Monday, 10 November 2014

Super 5 en maternelle - Daily 5 in Kindergarten

When thinking about the curriculum for kindergarten, learning through play is at the forefront. Then why would a classroom teacher at this level want to use the structure of The Daily 5 with her students?  With most of the students being non-readers and very few of them having developed any kind of independent skills, it seems like a recipe for disaster. Well, Ellen Lague and her students in French Immersion Kindergarten at École Connaught on 4th have incorporated this structure into their daily routine with much success.

The goal of implementing the Super 5 is to allow Ellen to work indidually or with a small group of students for a five minute period.  Granted five minutes is not much time but, for a group of five year olds, their capacity to sustain one activity is about equal to their age plus or minus 1 minute. Therefore, Mme Lague stuck to this time frame for each round of her Super 5.  While she is working with her small group on various curricular activities such as patterning with blocks, MIMI (PWIM in French), EYE data gathering, the other students are reading to self, working on writing and using technology to explore the French language.

Super 5 typically takes places right after recess with the snack being done prior to them going outside.  Students meet as a large group on the carpet with Madame to discuss the activities for the day and to review their responsibilities at each component.  Visuals are used to identify where each student starts their rotation, with Madame Lague going over the student's name on the white board. Students can now easily recognize their own names and those of their classmates.  Names of students who are absent are left on the board but are sideways in case they show up later. We chose not to make anchor charts but rather are reviewing expectations using gestures, symbols and the French language.

A large number of books, including big books, are available in French for students to read. All of the students are non readers in French but seem to enjoy the role-play phase of reading, looking at pictures, turning pages and reconstructing stories for themselves.  The writing component has students using modelling clay to trace their names, using magnets to write colours, matching symbols with words, etc.  The French iPad apps used by the students are on the main screen on the iPad and a screenshot of the icon is placed directly onto the white board for the students to access.

Between each round, the students return to the carpet for a very quick self-evaluation and at this time Mme Lague will deal with any questions or problems.  The groups are changed to another activity and the names are reviewed once more so everyone knows where to go.  Mme Lague counts the number of minutes with the students in French for the round, sets the timer and uses a play xylophone to begin the round. Students go to their assigned activity and return to the carpet once the five minute timer has sounded to signify the end of the round.

Students are actively engaged in the activity and can easily achieve the five minute stamina for each rotation. Mme Lague has four rounds daily allowing each student to experience the three stations, in addition to the small group instruction with their teacher.  The use of The Daily 5 structure for this classroom has allowed students to feel a sense of accomplishment, gain independence, cooperate with their classmates all while learning base literacy and numeracy skills in a fun and play-based manner.

Another great positive for the use of this structure in kindergarten happens when the students move onward to higher grades.  Once in grade 1, students are familiar with the idea of independence and the importance of allowing others to have their uninterrupted learning time with their teacher while they focus on their assigned task. The implementation of The Daily 5 for literacy or even Explore + 4 for numeracy in grade 1 then becomes much easier for teachers to introduce, manage and also easier for students to increase their stamina.

A new student joined the class after a full two weeks of using the Super 5 structure.  The student easily understood the expectations and seemlessly joined the class during the literacy/numeracy portion of the day thanks to the great modelling of the teacher and his classmates. Thank you to Madame Lague and her wonderful students for allowing me to work alongside them to introduce the Super 5 in kindergarten.

Bravo mes amis!

Frankie Pelletier
Instructional Consultant
Team Awesome (Lerminiaux

Monday, 6 January 2014

Using cupcakes for assessment, really?

This holiday season, I received this sweet little book in my stocking and oddly enough, it made me think about assessment.

For those folks that know me well, I am a big fan of cupcakes.  But what does assessment have to do with these yummy treats? 

Jenel Markwart, a grade 6/7 teacher at École Centennial School, uses the idea of making cupcakes as an analogy for assessment with her students.  It is simple, easy to explain, relevant to students of all grades and is easily tailored to your own classroom/school culture.

Using the 4 point system currently in place in Regina Public Schools and the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan, the cupcakes are used as a gauge to determine where student learning is at a particular moment.  Students can easily see and reflect on what level they are working at based on the descriptors for the number of fingers. 

Better yet, the idea of making cupcakes brings the idea of learning a new concept or task into a more concrete example of level of understanding.

A student working at level 1 is beginning the journey.  They have all the ingredients needed to make his or her cupcakes and is working toward building up the knowledge, experience or practice in order to know how to go about putting these treats together.

