Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Language experience + writing = Amazing!

So......after an amazing PD a couple of months ago, I was determined to bring some more language experience into my classroom. A thought that has consumed me since this PD is one that suggests we expect children's language to develop throughout their first year of school, yet the model of the Early Years is that of independent, focused and quiet work.......if we don't allow our children to use the language, how are they going to develop it?

As it was nearing the end of Autumn and we were discussing the letter 'L' in our classroom, we spent the morning singing and reading about, looking at and creating with leaves! A quick search in YouTube inevitably returns some fantastic fun songs to introduce the topic with. We read a picture book about leaves and then talked about different types of leaves, why the change colour and drop off the trees in Autumn. Following that we went for a walk outside where we found so many different types of leaves! The kids loved finding 'evergreen' and 'deciduos' trees and collected many leaves along the way.

Some keen eyes even found some leaves that made their way into permanent status! Obviously it was a windy day when the concrete was laid in this part of the school! The kids were fascinated by the impressions that the leaves made in the concrete....I was impressed by the kids keen eyes!

Lots of leaves...leaves lots of mess!

Following that we came back inside and created some amazing pictures with our leaves! The kids were happily chatting away about trees and leaves. This lead perfectly into our writing and the results were amazing....the kids produced some of the best writing they had all year. Writing about something that is familiar and something they have 'done' is so much easier for them. to ponder what langage experience fun can we have this term??

I was so impressed...this was an attempt to create
an Australian Flag!
So clever!

Friday, 30 March 2012

S is for "Seriously Sparkly!"

So whilst my goal of publishing one post a week never eventuated (perhaps I need to re-evaluate my goals!) it hasn't stopped me from continually thinking about it.

Our first term in Prep has been "Seriously Sparkly"....lots of colour, sparkles and fun. That's what Term 1 in Prep is meant to be about...right?

Like many other Prep classrooms, we spend a week focusing on a letter, identifying things that begin with the letter, practise the sound it makes and the fun part comes when we start making things that begin with the letter of the week. During 'Ss' week, we made 'Silver Sparkly Stars, Snakes and Suns. The kids love the craft activities during the literacy block but it has got me wondering whether they actually identify the relationship between the letter 'S' and all these craft activites we are doing.

Later on in the term I have been making a conscious effort to repeatedly remind or ask them...."Why would we be making wombats today?" or "What letter does fish start with?" to help them see the link. Of course we also explore songs, books, interactive resources, develop charts and practise handwriting with the letter of the week focus, but I'm still worried that we aren't doing enough to 'teach' the sounds and perhaps are we wasting our time with these craft activities? I love that they brighten up the room and look fantastic but are they beneficial to learning?

I would love to hear what people think!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Getting to know do you do it?

As the end of the holiday season nears and I lament all the things I didn't get done.......I'm starting to think about the first couple of days and how the kids can 'get to know' each other. In the holidays I posted out letters to my kids, telling them a little bit about me. I've had nearly half the class reply and it has been great getting to know the kids before the come to school....but just how do we get them to know each other?

In the past I've used Bingo type know the ones where you search for people who went to the movies, went on a holiday, have the same middle name as you...yep you know the one. We've all used it. It's not a bad one for breaking the ice but when the kids you are teaching can't read well you have to start thinking wider. I've played a game where you take the kids outside and you have one child run around and tap someone on the head and say their name and time how long it takes to say the whole class - it gets the competitive children champing at the bit. But - this game suits older kids who already pretty much know everyone's name anyway. My ideas are getting stale! And given that we only do it for a week or two every brain is failing me....perhaps I shouldn't have thrown out those planners from 4 years ago last week in my attempt to 'declutter'!!

Over the first couple of weeks the kids will be involved in a lot of developmental play, with us prep teachers setting up play environments for them to interact and talk.  Aside from trawling through thousands of google results, I wondered what others do in the first couple of days with their Prep children? Or even what do kindergarten teachers do with their groups? I look forward to hearing all the wonderful ideas that you have!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Just when do we stop being a non-judgemental kid?

