starting patterns and centres so far

Last week, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Regina for a 3 day Internship Seminar for interns and cooperating teachers. That meant only 2 days in the classroom with the students. I ended up seeing some of my students on Friday evening at the school football game and got a chorus of “I misted you!”‘s. While I enjoyed the Internship Seminar and learned a lot (as well as enjoyed time with like-minded adult company), three days without seeing my students was hard! What is especially hard (I found out this week) is coming back to your students after they have had a teacher and a change of pace in the classroom. I have definitely felt extra tired after the past two days – you have to refocus your students and reacquaint them with your routines and expectations.

Today was my first, truly formal lesson and the first in my planned Math unit on Patterns. I introduced the concept of patterns to the students and did a few examples (both by wearing a striped shirt and talking about how the colours of the stripes repeated over and over again, and by pointing to items in patterns I had drawn on chart paper). Then I had the students create patterns with themselves. We made three patterns – dark hair/light hair, hands up/hands down by sides, and boy/girl. The students really enjoyed this kinaesthetic activity! They were also eager to point out patterns on their clothing and in the classroom – I was impressed with how quickly they picked up the concept! I think this will be a very fun unit and am excited for all of the hands-on work I have planned.

My PDP target today was to quickly and effectively manage disruptive and/or off-task students. I started out by teaching the students the Quiet Coyote hand signal (see below – your hand makes a face that looks like a Coyote). This caught on very well! Some of my blurting repeat offenders responded especially well to this strategy – bonus!

Quiet Coyote has his mouth closed and his ears open. I show this to interruptive students.

Quiet Coyote has his mouth closed and his ears open. I show this to interruptive students.

For a busy class, I was very pleased with how well I kept them under control and calm. The lesson, as a whole, was a success and I thought my management was, for the most part, quick and effective. Next time, I am going to work on strategic seating of particular students who may cause disruptions. I also need to tighten up on my management of blurting when students have something relevant to add to the conversation. I have such a hard time telling students to stop when they are adding useful comments to the lesson. This means that I have to remind blurters that, in order to contribute to the discussion, they must do it the right way (by raising their hand and waiting to be called on). I am doing the same lesson and PDP target tomorrow with the other group of students, so I am interested to see how my management will differ between the two groups.

Finally, I just wanted to post a few pictures of the invitations I have done so far:

A full view of my Garden centre. I hid bugs in the soil for students to find, name, sort, count, etc.

A full view of my Garden centre. I hid bugs in the soil for students to find, name, sort, count, etc.

Garden 2 Garden 1

I made a Still Life invitation for Arts Ed. We discussed that Still Lifes are drawings of things that don't move (like flowers, fruit, bowls, etc.).

I made a Still Life invitation for Arts Ed. We discussed that Still Lifes are drawings of things that don’t move (like flowers, fruit, bowls, etc.).

Still Life 2

I included some pictures of famous Still Lifes, like Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”

This invitation was a set of Sensory Bins focusing on the 4 seasons.

This invitation was a set of Sensory Bins focusing on the 4 seasons.

I thought this one turned out really well - I love the colours in fall!

I thought this one turned out really well – I love the colours in fall!

Students seemed to really enjoy this centre - they did a great job of sorting the items in the bin.

Students seemed to really enjoy this centre – they did a great job of sorting the items in the bin.

You can't really tell, but I put fake grass on the bottom of this bin and also added in a few bugs.

You can’t really tell, but I put fake grass on the bottom of this bin and also added in a few bugs.

This centre was great because it had natural and real sand. But it was also the messiest!

This centre was great because it the natural material of real sand from the playground. But it was also the messiest!

I also did a centre all about Self Portraits. Each of my students drew their self portrait - they ended up adorable!

I also did a centre all about Self Portraits. Each of my students drew their self portrait – they ended up adorable!

When I first found out I was placed in Kindergarten, I was a bit worried that I would miss out on planning typical lessons in all of the subject areas, as a majority of the subjects in Kindergarten is covered through invitations rather than whole class lessons. However, my faculty advisor really helped to turn my outlook around – she said that K is one of the few grades that has a more holistic and integrated approach to the curriculum. Invitations are all hands-on and experiential – which is an excellent way for students, especially young ones, to learn! I am really enjoying the invitations part of planning; I never know exactly what students will bring to the table in regards to previous knowledge and I am always surprised at the things students do with the materials that I would not have thought of. The open-ended nature of invitations offers constant surprise!

I cannot believe that I already have FOUR weeks of internship under my belt. After teaching a few times, attending my internship seminar, and getting to know my co-op/students better, I am getting very excited to take on more parts of the day as I gear up towards my three week block of full time teaching. I also know that the rest of internship will continue to fly by in the same fashion, so I am doing my best to remember to soak up all of the little moments. Luckily, Kindergarten offers lots of hugs, laughs, and smiles. I cannot help but feel so lucky to be a part of my lovely students’ lives for four months.

Until next time,

-KKF

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kindergarten: a whole new world

We had another four day week this past week, due to Labor Day being on Monday. I have to say, it was rather nice to have two four-day weeks with the students – really ease the teachers into it after summer break! All of the students in our two lovely little classes came together for our first full-sized class days this week. I have to say, I am absolutely loving this age – Kindergarten is “a whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew.” (Can I say that on here? – COPYRIGHT goes to Disney!)