A student working at level 2 is progressing and approaching some level of understanding.  They are certainly on the right track.  They have now mixed the ingredients together in a bowl but still do not have a real cupcake with consistency.  Sure batter is alright but you wouldn't bring a bowl of batter to a birthday party, right?

A student working at level 3 is meeting the requirements of the task at hand.  They have successfully made a cupcake and can do it with consistency.  They have met the outcome of making a small cake and can be very proud of their success.  They also have the ability to do this again if asked with basically the result.

A student working at level 4 is established and has mastered the art of making cupcakes.  Their level of understanding of the concept is 'icing on the cupcake'.

Students can easily identify their level to the teacher based on the 'i can' statements of the outcome they are working on.  This visual is also a great way to explain the assessment process to parents at the start of the year.  It seems so simple, yet is very effective - and fun too!

Jenel's ideas are reaching other teachers at different levels who have adapted the 4 level cupcake assessment visual for their own classroom.  Trina Crawford at École W. S. Hawrylak, a grade 2 teacher, has added this instructional practice for assessment to start the new year.

Trina incorporated the progression of the cupcakes, the number levels, a brief description suited to her students, as well as the abbreviation of the level used in the progress reports for grade two.  Sweet success!

As an educator, I can see countless possibilities for the use of this visual, or a modified version of it.  As a runner/thriathlete myself, I could easily spin this visual around to having all the equipment but not using it for level 1, lacing up your shoes and gear for level 2, to actually swimming/biking/running for level 3, and finally to completing a race upright and standing as the crowning glory for level 4.

For further information on how to incorporate this visual into your classroom, feel free to contact your friendly neighbourhood Instructional Consultant for details.  Thank you to Jenel Markwart for her creativity and dedication, and also to Trina Crawford for taking this idea and running with it!

Frankie Pelletier
Instructional Consultant
Team Awesome (Lerminiaux)

Monday, 27 May 2013

What does an Arts Education Specialist know about teaching math?

When you hear the name Barbara Flaten-Orr, you may associate her with teaching music, dance, drama and visual arts at Regina Public Schools.  But math, not so much!  Well, you would be surprised at how Barb has taken to the subject since tackling different challenges in her teaching practice.  Using the structure of Explore +4, the grade 4 students and staff at École Centennial School make math instruction relevant, hands-on, personal all within a structured environment.

The lesson starts off in the 'Lesson Circle' where students, together with their teacher, have established norms on 'I Charts' that they refer to before and during every lesson.  These are reviewed throughout the lesson to ensure all participants, including the teacher, are on track and maximize their learning time together.
The 'I Chart' for MOMO, which stands for Math On My Own, is reviewed prior to sending students off to their work tables.  The students who are scheduled for their 'special learning' time with Mrs. Flaten-Orr go off to the small table for individual or small group instruction while the rest of the class work on their assigned tasks. Materials, manipulatives, white boards, whatever is required for the lesson is available for students to use. 
The teacher rings the bell chime once the time is up to bring students back to the Lesson Circle.  They then do a self-evaluation of the use of their time during that round, referring back to the I Chart for the established norms.  The teacher does bring the students back early if the I Chart is not followed by all participants.  The importance of sacred teaching time is reinforced so that all students have clear expectations before returning to their assigned tasks.

The MAF (Math With a Friend - this name was chosen by the students themselves) is a time when students work cooperatively with another student to reinforce concepts, practice strategies, problem-solve and have fun with the math they are learning.  The teacher is still having 'special learning' time with an individual or small group.  Since École Centennial School is an inclusive environment, this structure allows our integrated FIAP students to learn alongside their peers in a structured setting. 

Near the end of the period, students work together to gather materials, store notebooks/textbooks, manipulatives to return the studio to its original condition, ready for another arts education lesson.  Teachers working cooperatively have enabled the structure of the Daily 5 and Explore +4 to be a success in the classroom.  Student have clearly defined high expectations for learning and teachers can work in small groups to individualize instruction.  A win-win situation!

Awesome work École Centennial School Team!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Blogging ideas/topics

What should you blog about with students from a grade 7/8 class?

In thinking of ways to engage students in writing to express their ideas, using a classroom blog can be one forum used to achieve this. The question then becomes, what to blog about?

When students are passionate about a subject or topic, they are much more willing to take risks in their writing, share their opinions and give possible solutions to a problem. As teachers, we strive to enrich the classroom experience and further our students own abilities through guided discovery. While keeping outcomes and indicators as the focus of lessons, giving students choice and responsibility makes achieving these goals so much more effective, achieveable and relevant for them.

 What are you passionate about? What would you like to blog about?  Keeping in mind the theme of 'power' that is your class focus, how can your passions and this theme go together?