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:

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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!

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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!

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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

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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

so much to do, so little time

To start this post off… a¬†few recent KinderQuotes!

One of our students (we will call her Gracie) was at home sick.

Student: “Where is Gracie?”

Me: “Gracie is not feeling well, so she didn’t come to school today.”

Student: “What, is she sea sick or something?”


Student (holding up her middle finger to show me): “Miss. Fidelack, this finger REALLY hurts!”

I have to say, I didn’t expect to get flipped the bird in Kindergarten. :p I couldn’t help but giggle at this occurrence.


We are doing patterns in math, and during a hands-on activity with manipulatives, this conversation happened…

Student: “When do we get to do math?”

Me: “This IS math!”

Student: “But, like, real math. Because I already know what 2+2 is!”


My co-op teacher quietly called me “Kara.” A student working nearby overheard this and piped up, “Ms. Haas, why did you call Miss Fidelack “Kara”? That’s not her name!” I got a kick out of this. I feel like I have a secret identity! haha


One student often comes up to me and exclaims, “Free hug!”


A student taps me on the shoulder and reminds me, “We forgot to do milk today!” I love how good these kids are at remembering things and keeping me on track. ūüôā


Today, I accidentally got called “Grandma” and “Mom.” This cracked me up to no end. Happy that I am comparable to the wonderful grandmas and moms out there!


Some¬†cool things I’ve done lately…

Introduced hand signals that correspond to a student body action. I use these as integrated brain breaks, during Calendar/Leader time especially (when students are expected to sit and focus for an extended period of time). These are great when there is a small lull, as it breaks up student sitting and also motivates students to keep their eyes on me because they never know when I am going to do a hand signal! Here are a few pictures of the class learning them:

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This hand signal. a closed fist, is “Turtle.” The students curl their bodies up like a turtle in its shell.

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This one (flat hand, palm out, thumb up) is “Shark.” The students make a fin above their heads and circle their table one time.

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This (five fingers splayed) is “Starfish.” Students stand up and spread their arms and legs to make a star.

The kids love these and even requested additional signals. I have since introduced “Jellyfish” (thumb tucked in, four fingers pointing downward and wiggling), where students stand up and wiggle all of their arms and legs.

I also did an impromptu talking circle and hope to incorporate these more often, as students are never quieter and more attentive than when their classmates have the special ‘talking stick.’ This is also culturally responsive and integrates Indigenous ways of knowing.

I have been noticing a lot of students raising their hands to tell stories during morning routines. I wanted to think of a way to get them to hold their comments until a more appropriate time, but still be able to give them each a chance to share. Thus, Story Snack Time was born! I made a deal with students that if they can hold their stories until snack time (when we don’t “have a job to do”), I will circulate all of their tables and listen to a story from each of them. This has been amazing so far! Fewer interruptions and strengthened relationships all in one! I love being able to get to know these students’ personal experience and have one-on-one time with all of them each day. I think they are enjoying this opportunity to ‘be heard’ as well.

Finally, I did a math lesson yesterday that was one of my best lessons yet. It was set up similar to our morning “Centre Time,” when students can freely choose what they would like to do. I was focusing¬†on the skill of extending a pattern, and students had three different centres to pick from that all worked on this concept.

At this centre, students could create a pattern with the manipulatives and have their peers extend it.

At this centre, students could create a pattern with the manipulatives and have their peers extend it.

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Another centre had several different versions of these worksheets I created. I love putting these in page protectors so students can draw on them with dry erase markers and erase them later. Paper saver tip!

The third choice was a pattern book full of worksheets that my cooperating teacher usually does during this unit. I was surprised at how many pages of the books some students were able to finish! Another example of me underestimating my little geniuses.

