this week in kindergarten… planting seeds!

Another week in the books! I can’t believe that I am already 1/4 done my internship! It makes me sad already to think about leaving my lovely little group of students. It is scarily easy to get attached to these kids. My co-op teacher said to me this week, “You’re not going to be the same after being in Kindergarten, are you?” and she is absolutely right! The kids are so sweet, loving, eager, curious, smart, and adorable. There is something indescribably magical and precious about this age that I have not experienced in other grades.

Here are a few heart melting moments thus far:

One sweet student who has trouble keeping his hands to himself was grabbing at a classmate during whole class instruction at the story corner. I reminded him to stay in his own personal bubble, and he obliged. A few seconds later, I was frustrated to see him again with his hands all over the other student. However, I was touched to see that he was hugging his peer and apologizing of his own accord, whispering “I’m sorry. We’re still best friends, right?” Too cute!

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My co-op teacher has a common saying of “That will cost you a hug” if a student forgets to put something away or needs assistance. One day this week, I picked up a jacket on the floor and asked who it belonged to. A little boy came up to me, piped up “It’s mine. That will cost me a hug!” and proceeded to give me a squeeze around the waist. Awww!

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We were planting grass seeds this week and, each time, I would ask the students what they thought the seeds would grow into. One student, without hesitation, replied “a pickle tree!” Another student, while placing dirt and seeds into his cup, remarked “I’m a good gardener!”

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Here a some pictures of the seed planting we got up to. It was messy but fun. The students did a great job of adding the right amount of dirt, seeds, and water into their own cups. I loved using a spray bottle to prevent over-watering. Also, students just really enjoyed pushing the trigger on the spray bottle to create a mist effect. I think this will become one of the jobs of the day in the coming weeks: watering all of the plants.

Students had to put five BIG spoonfuls of dirt into their cup first.

Students had to put five BIG spoonfuls of dirt into their cup first.

Students then took a few pinches of seeds and sprinkled them on top of the dirt.

Students then took a few pinches of seeds and sprinkled them on top of the dirt.

Finally, students covered their seeds with a small layer of soil and gave them two big sprays of water. Now they have to wait and see what kind of plant sprouts up!

Finally, students covered their seeds with a small layer of soil and gave them two big sprays of water. Now they have to wait and see what kind of plant sprouts up!

To tie into our planting seeds job, I taught the students a little song/poem. I set it to the tune of “Up on the Housetop” and used actions. The kids caught on quickly and enjoyed the different levels of the song (we squatted down when ‘the rain fell’ and stood up and stretched out for our seeds ‘growing up tall.’)

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I also taught my first 2 lessons in the Mathematics Patterns unit I have been planning. They all went really well and the students enjoyed the hands-on activities I planned (we made patterns with ourselves, analyzed the pattern in a bracelet given to partner groups, and turned patterns into actions). I taught the students Quiet Coyote and it worked like a charm, especially for my repeat offender blurters (bonus!). I was impressed that the students started to use this signal with each other, as a quick reminder to have their ‘mouth closed, ears open.’

This coming week, I have a Social Studies/Treaty Ed lesson about Promises that I am quite excited for! My faculty advisor is also coming for her first visit on Friday, which is exciting. Additionally, I have arranged for all of the interns at Davidson School (there are SIX of us from U of R and U of S) to meet up and chat about our experiences as well. It is shaping up to be a great week! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend! Until next time,

-KKF

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second last lesson

Last Wednesday (November 26) was my second last day of Fall semester pre-internship. Unfortunately, my teaching partner was sick and could not come to school, so it was just my co-op teacher and me.

What did work out well, however, was that my teaching partner was supposed to be teaching Phys Ed, so I ended up giving my Phys Ed lesson from last week (which got changed to being outside) a second shot! It was definitely a challenge to get the students to listen attentively, but I made it through the lesson with only minor problems.

My actual lesson for the day was a Science experiment during the final period, where students built structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows and tested how much weight they could hold before collapsing. The students were put into partners during this experiment, and I was very happy with how well they worked together. We brainstormed strategies for team work and cooperation before starting the experiment, so that was a helpful introduction.

When the students transitioned into their new spots with their partners, they listened very well. This continued during our brief review of the previous topics covered in the unit. When I started to explain the experiment instructions, however, their attention started to wander and then I could not completely get the class’ attention back for the remainder of the lesson.

Using hands-on materials with this group of students is challenging because they get so distracted. I waited until all of the instructions were given (and repeated various times) before handing out the materials for the experiment, but giving students edible manipulatives at the end of the day didn’t exactly go very smoothly… as I’m sure you can imagine.

