Tag Archives: Ontario 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

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.

Celebrating the Olympics

Every four years, our country celebrates the Winter Olympics like mad. It’s a little tougher, given the time zone difference, but it’s one that will be exciting, anyway. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get the kids involved, while still learning in French. And so, three-way task: reading comprehension, writing, and presenting. Continue reading Celebrating the Olympics

Teaching Kids To Read a Second Language

Last week, I had my first really big ‘a-ha!’ moment. As a group, we learned to read. And we did this by understanding Les mots amis.

Les mots amis are, in a basic translation, Word Friends. A mot ami is a word in French that you recognize as being incredibly similar to an English word. So similar, in fact, that you can figure out the French word based on the definition that you know of the word in English. So, to try and figure out the texts that we were reading, we broke them up in chunks, and paragraphs. Just a little bit at a time. We read a text that had to do with Remembrance Day – a big text, that I’ve actually used before in French Immersion. We then spent time, breaking down paragraph by paragraph, and highlighted all of the words that were familiar to us. Something like what you see below:

In green, words that are familiar to the students are highlighted. In yellow, "Word Friends" are highlighted.
In green, words that are familiar to the students are highlighted. In yellow, “Word Friends” are highlighted.

Continue reading Teaching Kids To Read a Second Language