Monday, 25 April 2011

Storyboards: The Power of Props*

(*There are photos of kid's stuff this time - you can skip my blah blah and jump to paragraph 4 : )

So.  I started a blog with no real plan. I do want to ramp things up next year,  when I have full day Kinder and more time (haha). I guess I wanted to see if I would actually stick to it.  
I see two sides to blogs. 
Reflective.  Yep, doing that. And man, has it focused my thinking during a very fuzzy time for me. 
Celebratory. That #iamburstingtoshowyouwhattheydidtoday! 
I want parents to see the process, not just the scrapbook of stuff. We do student-led conferences, portfolios, newsletters, emails,  parent visits, videos,  but parents miss moments.  Moments that matter. The mess and play and discovery that teachers so want kids to be able to share with the people important to them - their families.  In as “real time” as possible.  I am kinda limited because of privacy concerns right now, but I am working on it. 
So.  A huge thanks to twitterfriends who post these amazing moments. Who inspire others to post the same. This post inspiration comes from a link to storyboards - my very favorite kindergarten thing! Please let me know about your inspired,  made from stuff around the room,  masterpieces! 
We work on storyboards all year - creating props for favourite stories to encourage retelling, reinventing, blending stories into our own. We use a Flip for a center called “Make a Movie” so that we can record our masterpieces.  Right now, we are building a story board for Frog Belly Rat Bone A brilliant story of treasure, specks, friends, thieves, teamwork, and the power of good old mother earth. 

Before the specks . . . 
After the specks . . . 

Individual Story Boards

We have quite a few now, but these are the go to favourites - There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow  creating a class story board

GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER  with removable parts 

And a beginning to end of year fav story based on a book, but i didn’t have the props, so i changed it story board The Snake and the Frogs, based on  Mouse Count

If you made it this far, I feel that upon reflection, my celebratory post seems a little  LOOK AT ME rather than look at my little weeds . . . .  Maybe blogging is triangular, or better still,  and irregular polygon - many sided : )

Friday, 22 April 2011

Boys will be boys.

Cliche, but on my mind often.  #Kinderchat topic a few weeks ago evolved into this discussion about boys and rough housing.   Boys and guns.  And continues to come up through figuring out violence in kinder writing. Weeds in the Kindergarten. #kinderchat is buzzing right now with ideas. 
But the niggling thought comes back to me - Why Not? Ever read the original version of Red Riding Hood? Russel Hoban’s book Monsters? Watched Bugs Bunny for the zillienth time and still laugh out loud?  
Kids are surrounded by more violence than ever before.  And not cartoon violence, or storybook violence. Visual screen violence that research indicates affects the brain the same way that real violence does. 
Kids live with violence in their homes, on their streets.  Shouldn’t we give them the opportunity to explore, discuss, dispute, refute, re-evaluate, re-educate? That is what we do.  That is the basis of learning. We know kindergarten is not all butterflies and sharing. It is messy, and mean. We get mad. Mistakes are made and feelings are hurt. Not everything gets fixed right away.  
I don’t know.  I wish I did. I know I want boys to be boys. Snails and puppy-dog tails. (Tangent - were those tails CUT OFF??!!)  Anyway. 
More questions than answers. But a growing thought that a bit of this and that with discussion and acceptance and exploration can go a long way for a little weed.  To make sense of this dichotomy of violence in a little weed's world. 
But I might be wrong.  It happens.  

Sunday, 17 April 2011

“They are acting like kindergarteners”

Heavy sigh.  It is election time in the great white north,  and this comment has come up more than once to describe our political culture - yelling, stomping, tantrums, a refusal to listen, bullying, fingers in the ears blah blah blah. 

I am a patient woman, but if ANYONE refers to this type of behavior as “kindergarten” again, I will lose it all over them.  
You WISH our governments acted like kinders. 
You WISH our corporations acted like kinders. 
You WISH our adults acted like kinders. 
Kinders are curious and openminded.
KInders learn from mistakes, and unexpected consequences, and failure.
Kinders watch, and listen, and reflect, and try again.
Ever seen a kinder negotiate for a prized toy? 
Ever seen a kinder bounce back from disappointment and frustration? 
Ever seen a kinder look at another and say “I can help you with that”
Ever seen an idea bounce from one kinder brain to another and another to create greatness?  
Without the argument that “My brilliance is shinier and better than yours! “ 
I have. Kinder teachers know. We are there, modeling, coaching, engaging, expecting, celebrating.  
Maybe we need kindergarten kids and their teachers in parliaments and board rooms. Not elected or as CEOs, good heaven’s no.  As facilitators, mentors, reminders.  That what we teach our youngest should matter. It should be reflected in the society that they are RIGHT NOW looking up to.  Time for you to stop acting like adults, and start acting like KIndergarteners . 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tickles or Bonks

