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Montessori in a Dene Kindergarten – Montessori in a Dene Grade One Classroom

Archive for January, 2012

Blogging With my Class

Posted by mrsmelva on 28/01/2012

I am looking forward to Monday, when I will start blogging with my class. I have set up a blog on kidblog.org and entered in each student’s name in preparation for our double block in the computer lab. Hopefully everything will be working well in the la; as with all technology things sometimes go awry. I think the kids will be excited to share their thoughts on their blogs, and hope that they will get comments that they can respond to. We will be starting out small and simple and build our blogs in baby steps. Our blog is at http://kidblog.org/MrsMelvasClass/

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Fruits of my labour, what was I thinking?

Posted by mrsmelva on 06/01/2012

After I wrote the last post, I looked at it again and began to wonder about the title, which I had written when I started the post in November. It really didn’t seem to relate to the content of the post. Then I remembered. I was referring to the way the students conducted themselves, managed their behaviour and were very responsible with all of the materials and tools throughout the project. All but one of the students had been in my kindergarten class the year before. In kindergarten I had tried to implement Montessori philosophy and principles as much as possible. I think that this really contributed to the way the students worked throughout the unit. I saw a lot of collaboration and sharing of ideas, sharing of materials and great care taken throughout the unit. Students helped each other, worked independently and in small, self-selected, flexible groups. moved around the classroom with care, returned unused materials so that others could use them, cleaned up spills and messes, and learned a lot about the objects and materials they were using. The neat thing was that, although I was very interested in teaching this unit, when the other grade one teachers were a bit reluctant, and we had very little to go on, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I followed the child (the key to Montessori education) when a student asked if they could make snowmen like this one:

This is the snowman that inspired the main work for the science unit Objects and Materials. Interestingly, none of the children's finished products looked like this, but they were inspired, learned a lot and were very proud of their creations.

I definitely reaped the fruits of my labour with the students the year before, developing independent learning skills, strong relationships and building a classroom atmosphere of trust and responsibility. An open ended project like this with so many opportunities for messy accidents was actually fun to teach and relatively easy to do since the foundation had already been built.

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Fruits of my Labour

Posted by mrsmelva on 02/01/2012

I have been so busy trying to wrap my head around the new grade 1 curricula and the chopped up scheduling that accompanies it that although I think about posting here, most nights I collapse in the recliner with the t.v. remote in my hand. On weekends I am busy at school trying to make sense of it all, keep my head above water and my students meaningfully engaged. In science we have a new unit to teach entitled using objects and materials. Because it is a new unit, we have an empty resource tub. None of the other grade one teachers wanted to tackle it so I volunteered.The unit is called Using Objects and Materials and is very open ended. I have a decorative snowman that lights up that was given to me by a friend last year. It was sitting on a shelf (not on display, just sitting waiting to be properly positioned) when a student asked if they could make a snowman like that. She got my wheels turning and a project was born.

I gave each child a balloon and we stretched them and then blew them up. These balloons had been in storage for a while, so some of them tore before filling with air. Eventually everyone blew up his/her balloon and most managed to tie the knots themselves, and I helped a few with tying. After tying the balloons the students stapled a strip of cardstock to make a ring to stand the balloons on and then began to cover them with yarn dipped in glue. On our first try we diluted the glue with water, but it didn’t work so I added straight glue after school without disturbing the students’ work, and told them about it the next day. After that we used straight glue.

blowing the balloon was successful, now the tricky tying bit

The students worked very carefully and with great concentration. Surprisingly, there really wasn’t much mess. They selected and cut their own yarn, and poured their first lot of glue. While they worked I came by and refilled the glue as needed in order to allow them to work without having to get up.

first yarn on the balloon

The balloons drying the first day, with the dluted glue all dripped onto the trays, just after I added the straight glue to reinforce them so that the afternoon's work wouldn't be wasted

When I discovered that the diluted glue was not holding, I considered just leaving the mess until the next day for the students to discover and discuss the problem, but since we had spent an entire afternoon on the project and would not have much time the next day due to an assembly, I decided to add the straight glue, but to explain what I had done to the children. I also considered the fact that they would be covering a second balloon when making this decision.On the first day, I assisted the students with making the stands and operating the stapler. For the second day, I basically just set out the stuff and let them go to it! They did me proud.

concentration required to hold the rolled cardstock and operate the stapler

success - ready for the yarn and glue

choosing and cutting yarn

The second day was interesting because the students were so independent and we had a few who were starting at the beginning because they had missed the first day. The others were quick to explain to them what to do.

The students noticed that their hands got a lot stickier using the undiluted glue.

A creative solution to the sticky hands problem; get the principal to do your work for you!

After both balloon sections were dried we popped and removed the balloons and took the hardened yarn balls off the cardboard stands. We discussed how to put the two balls together and decided on hot glue. The tutor assisted the children with using the hot glue gun.

cutting glue hardened yarn is quite a challenge for small hands

careful concentration is required when using a hot glue gun

We kept a bowl of cold water next to the glue gun in case of accidents. Yes, there were a few, but not many and not serious. Having the cold water handy helped prevent injury. When it was time to decorate the snowmen, I put out a wide selection of objects and materials, staplers, tape, white glue, hot glue gun and glue sticks. The students were free to choose decoration materials and to experiement with the best ways to attach the materials. For decoration  put out yarn, a variety of fabrics, sequins and spangles, googly eyes, coloured paper, craft foam, pipe cleaners, pom poms, buttons and small pieces of wood. The children had great ideas and willingly shared their ideas and sticking techniques with each other.

work in progress, the shiny fabric was very popular, despite being tricky to cut

despite the fact that his snowman collapsed a bit, this student got very involved in decorating and was proud of his accomplishment

glue stick, tape and white glue wouldn't hold, now it's time for the glue gun

collaborative cutting

will it stick?

one of the finished snowmen

We put battery operated tea lights in the snowmen and used them to decorate the tables for our Christmas dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t get any useable pictures of them on the tables. Each one was unique and the students learned a lot while doing the project. For assessment I used my observations while they worked, a video tape interview with each child and a simple written test. For one part of the test they had to choose and glue on items to match vocabulary words from the unit, and I provided items that could fit more than one category. They did very well on that part of the test although a few were confused between soft and shiny, when I talked to them about their answers. If they were not clearly correct I asked them about their choices to try and understand what they were thinking. The project took a long time, but it was very worthwhile. The students learned a lot, and handled themselves, the materials and the tools very well.

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New Year, Back to Blogging

Posted by mrsmelva on 02/01/2012

I have neglected this blog for a long time for a variety of reasons. This year I am teaching a k-1 split class. I enjoyed my year of grade one, but I am a kindergarten teacher at heart. When I began unpacking some of the kindergarten items I had packed away, a great sense of peace came over me. I started to write a post in November, but did not finish it. It was about a science project I did last year with my grade ones. I have updated it today and will post it as the start of my return to blogging regularly, hopefully at least once a week. Some posts will be from this year’s activities and some from last year’s.

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