Posted on August 20, 2017
Aloha, families, and welcome to Noio 1! I am absolutely thrilled to be your partner in your child's educational journey this year. Mahalo to all the parents who were able to take time out from their busy schedules to meet with me on our first week of school. It was wonderful reconnecting with parents and getting to know more about your children. If you still would like to meet with me, please email me so we can set up an appointment to meet.
I've had a great first week with your children. After teaching multi-age grades 1/2 for 13 years, I feel rejuvenated and re-energized to be with multi-age grades 3/4. Your children are more mature, eager, and so fun to be with. Here's an interesting tidbit: out of 22 students in Noio 1, 17 of them have been my former students whether they took my reading and writing class over the summer, were in my math class as the switch teacher, or were actually in my grade 1/2 class. For the 3 students who have not actually been taught by me and our 2 students new to Mid-Pascific, we spent the week getting to know each other and building our Noio 1 communitiy.
Building classroom communities based on mutual respect is the goal of any classroom teacher. We do this through various games, activities, and tasks that enable the students to work together cooperatively, while setting the stage for meaningful freindships and learning experiences. Naturally, we began by co-constructing classroom rules and expectations. Back in the day, we all remember teachers who stood in the front of the room telling us what the rules were for their classroom. This is no longer common practice. Rather, we allow the students to work together by creating their OWN learner agreements. Be sure to ask your child what they feel are some of the most important agreements that they plan to follow this year.
This week I also asked the class what they'd like to name their table that they are currently seated at (seating arrangments and group members will vary throughout the year). While they decided they wanted each table to represent one of the Hawaiian Islands, they were having a tough time remembering all of them.
This is when collaborative learning becomes a powerful motivator, because together, they are able to give input and negotiate to try
and figure things out. I assigned each table to create a map of the Hawaiian Islands to the best of their abilities. You can see in these photos that the students are extremenly focused and some appear to be thinking and trying to recall names that were on the tips of their tongues. In the end, each table shared their maps with the class and together we figured out our new table names.
We also did several activites that pertain to character building this week. You will discover at Open House on September 7 that character building is daily occurrence in my classroom. Building character does not occurr in isolation; it is deliberately taught and when sitautions arise that are teachable moments, I will utilize those situations to reinforce good choice making.
For this activity, I read the book Tacky the Penguin to the class. I highly encourage you to ask your child what sorts of stories I am reading to the class so you can not only learn about the types of literature I share, but also check your child's comprehension. It also gives you a conversation starter to hear your child's thoughts and allows you to share your own opinions and thoughts with them!
Tacky is the "odd bird" of the iceberg and not a favortite of the other penguins. But when trouble arrives in the form of hunters, Tacky saves the day and scares therm away with his unique ways and personality. I asked each group to create a poster of what they thought the slogan should be to represent this book. They came up with excellent slogans! Each group shared their slogan and poster with the class. They might need to add a finishing touch or two, but these posters will be hung up to serve as a reminder of how we should be treating each other this school year.
Also this week, we played Grade 3/4 Bingo in which we had to go around the room and find friends who like certain things (like scary movies), have certain traits (like being left-handed), or have been to certain places or tried new acivities.
These games allow us to find our commonalities while having fun together. Also, on Friday afternoon, I put out some new indoor games, activies and puzzles and allowed the class some unstructured "free-choice" time. I sat back and observed.
This allows me as a teacher to observe how the kids approach each other, how they decide which activity to select, see if they stick with it, and also to observe how they play together. I am pleased to write that they had a wonderful time playing together, making new friends, and trying a new game. In these photos you see a boy teaching a new friend how to play chess, 2 groups of kids building with magnetic tiles, another group making some crystals, and 2 girls cleaning up the floor by working together.
All in all, it was a GREAT first week in Noio 1 and I'm looking forward to a whole year of learning and greatness with your children. As I wrote in my letter that went home last week, feel free to email me with any comments or questions, I'm very open to feedback. Also, please make sure your child wears their green polo shirt this Tuesday for school photo day and also on Friday for the entire elementary school photo.