hands on is, hands down, the way to go

Internship is drawing (very quickly!) to a close – only four days left ūüė¶ ¬†I realized that I have a lot of recapping to do. Here are some pictures of my lovely little learners engaging in some of the activities I have planned over the past month… (Never again will I put off posting this long – lesson learned!)

One thing I am extremely proud of is creating this Word of the Day program during my internship. This idea was taken from a Kindergarten teacher from Kindersley (check out¬†@PamelaSawatzky‘s Twitter handle – she is a wonderful K teacher!) during a Phonological Awareness PD event at the beginning of the school year. It involves breaking down simple CVC words into their individual sounds and then placing a dot into a box (these are called El Konin boxes and are great for students to visualize the breaking down of words into sounds) for each of the sounds heard.

In the above example (“tack”), students identify the sounds they hear:

/t/  /a/  /k/    Then, Leaders for the day get to drag a dot into a box. We then practice pulling the sounds apart and putting them back together to create the original word. We also discuss which letters make the corresponding sounds.

Nest Making

As part of our Bird Inquiry unit, I was constantly adding to and changing our authentic nest centre. It ended with this evolution, where students had the chance to create their own nests. It was so interesting to see what students came up with and what strategies they used to make their nests. On one of my observation days, some of my students were eager to teach my faculty advisor how to make a nest. Such a cool thing to see! Nest Making 2

Here are some of the finished nests:

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 8.42.55 PM

Another endeavour that was on my internship bucket list was Outdoor Winter Centres. These were a lot of work (and took up a lot of freezer space – haha) but SO MUCH FUN! Take a look…

I filled spray bottles with coloured water for students to ‘spray paint’ the snow with. This was definitely the biggest hit. I wished I had had more spray bottles!

Winter Centres 8

Students also used the cookie cutters to create coloured shapes in the snow.

I also made ice cubes in every colour of the rainbow for students to create snow castle creations out of. This was also very popular. The spray bottles also become a tool for decorating the castles (of course the students thought of something I didn’t).

The students above are trying to save some ‘frozen’ animals (plastic figurines I froze into clear water) using warm water. Students also tried to refreeze the animals by adding snow into the water.

Frozen Animals

 

This is a fun activity that can cover a lot of Science outcomes, but those icy animals melt a lot faster than they freeze, so have A LOT on hand.

Winter Centres 2

I thought a frozen treat was appropriate for our ice and snow themed centres. Some apple juice, ice cube trays, and popsicle sticks did the trick real quick!

Winter Centres 3.png

Lucky for us, this December has included GORGEOUS weather, so it was cold enough to keep the snow on the ground, but still nice enough outside that mitts could be taken off for periods of time without frozen fingers. The perfect medium!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I loved doing centres in my Math Patterns unit, so tried to do some hands on work for our Number unit as well. Some of the centres pictures in the slideshow above are:

  • putting the correct number of eggs into nests (to tie in with our Bird Inquiry unit)
  • putting the correct amount of coloured tiles into a ten frame
  • counting objects and finding the corresponding numeral to match up
  • building block towers of a specific height
  • playing a board game with a partner and moving a specific number of spaces using 10 sided dice
  • counting the number of stars in a ‘parking lot space’ and parking a car with the corresponding number in that spot

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also added some centres to our letter learning work. Students could choose if they wanted to do work in their ABC books, draw items that started with the designated letter, make that letter out of play dough, or trace that letter on sheets in page protectors. Although this made Learning Time pretty hectic, I think it really affirms that students all learn in different ways and that these different learning styles are represented and planned for. This also gives students choice to try several centres that suit their interests, or hone in on a specific one.

One other cool thing we did for our Bird Inquiry unit was research on the iPads using QR codes that I created for websites, photo galleries, and videos all about birds. We were lucky enough to have the Grade 6 class come in and buddy up with our K’s, who loved this! 21st century learning at its finest!

 

 

To learn about the colour Blue in November, we discussed Picasso’s blue period and tried our hand at creating masterpieces using only shades of blue.

Picasso Blue Period

 

And just to end on a sweet note, here is an adorable Snowman and Reindeer cupcake that we all had (messy) fun making.

 

Stay tuned for a post in the future that sums up my internship experience.

Yours truly,

KKF

exciting news!

kindergarten here i come

I just found out today that I am placed in the Kindergarten class at Davidson Elementary School for my internship! I am very excited to learn a lot more about play-based, inquiry, and experiential learning in an early childhood setting. I am also quite interested in digging into the Kindergarten curriculum, as it is structured a bit differently than all of the other elementary grades.

I know that this is going to be such an amazingly rewarding learning experience for me. I have never been extensively involved in Kindergarten, so I am really looking forward to all of the joys that it brings. I can’t wait to learn alongside some awesome students and have the chance to shape their first experience at school.

More information to follow. For now, I’ll be burying my nose in Kindergarten curriculum and resources!

-KKF

final week of pre-internship

I taught my half day on Monday afternoon and, thankfully, it went very well. Due to the way the schedule worked out this week, I ended up teaching an entire afternoon of Arts Ed (the subject area of my unit) to count as my lessons for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Again, I had some tough-to-manage action going on in the classroom, as students were given time to work on the musical pieces they had been creating in small groups. I ran this like Daily 5 – having 3 stations for the groups to cycle through in timed¬†rounds. Each station helped the group to prepare or reflect upon their final project¬†(my unit’s summative assessment): Station 1 allowed the students to practice their musical piece with their instruments of choice, Station 2 had the groups create a write up about their piece, and the third Station involved a group assessment of the students’ cooperation thus far. The Instrument station was a bit noisy, but again, this was productive noise. My co-op reassured me that there would have been no way to evade this noise level problem, so, all things considered, I was happy with how the group work went.