This lesson was a hit with students! They couldn’t believe that they actually got to choose where they wanted to go. Some students jumped around a lot, and others stayed at one centre almost the entire time. I loved that students with different interests and strengths were all able to find a centre they liked. Some students are truly ready for the book work and pre-reading/writing skills, so they LOVED the workbook centre. Others are very kinaesthetic learners, so ate up the hands-on manipulatives centre. I loved this lesson because I got to interact with almost all of my students in a different, yet meaningful, way. I learned so much about what they can do and what they like to do in a small amount of time. This is why I love centres and play-based learning – if offers a world of possibilities. I am going to try and do more student-centred lessons like this in the future. Oh, and another bonus: Almost ZERO teacher talk and¬†whole class instruction time for students to sit through! Yes!

Here are the 3 worksheets that I had in the page protectors:

Extend pattern 1

extend pattern 2

extend pattern 3

Welcome to my brain…

Here are a few random thought blurbs I have had over the past week or two.

When I was home over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was somewhat irked to hear that there was a Boil Water Advisory for the tap water, as the town is working on putting in an RO system. Later, I felt guilty for feeling so inconvenienced, as I realized that we take access to clean, safe water for granted. Not only do we get water at the flick of a tap, it is usually ready for our consumption, whereas others in the world walk significant distances to get water, or have to risk drinking unsanitary water every day. That was definitely an eye-opening moment for me.

Since being placed in Kindergarten for my internship, I have been reflecting back to my days in K. I was pretty shocked at some of the things that were required when I was in Kindergarten, specifically:

  • counting to 100 every day (students have to know numbers 0-10 in today’s curriculum)
  • tying our shoes independently (which I still remember struggling with and being very frustrated over)

I just thought it was interesting to see how much things had changed since I was in my early childhood years. I think that today’s focus on play-based learning and exploration are so much more fitting for students’ developmental needs at this wonderful age.

I finished my midterm assessment with my cooperating teacher today – what a strange feeling! I can’t believe that I am approaching 50% completion of my internship! I am happy to say that I have already grown so much since we did my pre-assessment at the Internship Seminar in September. I also targeted a few goals that I will be working on as I continue my journey! Stay tuned!

-KKF

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! ūüôā

Enjoy your weekend! Until next time,

-KKF

tutoring highlights

I have been tutoring an awesome little guy 2 days a week this month. I am trying to do lots of fun and hands-on things that relate to real life skills. Here are a few highlights of the activities we have done together.

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time's record)

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time’s record)

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) - great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) – great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars - make math yummy

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars – make math yummy

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

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Smoothie recipe

Smoothie recipe

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Nature scavenger hunt - something fuzzy Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

Nature scavenger hunt – something fuzzy
Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

OT kit

I created an OT (Occupational Therapy) kit for an assignment in one of my Education classes. This kit is geared towards Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1 and is focused on developing pre-printing skills, such as pencil grip and hand strength (as well as some hand-eye coordination activities). The materials within each activity are every day objects that can easily be found around the house. All of the activities are meant to be fun and challenging, so students will actually enjoy practicing these skills.

If I were to implement this kit in my classroom, I would have students choose an activity to work on for 5-10 minutes before a printing/writing class in order to warm up their hands. These activities could also be turned into centres in a Pre-K or Kindergarten classroom, too.

Food Olympics

Playdoh SpagPenne

This station consists of two different activities. For the first activity, students hold a piece of dry spaghetti in between their thumb and index finger and attempt to pick up a dry penne noodle off of the table. In the second activity, students stick spaghetti noodles into a lump of Play-Doh on the table and use their thumb and index fingers to pick up Froot Loops (or Cheerios, beads, etc.) and thread them onto the spaghetti.

Modifications

  • use the coloured Froot Loops to make a pattern on the spaghetti noodle (ex. pink, purple, green, pink, purple, green)

Mr./Mrs. Ball

Mr Ball

Making Mr. or Mrs. Ball is really easy – just cut a small slit into a tennis ball (the bigger the slit, the easier it is to open Mr./Mrs. Ball’s mouth, so you can have a few with differing sizes to make the activity more challenging as students progress).