During my post conference with my co-op teacher, she pinpointed not using consequences for inappropriate behaviour strictly enough as the main problem with my lesson: once the students get out of control, it is VERY difficult to rein them in again. This group needs clear consequences and diligent reinforcement of these consequences so that they understand they will not get away with interrupting or disrupting the class.

I am teaching Science again next week (for my FINAL lesson!) and took this subject on because I really want to focus on my classroom management. We are going to be doing another experiment, and I hope to be more authoritative with the students so they understand that I will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour this time around. I am going to focus very intently on my PD goal for this lesson (classroom management) and I hope I see some success. Wish me luck!

confidence and continents

Today was my fifth day of pre-internship and my fourth independent lesson. The students had Monday and Tuesday off (due to a PD day and Remembrance Day) so this was like their Monday, which was interesting to see. Our co-op teacher said that, normally, you see students refreshed on Mondays and ready to learn. With this class, however, they seem to forget their school routines over the weekend and have to spend Monday relearning them.

My Social Studies lesson on Africa and Antarctica was during the final period of the day (I just happen to always pick the subject that comes last in the daily schedule it seems… haha), so I was expecting the students to be a handful. The lesson went much better than I expected and the fact that I actually got through my content at the end of the day on a “Monday” is enough of a victory for me! Previously, I taught Art at the end of the day, which is more engaging for students at the day’s end, so I was worried that a more traditionally “academic” subject would be hard for the students to sit through.

world map

I was especially delighted at how quiet the students were during the interactive game portion of the lesson (but they were playing in teams, and didn’t want to risk talking and giving the answers away to the other groups, so maybe this explains it!).

While I thought the lesson went well, there are definitely some areas that could have been improved. My PD goal this week was to react to inappropriate individual student actions in such a way that would, hopefully, stop them in their tracks. I think this went quite well. Unfortunately, in my attempt to prevent individual interruptions, the class as a whole got a bit out of hand a few times. Finding that balance between individual student and class monitoring and managing is a skill that I am still developing and hope to focus on in the 3 (only THREE!) remaining weeks of my pre-internship (in the fall semester, anyways).

i have to admit, the first couple weeks preceding, I vaguely thought about my PD goal but was much more focused on delivering the content of my lesson. This week, I made the decision to focus a lot harder on my PD goal, and I found this extremely difficult! Trying to teach students about continents while scanning the room, identifying which students are and aren’t paying attention, grabbing the attention of those not listening, and attempting to stop inappropriate behaviour is a lot of tasks for one brain to manage at once! I have to say I was humbled by this realization. Co-op teachers make this look very easy when it truly isn’t. This is something I look forward to improving within my practice though!

teacher brain

Finally, I feel myself becoming more and more confident each week. I can see why field experience is one of the most important aspects of the Elementary Education program here. Putting the theory we learn in the classroom into practice is the most difficult but rewarding thing I have experienced in this program thus far and I really am loving every minute of it (although sometimes frustrating and nerve-wracking).

Next week, I have taken on a 30 minute Physical Education lesson and I feel this will be my biggest challenge yet. I witnessed my teaching partner teach a Phys Ed lesson today (and we had never even seen one before) and I have to commend her on her courage to try something completely new and handle our busy class successfully in (what I think is) the most difficult subject. It is one thing to get these students’ attention in the classroom, but the gym is a completely different story! The larger space, the echoing of voices, students’ need to run and scream upon entering… It all adds up to quite the scene. I know my classroom management will have to be top-notch to keep control of the class. I am already nervous, but also excited to see what I learn. Wish me luck!

-KKF

first ever lesson + SAFE conference

My second day of pre-internship was this past Wednesday, and it was another great experience. I taught my very first solo lesson (it was a mix of Health and Arts Education) and it was successful! There were a few minor bumps in the road, but I was happy with it overall (especially because I was, again, facilitating my lesson during the very last period of a day with no Phys Ed class for a very active bunch of Grade 3 students!).

The biggest thing I’ve learned from the Grade 3 class I am placed in is that it is not usually the learning activities you plan that cause difficulty/challenges, but the classroom management and small details (like how students will transition from one activity to the next). I have to meticulously plan, write out, and rehearse my instructions and transition strategies in order for the class to go smoothly. I think this is a great skill I am developing that will definitely come in handy in the future!

It has also become apparent to me how crucial it is that you know your students and how they behave (especially in certain situations). In my lesson, we started out with a brief discussion, broke out into individual work, and then came back to discuss what we’d made. This was not the best set up for an end-of-day lesson, as the students find it extremely difficult to sit still and listen to one another after having a more hands-on task preceding the discussion. After my lesson was over, my co-op told me that she does all of the discussion at the start of the lesson and then lets the students work on an engaging project for the remainder of a final period of the day, rather than trying to rein the students in again after having freedom to complete a task.