So this morning our Prep classroom resembled more of a day care centre rather than a few teachers in at work before the kids come back! A couple of us had brought along our own children to enjoy 'school' or 'where mummy works'....though us mummies don't seem to get anywhere near as much done with our little helpers!

But...this led me to thinking....just when do we start to become judgemental and not get along with everyone? I guess that is always a benefit of teaching a Prep class - usually all of the kids in your class are happy to work with anyone, line up or hold hands with anyone - basically, everyone in your class is your friend. When I was talking to M (my daughter) about coming in to school, I was explaining that there would be two other children to play with, S & H. When we walked in, introductions completed, H, S & M played happily together for a couple of hours, best of friends. They'd never met before, but had no problem inviting each other to play a game together or help each other. In adult world, they'd walked in to a party, their parent/friend/partner had introduced them to someone they had never met before and left them to talk and get along for the rest of the night. I don't know about anyone else, but this has me shuddering! I would hate if someone did that to me, though we expect that of our children, and they have no problem with it. I have watched over the holidays at M playing with others at the pool or playground and she always manages to find a new 'friend' anywhere we go - certainly not something that happens in the adult world, we tend to stick with what is 'safe'.

So....just when do we become judgemental and afraid to talk to, or get left with, what are ultimately 'strangers'? I'm guessing it happens somewhere between Grade 1 and 3....but how does it happen? We don't teach our kids to judge others and be critical of who they talk or play with - so how does it happen? Do we wake up one day and suddenly decide we will only play with people that fit our ideals?

I look forward to hearing what people think!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Going that extra mile.......

Another week down and I feel like I'm finally making some headway! I think I've spent three more days since my last post in at work making name tags, alphabet charts and covering books, just to name a few. All the while I've been thinking about the 'extra' things that run through your brain as you're doing these to make sure you go that 'extra' mile for the students in your class, who, whilst will remain nameless on this blog, become somewhat of your own children throughout the year.

When putting the names on their bag lockers, it ran clearly through my mind who I should put next to each other, to make sure that they had a friend near them......for a bag locker??....I can hear you saying it now, but it's what you think about as a teacher - especially a prep teacher! I was also trying to work out who the tall kids were in my class, to make sure they got a bag locker on the higher level. Then it came to adding stickers to their name tags and I just couldn't have the boys having pink stickers on theirs...or blue ones on the girls. I posted letters today to the kids in my class and made sure I added in a little note to those who had birthday either at the end of December or before we come back to school.

When school heads back, going that extra mile will be sending home 'Student of the day' notes (which, by the way, are photocopied and ready to write on....!) to make sure the kids and parents know that what they do gets noticed. Whilst this post is not one to gloat about what I do, it's more a look at what teachers in general do...outside of the supposed 'teacher's role'.

We go the extra mile because we love what we do. We don't get paid for it....but who became a teacher to make money?!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Year, New Energy!

After spending a day scouring some amazing 'teacher' blogs and having been inspired by some friends who have been writing their own, I've set myself a challenge to become a little more 'tech' savy and journal all the fun I will be having in Prep this year. One blog a week is my aim...lets see how I'll go!

So here begins the New Year and with it comes some renewed energy. Having spent the best part of yesterday and today in at school, all the 'back to school' preparation memories have come flooding back. After spending over an hour hanging up my alphabet chart (pulling it down twice..) and still not being happy with its position...I'm left wondering, though I think I already know the answer, which parents will realise this task took the best part of my morning. Will they notice that I made a heading - 'Welcome to PKK' but it took me half an hour to decide which font to use?! I'm tipping they wont blink twice at the shapes posters that took up most of last night at home, or the 4 hours I've sat in front of the laminator to make sure the posters last the whole year! Those who aren't teachers (and might I add...mainly those from the male breed!) are sure to scoff and say......can't you just pick any colour/font/layout. Well the simple answer is NO. The small things like this matter, especially when you have to look at them all year! This part of the job is the one which I do enjoy, but get disappointed that the majority will never know just how long it all took.

I'm off to search for some daily timetable pictures and fonts.....see you in a couple of hours!