Monday will mark the beginning of week five in my Kindergarten LTO. It was
originally supposed to be my last week, but my time has officially been extended
to April 5. I have been very busy, but it is high time I write an update about
what we've been up to.
I wrote briefly about our Tim Horton's dramatic play centre, but I've been changing up some of the other learning centers as well. One of the expectations for visual arts is exploring the elements of art, such as colour and line. At the paint center I left only the primary colours and white so they could experiment with mixing and making colours. Only a few have explored this concept, so I think I might do a quick demonstration to pique their interest and see if more will try it. I also bought a set of those scrap-booking scissors that make fancy edges and thought it would be a good way to explore the concept of line. I had them at the cut and paste table, along with various materials like old greeting cards, fabric, felt, and tissue paper, since another expectation is to explore various materials to create artwork. A lot of students enjoyed cutting and pasting these materials, but that also generated a lot scraps in the scrap bin. So, I dumped all of the scraps into the water table (which was empty and dry), and put the scissors there too. On the bulletin board alongside the water table, I put up a piece of chart paper titled "Lots of Lines" so we will be able to record their descriptions of the different types of lines made by the scissors. Hopefully that will allow some of those scraps to get used a bit longer and keep them contained!

For math we have been doing some measurement concepts. At the math table, I put out a balance scale, some small blocks of various sizes and shapes, and some linking cubes. One JK compared blocks and recorded the ones that were the same mass by drawing them on paper and writing "both the same" (with some assistance) along the bottom of the page. Another JK used the cubes to measure the heights of each block and asked for a piece of paper to record his findings. Both students also shared what they learned with the class during sharing time. My blue class in particular enjoys sharing with the class either something they brought from home, or something they did that day (which I'm trying to encourage). I've started a duotang with all of their wonderful ideas in it so that they can look at what others have done and I have something tangible to show the classroom teacher when she returns. On Friday, I decided to try another tactic to see what they would come up with, and I asked them all to make a pattern for me at some point during the day. I showed them a few examples, including a painting one student made the week before, then let them go do it. It was wonderful to see all the different kinds of patterns they made. Some painted or drew a picture, others used manipulatives or building materials, and some used words or actions. I think I will try the same tactic again this week, and instead encourage them to measure something.

In language, we have been doing lots of reading and writing. I've gotten a few more JKs to join the home reading program and other students have been moving up to more challenging reading levels. I'm just now in a place where I feel comfortable enough with the classroom routines and knowing where the kids are at that I can begin doing some formal guided groups for reading and writing. I'd like to start guiding students to use specific strategies to help them with their reading and writing to move them along to the next stage. It will be tough though, particularly with my blue class when I don't have another adult to help me keep tabs on what is happening around the room. The "Lucky Duck" table is also tucked away in a corner, so that creates an "out of sight, out of mind" situation. I was reading with a few students on Friday and had to keep stopping to intervene in disputes and remind students of expectations. I may have to move some things around to improve sight lines so I can still manage the class from back there. The classroom really is the "third teacher" (or in my case second, since I don't have an ECE) and I'm still trying to use that to my advantage effectively.

Overall, I feel things are going quite well and I've hit my stride. I'm getting lots of great learning out of my students just from observing them play and work, along with a little nudge here and there to expand their thinking. I will say that I will be glad when March Break arrives, so I can take a bit of a breather and catch up on a few things that have been pushed to the back burner. Teaching full-time, tutoring 6 students in the evenings, volunteering, and a few social activities doesn't leave me with much down time! One goal for the break will be to upload and print some of the pictures I've taken of all the wonderful learning my students have been doing. Stay tuned!

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