Monday, 22 December 2014

Inquiry-Shminquiry Kindergarten Hijinks with a Pinch of Reggio

It has been just over a month since I became a Kindergarten teacher. I have spent the past few weeks getting to know my "fabulous fifteen" students: reading, building, playing, and cleaning & organizing (cleaning & organizing, cleaning & organizing) my classroom,

Pinterest has become a dear old pal - I highly recommend these recipes for  Jello and/or gingerbread  playdough (although I would think twice before diving in to making snow - as it lead to quite the MESS!)

With my background in numeracy we have been spending lots of time exploring quantity using dot plates, buttons on snowmen, rocks, blocks, decomposing games etc.  I know that in the new year we will be exploring our rekenreks, five- and ten-frames and our classroom counting jar and continuing to develop our classroom number line. Math is my thing - I can inspire it and find ways to make it surface out of play.

My biggest challenges these past few weeks have centred around what I like to call the play-based, reggio-pressure that the majority of  ELKP teachers are feeling these days. It seems as though no one really knows what Kindergarten should look like, but everyone has an opinion about what it should not be. I am open to trying anything - but I believe moving students forward in their learning has to be the priority.

My new principal @kevinolamb, has been a tremndous help - bringing in fabulous finds from his hikes including nests, a falcon wing and even a beaver-chewed log for the students' nature exploration table.

I take a lot of inspiration from my new favourite kindergarten tweeps, especially @joelseaman and his blog Wide Eyes and Wonder  that seems to always have a gem to get me through those moments where I am "pulling my hair out" and questioning this inquiry-shminquiry.

Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed with the inquiry-reggio-pressure I think of this statement from the Inquiry-based Learning monograph from the LNS Capacity Building Series:

                     Inquiry-based learning concerns itself with the creative approach of combining 
                     the best approaches to instruction, including explicit instruction and small- 
                     group and guided learning, in an attempt to build on students’ interests and 
                     ideas, ultimately moving students forward in their paths of intellectual curiosity  
                     and understanding. 

In a class where a high percentage of students do not have basic letter and number recognition I'll admit that I find as much time as possible for one-to- one and small group instruction, but this vital time only exists when my students are fully engaged in play. Striking the right balance is going to take some time - but for now I am doing my best to embrace the hijinks.

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