January Planning…or Not!

If I am being honest, I am NOT a big planner. I do not do a lot of planning, but I DO spend a ton of time thinking about teaching, researching and learning online about new ideas and approaches. I am passionate about following learners’ lead and once we are interested in something then the planning/brainstorming comes from working with my learners. We do a lot of brainstorming together, I do a lot of ‘Pinning’ (Pinterest!) and then things begin to roll and deep learning takes off. I am big on allowing learners to explore and create and both fit nicely with following learners’ interest and lead. I am also OK when things flop. I feel this goes hand in hand with not being a big planner. I understand that things will most likely NOT go as planned, and some goals/ideas with flop and I am OK with this. That being said, sometimes when ideas/activities flop, they turn into something different… and more often than not, they turn into something even better than I could have imagined, or planned myself.

Instead of planning, I prefer to set goals. Then, I feel that I have some direction of where our learning is headed…but am not tied down to specific plans, photocopies, preset activities etc.
*Please remember that every educator is different, and I am only speaking to what works best for me. I appreciate every educator’s approach and acknowledge that there are many, many empowering ways to teach and guide learners, this is just my approach.

Some January goals for us:
-Begin to children use iPad minis for personal documentation and uploading to Fresh Grade.
-Engage learners more at our nature exploration table.
-Have children experiment and play with ‘Stop Motion’ using our studio.
-Model a ‘personal inquiry project’ using Penguins as a group mini inquiry to practice non-fiction writing and labeling.
-Learn about Ted Harrison (I hope this takes off with the children).
-Begin our Friday Community walks (we are now ready!)

Nature Table: 
Here is a snapshot of our nature table turned into a rock, gem and mineral observation area. This morning, I moved our nature table to a different spot in the room and switched up the materials being presented. Hopefully some learners will be intrigued and this table will receive more traffic than it was before our break. Fingers crossed!
IMG_2399 


Stop Animation Studio:
Today I quickly set up a Stop Animation Studio at a small coffee table in our classroom. I hauled out, from storage, a variety of little animal figurines. We currently have a desert animal basket, a farm animal basket and a big basket with dinos, reptiles and snakes. I had been pondering over purchasing a iPad mini stand, then ended up just using one of my little metal book display stands. I was then given the suggestion of adding tape makers to ensure that the stand would remain in the same position throughout the creation. This DIY stand may not make for the most precise stop animation, but we are only beginning by exploring and playing with the idea. I used one of our felt storyboards for a general backdrop, for now at least. My hope is that they will create their own backdrops, or fabric pieces to add to the felt board… and maybe their own characters or animals. We shall see where this takes us! My long term goal/view for setting up this studio is to have learners record themselves narrating their work, with hopefully some French words as well!

IMG_2413


Ted Harrison Art Inquiry:
I love love love Ted Harrison’s artwork, his history, and his connection to Victoria. January marks a year after his passing, and I hope that I can capture the magic and joy in his work and share it with my learners. I also am excited by the many pieces of work that focus on winter scenes. We will begin by looking at various pieces, highlight similarities and common themes, and notice how the art pieces make us feel. I am curious to see if my learners will pick up on the winter themes, and perhaps some of the themes might lead us in a deeper inquiry. Inukshuks? Winter weather? Northern Lights? Northern landscapes? Or, it might turn into more of a teacher directed artist study, which would be neat too.

Check out these two links that I found on Pinterest:
http://mysmallpotatoes.com/2013/03/13/studying-the-great-artist-ted-harrison-introducing-young-children-to-one-of-canadas-most-famous-artists/

http://whimsyworkshopteaching.com/ideas/ted-harrison-art-and-more/


Modeling a Personal Inquiry through Penguins:
As a Kindergarten team, we have decided to focus on having our learners embark on a personal (or partner) inquiry to work on research skills, following interest, drawing and labeling non-fiction findings and facts. Before beginning on this project, I have decided to do a group mini-inquiry in the same manner that the children will, but we will do this first inquiry together. We will be focusing on penguins. I am going to model how I became interested in penguins, by sharing a story from my winter break that had me watching the movie Happy Feet. I will then model and guide learners through the research steps, the same that they will take, and together we will record facts, findings and highlights through observational drawings and nonfiction writing and labeling. My hope is that by going through the inquiry and research process together as a group first, will help to scaffold the process for my learners and make their personal or partner inquiry a positive process.

I have set up this winter and snowflake glitzy small world play area in our room, but unfortunately do not have any penguins! Perhaps some of our learners will ask to create them… Plasticine maybe? IMG_2401.JPG


I would love to hear about your January plans or any comments/suggestions you have for our learning goals and journey. Happy New Year!

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