Friday Two Cents: A New Year With A New Experience


 

With the New Year I begin a new adventure.   I have been fortunate to been given the chance to be the teacher in a grade 1 class. It is a tremendous opportunity to teach a full grade one class and to put my years of education and experience into practice. I was lucky to teach in a kindergarten class at the end of last year’s school year and yet now I get another chance to teach many of the same students again in grade 1. I have been with them for the first week and it has been tiring but very enjoyable and enlightening.

The interesting thing is that I worked with a grade five class for about a week and a half before the Christmas break and now I go from a class of 10/11 year olds to one of 6/7 year olds. To say they are very different grades would be stating the obvious but they all have their own rewards. These little people in grade one are so full of wonder and excitement to learn that it has become a bit infectious. They have been eager to learn and I in turn am eager to teach the lessons with these students.
We work on subjects that I enjoy such as art but their enthusiasm for the core subjects like math and literacy is amazing. One literacy activity we did is a “Roll and Read” sight word game. Each student gets to roll the dice and whatever number it lands on they must say the words under that number as quickly as they can. I introduced it on Monday and everyday since they are eager to play the game.

Roll and Read Sight Game

Another activity I introduced is a subitizing activity. Subitizing is the ability to recognize the number of a group of items at a glance and without counting. I used bingo dabbers to make dots on a card and we practice this just before the math lessons. The real nice thing is that I noticed the students practicing on one-another during their indoor recess time.

Subtilizing Card game

It is only the bringing and I have no idea how long I will be in this class, but one thing is for sure, I am going to enjoy this experience with the students. Already I have noticed that they are learning new things but on the other side so am I.  
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Friday Two Cents: Worth The Trip


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This week was as busy as usual but there was an added bonus that I did not anticipate. I had the usual practicum placement but we did not have lecture classes because we are getting for our two-week block placements for practicum.   However we did have one mandatory visit we had to go to for class. It was a visit to a literacy program for students in grade 1 & 2 called 5th Block.

To be honest I was not looking forward to going. I was swamped with work and to top it all off I had to go across town to get to the school. Lets put it this way, by car it would take me close to an hour to get there but by public transit it would take my over 2 hours. Either way I would have to leave home early to get there for 8:45 am. I did drive there and it took over an hour with all the traffic and I was late. Once there I was saying to myself this better be worth my time because I could be doing something else more important.

I got there before the children arrived for their morning program and got caught up with the teachers. Yet once the children arrived and the program started all my issues disappeared. The teacher went through a phonic program with the children to help them improve their reading and word recognition. She went through one activity after another that involved phonics, reading words on a word wall, reading from a storybook and having them read a story. They even read stories to each other and then discussed the story together. It was very impressive.

For me the part that made me very happy was that they encouraged the children to know the sounds of the letters or the phonics. I grow up with this strategy and when I began teaching as an early childhood educator (ECE) I helped the child to do the same thing. Also within my studies we learned that phonics is the most helpful way for children to begin to learn to read. Even when I was helping in some kindergarten classrooms many did the phonetic way of teaching the children yet others just taught the name of the letters not the sounds.

When I was teaching in a centre I was responsible for 10 students who’s parents wanted them stayed at the centre because they did not want their child to go into the school system until they where ready for grade one. Therefore I was responsible for teaching them the kindergarten curriculum and one area I focused was teaching the name of the letter and more importantly the phonetic sound of the letter. The parents appreciated my efforts and wanted the children to know both, and I agree. I worked with the children for one year and in that time I saw them go from knowing the letters and sounds to reading level A, B & C books.

I witnessed the value of learning teaching phonics to help improve literacy and I am overjoyed to see that there are great literacy programs doing the same thing. I guess it was worth the hour and a half trip to the school after all.

 

Ailish Sinclair

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