Our car is coming along. In fact today it was suggested that it should be a camper instead since we are “making” such a long trip. Since I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stay awake for the whole drive to Florida, I thought it would be good to train some fellow navigators. This atlas we’ve been looking over is way too complicated. We decided to start with something a bit simpler.
We began with Map My Neighboorhood by Jennifer Boothroyd. In this book, we learn how to draw our own maps. We begin with a list of the places we would like to include and work from there.
Our first attempt was made out on the Northbound Trail. The children used a large notebook, scissors, paper scraps, and glue sticks to create the areas they felt were important. This map was made together.
The most difficult parts were deciding what to include and choosing a size for each piece. Scale might be a bit beyond us at this point, but the practice with position in space was valuable.
Our next mapmaking enterprise took place in the classroom. Each child created their own map. I set up the paper first with the locations of the doors and windows marked. When placing the paper in front of the children, I made sure that their paper was oriented so that the doors and windows were aligned with the room. The children had many different takes on what was important to include on their classroom map. None of you will be surprised to hear that the loft was almost always the first furniture added.
Two of our dear friends moved back to Florida last week. We are already missing their smiles. Sigh….
No worries! The children have a plan….
We’re going on a road trip to Florida! Yippee! Oh, fine, it is only imaginary, but we can still make our plans. To assist in the planning, I photocopied all of the pertinent states from my trusty road atlas and stitched them together with old-fashioned scotch tape. The class was quite surprised to find such a spaghetti mess of roads between here and there. Yet undaunted, they began to take action.
First, the children decided we needed a car to get there. Enter our trusty stand-by, a nice empty box.
Here are a few bits demonstrating the process and explaining some of the technical details:
I think we’ll need to attack the map next….
Our cup creations have evolved from balancing to creating large scale pictures. As the children were building this image, they discussed the placement of the colors to create a shark. I noticed something a bit different when looking from my head height.
When the children realized what I was smiling about, they wished to see from my perspective as well.
Now much of our building must be viewed from “up high.”
Today Pre-k participated in our fourth annual “Hour of Code” event. We didn’t actually spend an hour on the project, but the computer programming that we played with was lots of fun! The instructors (Mrs. Kate Weber and Dr. Anne Faye, our Director of eLearning) explained that computer programming was as simple as giving someone or something directions. After a quick practice with paper arrows and maze, the children moved on to Kodable, an iPad app with similar parameters. For this task, the children directed a fuzzy creature through mazes while practicing planning, problem solving, the Scientific Method and visual-spacial skills.
If you are more curious about Hour of Code, check out Computer Science Education Week. Here is a short introduction found within their site:
We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and less students are studying it than a decade ago.
That’s why schools across the nation joined in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), students will be amongst over 2 million worldwide spending one hour learning the basics.
See http://hourofcode.org for details.
There are many ways for teachers to approach conferences. It could be a time to focus on the academic strengths and weakness of a child. The social and emotional skills of each student could be the star of the conversation. We could spend our 20 minutes discussing the activities the children have been involved or their interests in over the past few months. We could even discuss troubles the child has at home and school, seeing where they meet and work on solutions together.
In the past, I’ve prepared notes for each conference detailing strengths and areas for growth for each student. I’ve spent the first 15 minutes talking to the parents and then, in the last five asked them if they have any concerns or questions. I think it worked, but I think we can make our conferences more useful.
This year, I want to try something new. I want to know what you, the parent or caregiver, are most interested in discussing. We’ve spent two months with your child and are getting to know them pretty well. You are the members of our team that we don’t know well, yet.
Before you meet with us on Friday, please consider what you’d like to talk about most. I want our time together to be productive for you, especially since you are taking time out of your busy day to visit with us. For this reason, one of the first things I’ll ask you on conference day is:
What would you like to talk about today?
We met with our fourth grade book buddies for the first time today. This year, Mrs. Ferguson (the Fourth Grade teacher) and I are hoping to get together at least once every six day cycle. Right now, we’re are scheduled to meet on Day 2.
This tradition is held very dear here at WTN. All of our grades have reading buddies. The elder children get the opportunity to model literacy and be a mentor for the little ones. The younger buddies love having the one-on-one attention.