The workshop was a two day event filled with rich conversations about what inquiry is, obstacles to overcome, the richness of its approach, and systemic issues of the conventional teaching approach.
It was a great experience to be involved in collaborative group work. The way that the workshop was laid out was exactly how you would start with an inquiry. The workshop shifted as the group did with the questions that were built. The workshop presenters recognized the need to move with the groups interest and knowledge and made the workshop focus on where the questions were taking us.
We got to experience nature based learning as we explored the beautiful campus at Royal Roads University. As we know a lot of approach to inquiry over lap just like any cross curricular approaches as well. Play based learning may come in different forms and roots. When we explored the trails at Royal Roads I realized that play for us and children can look the same and different. Play can come from the approach of place based learning, centres, and many more day to day activities that children experience.
Ask yourself what do you consider to be play? Is play really that different for children and adults? How might we continue play through out intermediate grades?
As students move through the school system it is evident that play is slowly removed from students daily routines and is left to be done during children’s free time. We wonder why students lose creativity and struggle with coming up with ideas and inspiration. This is partially due to the fact that we take away play, and build these perimeters of how students need to think.
Lets make a shift!
For my practicum I am in a 4/5 split class. They are such a lovely group of kids, with such a high energy and spirit. I am also extremely lucky to be placed with such a great sponsor teacher; she’s the absolute best!
For classroom management in our room, my sponsor teacher uses a “nugget” method. At the start of the year, the class has a certain amount of imaginary golden nuggets. This number is always written on the board, and will go up or down depending on behaviour. If the class is on task, listening, does really well at something, etc, we will write a “+1” (or however many “nuggets” they get) on the board. However, if they are not on task, fooling around, not listening, etc, we would write a “-1” (or however many they lose) on the board. At the end of the day, the score would be totalled up, and we would switch the main nugget number on the board. It works like integers- the “+” numbers that the students earn work to bring the overall nugget number down to their goal of 0. The “-” numbers actually hike the overall nugget number up at the end of the day. If the class gets the number to a 0, that means a class party of some sort. It could involve a pajama/movie day, pizza party, etc.
This system actually works extremely well in the classroom. The class responds to the nugget system, as they want to work toward a class party. One way that the nugget system is used a lot is when we need to get the class’ attention/get them to quiet down so we can speak. We could count to 5, and hold our fingers in the air as we are counting. The class has to the count of 5 to settle down and pay attention. Every number over 5 means a “-” number. So, if we had to count to 7 before the class settled down, we would put a “-2” on the board. I have never seen it where we have had to count past 6; it is usually completely quiet by 5, and if it ever gets to 6, they work really hard to try and work that negative number off.
This strategy is so successful that it is really the only one used in our classroom. I would still like to learn a variety of techniques however, so I can have them and possibly introduce one or two of them during my practicum to switch things up a bit.