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Posts Tagged ‘blocks’

The year I taught a combined grade 1 and 2 was so rewarding for me as I documented the progress and learning of the class and in particular a few students who were struggling. There were doubts when colleagues saw the room set up with centres such as blocks, reading, art studio and a doll house (for grade 2’s!). Then there were questioning parents at the end of September asking, “When is my child going to learn?” The month of September was just community building and learning the independence of centres in the afternoon after a morning of literacy and math. Of course there were times for direct teaching and group lessons around Science and Social Studies, but they were brief. Appropriate for the age group. Then the students were able to apply their learning and questioning during centre time. They were accountable by having a plan of what they wanted to work on – such as building bridges in the block centre or depicting the energy of the sun in the art studio. At the end of the day we would gather on the carpet and students had time to share what they created or discovered. I would record their findings on large paper – the “knowledge building” session – and we would decide to add resources to our Inquiry Board for other students to learn from.

I put the findings from the documentation together in an article – it was published last year in The Canadian Association for Young Children journal (Fall 2013). I am attaching the PDF version as I think it provides a good example of the process from September to June. It is also demonstrates how centres in a Primary classroom allow for differentiated learning and the Hundred Languages. Board_CCFall2013

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As I mentioned previously, this is a newly acquired space for Kindergarten. Unfortunately,the environment has to evolve and develop while resources and time becomes available. There are many details and layers to add as I work with the children, but the following photos document the most basic changes to an area as it has changed in the last two months.

The building blocks are an integral part of the Full-Day Kindergarten program. In September, I was provided with a large library book bin to hold blocks. When the big blocks arrived I placed them in the bin, and the children used the carpet to build on.

 

The box lasted about two weeks. The taller children were able to reach inside and access the blocks, but some of them were dangling from the sides and I envisioned them falling head first as they were independently attempting to use the blocks. So, I moved the bin out of the classroom and rethought the space. There are built in shelves under the window that I could use to hold the blocks. So this was the second major change for the building area.

 

This new area was beside the math centre. There was no clear divider, so I would need to find a unit to define the areas. The blocks were now visible to the children and at their level to see and access easily. I observed the children as they used the area and I noticed that their space was smaller, but they were working more collaboratively with the same number of students. To anchor the space and make it more inviting, I searched for a carpet that would fit the space.

After asking friends (which they are used to) for a carpet they were no longer in need of, my friend provided me with a great carpet. It fit the space, and the colours of black, green, and beige were neutral to fit with the materials. I then moved a small bookcase to use as a shelving unit for the math centre, and the back of the unit defines the space for the building area. There is a basket of clipboards that will be introduced soon to encourage drawings of plans and finished products. There are also baskets for recycled materials (paper towel tubes and boxes) that can be incorporated into the builds. The children also often use manipulatives such as cubes and counters to integrate with their structures. The biggest change I noticed after adding the carpet was that girls were selecting the building centre more than previously. The carpet provided comfort to an inviting space.

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To continue from the last post about our inquiry including structures, I thought I would share some images that show an example of the process of learning in the Grade 1/2 classroom. There is a walking bridge close to the school that all the children were familiar with, so I asked them how the structure was supported from one side of the ravine to the other. There were various replies, but most students agreed that there were posts holding it up. So we all walked to the ravine with our journals and to their surprise there were no posts! So I asked the children to simply observe and record their ideas about the structure. When we returned to class there was excitement over their discoveries. We took time looking at various representations that they drew and noticed many details in the construction. The children commented on the materials and also the purpose of the design. For days (even weeks), many of the students used blocks to reconstruct the bridge from one chair to another, trying to build a bridge with supports on each end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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johnaleslietdsb

Our Inquiry Journey

The Third Teacher

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Inquiring Minds: Mrs. Myers' Kindergarten

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leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry