hands on is, hands down, the way to go

Internship is drawing (very quickly!) to a close – only four days left 😦  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

Advertisements

medicine wheel patterns = huge hit

Updates: I just finished my 8th week with the students. I currently teach from the beginning of the morning until recess (9-10:20), put out invitations for centre time (11:10-11:40), cover Book Look/Word of the Day and Math (12:45-1:45 ish) and do end of the day/library routines (2:45-3:30). Next week, I pick up Phys Ed (1:45-2:30) and the week after, I start my 3 week block of full time teaching.

Here are some of the highlights from my week:

Treaty Ed = loving it!

My Treaty Ed infused lessons have been my absolute favourite so far in my internship (which makes me even more excited to attend the Treaty Ed Camp in Regina on November 7th – check out the event and register here). Both of my lessons (on Promises and the Medicine Wheel) turned out to be not only my best lessons content-wise but the students also loved them! This week, we learned about the Medicine Wheel and its four quadrants. We then placed the four elements, four seasons, and four stages of life into the correct quadrant. Then we made a Medicine Wheel with our bodies (and some coloured sweaters) and stood up/sat down as our quadrant’s season, colour, stage of life, or element was said. This lesson was so cool and the students were so engaged and into it – they really soaked up the Medicine Wheel quadrants and teachings!

We learned that the four quadrants can stand for the four seasons, the four elements, and the four stages of life (among other things!).

We learned that the four quadrants can stand for the four seasons, the four elements, and the four stages of life (among other things!).

We made a Medicine Wheel with our classmates! When I called one quadrant's colour, season, element, or stage of life, they stood up! This made a pattern.

We made a Medicine Wheel with our classmates! When I called one quadrant’s colour, season, element, or stage of life, they stood up! This made a pattern.

Phys Ed = such a struggle for me

Next week, I pick up Phys Ed full time and, if I am being completely honest, this is definitely a worry for me. I find Phys Ed to be the hardest subject area to manage (and unlike the older grades, we have it slotted in every single day – which is great for this age group but difficult for me). I know lots of teachers just see Phys Ed as ‘filler’ time and they don’t really look at the curriculum, but this is a goal of mine. I will be doing the manipulative skills unit on sending and receiving, and am excited, but nervous. I think this will definitely be a growth area for my 3 week block and I hope to have my cooperating teacher in during this time to observe me and offer tips for success. The redeeming thing about Phys Ed, however, is that the kids love this time of the day no matter what we do, so at least they will be excited and engaged (sometimes they are just a little bit TOO excited).

EYE testing = time off of teaching

I have finished up the daunting task of EYE tests this week – hooray! The scores are ready to input. Doing this testing gave me some time off of teaching the whole class and to spend one-on-one time with students. However, I found that it definitely made my day feel longer. I really do love being in the classroom with the whole group dynamic of a classroom. I understand that one-on-one testing is part of a teacher’s job description, but I wouldn’t say that it is my favourite. It seems so much more drawn out and stilted than the fast pace of classroom goings-on.

Disruptive students = I want to help, but don’t know what to do

Last week, I was feeling strong and on top of the world, teaching wise. This week felt like much more of a struggle. I think it is partially because I am picking up classes and noticing how much harder it is to handle the students for an entire day, rather than one hour. Also, I hope that this is because my pedagogy has improved and I am, thus, harder on myself and more critical/expect more.

I am feeling especially frustrated at the end of the day with one group of students, as one in particular ends up sitting apart from the class during some portions of the day since he cannot participate in group instruction at the Story Corner without disrupting the learning of others. I discussed this with my coop teacher, and she reassured me that this is an acceptable action for this student (she does this herself), as he is not learning when he is disruptive, and neither are his classmates around him, so it is just better to remove him from the group. However, this really goes against my teaching philosophy and I feel that I should be doing more to help this student be successful during group instructional time. I am additionally frustrated for my students who are doing what is asked and are wanting and ready to learn but can’t because I have to spend so much energy disciplining and attempting to manage this little learner. To attempt to aid this problem, I have brainstormed a list of possible solutions and strategies to help this student be more successful in the coming weeks – fingers crossed!

