Thank your teachers

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Debate around Full-day Kindergarten still rages

Play-based learning is nothing new. Activity-based learning, discovery learning for math programs, all have shown some issues and an impact on students in later years. FDK isn't any new curriculum. It does duplicate the Primary years curriculum, and rather than focusing on pre-literacy and pre-numeracy, these kids are being whipped into shape, skipping many of the joys that can be had in open-concept, open-ended activity centres.

 They are learning routines, how to walk in a line, how to behave in an assembly of 200 kids, listening to bells go off every 40 minutes. These are the Key Experiences that kids should learn in JK/AK, not reading and writing.

Kindergarten teachers think this is a creative craft.
They all look the same., pre-cut butterflies.
Classification, seriation, representation, expressive and receptive language appropriate for their age
 and stages. Playing with hands-on activities, running, touching, playing with water, sand, cooking, listening to music, singing, making rhymes, cutting and pasting, role play. Even their art work all looks the same in JK/SK classrooms. It isn't open-ended, personal expressions. Teacher precut materials in order for the kids to all have a piece of art work that looks acceptable.
Grandkid's art

It's not so much that kids are 'mastering' gr. 1/2 curriculum. The likely problem is the JK and SK teachers are using gr. 1/2 curriculum in the JK/SK settings. I saw this with my own daughter, now 35 years old, who entered Kindergarten knowing how to read. She did endless worksheets where she circled all the things that were red.

Learning to read involves much pre-reading prep, and identification of letters and numbers. We didn't teach them to write their names until later in SK. These kids come to school, from families who work at this, already printing their names, doing art work, using scissors, and coloured pencils, rather than crayons.

My other issue with FDK is the size of the classes. My granddaughter is 4 and she is going into a class of 30 JK/AK students. Granted there is one teacher and two ECEs (to provide before and after-school care, as well) but what a zoo this will be. They don't know how they will cope. How do you do crowd control for a group of 30 kids? ECEs are used to having a Day Care ratio of 1:8.
Some of these kids aren't fully toilet trained. Some are still 3 years old, in a class with kids as old as 5. How does one encourage activty-based learning, free play, when they are going to have to monitor the numbers of kids in the activity centre, block centre, art centre, dress-up centre, book centre?
This massive experiment, in lieu of good day care, is having an impact on our wee ones. I fear for their generation.


Full-day kindergarten (FDK) impacts Grades 1, 2

Ontario kindergarten students are so ahead in their learning that it's prompting school boards to revisit the curriculum for subsequent grades. [Kristin Rushowy  ]

With the final phase of the full-day rollout happening this week, school boards say that over the past five years of implementation, they’ve had one big kinder surprise: teachers in Grades 1 and 2 now find their lessons no longer work for children steeped in play-based learning — kids who are more confident, ask more questions and who are used to setting the agenda in the classroom.
THIS ISN'T NEW!!!
The Ontario government now plans to expand play- and inquiry-based learning throughout the elementary years as part of its new action plan.
RELATED:
Ontario Rolls Out FDK
Not all the full-day kindergarten classrooms are currently available, though the program is now fully rolled out, according to Ontario Education Minister Liz sandals. There are 265,000 kids enrolled this fall in the program for four- and five-year-olds at 3,600 schools. (CBC)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When Did Your Clothing Break The Rules?




Yes, when, if ever? Most of us have to follow rules. It may be written or unwritten, however, they do exist. Special occasions require that we dress up. It's enjoyable, it shows the bride, the family, award winners, mourners, faith community, everyone and anyone that you feel this is an important occasion or ceremony.

JJ Lee @jj_lee interviewed Sonia Lawrence @OsgoodeIFLS, who seems to feel that a dress code is only aimed at girls, to protect them from leering male teachers. This is not the case. As a female teacher, I am uncomfortable looking at girls with nipples obvious, bra straps falling out of their shirts, bare bellies exposed, skirts too short to sit comfortably, no gym clothes on hand, and they'd refuse to participate in regular classes.

My grade 6 students were a perfect example. One young girl, mature beyond her male grade 6  classmates, loved to tease the boys. She thought it hilarious. Her yoga/dance pants would be rolled down low, hip bones exposed. She wouldn't have left the house that way, but her parents had already gone to work. While I was trying to teach a lesson, she would seductively raise her arms, stretch, and let everyone see her. They didn't know what to do, none of us knew where to look. Our purpose was to learn, not to flaunt our sexuality.

How can we do our science experiments, participate in gym, play outside at recess if they are under dressed?

There is nothing wrong with a dress code. We all have one in our workplace. I wouldn't got into my classroom wearing a skimpy outfit. It'd just gross everyone out. We dress for our purpose: to teach or learn. I don't like servers with nose rings and piercings, it really grosses me out. You wouldn't wear an evening gown to work in the ER! 

