I find that I am piggybacking off of another classmates work to get inspiration for this posting. As I was reading what my classmates had written in the last few days I came across Melissa’s post entitled “Using An Open Syllabus“. She wrote this post after one of our classes led by Dave Cormier. Dave spoke to us about rhizomatic learning. As I sat their listening to Dave, I can comfortably say that I understand what he was saying but I struggled to put it into words to describe it to anyone else. After reading Melissa’s blog, I find this an easier way to explain it to people.
Looking at how I have been teaching these last few months and also at the end of last year, I must admit that the Kindergarten curriculum in French Immersion leads itself to this kind of a teaching style. We have objectives and such that we need to follow but a lot of the content is left up to the teacher to decide. In Kindergarten, we aren’t told what we need to teach in Science or Social Studies, as of yet, because we are still working out of the old curriculum. This leaves the interpretation of what “needs” to be taught to my discretion. I found that this year I have the vocabulary that I feel needs to be taught to my students but I allow them to help me pick the themes that we look at, as well as what we do when we are studying those themes. For instance, we all know that Halloween is very exciting for five year olds, so I let the students guide me in the activities that we did in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The students had a desire to talk about different costumes, so we made a couple of crafts that resembled different costumes that the students would be wearing. The students were also interested in Pumpkins, so we read a couple pumpkin books, talked about how pumpkins come in different shapes and sizes, not to mention colours and we even cut up some pumpkins, felt the inside and counted the seeds in a pumpkin. The children were all very engaged during the activities and at the end of our theme, I can look back and tell you what objectives we might have covered from the curriculum, all while having fun.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to be able to run my classroom like this all year long, but there are some things that I feed must be covered in the day also. My students still go over important vocabulary that they will be using for the rest of the year and we also talk about the alphabet lots. I find that this year however my students are more engaged in these kinds of “formal” learning situations though because they know that they will have the opportunity to have some input in other areas of study in the classroom.
Does anybody feel as if there are some parts of their day that follow a more “open syllabus” than other parts? Is this something that we can use simultaneously in the classroom or does it need to be all or nothing?