Tag Archives: Education

Bringing Inquiry To the Next Level

This is the part that’s not always easy.

My students find something that they’re into. Because they’re 4, 5 and 6 years old, they get really into it. I get into the fact that they’re into it, and (admittedly) go a little overboard – everything that we do touches on that interest. As soon as I get super enthusiastic about something, they must sense it – my desperation to hold onto this inquiry, my longing that it turns into something great must be palpable – and they move on to something else. I feel a sense of sadness, because after all, I worked so hard on making this inquiry “the inquiry“, and poured so much of myself into it, and now it’s all over. But every time, I decide that, as Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote, “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it,” and make up my mind to go for it again, with that new thing that they’re into. And so the cycle continues. But I’ve learned that pushing inquiry is not my job. As I stood back, and watched inquiries grow with very minimal involvement on my part, I began to realize something: my job is not to push inquiry … it’s to facilitate it.

Facilitating inquiry can mean many, many different things. Continue reading Bringing Inquiry To the Next Level

Documentation in the Digital Age

When coming from intermediate, junior and even primary grades into kindergarten, one really has to check what their expectation of “work” means. As teachers, we’re so used to children being able to express themselves through writing that it is easy to imagine what you’re going to grade. The kindergarten program, though … you need to get really creative. Giving a test? A project? Not really a thing in kindergarten.

My expectations for assessment have gone out the window since arriving in the kindergarten program. Anecdotal evidence has become my thing. Everything that the kids do is accompanied by my notes on what they did. But what can that look like in kindergarten?

Well, last year, it culminated in a lot of paper notes. I made quick and easy charts and wrote everything that the kids were saying. My teaching partner and I would sit down together at the end of the day and compare notes, and discuss what the kids had been learning about. By February, though, I had discovered that that was probably not the most effective use of the talents that I have, which is that I’m pretty techy – I began experimenting with a variety of apps (and really loved Sesame Snap), but hadn’t really gotten it down by June. So when I got a new kindergarten classroom this year, and found out that I was going to be running it all by myself, without an early childhood educator, I had to buckle down and rethink the way that I look at documentation.

I had to start by thinking: what is the most effective way that I can document? To really come down to that, though, I considered a few thing: first of all, I’m not exactly a quick writer, and found that I was struggling to really to quote the students directly because I couldn’t keep up with how quickly they spoke; second of all, my school board is moving towards using Google Apps for Education, and I wanted to join in on the fun; I also needed to find the quickest and most effective way to organize all of this documentation in a way that would make it easy for me to not only find it, but reflect on it and share it with parents; and finally, I’m pretty technically inclined, so why not use that to my advantage? Continue reading Documentation in the Digital Age

I’ve Been Neglectful …

Last year, I was a member of an early learning kindergarten team at A.B. Ellis Public School in Espanola, Ontario. Did I love it? You bet I did. Those wonderful little kindergartners were my pride and joy for nine months, and I feel like I’ve come out of the experience as a stronger, more resourceful and more capable teacher. With that new adventure though, I didn’t use the blog the way that I normally did, because I wanted to wait until I found a good way to use it that would benefit myself, my kindergartners, and their parents, but I never did quite get there, and so, for a year, I neglected my little blog. But boy, was there enough in early learning kindergarten to keep me busy. Getting to know the inquiry program that the ELK model is based on was phenomenal, and I feel like I’m taking all of that with me along to my new adventure in Grade 1.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. And just like I used to feel when I was a kid, I have butterflies in my stomach. I have no doubt that the 17 children that I meet tomorrow are going to be inspiring, original and fun, but rather, worry about making sure that I can be the kind of teacher that these children need. I’ve spent the last several weeks getting everything ready for the classroom, and I know that the classroom looks fantastic. I hope it feels as homey as I want it to. I hope that by lunchtime, the students and I feel like long lost friends, and begin to build up the rapport that is so necessary for classroom families to begin to function.

I know that tomorrow is going to be a great day, and the butterflies in my stomach represent how anxious I am for it to begin. I always feel this way at the beginning of the year, and I think that’s a good thing – I think it keeps me on my toes, and I think it keeps me sharp, but most importantly, I think it keeps me striving to always do better. And I want to do better for these kids.

I’m looking at this as a continuation from last year. Last year, I spent the last three months in small guided groups with my senior kindergartners getting them to a place where grade one would feel like an exciting adventure. Tomorrow, I pick up that gauntlet with a new group of children, but it’s the same idea – these kids are excited for the next part of their education, and I’m excited to guide them through grade 1. Together, we’re going to keep their inquiring minds open, because those inquiring minds were some of the most amazing things I saw come out of an early learning kindergarten classroom. Together, we’re going to take all of the wonderful strategies that they learned in their early learning kindergarten classroom, and we’re going to adapt them to our new grade 1 setting. Together, we’re going to learn from one another, as we embark on this new adventure together.

I can’t wait.

Learn To Read Chinese

I wish that this was a possibility with French characters. I’ll have to wrack my brain this summer to come up with a comparison, because I honestly think that her method of putting images to characters is so genius, and can only be beneficial, especially to my more visual learners. If anybody figures out a way, feel free to send your ideas my way! In the mean time, enjoy this really great TED talk.