Exploring Nature and Our Environment with Kindergarteners

During my Internship I had the opportunity to teach a unit on exploring features of our natural surroundings. I started off with having the kindergarteners brainstorm what “Nature” is and I recorded their responses on a piece of large chart paper. With all their ideas, I was able to create my lessons based on what they knew and wanted to know.

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Here is the unit plan I created:
K Science Unit: Nature and the Environment 

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Process of Becoming

Every experience that we have in this life will shape us and work toward giving definition to our lives. Some experiences are very positive and up-lifting while other experiences are challenging and hard to go through. We also have a choice on how we will allow these experiences to shape our thinking and our lives. My pre-internship was at Regina Huda School in the grade 4 classroom. This experience was brief, yet is one of the experiences that will shape who I am moving forward.

One learning experience that is still on-going is the fact that planning a lesson on paper and actually delivering a lesson are two very different things. I would always have a picture in my mind of how my lesson would go but when it was time to implement it, it was always different. The student discussion and interaction always added a richness that could not have happened otherwise.  The people are the aspects that change a lesson and make it flow into something great or into something not so great. Many of the comments made by these grade 4 students impressed me time and again.There is always at least one student that seems to try to make the lesson fail. These are the moments that I was thankful for learning about good questioning as it is a good strategy that contributes to classroom management. Also, questioning can be a great tool to engage the students in deeper thinking. This is a skill that I am looking forward to being better at. To flow with a good conversation and have enough background knowledge to be able to pull out some good questions and move the lesson into the places that I want it to go–this will come.

My lesson planning has gotten better over the course of this semester. I have made a few lessons plans before this semester but the art of implementing it was a whole new experience. I definitely feel more confident in my lesson making abilities, though they aren’t where I want them to be yet. So this is one of my ongoing goals. To write better, with more information, and more detail is what I will be working towards.

The goals I had at the beginning of this semester were getting to know each of the students and their names, using different teaching/ instructional strategies, giving directions and learning classroom management skills. I did learn each grade four students’ name by the end of my time at Regina Huda School and made a pretty good connection with each of them. I feel that I made an effort in trying different teaching strategies throughout my lessons but I did feel I was more comfortable with using direct instruction. Throughout the weeks, I did plan to use different methods like interactive instruction, indirect instruction, and experiential learning. This is still a future goal for me the explore. For my last goal of giving directions, I learned that repetition is key! Although it might seem clear to me as to what I want the students to do, it might not be the case for the students. I learned that it is better to say the directions verbally a few times and have the students repeat it back to you so you know they understand the task. It is also good to have the instructions written on the board or posted up so the students can refer back to it. As we know, classroom management is essential in a classroom. Classroom management really helps in managing or eliminating behaviours in students. It also helps in avoiding chaos especially if you are asking them to do a task that involves the whole class and makes things run smoother. Although I have learned a few classroom management skills such as giving clear directions so students don’t get frustrated or confused and they have clear expectations, engaging the students in activities that are interesting, alerting and giving the students enough warning/ time for an activity, and having withitness, I am still continuing to make this a goal in my journey into teaching.

Moving forward, a few new goals are:

  1. Consistency – Scaffolding and building upon the lessons that I teach.
  2. More awareness of classroom dynamic – Staying aware of relational issues between students and being present in those situations will make classroom management easier and flow more freely.
  3. Cross-Curricular Content – knowing when and how to tie it all together.

So even from simply looking at the way I wrote the goals I first posted until now I see a shift in the way I see a classroom and in the way I think about teaching. The first three are more self focused in that they are about how I perform or how I will do my job better. The second set of three goals are more about actually creating a place for students to come and learn something. Consistency, Classroom Dynamic, and Cross-Curricular are more about meeting the students’ needs and abilities. I hope to continue working on my previous goals along with developing my ability to scaffold and build on the lessons (which I think will be easier when I teach a unit during the 3 week block), develop my sense of withitness in the classroom and be more aware of the classroom dynamics, and work towards tying my lessons to other cross curricular content.

Another Important Base

Previously, I learned the Waterbomb fold which was the base for many other origami models like the Waterbomb and the Lily. I wanted to expand my knowledge and ability to fold other models so I decided to continue on with learning other origami bases. The next more popular and widely used base in origami is the Preliminary Base.

According to the Origami Resource Center, The preliminary and waterbomb bases are the bread-and-butter of the origami world. There are many origami models which start with these two bases. In fact, the two bases are inter-convertible: if you invert the preliminary, it will become a waterbomb base. The opposite is also true, a waterbomb base can be inverted to form the preliminary.

Instead of using the Stephen O’Halon’s Origami Page like I have for the last couple of time because of it’s easy to follow step by step illustrations, I wanted to branch out and explore different websites for learning origami. I came across the Origami Resource Center website which was well organized with easy to read tabs for different origami models, step by step illustrations, and simple easy to understand instructions.

