Here's another Project Based Learning unit I developed about Owls. This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice. It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry. There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.
- Christmas, Featured, inquiry based learning, Language Arts, project based learning, Social Studies
I've got a few new products up in my store.
I've been working hard on products about Inquiry Based Learning. I have just released one about Christmas Around the World. I will post in more detail about this over the holidays, but for now, my class and I are right in the middle of this unit, and we're having a lot of fun.
Project Based Learning is the way the new curriculum in British Columbia is going. I developed this unit as a kind of step-by-step introduction to inquiry. So if you are completely new to this method of teaching, this unit is perfect for you.
Check out some of the images below for more detail.
- TPT sale
This post started as a single idea, which developed into a very, very, very long post. So I’ve decided to make it into a series of posts, of which this is the first. I hope that some of you who are in your very first classroom this year can commiserate and might find some support in the fact that you are not alone out there your first year.
I remember my first day in front of my own students. I remember feeling terrified. I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated. I was really lucky my first year teaching. I only had to work as a substitute teacher for 2 months before I found myself with my own classroom. Those stories are for another day, however. Today I want to tell you about my first year in my first classroom.
The classroom was old, as many are, in the city where I teach, which meant it was very big. It was a Kindergarten classroom, so it had its own bathroom, an art sink, and a huge storage cupboard. The kids were almost completely ELL, which was also something that I was struggling to get my head around. Most of these children, although born here, did not speak English at home. It was also a Kindergarten class. My training had been in Grades one and two. Fortunately, I had spent many days in those 2 months of substituting in a variety of Kindergarten classrooms in my district, so I had lots of ideas, just minimal experience.
The teacher who left this classroom, two months into the year, was close to retirement and had injured her back. She didn’t return for the rest of that year, so I got to consider the classroom my own after some time. She did pop by a few times to pick up some of her own things, but left most of them for me. She had been teaching Kindergarten in that same classroom for 25 years. She told me that of all the classes she had taught, this group was the calmest and easiest to manage of all the classes she had ever taught. I didn’t realize at the time, but I had been given a true gift, with this well-behaved class. I was able to concentrate more on covering the curriculum, and less on classroom management. In fact, I must have reorganized that classroom multiple times over the year, and the kids were able to take the change with minimal disruption. I can’t imagine that happening now.
The curriculum here was very vague and open-ended in 1992. It was student centred, and very unclear. I know I missed out a lot. I feel badly for those kids, but I also know that I did my best. I am a very organized and structured thinker, and open-ended curriculum was hard for me to get my head around. I was also the only Kindergarten teacher at this school, and it was before the internet and social media, so I had nobody to reach out to for help. Eventually I found an older curriculum guide that was much more specific, and I used it to guide my planning and lessons for the rest of the year.
I realized that if I wanted to stay teaching Kindergarten, then I needed more guidance. So I enrolled in an Early Childhood Certificate program at the local University. This helped me somewhat, but I also found an excellent mentor my second year teaching and she really saved my tail if you know what I mean.
If you are a new teacher, remember that all of us teachers started somewhere, and most of us remember our first days. Nobody is perfect. One piece of advice I’d like to offer is to be open to all suggestions. You don’t need to follow this advice, but you should at least listen to the ideas of more experienced teachers. Just because someone is older and they don’t relate to you on a personal level doesn’t mean they don’t know a lot about teaching. Something that contributed to my struggles as a beginning teacher was my resistance to advice from older teachers. I call it the “arrogance of youth”. I thought I knew a lot, when in fact I knew very little. I only know that now in retrospect.
So whether you are starting this year with your first class, or your 20th, I hope you have a great one. Remember that all of us started out somewhere and there is nothing more rewarding than that look in a child’s eye when they finally “get it”. And there’s no better job in the world than teaching to experience it.
Thanks for stopping by again today.
In the book David's Teacher say "No Running, No Pushing..."