Science experiments
Dress codes are created with staff and parent councils. They reflect the standards of the community, the comfort levels of men and women, parents, teachers.


When Did Your Clothing Break The Rules?Can we really wear whatever we want? From hipster head-dresses to fashion as a form of rebellion, Head to Toe looks at what happens when our clothing breaks the rules. (August 19th, 2014)This CBC show:Head to Toe explores the personal stories, social science, and hidden meanings in the clothes that Canadians wear. Because whether you choose a t-shirt, tuxedo, or work uniform, you're sending a message to the world.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What is wrong with a dress code?

Who wants to stand at the front of a classroom, facing girls with nipples erect, bare bellies, afraid to bend of lean over, boys with t-shirt and foul language, underwear hanging out? There is nothing wrong with a dress code. We all have one in our workplace. I wouldn't got into my classroom wearing a skimpy outfit. It'd just gross everyone out. We dress for our purpose: to teach or learn. I don't like servers with nose rings and piercings. You wouldn't wear an evening gown to work in the ER! This chickie has it all wrong.

Dress codes are created with staff and parent councils. Just because overeager parents are being strange enforcers, doesn't mean there is something wrong with it.

I had a student who insisted on wearing yoga/dance pants to school, with the waist band folded down. She would seductively raise her arms, stretch, and let everyone see her belly. The boys didn't know where to look. Nor did I. This was in grade six.

WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM
Jessica Valenti: Dress codes assume that male students' education needs to be protected. What girls need doesn't rate

Friday, March 28, 2014

Full-day kindergarten offers no academic advantage, study says

This is so typical of education programs. We'll create something new, without studying the benefits and hazards beforehand. Cheap Ontario day care at $5 billion. Crowded schools, teachers who do not understand preschoolers. Give me ECE teachers, with 1:8 teacher:student ratios in comfortable environments, in properly fitted out day care centres, any day. More subsidies for the working poor, kids who need more stimulating environments and benefit from excellent programs. Otherwise, it's a waste of taxpayers dollars.

Happily, the other provinces have learned from Ontario's mistakes. Starting kids earlier in school doesn't make them smarter. It shoves them into an institution, well before they need to be in one.

Senior kindergarten at Epic School in Toronto. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
EARLY LEARNING

Full-day kindergarten offers no academic advantage, study says

A new study is raising questions about the value of full-day kindergarten, showing children attending the program in Ontario are no better in reading, writing and number knowledge at the end of Grade 1 than their half-day peers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Anger Management Program-Section 20 classroom

Welcome to the WhitePines Program

formerly hosted in:

Background | Philosophy | Behaviour management |
[ Week #1   |  Week 2   |   Week 3 | Week 4 | May 24th | June 2nd ]
[ Day Book | Curriculum | Incident Form
| Creative Writing | Classroom Photos | Entry plan ]

My program was created in April, 2006, and the program concluded in June of that year. Funding was cut for this program and I was placed back in a regular classroom. This is the story of my class. I had to start from scratch, as there was no classroom, no supplies or equipment. I created a structure and a philosophy around which to focus our work.
Background
Located in William Beatty P.S., I created a program that sought to integrate learning, the learner and individual learning needs. This purpose of the program was to meet the needs of learners who do not fit into the regular program due to personal and social issues. A program which incorporates individual, independent programming, with additional, life skills components, will shape our curriculum. We planned to do some community work, as well as academics. These students could not learn in a regular classroom. They needed an academic program closely aligned with their individual needs, and adapted to their personalities.

Philosophy
With expectations of high levels of achievement of our learners, we believe that children learn differently and that the curriculum must meet their needs on an individual basis. We empower the learners who might not learn in the same Style, at the same Speed or on the same Surface as their peers. Students learn differently on a particular day: many factors influence their learning. Marching to a different drummer, they may learn to a different Sound. Teachers must find the Shape of their learners; to ensure that a student can learn we must ensure that the learning environment includes a climate that supports their learning. Literacy and numeracy skills are essential to Student Success.
Students are influenced by their physical, social and emotional environments. Staff must be attuned to their demeanour, a gigantic cue that broadcasts their anxiety levels, should they rise. In an individual program student's learning needs can be accommodated by the staff members who
Maslow
In this program we work hard and we play hard. We use IF....THEN statements they are able to buy into the learning process through both intrinsic and extrinsic means. Using this philosophy, we help the students through scaffolded learning practices to find personal success. Through writing frames, guided writing and reading programs, and establishing the expectation that a student can achieve, students experiences success. My philosophy of education has a solid foundation in proven, successful instructional repertoire that includes instructional skills, tactics, strategies, pedagogies that determine a path a student will take along the journey to self-actualization
.
Behaviour Management
By incorporating logical consequences for their actions, students learn to become accountable. I believe that using a Pyramid of Interventions we can influence students in what we need to do to become acceptable members of our classroom community.
We use a class incident report to reflect upon our actions. Similarly, we use a teacher reporting tool to focus on the problem and arrive at a conclusions. Problems with swearing have been ameliorated by a token reward system, which has been reduced in the last few days.

