domain for children. And so working on the social-emotional growth
as an equal responsibility, as an equal importance to Standards Based Learning, I think is one
of the things that I like best about it. I really like calling it a hybrid model because
it really is that preschool foundations with the kindergarten core standards, merged together,
that differentiate that setting, and so that is what transitional kindergarten is to us. We have four TK classes in our school district.
And so, we set out a framework for our entire year, and then we broke that down through
standards that we wanted to teach, and we matched those up with themes that we were
going to focus on, and we looked at anchor text that we wanted to use so that we were
sure we were hitting standards for Language, Arts and Math and Science and Effective
Manners. We came up with guiding questions. And so we really set out the structure of
our years. Successful transitional kindergarten programs
are the result of thoughtful teacher reflection and planning. This kind of integrated planning
will reinforce conceptual learning across subject matter. It begins when the teacher
decides on a conceptual connecting thread and then creates a lesson plan. We use themes in our planning for the year.
So, for instance, we’ll use a community theme and then we’ll kind of focus on specific aspects
of the communities. So, we’ll look at the workers in the community, the places in the
community, and maybe the transportation within the community. STUDENT: “Are you going to help us?”
STUDENT: “Lego Land and Disney Land!”
TEACHER: “Together in one building?”
STUDENT: “Yea, look at this Lego Land and Disney Land together.” From the very beginning when they start and
they have the task to build that five-room house, you know, they have to think, ‘Ok, who is
going to get the blocks? What size do I need?’ And today when I was working with them, one
said, ‘Well, I don’t want that one here ’cause I want a door here. So I’m going to leave
a little opening here.’ That’s spatial awareness. Getting the right blocks, getting the right
sized blocks, so measuring, and you know all the math skills that go into that, it’s
just a wonderful process for children to experience! They start there, and then they start thinking
about, ‘Well, who lives here? A family. I’m there, my sister, my little brother,” and
it starts, they start constructing the meaning of family, you know? So social studies in
action but, right away they want to go get the car, and then, okay, when you get the
car, well, we need gas. Okay, we need gas because we’re going to go to the bank and
get some money so then we can go to the market. They really have an amazing curiosity for
how things really work in the real world. It’s nothing they need to master in their
work areas. It’s experiential. But it incorporates those themes in those areas. And then math
can even happen then because we might use manipulatives like cars and planes and boats
for sorting and counting and addition and subtraction. So we try to bring all those
themes together and then use them in all of our academic areas.

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