Students have to use their thumb and index finger to squeeze Mr. or Mrs. Ball so their mouth will open. Then students hold the mouth open and use their other hand to ‘feed’ the ball some buttons, round chips, etc. When Mr. or Mrs. Ball is full, just hold their mouth open and shake out the buttons to start all over.

Modifications

  • count how many buttons you feed Mr. or Mrs. Ball one by one

Cotton Ball Push

Turkey Baster

Students use their turkey baster to blow the items off of the edge of the table (note: make sure you use your thumb and index finger to pinch the end of the turkey baster). This activity is a lot harder than it looks! Students may need to hold the small end of the turkey baster with their other hand to ‘aim.’ Materials of different sizes (ex. packing peanuts, cotton balls, small foam beads, etc.) can be used to increase difficulty.

Modifications

  • blow the cotton ball into a certain area of the table (marked off with tape)
  • count how many items you can blow off of the table in 1 minute

Tweezer Pick Up

Tweezers

Students use their thumb and index finger to pick up various items (pom poms, cotton balls, beads, popsicle sticks, buttons) with the tweezers.

Modifications

  • have various items all mixed together and students use their tweezers to sort them into categories (type, colour, size)
  • count the items that you can pick up in 1 minute
  • count how many of each item there are as you pick them up

Fishing

Fish

This activity uses triple the hand strength/finger grip! First, place the fish on the floor and have students stand when they use the fishing rod. Students must hold the rod in between their index finger and thumb and move the fishing rod so that the binder clip on the end touches one of the fish (this will be a test of hand-eye coordination as well). Once they touch a fish, students bend down and use their pencil-grasp fingers to open the binder clip and clip it to their fish. Finally, students use their index fingers and thumbs (on each end of the pencil) to turn the rod around and around in order to ‘reel in’ their fish (as the string gets shorter and shorter from being wrapped around the pencil).

Modifications

  • challenge students to touch the binder clip to a certain colour fish
  • see how fast you can reel in all of the fish
  • math: “We started with 6 fish and you reeled in 2. How many are left to catch?”

Firefighter

Firefighter

Students will love to be a hero and put out the fire on this burning building! Make sure to laminate the colouring page (or put it in a page protector) so that it can be used again and again. First, students colour in the flames on the picture with washable marker. Then, they dip their sponge into the small cup of water and use it to ‘put out the fire’ by washing off the marker.

This activity would go great with a Social Studies unit learning about community helpers or a Health unit on Fire Safety!

Crazy Straw Maze

Crazy Straw

This is another activity that can be surprisingly tough (especially with very bendy straws). Simply cut out some shapes from felt or foam and add holes in the middle. Students thread the shapes onto the straw and attempt to get them off of the other side of the straw by maneuvering the straw and shapes with their index fingers and thumbs. Note: Do not use crazy straws that make a complete loop (shown below), as the foam shapes will not be able to pass through this obstacle.

Modifications

  • name the shapes as you get them through the maze
  • put shapes through the maze in a pattern (square, then circle, square, then circle)
  • see how many you can get through the maze in 1 minute

CrazyStraws

DO NOT USE CRAZY STRAWS LIKE THIS —->

Hang the Laundry

LaundryStudents simply hang up baby or doll clothes onto a bungee cord or string. Ensure that students are using their thumb and index finger to pinch the clothespins open.

Modifications

  • hang up the laundry in a pattern (yellow, green, pink OR sock, sock, mitten)
  • math: how many people can you dress with the clothes that are on the line?

Hockey

HockeyA Canadian classic! Popsicle sticks as hockey sticks (use your index finger and thumb!), pom pom as a puck, and masking tape to make lines/goals.

Modifications

  • play in teams (you must pass to each partner before attempting to score a goal)
  • shoot to the goal on the other side of the table from behind the opposite side

Penny Flipping

PenniesLay all the pennies out in a line on the table (this works best if all of the pennies are the same way – all with heads showing, for example). Have the students flip the pennies over, one by one, using their index finger and thumb.

