Personal and Social Development

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Today was the first day for our Junior Kindergarten students.  Our school board decided to implement a “gradual entry” for the Full Day Kindergarten classes this year.  For the past 2 days, we have only had our Senior Kindergarten children.  Today, we had 16 new children walk into our classroom.  Most of our new friends had visited the school last June.  Some of them had never been there before.

When the morning bell rang, my teaching partner and I were already outside.  We went onto the playground early to welcome the children as they got to school, as well as speak to some of the parents.  When the bell rang, and we tried to show them where to line up to go inside. I am not sure if we had more children or parents who began to shed some tears!  It was a proud moment for those parents, but it was a scary moment for those children (and some of the parents too!).  We tried to reassure everyone that it was going to be a great new adventure, and headed inside.  A few of the children were still teary, but we were lucky….our principal came into our classroom and he assisted us in comforting the new children.  He stayed in our room until all of the children had settled in.

The rest of the day went by quickly, but by the end, we were proud of all of students.  Our Senior Kindergarten children helped the new students throughout the day with routines, and the “rules” of the room.  Our new students, once settled, became excited about being at school and enjoyed their first day of school with us.  We gave them large blocks of time to play so they could learn about our classroom.  This also gave them time to meet and interact with the other children in a non-structured, non-threatening way.

I am looking forward to tomorrow!

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Today was our first day back at school.  What an exciting time!  I was excited to see all of our Senior Kindergarten students and how they had changed over the summer.  Even though I didn’t have yard duty this morning, I went out on the playground early to say hello to all of the returning students, and some new ones, at our school.  That was one of the best ways to begin a new school year…walking out onto the playground and having some of our students from last year run up to me and be happy to see me. 

For the rest of the day, I tried to pay close attention to the students and how they interacted with each other.  Many of them had turned 5 years old over the summer.  I wanted to see if they come into the room with confidence and excitement, or if they would possibly be shy and quiet.  As most 5 year olds I know, they came in confident and excited.  They were happy to see the friends they had missed over the summer.  They fell back into play together as if no time had passed at all.  So, we gave them the entire day to play and reconnect with their friends. 

I think tomorrow we will give them the same opportunity.

Two students, Angel and Hakima, were at the chart stand talking together and drawing a picture.

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T–I like your picture! Tell me about what you are drawing.

Angel–We’re drawing together. It’s a flower story. It’s called “Rainbow Land” We just thought about it and decided to make the picture and the story. It was my idea!

Hakima–It was my idea too!

Angel–We said, “Let’s draw a picture of you, me and our moms.” We’re going to make the words up for the story tomorrow.

Hakima–Yes we’ll write the words tomorrow.

T–It sounds like it will be an interesting story!

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After 5 to 10 minutes the teacher returned to see how the girls were progressing with their picture, only to find that more students had joined in the community picture!.

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Angel–”I asked some other people to draw because we didn’t have enough time to finish it.”

T–It’s nice to have other people helping.

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Angel–”Yes, It’s fun together and it’s nice to have everyone help. They can draw some special things that they want in the picture. Or we can give them some ideas if they want.”

T–It’s going to be a wonderful picture and I’ll be interested to hear the story.

Angel–O.K. everyone, you can have a rest now, when I’m done colouring this.!”

Two students were playing “teacher” and “student”. They were fully engaged in reading the message together on the chart and by documenting this learning a great deal can be learned and recorded about the literacy knowledge of these two students.

One student would take a turn reading and then the other. They would assist each other whenever they needed help identifying a word. After reading the chart, they decided to move to the Word/Name Wall where they proceeded to read all the names on the wall, again taking turns and helping each other whenever necessary. Finally, they moved to the teacher’s chair and took turns as the teacher.

The student playing the role of the teacher showed the book (which the teacher had read that day) to her friend and talked about the cover and some of the pictures and then proceeded to read the book. She then asked questions related to the story she had read and the other student answered the questions, after which, they changed places and repeated the process. These students were completely focussed on these activities for the entire Learning Centre time.

Consider the learning that these two students have demonsrated.Two students were playing “teacher” and “student”.They were fully engaged in reading the message together on the chart and by documenting this learning a great deal can be learned and recorded about the literacy knowledge of these two students.One student would take a turn reading and then the other.They would assist each other whenever they needed help identifying a word.

After reading the chart, they decided to move to the Word/Name Wall where they proceeded to read all the names on the wall, again taking turns and helping each other whenever necessary. Finally, they moved to the teacher’s chair and took turns as the teacher.

The student playing the role of the teacher showed the book (which the teacher had read that day) to her friend and talked about the cover and some of the pictures and then proceeded to read the book.She then asked questions related to the story she had read and the other student answered the questions, after which, they changed places and repeated the process.These students were completely focussed on these activities for the entire Learning Centre time.Consider the learning that these two students have demonsrated.

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Today a large group of children were very interested in building structures in the blocks.  They worked in very small groups but it got to the point were the structures were so big they had to work together to integrate them.  You can see where this happened in the bottom right corner of the photograph.

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The attention to detail, the length of their attention span, and their ability to work together and co-operate on this project was really remarkable.  When young children are interested and challenged in their thinking they are very willing to put out the effort.

Looking at the stages of block play, I could see many of the developmental stages represented here.  There were examples of:

  • horizontal towers and vertical rows (stage 2),
  • bridging where the child uses a block to span a space (stage 3)
  • enclosures (stage 4)
  • representation, where the structure is named in relation to its function (stage 6)

It is not enough to simply observe children. The teacher should be able to clearly identify what is being observed and the significance of this observation on the child’s developmental profile.  What does this observation tell me about how this child is thinking?  What skills are demonstrated through this observation?  What should I do to move the thinking and the skill level forward?

Two girls were playing together in the blocks building a brick wall. A little boy was playing in the space on his own, building a complex building with small wooden blocks.

 

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The other class was told they could go to work at the centres. No restrictions are placed on the number of children in the centres so suddenly a group of new boys entered the block area. They used the 2 brick height of the girls’ wall to jump over and the girls’ role became one of trying to keep the wall in place and repairing it when the boys knocked a brick off. Their teacher was working with a group of children and did not see what was going on so the girls had to problem solve.

After a few minutes the girls gave up on their original plan and began building a platform with the long wooden blocks. Even the boys abandoned the wall for other activities. One of the girls told the little boy, who was by now building a town, that she would help him write about it if he wanted. He did not take her up on her offer so she continued to add a complex building on her platform.

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