Assessment
Students self-assess with access to the teacher answer books, which provides a safety mechanism for them. They feel they have access to information which provides a safety valve. Students peer coach and peer tutor, in an atmosphere of collaboration.



Week One

My first week I spent getting the room in order, working on my entry plan and creating a positive classroom environment. I cleaned the room, reorganized the table arrangements and figured out my priorities.
My Day Book gave me some sense of structure and routine. I create them and ensure that they evolve as the day requires.
Travelling to Ottawa on the weekend, I visited a couple of teacher stores and put together a list of supplies. Posters brightened up the room and added some reference materials, which would assist student i.e. times tables, cursive writing chart, a calendar. We built some of these things into our routines. I found several workbooks that would simplify a math program, including several grade spans to ease students into academics not previously mastered or tackled with some sense of confidence.
I began with two students, this first week, and we put together a class story. We wrote 'Fridays' the end of the first week.

Week Two

Swear Tokens
As we entered week two I realized I had to manage the language in the classroom. I give each student 10 swear tokens. Each day they are allowed to have 10 free "Get out of Jail" type of tokens. At the end of the 100 minute period each token they have left counts towards 1 minute of free gym time. The first day there were not many left.
On the second day one students apologized for swearing, but gave up a token. In addition, he stopped me, and the class, because he had figured out that since 4 of them had 10 tokens each, he had only used a swear word once, that meant we had to start our free gym class now or else we wouldn't get their fair share of time which, he reckoned, totalled 39 minutes. Progress at last! 
Problem Solving
I begin the day with a group problem solving activity. It is a bit tricky as they change from being at home to adapting to school rules. Most do not come to school with breakfast in their stomachs. I will rectify that next day. Our teenagers do like to sleep in and some hurry in order to make it just before the bell.
We have a breakfast club and I will find some food for them, although they do not need to visit the club. I am going to allow them to bring their lunch bags into the class and, as long as they work, allow them to munch as they see fit.
Humans are curious creatures, if given a problem to solve, a mystery, they will tackle it if it is not too overwhelming. I ensure that we are successful as a group.
They seem to be able to tackle problems when they work together. I have been working at creating a sense of community. Inviting other students to help us with projects has been beneficial.
Anxiety Recognition
Students are influenced by their physical, social and emotional environments. Staff must be attuned to their demeanour, a gigantic cue that broadcasts their anxiety levels, should they rise. In an individual program student's learning needs can be accommodated by the staff members who respond immediately to a crisis. In a moment, staff must drop everything and respond to a student who has faced social, emotional or behavioural issues. We must ensure that they are met at the door and the beginning of their day is a successful. As with most adults some days are better than others. A good teacher will respond to their needs and react accordingly.
We have had several such days. I realized that we needed to change the daybook to incorporate integration and other classroom activities, as well as the ebb and flow of their day.
My hope is that by building in a routine, students will feel as if they can predict how the school day will unfold. I will spend less time trying to keep and maintain their attention if they can come in, begin their journals and launch into their day. I have not, as yet, been successful with this. I spent two days at a Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Workshop. Another teacher covered for me. All routines were lost, since it is difficult for a colleague to recreate one teacher's curriculum.
Students have been working on building a couple of sandpits. They have figured out how much wood they need for the sides (8' x 16'). They created a plan and put together the pits. One staff member, experienced in construction, helped them make a plan. Students put together two sand pits.
Digging took a few days, but it built character!

A Crisis
On one occasion, students responded to a perceived theft of monies. They were merciless in their pursuit of a student they were prepared to confront with the alleged theft. It was up to staff to deflate the potential problem. A simple intervention: listening to the students and scribing their concerns meant that one student's vigilante methods were modified. No blood was drawn!
I asked students to reflect upon their actions [incident] and to try to seek an understanding that vigilantism is not an option, much as a wrong had been done.