This Preliminary Base was not too hard but I did find some difficulty in making this base. Although there were written instructions and illustrations, I found it a little difficult follow because they were posted below the pictures. As a visual learner, I needed to see the picture so I can fully understand how to make the fold. I found myself scrolling up and down the page comparing the written instructions with the illustrations to make sure I was doing the correct fold.

After completing the Preliminary Base, I wanted to try to fold the infamous Paper Crane, one of the most widely recognized models in the origami world. Sounds like an impossible task as a beginner but with the numerous types of instructions found on the site, I was able to complete the origami model. The site provided traditional diagrams that had written instruction alongside illustrations, step by step photo illustrations with instructions, and a video demonstrating the steps in folding the paper crane. All of these resources were useful in helping me figure out and understand the steps in completing the model.

 

 

The Waterbomb Base Fold

After practicing to the mountain and valley folds a few more times, I decided to move onto something a little more advanced.

According to Stephen O’Halon’s Origami Page, there are several ‘bases’ commonly used in origami. These are a series of steps that lead up to an intermediate model. Many different models can then be formed from this base. The most commonly used bases were named by Samuel Randlett and Robert Harbin and these are; the Waterbomb base, the Preliminary base, the Fish base, the Bird base and the Frog base.

First off, I wanted to try the Waterbomb base as it was a starting point for many origami models. I looked at two different sites which taught beginners how to fold this origami base. Both of these sites had easy to follow instructions with step by step pictures/illustrations or videos.

I started by looking at the illustration of the Waterbomb from the Stephen O’Halon’s Origami Page as it was a familiar source. There were many different arrows and letters on the instruction page which I thought would have been difficult to understand but it was pretty easy to follow. I liked that it provided me with simple steps and labels that were easy to understand.

        

The second source I looked at for learning the Waterbomb base was Origami-Instructions. This site provided photo illustrations of each step that had dotted lines to indicate where to fold along with written instructions. I liked that this site a little bit better as it had multiple photos illustrating the step which provided a clearer understanding of how each step should be done. Along with photo illustrations, there was also a short video demonstrating the procedures for completing the Waterbomb base.

With learning the Waterbomb base which was a starting point for many of the origami models, I tried to make the Waterbomb using the instructions from the Stephen O’Halon’s Origami Page.

Feeling quite successful, I carried on to trying to make a Lily using the photo illustrations and video from the Origami-Instructions page. This was a tough model to fold compared to the waterbomb or anything else I’ve folded earlier. I started off with following the photo illustrations but I got a little confused with some of the steps so I watched the video which made it a lot easier. Although folding the Lily was difficult, it’s not going to discourage me to try new origami models.

 

The next origami base I would like to learn how to fold and eventually master is the preliminary base.

Until next time!

Making Connections

Throughout this course I have been connecting and contributing to the learning of others classmates mostly via Twitter. I participated in the #SaskEd Chat which provided me the opportunity to interact with others on Twitter by answering questions and contributing to the conversation of what supports new teachers need. There, I was able to voice my opinion on the topic and share my thoughts on what why it is important to provide support, what key supports mentors or administrators should provide, and how they should support new teachers.

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Along with participating in the SaskEd chat, I also contributed to other’s learning by Tweeting different articles related to Ed Tech and teaching in general. I was able to share different resources and tools that were interesting and thought provoking.

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Learning the Skill of Coding

In this week’s class we learned a little about coding. Coding? Yes, I was as clueless as you about what it meant. Coding means the ability to read and write a machine language as well as to think computationally. This new type of language is becoming an important skill to have among the younger generation. In the article This is Why Kids Need to Learn Code, Doug Belshaw argues that there’s at least three important reasons why kids should learn to code: They are: problem-solving, (digital) confidence, and understanding the world around them. Coding offers students a new way of thinking and can engage them in logical thinking. It can also be incorporated into the curriculum through subjects such as math (shapes, patterns, problem solving, etc.), art (repeating patterns to make a particular drawing), and digital literacy (language of coding).

With my limited understanding and experience with coding, I decided to learn what it’s all about. There is a global initiative called “An Hour of Code” which promotes people (especially kids) coding around the world. On the website, there are interactive lessons on how to code, tutorials that teach javascript and other programming languages. 

I participated in the Artist Hour of Code which was not as hard as I thought it would be. There were 10 stages of puzzles to complete and each stage required you to create move blocks (codes) to create a certain pattern. Each stage introduces and teaches a new way to code, create different patterns or new programming tools.

The first stage was quite easy but it got more difficult as I progressed onto the next few stages.

After learning to create simple shapes like the square and the hexagon, I was tasked to create a drawing by repeating certain steps. These next few stages got me to think about which direction and the degree in angle I needed to move to create a certain shape or drawing. It was a little frustrating at first but as I experimented and finally got the hang of things.

With the introduction to using new tools like repeat command, the function programming tool, learning to compile steps to create different shapes, I was able to make my own creation.

Finally, after completing all 10 stages I received my Hour of Code certificate that demonstrates my understanding of basic concepts of Computer Science.

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