A Week in KW -
Our class has 19 students all aged 5/6 years old. We are located in the south of Sydney, NSW. In KW we have a variety of backgrounds, with 3 ESL students from Indonesia, Columbia and Spain, as well as students with backgrounds from China, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Tonga and 4 students of Indigenous Australian descent. Our school is classed as a disadvantaged school with the majority of students from low socio-economic families.
Each day we start the morning by greeting each other, as I believe it is important to start the day off in a positive way. So I start by saying good morning to the class as a whole, they reply, and the students say good morning to each other as well. Following this, I take attendance, this is done electronically via Sentral, an internet based program the school uses that stores and collects data about the students.
I then pose a problem to the students, and ask them to work out how many children are attending that day. For example, if we have 19 children in our class, but today there are two students away, how many people are here today?' The students love this and some are even starting to recall the answers from previous days, and comparing the numbers, which is fantastic to see children of this age learning to subtract from two digit numbers automatically. After this, we complete our daily calendar which is also interactive using the Smart Board. The calendar allows students to be involved by putting the day's day and date into the correct spots, and also placing images onto the dates of any special events.
Each morning session I have a literacy lesson, as I believe the students are most alert at this time and it is also the longest session (two hours). I usually start with writing practice, and having recently been trained in THRASS, I have started with daily handwriting where the students listen to a CD which has a recording of the alphabet and a description of how to form each letter. During this time I walk around the room watching students and checking their pencil grips and letter formation.
Next, we have a class discussion on our weekly sound. As my class is now THRASS focused, we talk about the sound and what different letter combinations can be used to represent that sound. For example, if the sound was 'a' as in cat, we would talk about other words that use 'a' in that way, but also how 'a' is different in words like 'cake' and 'park'. Alternatively, if it was 'a' like in day, we would also look at other spelling choices we could use to make the same sound. This could include, a, eigh, ai, or a-e.
Following this, we will do some writing focussing on the weekly sound, and writing a 'silly sentence' which uses lots of words using that letter. The children love coming up with this and feel proud to see their ideas on the board. I find the education that the children enjoy most is also the most rewarding and beneficial.
In the middle session, we have maths for an hour, which for the majority of the lesson is hands-on. The activities I use are usually taken from Count Me in Too, with a week-by-week topic focus and counting activities each day. On Wednesdays our maths session is shorter so I have different gameswhich students are placed into groups for, and play a different game each week. These games include snakes and ladders, dominoes, go fish, and other maths games from Count Me in Too (all board games). The students love participating in these games and don't realise that they are actually learning, often commenting 'when are we going to do work?'. I love to see their excitement and enjoyment in these sessions, as it not only teaches them vital mathematical concepts, but also social skills at the same time. Over the past 2 terms since running these sessions, I have noticed a great increase in their self-efficacy and independence.
After maths, depending on the day, students may complete work focusing on either their Focus Unit (Changes - Zoo focus) which we have been learning about life cycles of animals, and general facts about animals to form information reports(which is our focus text type this term). We also do Bounce Back lessons once per week, which is a resiliency program for schools and students to learn coping strategies and real life lessons. So far this year we have focused on honesty, conflict resolution and our 3 school rules: respect, safety and learning.
In the afternoon session, two days per week I hold activity groups with the other kindergarten class, where the students are placed in mixed groups of an average of 5 students per group, with 7 groups in total. Each Tuesday and Thursday students rotate to a new activity. Currently we have activities such as grassy heads, making pet rocks, a sequencing activity, and Dutch 'Delft Blue' painting, as we are fortunate enough to have an intern from Holland in our classes for the rest of the year, and she is teaching the children about her heritage. In our next set of activities we plan to allow the intern to teach the students some basic Dutch language lessons. I believe that embracing multiculturalism and all it has to offer not only teaches the children about different cultures but helps ensure that they grow up to be accepting members of society. Considering the range of cultural backgrounds within the class I believe that nurturing acceptance and integration is extremely important.
We do fitness for 15 minutes with all K-2 classes every Monday - Thursday, and have Sport on Fridays with K-2 also. These are usually rotational activities with each class teacher focusing on a fitness activity on Monday - Thursday, and a sport skill on Friday. This term we focused on skills for the upcoming athletics carnival.
On Tuesdays, we are lucky to have the ACMF visit our school to teach our studentsmusic. From 9-9:45am KW and the rest of K-2 go to choir lessons, where the children learn to sing songs from Don Spence's music collection. We have two visiting music teachers who run this for us, and classroom teachers also attend. Following this, at 10:00 KW also have their own individual music lesson from one of the music teachers which I attend to support them. These lessons regularly involve students singing, playing instruments (such as chime bars, maracas, tambourines, cymbals and xylophones) and generally having a really great time! The students look forward to this every week, and are also learning to read music, starting by learning the names of each note (doh, re, me, fa, sol, la, ti, doh, like in The Sound of Music!) and the hand signals for each. This is known as 'solfege'.
On Wednesdays, we have speech therapy lessons from 4th year speech therapy students from USYD. These students focus on teaching the students lessons which develop , and knowledge of sentence structure, and are guided by a fully qualified and experienced speech therapist. I have noticed a huge difference in just three terms of being with my class in not only the way that they speak to me, but also to each other. I love seeing their development and enthusiasm in these lessons, especially the students who were reluctant in the beginning. For example, at the beginning of the year I had one boy who was diagnosed as 'selective mute' and would not speak to anyone, not even me! However at home, he spoke at a normal audacity. Throughout the first few weeks of first term, the child began to speak, in a 'mouse-like' voice, using 1-2 words at a time. Now, at the end of term 3, he talks to everyone, using full sentences, and just last week had his first 'News' session where he openly talked to the class. This was a massive step! I just love that I was part of his growth and development, and that this progression has happened before me.
In KW, for behaviour management I have a 'traffic light' system. This system places students on the green light for their first warning, orange for second warning, and red is third and last warning. When students are on the red traffic light, they are then placed at the time out desk, and have to complete their work there until they can show that they are sensible enough to rejoin the class. For rewards, I use a star chart, where after each session students are placed on the star chart if they haven't been on the traffic lights. If they get 4 out of the 5 stars for the day, they get 5 minutes reward time. This reward time is accumulated over the week, and can be used on Friday afternoon for something they like doing such as computer time, Lego, Mobilo or Playdough.
We have two programmed time slots for computer access each week, where students have access to a computer each. For the majority of lessons, this has been used for access to Mathletics, which is an online maths program which includes games, activities and topic tests. We are now moving on to word processing, where students are learning to locate Microsoft Word, and using the keyboard to write their name, and eventually moving on to more complex writing/typing such as sentences.
All in all, KW is a fun and interactive classroom which works well both independently and collaboratively. As a beginning teacher at my first full time job, I feel comfortable in saying that I am proud of my students and my classroom dynamic.Leave a comment
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