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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Our First Week: Figuring Out How School Works

We stared out our year by creating a family/ school connection by having parents write their hopes and dreams for their child on a ribbon and help their child weave it on our class loom.  This loom will be displayed in our room all year as a reminder of the hopes and dreams for them from their parents. 


Our first week of school was spent figuring out how shcool works.  We have many materials to explore that many kids have never used! We also have a lot of new friends who have never worked together before! Most of our new friends have never been in a school setting for a full day!  Many have never been separated from their parents for a full day. All of these factors can lead to many problems that need solutions very quickly!  

Most of our time was spent getting to know each other and learning how to use the materials in our room. We have been reading stories that teach us about characteristics we need for our classroom to work such as respect for people, places (our room) and things (our materials), responsibility for taking care of our materials and putting them away, empathy for our new friends, being helpful, handling frustration (we don't always get what we want) and becoming problem solvers. 

We have been slowly introducing all of the areas in our room and practicing respecting and taking care of the materials in each area. If they do not respect the materials, they are not allowed to explore that area until they show me in other areas of the room that they can handle it.  As teachers, we are observing and documenting what we notice. Who is not easily frustrated if they don't get their way? Who helps others in need? Who takes responsibility for helping clean up? We are also noticing interests to get ideas for future inquiries.  

It is amazing what the kids will start exploring based on the materials provided! Here are some examples of the learning happening purely through exploration.  

Below we see some friends who wanted to show us how they could create sound in different ways in the block area, which is in our science standards. This was completely on their own without teacher guidance. 


In the clay area, the child below was showing me that she could make heavy lines and light lines based on the pressure she applied! 


There was a lot of exploration of texture in the clay area, along with some creating!



Below, a child didn't have enough clay to create the different textures.  Her friends were not willing to give their clay up for her to use. She then came up with the idea of creating smaller pieces.  Problem solving at its finest!


Some explored Symetry in the loose parts area, again, no guidance from the teachers! They did this on their own!




Some created self portraits. 


And some came up with different types of creations. I love the concentration and focus on their faces when they work in this area!




A lot of documentation took place in this area and at our "Look Closer" table. 



They were practicing observational skills at the Look Closer table. I loved listening to what they had noticed!



Many enjoyed exploring measurement! I thought it interesting that even though I had objects available for nonstandard measurement, every single child picked the real tools to explore with with! It proves that they prefer real tools rather than those "made for children."







They enjoyed exploring sound through our xylophone. One child chose to try to make his own!  He ran into some problems and it fell apart, but he told me that he will try again (Persistance!!!)



We notices an awful lot of children exploring balance on their own!


At the writing station, one friend was inspired to write a story using symbols. I was amazed that rather than copying the example, he created his own symbols to tell his stories! Of coarse we had to let him share his story with the class!



Below they are incorporating writing into the book area. I never told them to, I just had some clipboards, paper and colors available for them there. Some wrote their own stories, some made their favorite parts of stories they read. 


They also explored materials in our literacy trays...




and our math trays. 



All of this in just one week!!  We have noticed that most of our new friends have been showing both respect and responsibility when it comes to using our materials for exploring!  I have been very proud of how well they are learning to work together and get along!  I know that we are going to have an amazing year!




13 comments:

  1. WONDERFUL!
    Where did you get the translucent square glass(?) tile things? So pretty.
    I'm in the USA and would like to beef up my loose parts area.

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    1. Thank you! I got the translucent square tiles from Hobby Lobby! I love them! A little change from the round ones!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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  2. Hi Darla -
    Your classroom is beautiful and your kids are so highly engaged! I teach play-based, inquiry-based Kindergarten in Toronto, Ontario. I'd love to ask you a few questions if you don't mind. Would you be able to e-mail me at kindergartenteacher@rogers.com when you have a moment? Thanks so much!
    Ѽ Alessia
    Mrs. Albanese’s Kindergarten Class

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    1. Hi Alessia!
      Sorry it took so long for me to see this! I just emailed you a copy of my schedule. Please feel free to email me anytime!!!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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  3. Your classroom is inspiring to both the children in it and those you share it with through your blog.

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  4. Thank you for this look into your classroom! I noticed that some students are "documenting" their work on clipboards and paper. I am trying to use provocations and "centers" in my first grade classroom. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on the children creating work samples that "prove" they are meeting standards?

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    1. When they document what they notice, that will show where they are in the writing process. The kids also document things they have done and noticed in math and of course science. I collect a lot of these for their portfolios to show what they know and can do. Photo documentation is another good way. I take photos of things that they have created or done that show they have met a standard. We also have a data folder with all of the standards on our report card. They use these to see what they know and what they need to work on still. What they know is marked and what they do not know is not marked so that they can easily see what they have accomplished. Hope this helps!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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  5. Hi! I just found your blog and love looking at it! I am in the USA and am a college student doing my practicum currently. I am in a Reggio-Emilia Based preschool now, but will be working in a public school starting in August! However, I want to bring all of my background (Reggio) to a public school setting. How long do you spend introducing how to work in each area? Also, do you do this at large group? I am unsure of how the first week should go.
    Thanks!
    Maggie

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    1. Hi Maggie! How wonderful! For the first week everything is very simplified. I explain how to take care of the materials at each station first. Then they rotate through the stations. This takes about a week. After each rotation we go over everything to make sure the materials are taken care of and put away properly. The materials are put out in a way that they do not need any direction. They are purely exploring the materials and seeing what they can do with them and learning how to take care of them. They are also learning about how to share, take turns, be responsible, respect, etc. as we go through these rotations. My first exploration time is always a rotation but the afternoon exploration time is free choice once they have proven they can take care of everything and be responsible. Good luck!
      Darla

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  6. Hi Darla, when you say one of your exploration times is a rotation, do you mean all year or just the beginning? Thank you for all of your inspiring and helpful posts!
    Liz

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    1. Hi Liz! Sorry it took me so long! I've been traveling and just now got back! I rotate at the beginning of the year until they have learned how to use and respect the materials, including cleaning up. Once they have become familiar with the different areas and materials to explore, they only rotate for our morning Thinking and Learning time. In the afternoon, I let them choose where they want to explore. I would love to give them free choice for both, but find some visit the same areas every time. Once I figure out how to get them to visit some more areas, I will try to give them free choice for both. That is my ultimate goal, but at this point in my journey haven't been able too yet. Let me know if this helped or if you have any suggestions also!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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    2. Thanks, Darla, that's helpful! I currently only have one station time and my students go to three stations of their choice. What I'm finding is they don't have as much time in each area as I'd like. Do your students only go to one area during the thinking and learning time? I'd like to integrate more science and social studies through provocations during my station time which makes me think I should make sure my students are actually exploring those areas instead of total free choice. I'm going to try to add another exploration time at arrival that would be free choice and then move into morning meeting where we talk about what they worked on and make plans for the day. Donin guess my only other question is about how many areas they go to each thinking and learning time....one or multiple? Thank you!!!
      Liz

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