Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Learning - Constructivism!!

When my students worked on beaded necklaces with a ceramic amulet for Mother's Day it was a social learning experience. Some students were quite eager to make a necklace and others were a little reluctant but were encouraged by their fellow students. Social Learning, where some students learn how to behave from watching other students, can also be talked about within the context of Social Constructivism which is a belief that knowledge is first learned in a social setting and then applied to other circumstances. For example, the first bead that the students threaded was how the necklace was to be made. This process (of stringing beads together) was practiced on their own and within a social context in a small group of students. Then the decision of which colour and how many beads to use was up to the students - this follows the social Constructivist learning theory where the learning is centred around the student, and the student decides on the objective/goal and what to do/or it is negotiated with the teacher. Vygotsky suggests a method of learning something new by doing what the student can do first, then challenge the student with something he/she might be able to do, and then move on to something that the student won't know how to do but will learn with assistance (Zone of proximal development). When we were making the neckalces for Mother's Day almost everyone (JK - gr. 3) knew how to thread a bead onto a piece of string, then they learned how to mold a piece of modelling clay onto or arround the string, and then they learned how to tie a knot. For some students the thing they needed to learn was how to tie a knot, for others it was how to attach an amulet to the necklace. This was learned using the zone of proximal development. Here are the results of this activity!

Beautiful Mother's Day necklace by Serina, gr. 2

More lovely necklaces for Mother's Day by Benedict, Hayden, Aiden, Joshua, Benjamin, Serina, and Natalie

Friday, May 25, 2012

Individual Unguided Instruction!

One way in which I have used Indvidual unguided instruction is when one of the more creative students works on creative arts by herself. This is an example of an indirect teaching strategy because the student works through self discovery and inquiry to learn problem solving techniques in developing her creative ideas into a completed work of art. A good time to use indirect inquiry is when you would like to focus on thinking skills and processes, learning 'how' to do something when it is more important than 'why' or 'what', and when students need to experience something rather than just hear or read about it. Some of the basic processes of inquiry that my students are using are observing, measuring, using space-time relationships, predicting, controlling variables, experimenting and communicating. The purpose of using unguided instruction is to allow the student to develop through thought processes which are specific experiences and observations to draw inferences and generalizations. This information was gathered from Foundational Methods - Understanding Teaching and Learning Third Edition. Here are some examples of completed work through unguided instruction.

Individually designed and painted by Benjamin, JK

Hand made book mark by Natalie, gr. 2

Indivdually designed and painted by Jefferson, SK

Hand made purse by Natalie, gr. 2

Individually designed, drawn, and coloured picture by Andrei, SK.

Complete Fairy set (wings, tiara, fan, and wand) indvidually developed and created by Natalie, gr.2

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tutoring the Fantastic Way!!

I've been tutoring a grade two student in Language Arts, more specifically reading comprehension and writing. He has been working through his work almost as required, with the help of me keeping him focused and not letting him go on about getting after Dora (The Explorer) because his little sister likes her show :-). He gets through the material more or less as I expect. Now I am faced with 'inference'. Through reading comprehension he must learn how to infer, which I don't think he has learned in school yet so this is a little tricky for me because he lacks the ability to make the connection to his inclass learning experience. So this leaves me with using implied messages to help him understand. For example, I use questioning to help him think and I say... what do you think will happen when you hear that someone had to go to the Principal's office? He takes a few moments to think and he came up with... 'he must have forgotten his lunch and his Dad dropped it off there!' I encourage him and say that this is what he can infer from the original sentence. This is one reason why I love the Primary students - they are still so innocent and don't think about getting in trouble in the Principal's office! :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Musicfest at Sommerville Manor School!

What a lovely music concert which Music Teacher, Ms. Gurnham led at Sommerville Manor School this week! The primary students performed on Wednesday and they were absolutely fantastic! Bravo especially to both Sabrina and Alicia who had beautiful solos. Everyone from Junior Kindergarten to grade three performed with a variety of instruments including sticks and blocks, xylophones, drums, guitar and there were lovely voices all round! Special mention goes to the teachers who put on a surprise performance with a touching melody written particularly with 'Sommerville Manor School' inserted where appropriate! Excellent! My sister-in-law, my daughter and I really enjoyed it!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Activity requiring Intrinsic Motivation

In order to pursue a particular goal one requires motivation; likewise in order to fulfill the requirements that guide actions toward the particular goal is called volition. It was the built in emotional associations that a student has toward photographs and beautiful pictures that engaged the student in the activity today which was making posters out of inspriational quotes on pictures/photographs. Then it was the volition that followed the activity through to the completed piece of work. The volition of using glue and pasting it onto a background at exactly the right spot either to the top/bottom/right/left of the background; and using glue and sparkles to decorated the background which led the students to a beautiful piece of work. Take a look!