Special thanks to @Mr_Fines, @lamhrainbow , @ryflinn@Matt_Gomez Daddy Ducks one and all.
I recently attended a conference with a keynote from Dr Newfeld. The twitter version of it is #kidswilllearniftheyformanattatchmenttoyou.  That is what children are hardwired to do. Follow their Mother Duck, because they trust, believe, accept, care, respect.  Hardwired to balk at following some random duck just cause they were told to.  That all the pedagogy, and technology, and time matters for naught if kids are not attached to you.  That for some kids that means physical contact.  Hmmm. 
Years ago, when I first started all this that we called “school”, this ability to form a connection with the kids in my care came very naturally - hugs, hands, head pats, were a regular part of the day. I did stop wearing skirts though. Kinders have a weird affection for ankles encased in pantihose!  As I taught older children, the level of connection didn’t change, just the way we showed it. Tickles, Bonks, or a Wink on the way out the door was a great favourite - most picked getting bonked with a long wrapping paper roll, and nothing is as much fun as trying to wink. 
A combination of settings and circumstances have slowly discouraged me from being that type of Mother Duck. I have over the years slowly stepped back from the deep and often demonstrative world that is connecting and caring for children.  I have heard myself say “Hugs are for at home sweetie - can I have a handshake?” Political correctness, and all that. There are, of course, more professional and less personal ways to show kids they matter. I know, I still have managed to connect with kid anyway. 
Except for three little ducklings in my care this year.  Of course, handshakes are not enough. They push past the hand and into a hug. They tug my hand and twirl into a better hug. They know. They know it matters. They know I have missed it.  They know it makes me better. 
So. I am leaping back in. Quack! Quack! Tickles, bonks, hugs, hands, winks - bring it on.  Because connection brings caring, and caring brings respect, and when a duckling looks at you with care and respect, you can help them do anything.  

Friday, 8 April 2011

Pencil Cases

I am privileged to teach 34 little ones everyday.  Still a half day program,  so it is hectic and fast paced.  16 in the morning, 18 in the afternoon. You develop this dark desire to be organized so that you can find the treasured time to slow down every once in a while.  

So. I go through stages with the little one supplies - we share everything, to keep it simple. Table tins at the beginning of the year,  tool tins for two as we go along. Finally,  in the last three months, pencil cases.  The kids go through our class store,  and collect what they think they might need - scissors, pencils, science colors, artists crayons, glue to stick stuff together.  Of course an eraser.  We don’t use erasers in kinder.  Not until now. Not until we get a pencil case.  
After all that sharing, the pull and pleasure that a pencil case of your very own brings is palpable for some. One little one asked another why pencil cases? Her friend replied “Well, duh! You can’t go to grade one without a pencil case!” 

Because a pencil case is like a driver’s license.  A rite of passage to the big kids world. Even with all the wonder of technology that I find miraculous, and a 5 year old finds mundane, this is still true. 
So.  In this new-to-me world of social media that would be more aptly named learning media, I want to make sure my little ones pack a pencil case of the things they might need - communication, collaboration, reflection, connection, curiosity,  an eraser, and glue to stick stuff together. 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spoken Word

Social Media is a catch 22 thing.  
The PLN is extraordinary.  I live in a small town,  and this connects me like nothing before.  
On the flip side, I am a talker.  Insanely committed to the spoken word.  Inflection, tone, nuance. 
I lack the ability to “speak” online. Lots of people can. Inflection, tone, nuance. 
So. What I write,  and what I mean are sometimes at odds. 
So. If I am ever unclear in 140 characters, here are trillion to explain it.
I believe in exaggerating
I believe in kindergarten
I believe that the child who has confidence will rock this world
I believe it is my pleasure to give them that
I believe I am preparing kids for life, not school
I believe that is crazy talk - 
I believe that I should be prepared for them, not the other way around
I believe play, exploration, curiosity
I believe in high hopes, failure, and persistence
I believe in experiences before expectations
I believe learning is subtle, explosive, silent, screaming, sneaky
I believe we grow better scattered with others than planted in rows
I believe listening to a child is easier than listening to a grownup
I believe in tangents
I believe in a good tea party with really tiny teacups
I believe I will change my mind, probably soon
I believe I will change direction, probably soon
I believe I can live with that
I believe this is narcissistic and longwinded
I believe that’s me! 
I believe in weeds. I once was one. 
I believe I still am.