Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Friday

or maybe I should say Finally Friday?!?! I've been teaching with a cold all week and the coughing every night is not making for very relaxing sleeps. As a result, my patience has not been as high as I would like. Plus, I can say for sure that the "honeymoon" phase in our class is definitely over!!!!! We are all getting very comfortable with the classroom, each other and the routines. Perhaps a little too comfortable! Nothing that a good weekend's worth of sleep and some review of classroom expectations won't fix!

I wanted to share something really awesome that happened today at choosing time. Choosing time in our class means exactly what it sounds like - the students get to choose what they would like to do. They go to lego or other construction activities (marble run, train set etc) or read books or draw or write a story or create art get the idea! Making choosing time happen is a philosophical decision for me. There is so much in the curriculum that I could easily spend every single second of the day having the class doing worksheets and teacher driven activities BUT I believe that children need the free choice time to play and explore - they need student driven activities. It is during these times that they are able to consolidate other learning and it is during choosing that I get to see aspects of the class that I can't see during other activities. To me it is an invaluable part of the school day.

Today one of the students brought in a book she wanted me to read to the class. I read it during Daily 5 time and loved it! This is one book I will be buying this weekend at Kidsbooks. It is called The Rough Face Girl and is an Algonquin version of Cinderella.

It was written by Rafe Martin and David Shannon did the illustrations. The writing, the pictures, everything was just right. You know when you read a book that just makes your heart feel a little more full? That just adds a little something good to your soul? This is one of those books. I loved how this Cinderella story does not completely follow the traditional one. The main character does not just sit around waiting for a fairy god mother to appear and help her escape her life of drudgery. This character takes action - she makes her own outfit, jewelry and footwear before heading out to meet the Invisible Being to whom she ends up married. He doesn't marry her because of her outer beauty though. He marries her because he has the ability to see into a person's heart to see their true personality. He falls in love with who she is NOT what she looks like. This is my kind of book.

After reading this book, the class went to choosing. A little while later I noticed three students looking at the book. They had found fabric in the art zone and went to work. One of them headed to the library to ask Conan the Librarian for books about First Nations people. What were they doing you ask? Well, they were building a wigwam. How cool is that? These are the "leather" sides to the wigwam being decorated in symbols just like in the story. I can't wait to see what they use for the logs!

It is still in process but don't you think it is going to be awesome? Now the question is: If I had taught a lesson on First Nations people and assigned the task of creating and building a wigwam, would these students have created something like this? I don't think so. Hearing the story, having a small spark flare inside them at the listening, being given the time to collaborate and the freedom to choose materials, all of these things worked together to create this learning opportunity. And that is the reason that I will never, ever, ever drop choosing time from my weekly schedule.

Ms. Hughes

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