Natalie's inspirational quote

Lovely poster by Andrei, SK

Beautiful poster by William, SK
Creative posters by Daniel, Joshua, Natalie, and Andrei

Artistic posters by Joshua,  Natalie, Andrei

Progressivist Indirect Teaching Strategy

The Guided Inquiry approach to teaching students how to make a puzzle was key in getting the idea across. I used small cubes which when put together can create a picture. I demonstrated a basic picture on four by four cubes. The students were expected to make observations and draw inferences. For example, students were to make observations about how the cubes connect and to infer what the student could draw on them. I encouraged the learning with guided questions such as "have you ever seen anything like it?"  "Do you know how it was made?" "Look closely..can you see that there are lines touching each cube?" "what can you make?" Afterward, I asked one of the students to identify the pattern of the sequence of events that he used to comprise the content of the puzzle. He said that it is an 'eyball with arms and legs,' and he developed it based on my example of a 'smiley face' puzzle.
Eyeball puzzle by Benedict gr. 3

I used guided questioning such as 'how many cubes would you like to use to make up your puzzle?' I encouraged social interaction between Natalie and Serina and active exploration so that the students could develop something meaningful. They furthered their puzzle into more meaningful creations, one was linked to an abstract drawing. Guided Inquiry is definitely an active approach to learning. Take a look at how one of the student's cube puzzle was used in a piece of work.

Colourful Creation by Serina, gr. 2

Monday, May 7, 2012

Play Based Learning!!

What a great way to learn - especially for the early learners in JK and SK and even for the 'kid' in all of them who are growing into the later grades such as up to grade three. The new  Play Based Learning  curriculum that some of the schools are following is a great idea. I find that it peaks the students' curiosity, gives them a chance to make friends, gives them an opportunity to learn how to express themselves and how to experience the world around them. When the students in my After School Programme made cloth heads I called them 'Bunchie Heads' to be creative and this is one way that I use Play Based Learning. For example, when they heard the name 'Bunchie Head' it made them laugh and hence it became a social learning experience right off the bat because they looked around at each other and made a funny connection with others in the programme. It gave them an opportunity to make a new friend. The students worked in buzz groups that they created themselves and they learned that cutting fabric/cloth was more difficult than cutting paper so I assisted them with this part. Then came the fun part when they got the chance to 'bunch' up a piece of newspaper into a ball and place it in the centre of the square of fabric that had been cut. Next they learned to gather all the edges around the bunch of newspaper and most of them were able to hold the edges together at the top in order to wrap a string around it to tie a knot. They got the opportunity to learn how to tie a knot too. Then they glued the googlie eyes and a mouth onto the fabric. It was a wonderful learning experience!! Take a look at the results!!
By Jefferson, SK student

By William, Daniel, and Jefferson, SK students

By Serina, gr 2 student
By Daniel, Jefferson, William, and Hayden - JK and SK students

Friday, May 4, 2012

Parlez vous en Francais?

Moi?...un peu!! I taught grade 5, 7, and 8 French today - following lesson plans, of course. I love teaching! Thank you for the opportunity to lead a few classes today. One of the classes was differentiated as they are in most cases. The most notable thing is that there can be 'beginners' in every class!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Deductive Teaching Approach!!

Creating Daffodils using a colouring, painting and cut and paste method is a good example of how I sometimes use a Deductive approach to teaching. It is teacher centred where I model each step using verbal and nonverbal gestures. I also use timing prompts such as "First," "and Then," "Next," etc. to indicate that one thing happens after the next and to let them know that it is a process to follow. The best way to use deductive teaching strategy is to group the students based on ability and instruct them accordingly. Here are some of the results of the Daffodils which were made of a painted egg carton, glued to a coloured flower petal base which is glued to a construction paper stem with coloured leaves attached.
Lovely daffodil by Andrei

Beautiful daffodils by Hayden, Jefferson, Joshua, and Andrei with William and Natalie to complete theirs.

Inductive Teaching!

I used an inductive teaching strategy to get the students to create images using pieces of macaroni. The students who experimented with this activity were mostly Senior Kindergarten students who just wandered over to the craft table and said "hmmm... what it this doing here?" I introduced the things in the bowls as pieces of macaroni and made a suggestion to use the glue and the paper with the macaroni. The students learned inductively how the macaroni works with glue on the paper through self discovery. Some of the students liked the kinesthetic element of feeling the macaroni and others liked the challenge to create something out of the macaroni. Take a look at the results:

This is a skunk by Joshua, SK.

Designs by Natalie, Joshua, and Sasha using macaroni and glue.