Today I saw/learnt/thought/felt…

I love to collect feedback from my students at the end of the day, a lesson or a unit. This is usually an informal way for me to see what their most important part of the day was, etc. I am sure a lot of educators do this.

Today I came across this wonderful website: Today I saw! Jill sees something, draws it and then sends it to a person she liked. That is a wonderful idea, but I have automatically transferred it to the classroom, I think it would be a wonderful idea to have pre-printed paper with TODAY I SAW. Or TODAY I LEARNT/FELT…. and invite children to write, draw, ….

What a wonderful website, and wonderful drawings!

The Story of my class 2009-10 (Part 1)

This year I want to write the story of my class. I started a personal account and this is my anonymous blogging attempt, where I can share the information and adventures of my school year.

In my class the students and I work alongside. We support and learn from each other.

I want to start this story with an introduction of the class, before the class starts. I have worked with most of the children for a whole year already, and this will be an advantage. But they will have grown and changed over the summer. Family situations may have changed, their friends may have moved, or left the school. They may have had experiences, positive or negative, that had a fundamental effect on them. The children may now have a brother or sister at school, or they may have traveled to places that changed them.
And then there will be new children. They may be threatening to them in a way, or they may be a new friend.

I am glad that my school is very welcoming. The school community is small, with a student population of around 50, ranging from 3 year-olds to 12 year-olds. We even have three students who attend Middle School. New students are welcomed and usually feel at home very soon.

This first part will inevitably, be my reflection of what I know about my existing students from the last year.

In the last academic year I joined an international school in Italy. The school only has a primary school, teaching the Primary Years Programme. Moreover, two students that attended the school were Middle School children who were taught separately in most cases.

I took over a mixed-age class of 7 and 8 year-olds. We call them Year 2/3.

I started with nine students. One of them quickly left the school, although the reasons are still unclear to me. There was previous tension between the management and the family.

A new student joined in October, a girl who had just moved to Italy from India, for two years.

My youngest student left the class after Christmas, returning home to Switzerland. It was a sad moment, because the class had seen her grow from the small, shy and withdrawn girl who didn’t speak a word of English, into a confident and happy girl who was a fully integrated and participating member of the class.

We started the new year (the second term) with only eight students, but grew again after our Easter break, when siblings, a boy and a girl, from New Zealand joined us.

So, as we wrapped up the year in June, change had been present all the time.

During the last year, students from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, England, China, Spain/France/Italy, the US, India and New Zealand were learning together with me, a teacher from Germany.

The members of my class were Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and atheist.

As you can see, that is quite diverse for a small class.

Classroom layout

After having read about the L-shaped classroom, I have been thinking more. I alo got some useful comment in here that were very inspiring.

However, I cannot forget that my classroom is small. Even for 9-11 children it is small! I have therefore created a small drawing of how I thought I could make the classroom look.

The Classroom (8-10 year olds)

The Classroom (8-10 year olds)

As you can see, I have tried to divide our rectangular, small classroom up by putting the cubicles and bookshelves/storage cupboard in the middle. Behind the door is the reading area with rug, inviting cushions and I hope to add some nice curtain to make it a semi-hiding place too. The whiteboard is also there, as it would be a great place to come together.

In the left hand top corner is a small teacher’s desk. We used to have a massive one in there. I hope to be able to store all my things in a little cupboard and make sure the classroom is a place for learning and not teacher admin work.

The tables all hold more than 4 chairs, and the chairs will be moveable of course.  I was hoping to divide the areas up into Maths, Language and Inquiry (we are a PYP school). This way, the displays in the area will be relevant, materials can be on show on the bookshelves or tables and there is more choice.

What do you think of that? Any other ideas? Any fatal mistakes?

All input welcome!

The unexpected!

I was just reading the lovely blog, Leaves&Branches, Trunks&Roots and came across this great video!

As I am currently reading The Morning Meeting Book I am trying to think how reshaping Morning Circle time will effect the classroom. The questions posed in Pamela’s blog are valid: How can we make sure that morning circle time is not boring?

In my previous school, we used to have a fixed Morning Circle schedule:

Monday: Talk about the weekend
Tuesday: Games
Wednesday: Book presentation
Thursday: Praise day
Friday: Reflection and Planning

This worked with my current class as well. It was new to them. They loved book presentations, because all nine children in my class love books. They loved games, and were in charge of choosing their own games.

But towards the end of the second term it was becoming obvious that some children did not want to talk about their weekend, while others were so eager to tell us, well, about their football match, just like the previous week. How do we make those morning circle times always interesting? What can we add? Where is the unexpected?

I have to say, thanks Pamela! I am really inspired this morning! (I may have to go dance off to straighten my hair now!)