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?
In the last few days since I have discovered Twitter, I have used it a bit to find different activities and to interact with different educators. Along the way I discovered a lady who has used Twitter in her Kindergarten classroom. The following article describes how she did this. How a kindergarten class uses Twitter to learn about the world
While I fully admit that I don’t completely understand yet how Twitter could be used in this manner. I do find it interesting and a very neat way to teach the students about people who live in different areas of the world. I do not know myself how I could do something like this in the classroom, nor how it would fit into our Saskatchewan curriculum but I still find the whole idea ingenious.
Anyway, while checking out Twitter tonight, one of the ladies that I follow @happycampergirl tweeted earlier about a thoughtful post. I clicked on the link she provided and it took me to Mr P. Tuckers Education Blog, someone who describes himself as a teacher from Ontario, Canada. The following is his response to her blog posting (which I unfortunately couldn’t read because the link wasn’t working). Should Kindergarteners be using twitter
His response left me a little confused. He says that he would have signed the parent consent form if his child was in the class, but I am wondering if a parent consent form would have been needed. If the teacher didn’t let the students on Twitter themselves, rather she was the person using Twitter, than the students weren’t really on Twitter simply viewing it. If this is the case, she probably talked about how Twitter is a service that allows us to communicate with other people in the world but that it should not be used by children without an adult present. If there is anyone out there who has any experience with Twitter in the classroom I would love to hear how you used it? Did you require the parents to sign consent forms first? Were the students allowed to create Twitter accounts or simply participate in a discussion with others via Twitter?
I just finished reading a section of the Saskatchewan Kindergarten Curriculum entitled Children (Play and Learning). I found this reading quite interesting as it directly relates to a class that I took this summer for my Masters program. This class was about Play, Art and Narrative and how these three things are very important in Early Childhood Education. While reading this chapter of the curriculum I was able to see my students in various stages of play. There were a number of different types of play that were discussed in the article that I would like to further read about to see what advantages each type has. The types of play discussed are the following:
- Associative play (where the children play with each other)
- Cooperative play (where the children play together for an organized purpose)
- Solitary play (where the children play independently)
- Onlooker play (where the children sit back and watch others play but don’t join in)
- Parallel play (where the children play side by side with similar materials)
It is interesting to read about the different types of play but what I would really like to know is what I should be doing as the teacher. This chapter of the curriculum talks a bit about how every teacher is different and sets up their classroom according to their own program but I would like to know what is expected of me. Should I sit back and let the kids explore play in whatever way is comfortable for them? Should I encourage them to try different types of play? How do I know if they are ready to try different types of play? etc. I find that if I sit back some students include me in their play but only in specific situations. The children in my classroom like to include me in playing with the puppets or the kitchen play but I am never asked to join in in making a tower out of blocks or playing with cars. As I research these different types of play, I look forward to seeing how my role in the classroom needs to adapt to the various types of play of the children.