Modifications

  • use coins of different denominations and have students count the total as they flip (ex. for dime dime dime they would say 10 cents, 20 cents, 30 cents)
  • have students start at opposite ends of the line and see how fast they can flip all of the pennies over as a team

Tug of War

Rubber Bands2 students form an ‘O’ shape with their index finger and thumb (like the gesture for A-OK!) and hold the rubber band within the ‘O’ they made with their fingers. Students rest their elbows on the table, wrists bent, and slowly move their arms (from the elbow) apart. Try to make the other person’s ‘O’ break. Note:¬†try to¬†have thick rubber bands or bands covered in fabric so that they won’t snap and hurt the students. Emphasize that students use caution – we aren’t trying to hurt each other, just make our fingers stronger!

Beading

BeadsHand-eye coordination, hand strength, and fine motor skills are rolled into one. Students can take home whatever they make in this station, which is a bonus!

Modifications

  • use your beads to make a pattern
  • practice tying knots in your string
  • count the beads as you thread them

Mazes

MazesLaminating or putting mazes in a page protector means they can be reused many times.

Pom Pom Sort

Pom Pom SortStudents use their thumb and index fingers to pick up the pom poms and put them in the corresponding colour-coded tube. This is also a great way for students to learn their colours.

Modifications

  • primary-secondary colours: have pom poms in the primary colours and tubes in secondary colours. Students have to put the two primary colours into the corresponding secondary colour tube (ex. red and blue pom poms go into purple tube)
  • math: I had five blue pom poms at the start and I have one left in my hand. How many pom poms are hiding in the tube?
  • quick pick up: how fast can I sort all of the pom poms?

Ring Toss

Ring TossDecorate your paper plate rings any way you want. You can make a base for the paper towel tube post or have one student hold the post while the other partner throws the rings.

If students make their own paper plate rings, cutting the holes in the plates is a great hand-eye coordination and hand strengthening exercise.

Hope you enjoyed my OT kit!

What OT activities do you incorporate into your classroom?

Until next time,

-KKF

summer reading

In my 19 weeks of summer, I read 20 books. Here is the full list:

Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi
Through the Ever Night – Veronica Rossi
Into the Still Blue – Veronica Rossi
City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare
City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
Starters – Lissa Price
Enders – Lissa Price
Don’t Go – Lisa Scottoline
Tithe – Holly Black
Valiant – Holly Black
Ironside – Holly Black
Silverwing – Kenneth Oppel
Sunwing – Kenneth Oppel
Firewing – Kenneth Oppel
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
About a Boy – Nick Hornby
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

when things click

I am currently in a cheery mood from a successful tutoring session today, so I thought it would be a prime opportunity to share some of the journey so far.

The past few sessions, my student has seemed underwhelmed with the activities I’d planned. I know how much a drag “summer school” is to kids, so I am trying extra hard to make the learning fun and engaging with lots of game-based and hands-on elements. I even created a lesson that was done entirely outside and incorporated physical activity (which also didn’t seem to appeal to my student).

Today, though, seemed to go over really well, and those little moments of victory are always worth it, no matter how long awaited they may be.

The thing I am struggling most with this summer is finding larger chunks of text that my student will actually enjoy reading. This calls for an exciting subject matter with skill-level-appropriate difficulty. As an avid reader, I am really passionate about getting kids to read for enjoyment, not just because their teacher/parent says they have to. I have tried some short stories the school teacher supplied me with, mad libs, books from my own collection – all to no avail. So my search for a winning story continued…

Despite previous lacklustre attempts, something just seemed to click with today’s piece of literature and the strategy my student and I used to read it. I, personally, find that if a student comes across too many difficult words in a sentence/paragraph, they will slowly ‘shut down’ and lose their momentum with a story (which, believe me, is not a good thing to happen when they are only a quarter of the way through the reading!). With this in mind, I decided to use a new strategy (that I have christened “Tap Out”) for this two paged short story, which I predicted may cause a reading slump if my student were asked to tackle it all on his own.