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The students have so much love to give and are SO. STINKIN’. CUTE! They are energetic, inquisitive, playful, funny, adorable… The list goes on and on. I love that K allows teachers flexibility in instructional methods – especially the fact that so much learning can be done in a student-centred approach using hands-on exploratory stations at centre time.

This week was my first crack at doing “invitations” (or centres). I definitely learned a lot about managing them – on the first day, I had out 3 at once and quickly realized that I had to jump all over the place to document students’ learning in photograph form. This was NOT productive. The kids hop from centre to centre at such a fast rate, that I felt I was missing so many great learning moments. Thus, after a conversation with my co-op teacher, I decided to just have one centre the subsequent days. I would then sit at that centre and ask key questions to dig a little deeper into the subject matter with students. This also allowed me to have more focused documentation and more closely follow each students’ interaction with the centre.

This week, I decided to have out a gardening centre. I was astounded at some of the information my students were able to give regarding insects, soil, and gardens. Some of the best quotes:

Q: What do bugs do in the garden? “They eat things and squirm around.”

“‘Gardener‘ snakes live in the garden.”

“It’s a worm. Their home is in the dirt. They dig it up.”

“Worms love living in the garden. The dig up the soil and help the flowers grow.”

Student A: “What is this?” Student B: “I think it’s a butterfly.”

I definitely see theory coming into practice in terms of “students have lots of pre-acquired knowledge from their home lives” and “students are capable learners.” I was so impressed with my students’ knowledge. Here are a few pics of them digging in the dirt.

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This little guy showed some great Math skills at a Science centre. This was even before I put out bug counting mats with numbers.

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This little girl, and one other, were great soil detectives! They noticed different particles in the soil itself (round white pieces, light and dark brown pieces, etc.).

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Students already knew what a magnifying glass was, that it was made out of a breakable material, and how to use it! Wow!

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Using the bug counting mat the next day

This week, I also led our daily routines of Calendar/Weather/Leader time on Thursday and Friday. I really like this part of the day – it incorporates so many life skills and curriculum areas! The students are each given a job while we go over the day’s date, days of the week, months of the year, rhyming poems and songs, the day’s weather, classmate’s names, counting (numbers), colours, letters of the alphabet, girls and boys in the class, and leaders sharing their ‘secret item,’ which their peers have to guess. It is a action-packed morning full of routine and structure. I will post a detailed schedule of these routines at a later date.

I also taught a brief math lesson on Taller and Shorter, and a Phys Ed lesson. These both went well also. I am excited to actually start some regular lessons when I begin my Math unit in Patterns next Monday! I am busy planning that as of late and am happy to say that it has a large emphasis on manipulatives and hands-on activities.

Also this week, I attended two volleyball practices and one game. I am helping out with the Jr Girls (Gr 7-9) and Sr Boys (Gr 10-12) volleyball teams and couldn’t be more excited! It is so wonderful to go from playing a sport and loving it, to sharing that passion with others in an effort to help them develop their skills. I also had a chance to make “Raiderade,” the school’s extra-special, homemade beverage reminiscent of Booster Juice, and named after the school team name: Raiders. Members of the staff and student body meet on a regular basis, either before or after school, just to blend up frozen fruit, yogurt, and fruit juice to make amazing concoctions that are sold to the school population, community members, and visitors during sports games and tournaments. I could not believe the huge amount of dedication that this act involves – one of the teachers on staff makes regular trips into Saskatoon to purchase all of the supplies (in one day alone, a group of about 8 people make over 350 cups of Raiderade). The delicious drinks are then sold for $3 a piece, and make the school a huge amount of money. Davidson has not had to have magazine campaigns in years due to the success of Raiderade.

In only 3 weeks of internship, I could not believe just how much extra work educators and school staff take on simply to keep the school running smoothly and successfully. Aside from planning for and teaching 15-25 children at a time, teachers also run sports teams and extracurricular clubs, make schedules and arrange drivers, work in the canteen, spend time communicating with parents, organize/decorate/clean their classroom, go to school council meetings, and spend time with their own families, among countless other things! I think this conversation with one of my fellow interns sums up our thoughts on teacher dedications and commitment (I am the blue messages):

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My choice of future career is reaffirmed each day. I am so excited looking into my future and realizing that no two days will ever be the same, and that I can continually keep challenging myself and growing as an educator, even after 20+ years! I think this is why teaching attracts some of the finest people in the world: it is challenging beyond description, and often mostly thankless and unnoticed, behind-the-scenes work that is constantly changing, demanding, and never-ending. Yet teachers will continue to put their best foot forward and a smile on their face for the students that they strive to inspire, motivate, and teach each day. I think that is truly a magical feat.

-KKF

P.S. My 3 day internship orientation seminar is in Regina next week. I am excited to be back in the capital city (after all, it has been my home for 3 years) and see some of my friends who are embarking on their own internship adventures! I am also happy to be learning more about my role as an intern, and the expectations for my growth and progress through this amazing journey. This is also a chance for my co-op teacher and I to polish a contract for our professional relationship during these 4 months. More soon, I promise!