The final thing I learned during the lesson is the importance of stressing ‘Don’t move yet’ when giving instructions to young students, because as soon as you begin to tell them what they are going to do, they get up and do it before you are finished speaking. One strategy I noticed my co-op and the math specialist teacher using was a ‘secret word’ that the teacher will say once they are done talking, which signals the students that they are now free to move.

Next week, I am doing the second ‘partner’ lesson to this one, using dance instead of visual art to explore the topic of families. It should also be slightly challenging in regards to classroom management, so I will be sure to recap you all on how that goes.

Here are a few of the finished products the students made. They were given the task of using visual art to explain the terms 'family' and 'home' to an alien.

Here are a few of the finished products the students made. They were given the task of using visual art to explain the terms ‘family’ and ‘home’ to an alien.

On another note, the Faculty of Education hosted the annual SAFE (Social Justice and Anti-racist Anti-oppressive Forum on Education) conference yesterday, and all third year students were in attendance. I thought I would share two particular comments made during the sessions I attended that really helped to open my eyes to the reality of anti-oppressive/Treaty education.

Through my university education, I have gained tons of theoretical knowledge. It is always the putting-into-practice end of things that concerns me. This holds especially true for Treaty Education/multiculturalism/anti-oppressive education. Even after the two-day Treaty Education workshop, I still felt somewhat abandoned and lost in regards to actually TEACHING this material.

One of the presenters said that “we cannot let it be solely the responsibility of the people who are marginalized to teach this material.” Another stated something similar: “As teachers, we have to take the initiative to learn about and implement these teachings.” This was the little push I needed to shed the ‘poor me, I don’t know any of this’ mindset and realize that it is my job and should be my priority to teach these things, and, yes, I will probably have to use some of my free time to gain the knowledge needed to teach it properly.

I know that I heard a lot of “this work is hard, challenging, difficult” and I believe that it is. However, I think as long as teachers are in this profession for the right reasons, it will make this trying journey easier, because they can stay focused on the reasons that we bother to teach these tough topics at all: our students.

-KKF

the “mine” monster

 I can recall multiple incidents when I was volunteering in Elementary school classrooms in my Grade 11 and 12 years when a student would come up to me, claiming that another classmate had taken something of theirs and wouldn’t give it back because “it was theirs.”

This is an age old problem for young children. It happened when I was that age, it clearly still happens today and, unless some technology comes around that tags your personal items to you genetically, it will happen in the future. It is also difficult to address because you can’t accuse either child of lying.

I have come up with a way to solve this dilemma through PREVENTION, so that rather than having to deal with it, you can hopefully discourage it from happening altogether. It is called the “mine” monster.

I imagine the introduction of this concept to the kids to go something like this…

“Has anyone here ever heard of the mine monster? No? Well, let me tell you, he is a sneaky little creature that likes to take children’s belonging and call them his own. And once he steals something from you, you will probably never get it back.

Has anyone heard the word “envy” or “jealousy” before? Do you know what it means? Yes, you’re right, it is when someone wants things that other people have. That is what the mine monster has – jealousy. He takes your things and then squeals “IT’S MINE!” (in a silly voice) and he runs away to his hiding place and you can never get your stolen item back! He is very sneaky, so you have to watch out for him!

Did you know that people can become mine monsters sometimes? Yes, it’s true. When we see someone else has a sparkly pencil or a brand new ball cap that we like, we may want to take it from them so we can have it. But that is NOT right. That is jealousy. And we can’t take other people’s things and call it our own. Because we don’t want to be a mine monster, do we? No, of course not!

So how can we stop the mine monster? First, we can make sure that our name is on our things, so everyone knows who it belongs to. Second, if we like something that someone has, like a special box of markers or a toy, we can’t take it from them, but we can ask them nicely if they would let us try it if they are not using it. That is called sharing, and it makes the mine monster VERY mad because he hates sharing, because it is a nice thing to do.

If we do these things, we can stop the mine monster from striking in our classroom! So does anyone remember what the first rule is? Yes, it’s PUT YOUR NAME ON EVERYTHING. And what about the second rule? You’re right, it is to share and ask first before taking something from someone else!”

I just thought this was a cute little idea that you could do with your class to prevent kids from taking things that aren’t theirs. Maybe you could even ask the class if they wanted to see what the mine monster looked like and have a little sock puppet or something you could put on your hand and go around the classroom saying “I’m on a hunt, what will I find? A _____________ (ex. red pencil case, box of crayons, etc, etc, etc.) that is mine!” (and take something from a student’s desk in the mine monster’s “mouth!” That would be sure to get your point across).

Let’s all fight the mine monster together!