A very exciting time of year for me is the beginning of Kindergarten. Summer ends and I find myself interacting and learning new ways to connect, engage and enhance learning. Creating a culture for learning is always a challenge because I get new students each year and we explore our new classroom inside and out alongside each other. I am watching and listening to see what interests my students have as well as how they might be learning and sharing their ideas that they are curious about.
An idea I tried this year…. and it was so successful, was to read The Dot by, Peter Reynolds as out 1st story together. I choose this story because it illustrates so easily the value of sharing your idea and even more importantly how a teacher needs to be ready and engaged with what is “there”. The imagination of a child is wonderful and this story captures how I can, as a teacher, take time to notice what each of my students is capable of, the gifts they have and to always celebrate what they know and are willing to show me. Through what we celebrate, more will come and I hope my students will grow confident through their ideas and by taking risks with what they want to share.
As I read the story I kept referring to what do you want to make? create? and design? I was specific with this vocabulary because I want my students to begin to explore how their ideas matter and how together we can collaborate and inspire each other. I also created cards and laminated them so that these words become part of our culture, words we will use to support and inspire each other.
When I asked my students questions while I was reading the story I began with phrases like; What do you notice… I wonder….. Again the vocabulary is important because it offers everyone an opportunity to share an idea, rather than an answer to a specific question.
After reading the story we sang the Dot Song together. It was really magical. I played it on the Smartboard and afterwards I had a quick opportunity to let parents know about this great author, but also that I see safeshare.tv as a way to play videos safely. Again, I am trying to weave and thread through a variety of ideas in a meaningful way.
Then as we were getting ready to take our first bus ride I had an opportunity to share our class blog. Again I am trying to highlight things that we, the parents and students will be using to highlight our learning. When sharing the blog I am able to connect the story we just read. Letting the children know that the book has text and pictures just like our class blog. So as we begin to create, build and design our learning like the child in the story, we will be “making our mark” on our class blog where we can share our ideas with the world.
A great opportunity to participate in an international celebration of creativity. Join others globally to celebrate International Dot Day. Go here to join. When I shared this with my students they were very excited. This offers us all an opportunity to share and celebrate our creative spirt. Through our willingness to share, we can all become inspired…..
So after 2 days in Kindergarten we have created book bins with author names and names of themes.
This way the children become familiar with book names and authors. I am now beginning to let them them know they will also be authors this year just like…….
Children begin to get excited about books and reading. We begin by reading to self. In Kindergarten we have a variety of spaces, places and books to read. We need different things….. Creating a culture needs to be flexible, but also make room for children to shine as individuals… Not an easy task……
I invited parents in to create science journals for our outdoor classroom and hand painted aprons too. It is important to include parents whenever you can so they can also be a part of their child’s learning. Even in the beginning days parents feel connected and a part of their child’s journey.
We “tweeted” and painted a map of the world to reflect where we will be able to post who we are connecting with and how. This is important because I want to model how we can have conversations globally in a safe, kind and responsible way.
Creating a culture of learning is the most important thing I do as a teacher. The culture reflects what we are doing, why it is important and how we will be sharing what we are exploring globally. Teaching is a privilege and an opportunity to offer hope and inspiration. This year I am thinking about the value of opening my classroom globally and ways I can learn alongside my students and families. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has ideas to share about how you begin to develop a learning culture…..
Thanks for reading and sharing.