Thursday, 16 October 2014

Quiet Time, Downtime, Any Time?

In the wonderful world of Kindergarten, there are many hot topics.  As the FDK program is still in the intro stages, there are a lot of varied opinions on just about everything.  I have never experienced another grade, subjects area, topic or strand that is taught SO differently from school to school and even class to class.  It is really quite bizarre!  I love that it gives us a bit of freedom to try new things in new ways.  I am nothing if not a "tryer of new stuffs" (as my Kinder buddy Jacob would say).

One of the issues on the front burner is whether or not 3- and 4-year-olds should have a quiet time.  When I was a kinder, I had a set nap time every afternoon.  Although it may have been best for me (and was, most certainly, best for my teachers), it may not have been best for everyone.  As far as I can tell, the FDK program is very much about us helping students to develop the skills required for them to self-regulate.  In an effort to learn such skills, students are given choices throughout their day.  Should we not, then, permit them to "chill out" if they feel the need to?  I am sure that giving students the option to choose does not mean that there should be a free-for-all.  Students will only learn to self-regulate if someone teaches them how to.  By providing a choice of quiet activities at an optimal time (for us this means after our 40 minute lunch recess) and by addressing how our bodies and minds feel before and after such activities, we are helping children to identify, address and regulate themselves.  How can that be a bad thing?

Here is a copy of another "reactive" post that I made to a Kindergarten group on Facebook:

We have about 10 minutes of downtime after our 40-minute lunch recess. We began the year with a quiet "rest time", permitting the kids to find a quiet spot to lay down or sit and browse books independently. We played classical music quietly and turned out the lights (as the curriculum document suggests using natural light whenever possible). After a week or so, we introduced other quiet independent activities such as jigsaw puzzles and sorting activities. These days, our students are enjoying following along with Cosmic Kids yoga videos (we found them on YouTube). Kids are always offered a choice of activities and we regularly discuss how our bodies and minds feel (or how our "motors" are running) before and after such activities (introducing self-regulation). I think that identifying, addressing, and regulating ourselves is necessary for optimum learning!  To this end, we offer opportunities for students to chillax at a calm corner just about any time that they feel the need (as long as it is not during our few, very brief periods of direct instruction.  There are even quiet spaces available in our school yard for down-regulating at recess and outdoor learning times. 

What are your thoughts?

#stellarclass  #comcon  #wondergarten
Sue Scott
Teacher and wonderer

Sunday, 5 October 2014

GAFEsummit Ottawa 2014 - Personal PD at Its Finest

2014-10-04 EdTechTeam Ottawa Summit featuring Google for Education

I can't begin to express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to learn from and with so many fabulous people this weekend!  I spent 19+ hours sitting and learning this weekend (and another 3+ hours stuck in highway-closure-induced traffic).  Some may call that insane but, I call it brilliant.  It was worth every minute.  The

From the opening keynote (the one and only George Couros) to the closing app slam, this summit was professional development at its finest.  Again, George provoked us to the point of tears - both from sadness and from stomach-cramping laughter.  He spoke of the need for people to create a positive digital footprint and the importance of allowing students to use the technology that they are used to, when they are inspired to do so.  If a student wants to learn more about a topic that the members of your class are discussing, why turn him/her away from a

I had the pleasure of attending eight sessions, including: Google Drive 101 - with Rob Long, Customizing your Chrome Experience - with Angelina Glynn, Chrome: Laying the Foundation - with Chris Moore, Blogging as Professional Portfolio - with George Couros, Get Your Google On - with Monica Martinez, Fasten Your Seatbelts - with Michelle Armstrong, iPads + Google Apps: Workflow, Fun, and Creation - with Ben Friesen, and Creating a Connected Classroom - with Marcie Martel.  I can't decide which one I am most thrilled about or what new learning I will impart on my students first.  What a crazy, amazing, educational whirlwind!

Each day of the summit ended with an app slam, "a high energy, geek out kind of session".  Each presenter was given two minutes to show off their knowledge and, after taking it all in and bookmarking like lunatics, we voted for the best slam.  It is safe to say that it was tough to choose just one slam and, that I have never gained  so much in twenty minutes (and I got to do it twice)!

Whew!  Time for bed!

Thanks again to the incredible team that made #

Sue Scott, teacher and learner
#gafesummit Ottawa

Monday, 29 September 2014

Reflections l snoitcelfeR

Our first monthly Think Tank Thursday and a PD day have forced me to take the time to slow down for a minute and to reflect on the month gone by.  Having experienced every emotion known to man this month, it is no wonder that I was so tired!  This new Kinder adventure has been just that.  I can honestly say that I have learned more this month than my students have ... and they have uncovered a ton!

We have formed new relationships, have taken chances, have shed a few tears (okay, they came from a few of the littles, not from us), and have shared a million amazing firsts.  I have always believed that children are competent and capable and have known that they need to be given the opportunity to do for themselves but they have certainly surpassed my expectations and seem to have surprised themselves on occasion!

We have experimented with different types of blocks for building, pausing to discuss which were sturdier, which ones "needed more at the bottom so that N. couldn't knock them over"), which ones need to be used on the carpet (tres noisy), which ones shouldn't be used on the carpet ("too tippy"), and which ones we have more of (because the best tower is always the tallest tower, don't you know).

