What can you see? How can you help? - Our First Skype Call!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A few weeks ago, our class had the wonderful opportunity of connecting with another Full Day Kindergarten class from Keswick, Ontario as part of our "What can you see?" global inquiry project! 

This was most certainly an exciting announcement since our students have had very little exposure to what "Skype" is all about and seemed quite puzzled by the fact that they would actually be able to see, hear and talk to another class over the computer!

In preparation for our very first Skype call, we wanted our students to come up with three questions that they would like the students in Mrs. Harrison's and Miss Sanders' class to answer so that we could gain a deeper understanding of their school and where they live! Here is what we came up with:

1. Why are there so many "graders?"
2. What are the workers building near your school?
3. What are milkweeds?

Here is what we learned about their school, Lake Simcoe Public School:

1. We learned that graders are scrappers and their job is to go across the ground the scrape the dirt. It goes inside the truck and later goes out the truck.
2. We learned that the workers are building houses! Lots of houses! So far there will be 4 new roads and lots of new houses.
3. We learned that milkweeds were near their pond and monarch butterflies need milkweeds because they live on them. They are a type of plant and help with the life cycle of butterflies.

Here are the three questions Mrs. Harrison and Miss Sanders' class asked us about our school yard:

1. Why is your school called Robert Munsch Public School?
2. Why is your school look like ours?
3. Why do you have a park?

We had a lot of fun answering these questions and teaching our new kindergarten friends all about our school, where we live and what we can see! To conclude our Skype call, Mrs. Harrison and Miss Sanders' class came up with "compliments" for our class. Here are what some of her students had to say:

"I really liked your class."
"I want to compliment your class for talking to us."
"I would like to compliment your class for your book so we can read it."

Some other interesting facts we learned about our friends at Lake Simcoe Public School was that their school is 13 years old even though it looks a lot like our new school. We also learned that they have a new highway that goes to their school and more and more people will start living near their school in all those new houses. 

As a way of consolidating our new learning about Lake Simcoe Public School and our first Skype call, we asked our students what they enjoyed about this experience! Here are some of their thoughts:

"I liked how we could see them on the screen and talk to them!" - C.L. (SK)
"I liked when I got to ask them a question." - A.O. (SK)
"I liked how they reached us about their school." - C.D. (JK)
"I like how they have a pond too!" - E.B. (SK)

This first experience and exposure to what Skype is all about not only gave our students the opportunity to connect with other students their age, but also allowed them to begin to gain an understanding of different communities and how they can be similar to our own. We truly look forward to connecting with Mrs. Harrison and Miss Sanders' class again over Skype very soon as we hope to compare our ponds and the changes that we observe! 

Since this year's "What can you see?" project also extends to "How can you help?", this month, our class decided to get our school registered for the York Regional Police's "Holiday Heroes" Campaign and donate non-perishable food items to our local community for the holiday season! This is one way we are showing kindness and making a difference in our community!

Photo from:
A sincere thank you to Mrs. Harrison, Miss Sanders' and their students for opening up their classroom and school yard to us and teaching us something new about the world around us! From our class to yours, we look forward to growing and learning together this year! 

Please be sure to visit our "What can you see? How can you help?" collaborative blog to read more on this exciting project! #WCYseehelp


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Over the past year, I have had and continue to have the wonderful opportunity to learn and "play" many times alongside an incredible friend and inspiring colleague, Heather Jelley in our full day kindergarten classroom! Heather is one of the Elementary Math Consultants and part of the Early Years Team in the York Region District School Board who comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience in relation to Primary grades and the Full Day Kindergarten program. Not only does she infuse her passion into everything she does, but her expertise within the realm of early mathematics is infectious and has truly transformed the way I look at and teach "math" within the walls of my classroom everyday! 

That being said, I have had a ton of fun integrating a variety of "Math Games" into our comprehensive math program that I have learned from Heather! Based on my students each year, I ensure that the introduction of each math game is purposeful, meaningful and, most importantly, responsive to their needs as young mathematicians. Most recently, I highlighted a personal favourite called, "Don't get the red dot!" on the blog! If you have yet to read all about this incredibly exciting and highly engaging game, please click this link:

I'd now like to highlight a second Math Game that is equally as popular and incredibly engaging called "Tenzies!"
For students to build upon their subitizing (the ability to recognize the number of objects at a glance, without having to count all the objects), one-to-one correspondence (each object being counted must be given one count and only one count. The number word spoken and the object counted must match up), and conservation (the count of the object stays the same whether spread out or close together) skills in a hands-on and engaging way!

All you need is 10 die (preferably all of one colour) - that's it!

How to play:
1. Roll all ten die and sort them by number rolled into groups. Whichever number has the most die is the "magic tenzie number!" Remember that number.

Modification: Avoid sorting and have students pick a number from 1-6 to be their "magic tenzie number."

2. Gather and roll all ten die again and when that "magic" number appears on a dice, take it away from the group and form a line. 

3. Gather remaining die and keep rolling; adding the "magic" number die when rolled to your "tenzie" line. 

4. Once all ten die have been lined up with the "magic" number, the player shouts out "TENZIE!" because they win!

The nice thing about this game is that it's really a competition within oneself to see how quick you can get "tenzies!" The more familiar and knowledgable students get at the early number concept of subitizing, the easier the game becomes! 

In particular, this game has been one of the best whereby I've noticed students gaining a strong, confident sense of the early number concepts mentioned above (subitizing, conservation and one-to-one correspondence). Making Math "fun" is so important when developing our youngest learners into mathematicians, and a game like "Tenzies!" is one where there's an entry point for every student and most importantly, every student can feel successful playing! 

I've created a set of "Tenzies!" instructions for you to download which were shared as part of our Great Beginnings session this past August for educators and DECE's. I've also linked the game to the Full Day Kindergarten Curriculum expectations. 

Here's to making math fun and using play as a vehicle for learning! 

What can you see? How can you help? - Fall 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Our first book as part of the "What can you see? How can you help" collaborative inquiry project has now been posted on our shared blog: 

Our class had a lot of fun walking around the edges of our new school yard and capturing all the wonderful things that we saw that help make up our school community. As part of the collaborative project this year, unlike the previous year, is that we've extended the project to include ways our students can help make a difference in our classroom, school, community and world! 

Since September, our class has been working hard at being the best "bucket fillers" they can be by saying and doing nice things to their peers and teachers within the school each and everyday. This continues to be a large focus for us and we look forward to helping others in different ways and learning about how other people help us. 

Here is our "What can you see?" video that captures the fall changes in 2014 we observed! We welcome any comments, questions and connections on our collaborative blog to extend our discussion in the classroom! 


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