In my classroom I like to use positive phrases when setting up the classroom rules.
I have 5 classroom rules:
Use nice words
Use a quiet voice
Share the toys and supplies
These rules have served me well over the past 25 years. And I really like the fact that they don't use the word 'no'. So after reading David goes to school, I brainstorm with the class ways they can say what the teacher is telling David, without using the word "no".
Then we make the craftivity below to create a bulletin board showing their knowledge of the class rules. I like it when they use 'I can' statements. Like "I can walk carefully", or "I can share my toys".
for the instructions and templates.
Then get them to cut out a speech bubble and write down one of the phrases from the class brainstorm. It can be one of my 5 rules above or any of the other positive statements that the class came up with.
Now on with the blog hop. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a Gift Card to TPT and the products in the picture.
or you can CLICK HERE to go on with the hop!
- #2016, #TPT, classroom organization, Featured, New Teacher, New Teacher No Problem, savvy teaching tips, Savvy Tips
Well, it’s been a long time since that first year, but I made a lot of mistakes. Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.
The first thing I did was came in with assumptions. We all presume to know things about the world around us, but sometimes it’s important to ASSUME NOTHING. And, let me tell you, that is a very hard thing to do.
I remember spending a ton of time decorating my classroom. I’m sure we all do when we get our first classroom. Well, I remember getting very frustrated one day with one of my little boys. You see, I hung a great poster on the wall near the sandbox. And this poor little boy was playing with the sandbox, but he kept rubbing up against the poster. Eventually he rubbed it so much that it ripped off the wall. I was horribly disappointed. I had spent a lot of time creating that poster (remember this is before we had color printers). I assumed that this child had control of his body. What I learned was that spacial awareness is a learned trait and that young children have not learned it yet. I ASSUMED that he was aware of his actions and he wasn’t.
I remember asking a child to color and cut out a picture. Now the child in this next story was not mentally delayed, she was not severely ELL, she was simply a child who had never had to do anything for herself. Everything in her household was done for her. So after asking her to color the picture, the child simply sat there until I finally noticed that she had not done any work. I told her eventually to color the picture but until I pointed out what the other children were doing, she had not thought to look around and see what the others were doing. I ASSUMED that she knew how to look around for help. Some children need guidance to learn this skill. When she finished coloring she sat there again. I ASSUMED she would come and ask for help, but again, many children need help learning how to ask. And finally, when I asked her how to cut out the picture she stared at me blankly. I took her over to the supplies and pulled out the scissors and gave them to her. She stared at me again and it finally clicked for me. She had never used scissors before. So I showed her how to put her fingers through the holes and make a cutting motion. I ASSUMED that all school aged children knew how to use crayons and scissors. Silly me.
I remember the time that somebody peed on the carpet. But there was nobody with wet pants. I ASSUMED that someone would fess up. But nobody ever did. All I can gather from this is that it was a girl in a skirt. I also ASSUMED that all children came to school fully toilet trained, but I learned that accidents can happen. I’ll never forget the day during Centers Time, a little girl followed me around the classroom to ask me if she could use the washroom. The thing is that it took a while for me to notice her. In the meantime, she had left a trail of pee all through the classroom while she followed me. So after a quick phone call for help to the custodian, there I was standing in the middle of the room blocking children from stepping on the wet trail.
So, like I said at the start, the best way to start your teaching career is to ASSUME NOTHING, because children are people too and they come from all different experiences and backgrounds, so you cannot assume anything will be like you expect it to be.
If you are an experienced teacher, I'd love to hear a little anecdote from your first year, and if you are a new teacher, I'd love to hear what your biggest fear is about your first week of school. Please leave me a comment below.
Speaking of new teachers. I thought I'd help you out and offer you a little freebie. Here's a checklist of classroom routines.
to get your own copy
If you'd like to check out the entire toolkit it's now in my TPT store.
It's part of my new product line: New Teacher? No Problem
Thanks for stopping by today!