Outdoor Explorations = chaotic, but meaningful, learning

Also this week, I did another Treaty Ed/Math lesson where students went outside to gather natural materials to make patterns with. I was so nervous to take my students outside (as we had a sub that day, and she encouraged me to take the students out on my own); at first, I did head counts about every 30 seconds to make sure no one would wander off. I was thoroughly impressed by my students, though. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. They were excited and eager to gather materials. We ended up collecting rocks, sticks, leaves, pinecones, and a few too many ladybugs got into the mix as well. Here are some pictures of my little nature explorers:

Rocks were a popular (and heavy) natural item.

Rocks were a popular (and heavy) natural item.

Picking some grass and green plants growing near the fence.

Picking some grass and green plants growing near the fence.

Getting dressed and undressed to go outside didn't take nearly as long as I originally thought!

Getting dressed and undressed to go outside didn’t take nearly as long as I originally thought!

Making patterns

Making patterns

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 7.16.02 PM

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 7.16.12 PM

Some students liked their nature patterns so much, they asked to take them home in their Ziploc bags. I was thrilled. We also briefly touched on the HCK outcome in Treaty Ed by talking about how we use natural items to suit our needs and how First Nations people thank nature whenever they take something (ex. by leaving tobacco, a special plant, behind). I asked the class how we could possibly say “Thank You” to nature for letting us take some of its items for our use, and one student suggested we leave behind something of ours that is very special to us – how sweet! We ended up just whispering “Thank You” as we picked something up that we liked. I definitely could have gone deeper into this part of the lesson, but students were already afternoon-antsy and wanting to get outside, so we skimmed over this portion of the lesson more than I would have liked. Hopefully we can touch on this again in the future.

Faculty Advisor visits = participation rather than observation

My faculty advisor came for her second visit this week, which went well I am happy to say! I was especially tickled when she asked to participate in my lesson rather than sitting at the back of the room, disengaged and taking notes. I think that this is such a benefit for her, as so much of the learning in Kindergarten is happening through playing and exploring, not just lecture and teacher instruction. It makes me feel like I am doing a good job of making an engaging classroom when she wants to participate in the lesson alongside the students – which is what Kindergarten is really all about!

Week 8, I am both relieved and saddened that you are over. Here’s to an even better Week #9!

-KKF

Oh, P.S., we also painted lady bug rocks this week (which was a fun, yet super hectic experience for me to manage!). They turned out very cute and were part of an emergent curriculum/inquiry project we did after students found lady bugs outside and were fascinated. Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 7.31.37 PM

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 7.31.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-24 at 7.31.55 PM

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. 🙂


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:

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.29.41 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.30.05 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.30.19 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 7.03.41 PM

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

patterns and promises, patterns and promises

The past two days have been a whirlwind in the Kindergarten world. Today was school pictures, which meant that, for the first time, I got to see all 30 of my students in one day! Things went surprisingly smooth, considering one class of K’s didn’t even have regular school today and had to come to the school specifically to get their pictures done.

My pattern unit in Math is progressing extremely well. I am so impressed with how quickly my students have caught on to the concepts and how easily they can spot patterns around them in their daily lives. I was tickled pink when a student came up to me at Meet the Teacher night on Monday and told me she found a pattern in her bedroom at home – it’s great when students are interested in what you are teaching them OUTSIDE of the school walls.

The latest lesson we did was all about manipulatives! I set up three different centres for students to rotate through, at which they copied a pattern using different types of objects around the classroom. The hands-on work was obviously a good fit, as the students had minimal problems staying on task or doing their assigned jobs. I was preparing myself for the students to be distracted and disruptive, but they were focused and showed effort. I really enjoyed this type of lesson – it was lively and fun for myself and the students! “Never a dull moment” is becoming a theme for my internship – and I love it!

Here are a few photos I snapped:

Making small, big, small, big patterns with buttons.

Making small, big, small, big patterns with buttons.

Cut up construction paper is a cheap, quick, and easy way to make patterns. The students made a more complicated pattern with these: orange, orange, yellow, purple.

Cut up construction paper is a cheap, quick, and easy way to make patterns. The students made a more complicated pattern with these: orange, orange, yellow, purple.

Students copied patterns with whiteboards. One thing I didn't anticipate was students having trouble with drawing triangles. Note to self: Only use very simple and easy shapes, like circles, lines, X's, crosses, smiley faces, etc.

Students copied patterns with whiteboards. One thing I didn’t anticipate was students having trouble with drawing triangles. Note to self: Only use very simple and easy shapes, like circles, lines, X’s, crosses, smiley faces, etc.

