Monday, 22 September 2014

All About ME!

"In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it." 
Simon Nicholson, Architect  

During the first month of school, our goal as educators is to learn more about the students we will be working with over the year. In addition to completing assessments, interviews, and observations of the students during play, we set up a provocation or invitation to learn "about me." 

The above invitation to learn, includes circular bases which act as a canvas for creating self-portraits out of loose-parts. Wooden bowls hold various loose-parts such as buttons, gems, yarn and beads, and mirrors are to encourage students to look closely at the various features of their faces. A word wall specific to "self-portraits" and clipboards also help students to add detail to their work and allow them the opportunity to draw and write about what they create. Finally, a book relating to the provocation is added and would be shared during a group read-aloud to offer another way to connect the students to the invitation. Once the provocation is set up, the educator would choose a time in the day to sit and observe what the students do with the materials. 

The first student to visit this provocation sat down and looked in the mirror. She then began to place buttons on the circular base. She placed two at the top, side-by-side, another one underneath, and some along the bottom, resembling a face. I asked "What are you making?" The student points to her face with both hands and exclaims "face!" She begins adding buttons around the circle and points to her hair. Upon completion of her self-portrait, the student is invited to draw what she created. 


Another students' process was captured on video. This student independently decided "I want to draw what I made" when she finished creating her self-portrait. 

If we take time to slow down, observe, and record what students are saying, doing, and representing through purposefully planned play activities, we can learn so much from them and about them! 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Welcome to Room 9!

As I begin my fifth year in Full-Day Kindergarten, I am blessed to have been given a space that truly acts as the Third Educator for our youngest learners. The beautiful FDK extension that was built over the last year was ready to welcome our kindergarten students- both old and new this past week. My goal was to create an environment that would offer our students the freedom to explore based on their interests and needs, the ability to self-regulate through the space, and the independence to access materials as needed. I eagerly awaited their arrival to see how they would navigate through the space-  What would work well? What would I change? What would I add or remove?


The self-regulated snack area is new for me this year. Although I offered students the choice to eat when they were hungry in previous years, I had never dedicated a space to eating. Over the last week, students have been eating snack throughout the morning as they feel hungry. With reminders from myself or my teaching partner, they have been doing a great job at waiting for a spot to free up around the table.

The reading area complete with real logs, a carpet, "reading buddy bears" and books about school, is a great space for students to relax, rest, and read when they want some down time during a busy day. This space has been popular with the students during the first week of school, especially after lunch recess. 

Our creative area, equipped with pencils, crayons, markers, paper, scissors, glue, alphabet cards, dictionaries, "how to draw" books, and other writing materials, fills up quickly with students creations. The large space allows for ten students to create at one time, with ample space to spread out and share the materials as needed. The materials are organized by type of material and colour, and the students have been amazing at keeping them organized all week!

The building area is always under construction in our classroom! Using natural materials such as logs, wood, pinecones, and cork, the students plan and build elaborate structures all day long.

Our drama centre is currently set up as a kitchen and students were quick to incorporate loose parts from around the room to mix up in the pots and pans. The area was also intentionally set up close to the creative area so that writing materials are readily available to them. They were excited to use the post-it notes and pencils to record each other's food orders this week!

This year we have added a carpet to the math area in order for students to have a large space to explore the math manipulatives. The shelves are currently filled with materials to support children in counting and one-to-one correspondence, as well as measuring big and small. Having added the carpet on the third day of school, I already see a difference in how the students interact with the materials, compared to using them at a table. It is a great addition to our room!

This is the area where we gather for whole group activities. The students have been doing an excellent job at "showing five" at the carpet. We have been reading stories, playing games, singing songs, and sharing our learning through community circles throughout the week. 

"We need to think about creating classroom environments that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery, and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children's inherent curiosity and innate yearning for exploration is a classroom where children are passionate about learning and love school." 
Heard & McDonough