We have investigated and compared pumpkins by shape, size, and colour.  ("Did you know that they can make ghost pumpkins?  They're white ... and they're real!!!")

Our sunflower inquiry was short lived yet very educational.  We found that sunflowers can be taller than Ms. Scott, that they "get bendy" when they are "too tall", that the seeds are white (and don't grow well) when they are immature, that they look like the sun, that they are prickly but soft, and that they get REALLY stinky when they start to rot.

We learned a lot about math!  ("It's everywhere!", "Is that math too?!?"), and that there might be a million words in the English language that begin with the 's' sound.

We also discovered that whacking pots and pans as they hang from the school yard fence can make beautiful music.  We helped our neighbours discover it too!

It has been a great, crazy, educational, noisy, and fun start!  Here's to another 9 months!

Sue Scott, teacher and learner


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Uncovering Their Own Learning

With an after-hours Math workshop and our annual Open House this week, I find that I am completely physically exhausted ... and have succumbed to the germs that surround me.  I have to specify that it is only my body that is slowing down because, although I am a tad warn (and more than a tad warM), my mind is swirling more than ever.  Uncovering the learning of the wonders in my charge and sharing in their discoveries (and their overwhelming excitement) seems to be all that I need to keep diving in too!
This week saw several short-lived provocations, from a "massive" sunflower (that was "bigger than the teacha's head") and "full of yucky, sticky (and now stinky) milk" to ribbons of different lengths and weights wafting in the wind.  Just when I thought that I may never be able to encourage my students to follow-through on an inquiry, a five-year-old proved me wrong ... again. :)
On Thursday evening, we welcomed our families into Wondergarten and showed them how we spend our days.  It was amazing to hear my kidlets refer to their 'play and activities' using the terms "patterns", "measuring", "proving", and "convincing"!  I will likely never forget the look on a 9-year-old brother's face when his little sister explained to him that "A t-Rex is obviously a carnivore because it really wouldn't need sharp claws to make a salad,". Huh.  "Amelia, how do you know that this dinosaur eats meat?  What does this dinosaur over here have that this one doesn't?"  Wow.  Five years old and already wiser than many.
If you know of neigh-sayers that might have difficulty understanding where the education is in the new FDK program, I seem to have a room full of shining stars that can explain it to them!  I am both amazed and blessed every day. #comcon #wondergarten

Sue Scott, teacher and learner

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Go Team!

The seemingly limitless abilities of my students will never cease to amaze me.  A wise woman once repeated, "Expect that they are competent and capable, and they will be."  I do, and they are.  Enough said.
Last week, in an effort to be open and welcoming, I replied to a reach-out from our Kindergarten consultant with an open invitation to join our class any time that she wished to.  As I was so completely exhausted and totally immersed in our every day, that I didn't take time to consider what she might question when she arrived ... the second Monday of my first year in Kinderland.
What an incredible experience!  Coming from a place of sheer interest and many strong beliefs, but very little Kinder experience, I spent a great deal of my summer reading, retweeting, viewing, and inquiring about all things Kinder.  When I asked 4,325,649 questions of our guide on Monday and (briefly) stopped asking long enough to listen and observe, I found a kindred spirit (cheeseball, I know).  At any rate, I don't think that I have ever been more excited to embark on a new journey as I am about this crazy Kinder adventure!  With an in-house team of twelve Kinder educators (plus a fantastic French teacher and an amazing support staff, including an incredibly open and supportive administrator), a forward-thinking consultant (who is seemingly on-call 24-7 to help deal with my absurdities), and a world of experienced teachers at my fingertips, the idea of a vertical learning curve is more thrilling than ever.  I have truly never felt more fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to become a teacher. #wondergarten @wondergarten #comcon

Sue Scott, teacher and learner

Learning In Progress: All About Learning Experiences!

Learning In Progress: All About Learning Experiences!: Yes I have not tackled the curriculum content yet!  I am still creating learning situations for students to unpack, why collaborate? How to ...

Thanks for sharing @rolat!  The team-building, communication-increasing, jiving activities that you planned for your students to begin another great year are fabulous!  Thank you so much for documenting and sharing!

I can't wait to take a closer look at Padlet!  I also enjoyed the Pencil video and am excited to share it with my colleagues.  What a great provocation to spur an inquiry and to focus on the environmental impacts of our actions (or inaction); a great message for the beginning of the school year! #comcon

Sue Scott, teacher and learner

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A Beautiful Blur

Suffice to say that twelve years of training in the field does not a Kindergarten teacher make!  With the learning curve of twenty-four 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds and two significantly older "students" vaulting straight up, today opened and closed with a swoosh and I ended the day too exhausted to type.  Our first day flew by in a blink and our crew became just that, very quickly.  Not only are Kinders competent and capable, they are some of the most caring creatures alive!  From one sweetheart comforting a newly separated child to a group sharing toys and stories, they made me pause more times than I can count.  Collaboration and cooperation were central themes all day.  What an amazing group of kidlets.  Time to introduce the peace pebble jar!
Here's to another great go ... and perhaps a few more hours of sleep!
#wondergarten @wondergarten #comcon

Sue Scott, teacher and learner