Well, a new year brings the opportunity to work with new students, in a new grade with a new job description! This year, I am so excited to be teaching a half time kindergarten class in the mornings and in the afternoon, I am the PYP Coordinator. This means that I get to work with not only our youngest minds, but also all of the grade teams on our staff. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues as they develop, refine and implement their planners for our Units of Inquiry. No only that, I am thrilled that I get to work with one of the most curious bunch of little minds….kindergarteners! What a perfect age to implement inquiry-based practices. Since they are naturally full of inquisitiveness, why not teach them to start developing good questioning skills at that age? During a discussion about our names, I handed each student a card with their name on it. I asked them to observe their name – we had already discussed that the word observe means to look at something carefully – then tell me what they wonder about it. It took a few prompts, but eventually the questions started coming. “I wonder why some of the letters are bigger than others?” “I wonder if my name is the longest in the class?” “I wonder why we use letters of the alphabet to spell our names?” By setting them up with the prompt, “I wonder…” I felt that their questions had more depth to them.
The four and five year old minds are fascinating things. They are like little sponges! They absorb everything at a rate that is incredible, and with very little repetition, it begins to stick! From day one in my kindergarten class, I began using the vocabulary that is common across the grades in the Primary Years Programme. I introduced this during the lead up to centre time. We talked about some of the attitudes that we need to show during centre time:
showing Respect, Creativity and Cooperation
We also talked about some of the attributes (who we are) that will make centre time successful:
being Caring, Principled, Thinkers and Communicators
Every day, we discuss what each of these words mean (in Kindergarten-friendly language) and what it would look like during centre time. By day 5, all I had to do was ask what attitudes and attributes we must have, and as a group, they came up with all of the words (using the correct vocabulary) on their own and were able to explain what the words meant. You can only imagine the HUGE smile on my face!
The potential for learning these young students demonstrate on a daily basis amazes me! And I feel so fortunate to be able to play a part in shaping their minds for all of the years ahead of them. I am so excited for what the year holds in both areas of my new job description!