Week Three

Curriculum
We are making progress. Students are becoming more familiar and dependent upon our regular schedule. Children always find structure a good way to start the day. They understand these parameters. I attempt to shape the behaviours and while there is structure, the routines are predictable and easy to follow. In fact, most of the students are following along and buying into the regular expectations of the day.
Behaviour
While the swearing has lessened, it appears that opposition and defiance depend upon the day, (i.e. Mondays, first day back) and whether regular routines have been heeded to. Any difference in regular routine results in disruptive behaviour.
Students respond to consequences, with limits in routines and measures to ensure the safety of students and staff. By starting the day with an activity in which we moved from what we know to which connection we could make between  things we thought about or had an opinion about, we made connections to the world and our understanding of the things around us.
PBAT
Project-based assessment tasks have been a focus for me in my curriculum practice. I have attempted to integrate technology with the program. I have asked the students to create a list of things that mean something for them: favourite foods, people, activities, etc. They brainstormed all possible photos. Now, armed with a plan, I have given each student a disposable camera. When we finish this, they will take their photos and write captions for them. Unfortunately, one lost his camera.
We took photos of students participating in gym, popping popcorn for the school, the plants we are growing, work projects, etc. We will use these photos to put together some pieces of writing.

Creative writing has been going well, using a writing frames approach.

We began the week with an uproar, but settled down into completing work after some limits and If... then statements, and wrote a couple of stories: "Favourite TV Shows", using a cloze format. It seems to work well by scaffolding a story. We have worked on Someone Who Understands.
We have looked at improving the effectiveness of our writing, making more powerful statements, using $50 words, etc.
Writing Frames
This is the format for Television Shows.
I spend about ____________ hours a ____________ watching television. I have ____________ favourite television shows. They are ____________. If I could watch only one, I would watch ____________. That is my favourite show because ____________. ____________ is my favourite character. Each week ____________ gets into ____________. The ____________ always occurs because ____________. The problem is usually solved when ____________. If you like ____________, watch.
Today we made an AHA chart. We brainstormed the difference between a fact and an opinion. We read an information piece, a wee bit of expository writing on Canoes. We talked about what we already knew and what we could glean from the writing.  This was something my outdoorsy students could grasp. Unfortunately, two of them did not want to participate in the discussion. We carried on with out them.
From this point, we read the piece together, highlighted "facts" and jotted down important facts and connections with our AHA statements.
It resulted in a discussion that reflected critical literacy skills, connecting real meaning with the expository text and personal, real-life events and familiar experiences.

Anxiety Recognition
Students regularly appear in the morning unwilling or unable to work. Getting them on-task is the biggest difficulty. Some students participate in making popcorn for the first "Nutritional Break". Co-operative behaviour in the classroom results in the ability to participate in such tasks. If I know I can trust them in the classroom, I can trust them in the halls.
Journals are a good way to start the day. For those who cannot or will not write, staff can scribe. I like to use prompts. Today we wrote, "Who Am I?". I asked students to reflect upon who they are as a person. What do I contribute to my family..., my classroom community... the school community, Parry Sound/town community, etc..

Week Four

Curriculum
This week we began a research project plan. We might be looking at research around anhistorical event.
Another strategy is to compare and contrastthe past and the present.
I am hoping to launch into a PowerPointproject soon-based on this work! This is a sample from my Olympic PowerPoint Project guide.
comparecontrast
We will also begin working on a budgetingassignment, which incorporates authentic budget practices in a real-world application.
Go here to plan your budget as a college or university student.
or
2. Choose your job and figure out your *monthly* salary and create a budget as a new graduate and an adult.

May 24, 2006

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Due to the current labour disruption, we have put together an optional package of work for students. Our current Social Studies  work revolves around numerous group activities in order to fulfill the expectations of the grade 7/8 curriculum. We are anticipating studying a country, and participating in an in-depth research project. We will also be doing a project about an historical event.
Here are some things you can do at home. While students are locked out I would suggest that your child :

  • keep a journal
  • keep track of money spent: how much per day or per month does your family spend on groceries, transportation, housing, entertainment? create a dream location: locate your holiday destination(s) on a map, collect maps, brochures and posters for a country
  • prepare a presentation about a holiday
  • write a creative story about where you would like to be this week.
There are literacy projects on this page. www.jilks.com/portfolio/Literacy.html
Create a 3-D design of your bedroom, school and home. http://sketchup.google.com/
I am planning a math unit.

June 2nd

Curriculum
This week we began plans for our Track & Field meet and a fishing trip.
Track & Field
We will participate in our Track & Field meet on Tuesday, June 6th. Competitors are to compete in at least 3 events. The top three winners will be able to advance to the Regional Finals on June 12th.
Fishing Trip
We are planning some curriculum around a field trip: fishing.
Ministry of Natural Resources posters, handouts, rulers: catch rules.
MNR site | Fishing in Ontario |
Canadian Tire pricing | fishing in Ontario | Fishing Lodges in Canada |
comparecontrast

Behaviour incident form

I find this helped children logically examine their behaviour.



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