Tap Out is simple – one person starts reading and can continue for however long they’d like. Once they want a break, they simply tap the other person on the shoulder and it is then their turn to read until they feel they are done. The listener also has the job of place keeper, and had to point out the words for the reader as they went. This strategy can also be used with student reading pairs. It allows students to only read as much as they feel comfortable and not feel so overwhelmed when looking at a long piece of text. It also ensures that the student not reading will still be paying attention and keeping an eye on the place in the text. Strong readers may just have to be encouraged to save some story for their partner to read!

I figured that this strategy of reading a text together would help my student if he started to have a reading shut down. I could give him a chance to recharge, and still have control over the situation so I didn’t end up reading the entire story. To my delight, my student ended up reading a chunk of almost half of the story by himself with little difficulty! This is the link for the story we read. I highly recommend you check out the whole site – which is full of short stories at various skill levels that can be read on tablets, smartphones, laptops, or printed out and read on good old fashioned paper.

After reading the story (it’s called “Jacob is a Car,” by the way), we had a little chat about the things that happened in the story. I made sure to focus more on open-ended questions that relied upon imagination and critical thinking, rather than asking for specific details from the story. He seemed to enjoy this comprehension conversation much more than having to write out answers to formulated questions. As a final, wrap-up activity, we both made movie posters for the book, intended to highlight the important parts, make the story look interesting, and get other people to read the story.

Here are some example questions we discussed:

-why do you think the nickel is magic?

-what colour would you be if you turned into a car?

-what colour do you think Jacob’s dad would have been in car form? Why?

-what else do you think the magic cars could do (go underwater, have races, etc.)?

-if you had a magic nickel, what would you use it for?

-if you could transform into anything in the world, what would it be?

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Let me know if they did the trick!

Until next time, keep reading and learning!

-KKF

blind obstacle courses and paperclip shuffleboard

Hi everyone! It has been a long time since my last post – I’m glad to be back. ūüôā

First things first, I have started my In-School Mentoring through Big Brothers of Regina and I am absolutely loving it! My match is an enthusiastic and talkative Grade 5 student named James (I have changed his name for privacy purposes). The mentor training prepares you for a mentee that may be shy and closed off for the first few sessions, but James is very outgoing and 10 seconds after he met me, he decided “Okay, you’re my new mentor, so I am going to tell you everything I can about me in our 60 minutes together!” He completely charmed me with his willingness to share his life, and we had a lot of fun getting to know each other the first meeting. We played a game where one of us came up with a question (ex. What is your favourite season?) and then wrote our answer in our own colour (mine was blue) and also tried to guess the other person’s in their colour (James’ was black). We were both excited when we guessed each other’s favourite animals correctly (see below).

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During our second meeting, we played a few games, and the biggest hit was ‘paperclip shuffleboard’ (an idea I found on this site – check it out!) James was especially excited when he came back from behind and beat me in the last round. In fact, he enjoyed this game so much that he asked if we could play it at our next meeting! Here is a picture of the setup I used (it’s super easy, a ton of fun, and can be played with a variety of materials and on many different surfaces):

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Finally, at our third meeting, we played homemade Battleship and, again, I got whooped! We finished our session with a blind obstacle course, which I was delighted that James ALSO loved and requested that we play next week. This is a great game to build trust in the person directing you, and it also lets the speaker practice giving clear instructions.

Me, blindfolded and ready to be led around the obstacle course James set up!

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Secondly, I have had two practicum sessions for my KIN 120 class (Rec and Persons with Disabilities). My partner, who is also in Elementary Education, and I were ecstatic to find out that we were paired with an awesome little six-year-old boy. He definitely keeps us busy, but we are both loving it! Our first session was in the gym, and we played about 25 different games in 50 minutes – haha. Our second session was in the pool at the university and was also a blast. It is a lot easier to make sure that your student doesn’t outrun you when they are in water :p My partner and I have planned a lesson for our session in the gym tomorrow – if you’d like to check out the rough draft of our activity plan, here is the link.