Once students had a chance to practice and prepare, they performed their music pieces for the class. I was very impressed with how well they did, and how they embodied and applied the concepts we had been learning as a whole class. The students who were not performing also made me proud by showing proper audience behaviour (something that we are constantly working on with my group of movers and shakers!).

I finished the day with a crossover Arts Ed lesson that infused Music into Visual Art, by having students draw pictures using only music notes (pictures below). They turned out great and I was pleasantly surprised with all of the creativity my students showed during this activity. My main goal during this time was to keep the students settled and calm, as this was the end of the day, when the students tend to be more unfocused and harder to rein in. They worked quietly and productively on their task, so I was very pleased.

IMG_5247 IMG_5240 IMG_5242 IMG_5245 IMG_5233 IMG_5226 IMG_5228

Teaching a half day was a totally new experience, and I found that once I got started, the time just flew by! The parts of the day when you are teaching seem like they happen in the blink of an eye.

Today, my teaching partner taught her half day. Tomorrow, our class is going on a field trip (in the afternoon) to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, so I am very excited to have that kind of out-of-classroom experience with the students (I’m interested to see how the students behave in a different environment).

Thursday is my final day, and I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for how bittersweet this will be! I am very proud and excited to finish such a successful 3 week block, but I am going to miss my students SO much! I have grown to know them (and ADORE them!) much more after seeing them every day, all day. Although they are, at times, interesting to manage, I love them each to pieces and couldn’t have asked for a better class to teach me how to be a better educator! It’s so difficult to spend 3 weeks straight with a group of students and then be ripped away so abruptly! My goal is to enjoy every last second of them before pre-internship is over.

Although I am heartbroken that pre-internship (which has been an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING experience for me) is coming to an end, I also know that this means there are new beginnings in store for me. My internship awaits me in the fall, with many more learning experiences to come!

Until next time,

-KKF

day two in a nutshell

Today was an awesome teaching day for both me and my pre-internship partner. Both of our lessons went SO well (hopefully we can have a repeat of that tomorrow when our faculty advisor comes to watch us – haha)! After two days in the school and with the kids, I’m definitely getting into the swing of things. They students are all so sweet, I find myself resisting the urge to just gather them up in a hug and hold on for five minutes. There is nothing quite like learning alongside a group of kids! Such a rush!

In my lesson today, students learned about Call and Response in songs (where one person says something – the ‘call’ – and the group repeats it back – the ‘response’). We sang Down By The Bay (with my guitar) and Che Che Kooley (an African song kind of like Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes). The kids ate this up! I was amazed at how easy they are to manage when you have them all hooked. It definitely made my job as a teacher 10 times easier.

I’m excited to take my confidence and calm, cool, collected attitude from today’s lesson and use it tomorrow during my Writing lesson and for the rest of my three week block (and beyond!).

-KKF

pre-internship day 1 snapshot

Day 1 was a success! I am just happy to get to hang out with students all day and soak up their vibrant personalities. Schools have always felt like such welcoming, warm places to me, so it’s awesome to get to spend the next three weeks there with a fantastic co-op and a group of 25 wonderful students (who keep me on my toes, teach me TONS, and help me improve as a teacher every single MINUTE). Here are some of today’s highlights:

Best Thing About My Lesson: The students really enjoyed the hands-on music tasks (which is good, because they are part of every single lesson in my unit!). Yet another reminder that music works magic with kids!

Uh-Oh Moment: YouTube videos wouldn’t play with sound! Stay calm, think fast, ALWAYS have a back up plan (and time fillers).

Something To Work On: Relax. Keep expectations high and students accountable.

Something New I Tried: “Around the World” engagement strategy: Teacher moves around the room while talking to students and they have to continually pivot to stay facing the teacher. Will have to practice this a bit more so all students are following me with their eyes.

Quote of the Day: “Is Superman real?”

What I’m Excited for Tomorrow:¬†Playing my guitar and singing with the students! Wish me luck!

-KKF

i am a question mark

Today, my classmates¬†and I went on a tour through the Mackenzie Art Gallery’s newest exhibition, Moving Forward Never Forgetting (which was phenomenal and I highly recommend everyone go check out). During some hands-on experience of making art, we were each asked to “draw a symbol that represents you in this moment.” Instantly, I decided upon a question mark, and it seemed very fitting.

photo

This year (and semester) has been a time of great learning and growing for me. But it seems the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. When I was in high school, a teacher whose classroom I volunteered in told me, “You could walk into a classroom tomorrow and be a teacher.” And I thought, “Yeah, I could!” Now that I am three years into my degree, I think, “No! I am not ready! I could go to school for three more years and not be ready!” It just goes to show you how complex a job teaching truly is, and that having your B.Ed. only begins to prepare you for being an educator; you do so much more learning when you actually ARE a teacher.

So while I may still have so many questions and things I want to learn (especially with my three week block coming up Рcountdown is at 11 days!), I am in one of the best professions to continue to be a lifelong learner alongside my students.

Until next time,

-KKF

your kids teach you, all right

Today, I did a pre-assessment for my Arts Ed unit on Music that I will be teaching in March-April. I had students fill in the first two columns of a KWL chart (K – what I Know already and W – what I Want to know). When reading them through tonight, I saw a great question in the W column: “How was music invented?”

Then I went, “Hmmm… I actually don’t know!” And here I am, Googling the answer and doing some research at 8:00 p.m. Hopefully, I can share my finding and start a discussion with my students during one of my lessons.

This moment just goes to show you that your students can teach you a lot (and get you thinking from their point of view)! I can’t wait to keep learning with my Grade 3’s!

-KKF

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