Here is a copy of my lesson plan: Lesson3Pattern

A big realization I had this week is that I need to let go of my mental image of an ideal, perfect classroom. After teaching this lesson for the first time, I felt that it was rather chaotic. When reflecting on my lesson with my cooperating teacher, she kindly pointed out that it was a successful lesson and that “this is what Kindergarten looks like.” She is absolutely right – Kindergarten is messy, and noisy, and all-over-the-place, and full of hands-on exploration. It can definitely look and feel like chaos, but as long as meaningful learning is taking place (which I have discovered is pretty much ALWAYS happening), you have to let go of the idea that all of the students will sit nicely at their desks and do exactly as you originally pictured. This is one of the best things about Kindergarten – I am always surprised at what students will bring to the table and how differently they will view a lesson than I do.

It is going to be a continued learning experience for me as I keep being introduced to what exactly a Kindergarten class looks like.

Also this week, I covered a lesson that I am extremely proud of and excited about: a Treaty Ed/Social Studies crossover all about Promises. Here is the lesson plan: PromisesLesson

I was extremely impressed with how well the K’s watched the video book (link here – “The Promise” read online) and discussed its main elements in detail. They had a much deeper conversation than I expected going in. They also sat for an extended period of time in the talking circle – maybe this was increased stamina due to a change of scenery (sitting in a circle versus all facing one way)?

The students then made their own promises that would help to keep our classroom a safe and happy place. They then illustrated them. Here are a few samples:

books promise

follow rules promise

What a cute (and smart) promise!

What a cute (and smart) promise!

play w friends promise

Notice the cowboy hats - too cute!

Notice the cowboy hats – too cute!

Today, the students went outside for Phys Ed (as the photographer was in the gymnasium). They soon noticed an abundance of lady bugs and, in true Kindergarten fashion, we quickly grabbed some handy bug houses to collect them in. Emergent curriculum makes its first appearance in my internship: we are going to have an observation centre and a KWL/mini-inquiry lesson on lady bugs tomorrow! All I have to say is: Thank goodness for teacher librarians! We let her know (at the end of the school day) that we were looking for books about lady bugs and not too long after, she magically appears in our room with several options (fiction and non-fiction to boot!). I will be sure to snap lots of pictures and post about our lady bug inquiry soon.

Until then,

-KKF

give me 5’s

It’s amazing how many little activity ideas I come up with when I’m in the shower. Is this anyone else’s place for thinking? Anyways, this is what my shampoo rinse routine gave me today:

Learning to count to 100 by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s is an important math skill that is worked on early in elementary school. I thought up a fun way to help kids learn their ‘counting by 5’s’ and it is called Give Me 5’s!

The common expression “give me 5” refers to a high five, and I thought this would be a fun activity to incorporate into a math lesson on counting.

I picture this activity with a big hundreds chart at the front of the room and maybe even some smaller ones for the students. Basically, the gist of it is giving a high five every time you say a multiple of five. It would go like this:

5 *high five* 10 *high five* 15 *high five* 20 *high five* and so on and so forth.

You could mix this up in a lot of ways. After you have explained the activity to the students, you could practice with them sitting in their desks facing you. They will all count out loud with you and give an air high five to you as you say the multiples. After they get the hang of it, you can get them to go into partners or small groups and do different combinations. For example:

1. Count to ___ using your right hand/left hand only.

2. Count to ___ using both hands.

3. Count to ___ using alternating hands.

4. Count to ___ using your feet!

5. Make up your own body part to count with.

6. Clap your own hands once and then your partner’s for each alternating multiple of 5.

7. Stamp your feet, jump, spin, etc, for each multiple!

(There are so many variations you could use with this activity. It’s always nice when you can get kids moving during math!)

You could also mix it up by having slips of paper they could draw that had differing values they had to count to (15, 40, 75, etc.) so they weren’t counting all way to 100 every time. This also helps them find different multiples.

Another more advanced idea (that is a bit of a bridge into multiplication) is having one partner count up by fives and the other count how many high fives it took to get to a certain multiple. For 20, one partner would could 5, 10, 15, 20 and the other would count 1, 2, 3, 4 high fives to get to 20! You could get them to draw different numbers and record how many high fives it took them to get to that number each time.

Have fun and high five for having fun in math class! 🙂