Our Kindergarten Journey

Our Kindergarten Journey

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Look Inside Our Classroom...

The start of a new school year always brings forth the feelings of excitement, new insights, ideas and possibilities! Designing our classroom environment into a learning space that embraces all of those feelings is something my wonderful DECE, Heidi Theis, and myself were looking to accomplish yet again as we embark on our second year together as a teaching team! This entire process is one that automatically builds in professional reflection, as we began to rethink, repeat, and remove particular elements within our classroom set-up. Even though the mountain of furniture piled together on newly waxed floors was intimidating during the last week of August, we always view the process of setting up our classroom environment as a way for setting the tone for our school year! We want our classroom to elicit the same feelings of excitement, new ideas, wonderings, and endless possibilities within our students, and for them to enter into our classroom each day eager and motivated to learn! 

The following pictures capture our learning environment as it was set-up for this 2013-2014 school year! 



Over the course of the first week, many exciting things emerged as our students began to feel comfortable and gained familiarity with the materials, learning spaces, and routines within our classroom. From rocket ships and swimming pools being built in our Building & Constructing Area to students recording what they see, think and wonder about the snails in our classroom, we have truly seen our classroom come to life now 
that are students are a part of it! 

 



We truly can't wait to see how our students continue to help make this learning environment their own and we look forward to sharing our journey with you! 

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. The set up of your room as your describe shows power of reflecting in August, the learning environments we think will engage learners. As you note, once the students enter the space, they then help to shape the learning environment. What was different for your team this year compared to last?
    Greg

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    1. Hi Greg,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! Much appreciated!

      To answer your question, we truly used the "Repeat, Rethink, Remove" framework before setting up our learning space to really think back to structures that worked, ones that we wanted to switch up/change and ones we thought were worth removing all together (for the time being). For example, we looked at our previous year and reflected on the fact that our Building and Constructing Area was restricting in size and often limited our students' ability to truly extend their learning physically, spatially, and imaginatively. As a result, we decided to centre this area in the middle of the room to allow for more flexibility in their learning. The same went for our Reading Corner. Last year, this area was often a distraction so close to our Class Meeting Area (the carpet). As a result, we decided to situate this space in a more closed, quiet area that would help make the learning that would occur there cozy and comfortable. These are just a few examples of how certain learning areas were changed in our classroom during our August set-up.

      When it came to our program planning, we referred to the classroom environment and how we hoped students would utilize every corner of the room and build a co-created learning environment. In this sense, we made sure that wall spaces, shelf spaces and our whiteboards were "blank canvases" so that throughout the first few weeks, student work could be highlighted and they could help co-construct the space in a way that was meaningful to them. Speaking from 3 weeks into school now, we are so pleased with how our students have showcased their work by posting it up in various areas of the room, referring to found materials and resources daily (e.g. word wall), and bringing in their own imagination to their play in meaningful and purposeful ways.

      We couldn't be happier with how our classroom is taking shape and we truly enjoy creating a space that is a "second home" for our students and for us! A true space for celebration!

      Thanks again for getting me to dig deeper in my professional reflection.

      Sincerely,
      Jocelyn

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  2. Hello Jocelyn,
    I just have to say WOW! Your blog is one of the few blogs I visit at least 2-3 times a day and I learn something new every time I visit your blog.Thank you for sharing yours and your students learning journey with all of us!

    I was wondering if you could answer couple questions for me: 1) Do you have a designated drama centre and 2) I don't see any easel in your classroom pictures for painting. Do you only use tables then?

    Thanks again for helping me with my learning journey!

    Sincerely,

    Asma

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    1. Hi there Asma,

      Thank you so much for such kind words and I'm so humbled to know that you visit my blog often and find it useful! :) I'm so happy to share my journey and that of my students and I'm so happy to hear that it has inspired other educators like you! Your comment just made my day!

      To answer your questions:

      1. Dramatic Play is integrated throughout various learning areas in our classroom. Presently, our students have not taken interest in the "kitchen" furniture so we have removed it from the learning space. However, the Building and Constructing area is often full of dramatic elements (e.g. students have created houses, tents, machines, etc and have actively taken on roles that we can further support through props, open-ended materials and more!). For us, this is a very authentic way of catering to dramatic play in our classroom and this year it has worked for our learners. In previous years, yes, we had a designated dramatic play area (e.g. our class Airport, flower shop, etc). It all depends where the learning goes and where our students' interests lie!

      2. In terms of an easel, we do have one. We actually transformed the back of our mobile easel (for chart paper) and use the back for painting. It allowed us to eliminate one more piece of furniture and it's incredible functional since we can move it around, swivel it for Sharing Circles and relocate if necessary.

      Hope that helps and please feel free to ask any more questions! Happy to help! :)

      Sincerely,
      Jocelyn

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  3. Thank You so much Jocelyn! I was struggling with these two areas in my classroom. What you're doing in your classroom makes sense. I've more boys than girls in my classroom and therefore, construction is the busiest centre. We have drama centre which interests our students for a day or two and then they just don't seem to go there. The centre has always been transformed according to what they want and then also they seem to like to stay in construction area more than anywhere else. I'm totally going to get rid of our kitchen stuff and incorporate drama in other areas instead of designating one area for that purpose. Thanks a lot!

    Plus, the easel part also makes sense. We will try what you're doing in your classroom too and see if it works or not. I really appreciate your response, I've been struggling a lot, but now I feel confident to try a little different approach:).

    Cheers,

    Asma

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