The K/1 students and teachers embraced new learning adventures during the first week of 2014. The kids began their new reading groups where they reorganized into groups according to their level. I am teaching the kindergarten children who are typically developing kinder readers. Also, I adopted teaching the first grade math group their daily math lesson. And our K/1 community began a unit of study about peace and justice that centers around honoring the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Overall, I felt positive about the challenges that we embraced this past week as a learning community. For me personally, although there were some moments that I felt clumsy with new curriculum or routine, yet I felt strongly supported by my mentor in our plan for me to phase into independent teaching at the end of February.
The first week with the new kinder reading group was about setting routines and norms for read-to-self time and literacy workplaces. All, except for one, of the 15 children in the group are in other classrooms for the rest of the day so I have been getting to know these children’s various learning and social styles. One advantage I have is that I have worked with half of the class in prior years as a pre-K assistant or an extended day teacher. Next week, I will conduct individual interviews with each child to determine their reading interests and abilities. I will be able to learn a lot about the children as readers once I can work with them in book groups. I love learning about the personal interests of each young readers. I am on a mission to know the subjects that ignite each child’s love of reading by the end of each child’s interview.
Overall, I am feeling more comfortable taking ownership of the Bridges math curriculum everyday. I am taking the Elementary Math Methods course this quarter, which will complement my teaching directly. My math teaching goal for the next couple of weeks is to differentiate my instruction to serve students who need to be challenged and children who are struggling more effectively. One action I will take is to shorten the time I spend with direct, whole group instruction of a concept that I know most of the group easily grasps, and spend more time working with individual students to either scaffold or stretch their math learning.
Finally, the MLK march and the activities leading up to is my favorite event of the school year. This year, the K/1 community is focusing on the connection between taking action in the world and peace. We have adopted the song, With My Own Two Hands as our anthem. We have been having discussions about how as children they have the power to take actions in the world that promote peace and justice. In keeping with school tradition each child created their unique skin color by mixing paints. They drew and wrote about how they can change the world with their own two hands, and stamped their skin color painted hands down on the cover of the their books. Also, the children will make fleece scarves, one for themselves and one for a child in need, as a way of fulfilling a basic need that people have, to be warm. I must toot my own horn and share that the idea of organizing the children to make something for children in need to stay warm was my idea. I am so thrilled that the teaching team has embraced this idea enthusiastically. The children will wear their scarves on the MLK march next Friday as a symbol of their commitment to peace and justice action. Overall, the new year is off to a positive start. I feel a momentum that I suspect will not slow down until we roll into the days of June so I am bracing myself for an exciting ride!