Thirdly, I have been learning A LOT in my ELNG 200 class. The biggest realization that I have had as a result of this class is that I am very envious of anyone who is bi/tri/multilingual! After I am finished my degree and have settled in to teaching, I would love to work on learning another language! I will put that on my bucket list. I am now also very interested in DLBs (dual language books) and if you want to see one that I have found that can be read in Hindi, Telegu OR English, you can click right here!

Lastly, I have always been fascinated with how much children in school are expected to (and do) know these days. When I was volunteering in elementary classrooms in high school, I realized that students were learning geometry in Grade 1 and 2, whereas I am pretty sure these concepts were not introduced to me until Grade 4! My grandparents have also told me that the math I did in Grade 11 and 12 is equivalent to what was taught in university in their generation. Clearly, the education system is expecting a lot more out of students these days; or are students simply coming to school with more home-based knowledge nowadays? I just find it interesting to think that someday I will be teaching Grade 1 students to multiply – haha. What do you think? Are kids these days at a more academically advanced level than when you were the same age?

That’s all for now! Until next time, go forth and learn something new! ūüôā

-KKF

lots of ideas stemming from STEM education

I just finished reading another issue of Instructor magazine and, not surprisingly, came rushing to my computer to get all of my thoughts down! My favourite article in the latest issue (Spring 2013) was about the up-and-coming topic of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or STEAM (the A is for Arts) Education.

The article provided multiple, simple ways to integrate a STEM-based approach in the classroom without previous experience, such as building boats out of clay in order to understand how items that normally sink in water can be made to float.

The biggest reaction I had to these ideas was ‘ugh.’ I always found the ‘engineering’ type of lessons to be frustrating and a waste of time. As a ruthless memorizer, I found school much more rewarding and personally successful when I could learn a formula, keep it stored away and use it forever after. Now that I am in the Education program, however, I understand that being a memorizer only can be a huge disadvantage for a student. And that is why I am so glad that I see the future curricula reflecting a hands-on, inquiry approach to learning. I hope that the educational system puts a stop to making children believe that they cannot be successful in their academic career unless they can remember tables and formulae. Learning through personal discovery and question posing is much more beneficial because it is realistic.

So while I may have found my Grade 10 Physics project of self-designed, balloon-propelled cars the most difficult and useless thing in my high school career, I now look back as a future educator, and applaud my teacher for incorporating (and still continuing to incorporate – much to my younger sister’s chagrin, I guess her opinion on the assignment was similar to mine) this lesson in his introductory Physics unit because it allows the students to fiddle with their cars and notice what improves or impedes their cars’ success.

Personally, I found this project so angering because there was no right answer or steps to follow in order to get to the desired outcome, something that school taught me would, 99% of the time, work! It went against my learning style, which, so far, has allowed me to achieve lots of success as a student! However, I am constantly wishing that I were a tinkerer and an iron-willed problem solver who won’t stop until a solution has been discovered. Unfortunately, though, I just got frustrated with the project and eventually gave up (I know, not a good example to be putting out there, but I figure honesty is the best policy). As a future educator, though, I hope to put an end to a generation of young thinkers who can succeed by merely memorizing (which, admittedly, in some cases and subjects, is required). I want my students to learn through their own mistakes. As the article so eloquently puts it,

Introducing kids to the engineering process – having them start again and fix the mistakes – at that age is much easier because they haven’t yet developed a fear of failure.

-Monica Foss, Instructor, Spring 2013, “STEM: Everyday

Engineering,”¬†Page 41

This really rang true for me because, as a student, I would always dread to give the wrong answer when a teacher called on me. Students are so afraid of getting the wrong answer that they are losing the opportunity to learn through their failed attempts! I hope to foster an environment where mistakes are okay, and even encouraged, in order to work towards the right answer!

In closing, I hope to use lots of these hands-on, engineering/building activities with my students in order to give them a chance to learn real-world principles on a smaller scale. I know that using the arts in my classroom will be easy to do, because I have a connection with them, but I also want my classroom to be a nurturing environment for the world’s future engineers, scientists, mathematicians and technological gurus!