24 February 2015

4MWT - February 2014

4 minute walk throughs (4MWT)

Teachers observing other classrooms in action in small groups followed by a guided conversation to promote personal reflection and inquiry.
Finding “gems” for you to use in your own classroom practice and using observations as a starting point for reflection and inquiry.

This morning my Collaborative Pod (4 teachers) enjoyed a 4minute walk through our colleagues classroom. This year TKS are focussing on professional practice and an open-door culture. I absolutely love visiting other classrooms but have rarely prioritized this. Below are my reflections based on the 4MWT.

"So what's some of the learning you're having right now in thinking about the walkthrough and reflecting on data?"
It really is quite amazing how a 4-minute walkthrough can offer so much new learning. The particular person we visited always inspires me anyway so it was a refreshing visit.

* Visual Arts - I was inspired by the beautiful artwork on display in the room. I could see that most of this was inspired by great books.
* Literacy - There was a lot of evidence of literacy throughout the classroom e.g. Poems, songs, stories created by children.
* Indoor/Outdoor flow - just affirms for me that this is a great way for children to explore play-based learning in context. We saw a group outside the classroom playing with water and mixing with chalk. They were calm and thoroughly engaged.
* Challenges - In one area the teacher had set up little challenges for children i.e. Challenge: How tall can you build?
* Natural resource - Saudi Arabia is considered a country with endless sweeping desert land. This teacher has made every effort to offer all sorts of beautiful natural resources for children to use in their play.

"So what might you want to apply in terms of your thinking around this walkthrough to your own practice?"
Use stories to provoke/inspire Visual Arts in young children.

13 February 2015

Literacy Learning Update #3

What’s happened? ( successes & breakthroughs)

Reading aloud to children - Our class goal to read at least three books a day to children is going reasonably well. Some days we manage to read at least 5 and then other days we read only two books. My Assistant teacher and I are always thinking about the possibilities for reading stories to our class. She reads 2-3 Arabic language stories to our class a week and we have seen a remarkable difference in our Arabic language speakers attention during story time. While it may seem common sense that reading Arabic language stories to Arabic Native speakers is a great idea, up until now I haven't formalized this as a routine in our classroom. Thankfully we have now and we have been enjoying hearing our non-Arabic speakers playing with the Arabic language. 

We are continually discussing the books that we think have hooked children in. Here are a few that have got our class hooked and because we've read them so much we've been able to play with the idea of speech marks, exclamation marks and rhyming. We've developed a great relationship with our school librarian who has been vital in keeping us stocked with great books in our classroom. Steven L. Layne (Igniting a passion for reading) writes about the importance of having a strong relationship with your librarian and that they are key to moving children from aliterate to literate.

Engaging and motivating boys in literacy learning engagements
Over the past two weeks we've made many attempts to hook boys into literacy activities. Focussing on aspects of specific aspects of  my practice (action research) has allowed me to go deeper into particular areas. In my attempt to engage boys in storytelling I printed a few 'popular culture' images from the Internet - Frozen and Ninja Turtle characters. Together as a group we wrote our own story, taking turns to add to each page. This went incredibly well for all learners in the classroom and we have chosen to read this story to children frequently through the week. For our next learning engagements I will probably do this in small groups and come up with some other ways to get ALL learners hooked in.


Hedges, H. (2011). Rethinking Sponge Bob and Ninja Turtles: Popular Culture as Funds of Knowledge for Curriculum Co-Construction. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36(1), 25-29. 

Vera, D. (2011). Using Popular Culture Print to Increase Emergent Literacy Skills in One High-Poverty Urban School District. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 11(3), 307-330. 

Perceptual Motor Program
Many years ago I organised a workshop facilitated by Robyn Cox (Get Ready for School) and another one a year later by Louise Dempsey. I am also an avid reader of Gill Connells Moving Smart blog. All of these wonderful ladies have dedicated their life's work to advocating for the importance of movement. This week my Collaborative pod have started to implement some of the Perceptual Motor Program stations into our weekly routine using this "Perceptual Motor activities for Children" resource written by Jill Johnstone and Molly Ramon. You can see examples of our stations here. Our hope is that we can concentrate on the physical skills that will support children in their cognitive learning.

What’s not happening? ( challenges & frustrations )
Setting up literacy learning engagements up outside of the classroom can be difficult - especially on days where there is a huge amount of dust, or it is stifling hot or the wind moves everything. I have set up an engagement every day and now feeling like I am running out of ideas. With so much going on in my day I am struggling to get ahead of planning the outdoor learning environments. Perhaps its time to take a look at Pinterest for some inspiration.

What am I going to do to influence those things which aren’t happening? ( next actions )

Over the next 2 weeks, I will:

(1) Try creating individual books for popular culture story writing e.g. ninja turtle stories.
(2) Have a look at Pinterest for some outdoor literacy learning engagements.
(3) Find Ninja turtle/Transformer story books in the library.

Perceptual Motor Program

It's common knowledge that physical activity is good for health, well-being and academic learning. So often we get caught up with the doing of literacy that we forget about the pre-literacy. In the pre-writing phase children are required to have strong arm, gross-motor and fine-motor movements. it all helps with well-rounded children.

This week my Collaborative Pod (small team) are looking at Perceptual Motor Programme. This week we've started with 4 activities. Watch this space for my reflections....