Bringing Regio Emilia into older classes

Finding resources that talk about bringing Regio Emilia concepts into an older class are few and far between. I found a teacher in Victoria had done her masters degree in just that topic! What was so amazing was that I found that she found what worked best for her was to include “Genius Hour” as a way to create a space for open-ended questioning and wonder.  She also included makers space

By bringing in these techniques it allows for the creative and open-ended learning that Regio Emilia stands for. It does not look the same as what a Regio Emilia class would look like in lower primary classes, but it still uses the same techniques.  What is important is viewing the classroom as the third teacher.

If you are aware of the importance of the environment as part of what teaches the students then that is what really matters with Regio Emilia. Thinking of how your lessons and provocations will work in the classroom will lead to a strong feeling of calm to your students.

.http://reggioinspiredmakerspace.weebly.com/blog

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Multi-Modal Communication

In the previous blog posts, I have discussed the environment that occurs in the classroom and how learning can occur in a productive way, but how does a teacher extend their multi-modal way of thinking beyond the physical classroom?

Imagine a student in a classroom, you may envision them behind a traditional desk, maybe there are other desks and students around them. Now add windows, natural colours, desk or table groups, vibrant personalities and inspirational examples of work up on the walls. Include a teacher. This teacher circulates the classroom, engages in meaningful conversation, uses teachable moments and manipulatives, maybe writes some instructions or notes on the board accompanied with doodles. This is an example of a multi-modal learning environment. Now what happens when they go home?

Student: Hi I’m home!

Tall Person: Hi! What did you learn today?

Student: Nothing.

 

This is probably a very familiar conversation that we have said to our Tall People, and heard students participate in. As educators, we should be trying to extend the learning beyond the classroom and the best way to do that is through communication.

Ongoing communication to Parents/Guardians is now required by the Provincial Government and the new BC Curriculum in every “subject” taught in school. Multi-modal education can be extended to this area as well. Below you will find some examples.

Interviews

Parent/teacher, student/teacher, parent/student/teacher conferences are amazing opportunities to share the learning that occurs in the classroom. There are multiple ways to set them up as well. Parent/teacher conferences usually orient themselves around the logistics of the classroom and composition of it’s students. Many of these meetings end up focusing on what parents can do to assist both student and teacher, during the student’s time at home. These meetings can be helpful to establish what home might be like, as well as learn the parent’s expectations of the teacher and student. Student/teacher interviews can be filmed/recorded and passed along to the people at home. When a student/teacher interview occurs there is usually an element of assessment, either formative or summative. These interviews are usually used as a method of communicating what has already occured in the classroom, according to what the teacher wants the parent to be aware of.  Parent/student/teacher interviews are probably the most effective to communicate to parents, as well as permit the student to show what is relevant to their learning and what they are proud of. It is more time consuming to put together examples and get the room set up and prepare the students, but it is so worth it, when students can demonstrate their learnings and accomplishments.

Technology

Many school districts now use a system called FreshGrade, which is a reporting program used as a method of ongoing communication. There are a lot of other programs used as well, this is just the one that I am familiar with. Many parents do not have the time to come into the classroom to have an interview, but they do have time to go through a couple clicks and see what their student is up to. One of the challenges with this system is that sometimes it doesn’t work and a lot of the organization, set-up and reporting has to be completed by the teacher anyways. It is useful for some self-reporting, as long as the students are at the age where they are more self-aware and technologically savvy.

 

The purpose of sharing these types of communication is to demonstrate that multi-modal learning occurs with parents as well. It is important, as a teacher, to have various methods of communication available to Big People so that it can be accessible. Many of these methods can be prepared ahead of time and planned in coordination, and with the support of, the rest of the school. If teachers use multi-modal teaching and learning strategies in their classroom, they should demonstrate these ideologies to Big People involved in their student’s lives.

-Anna

Multi-Modal Learning

Hi there,

This section of my blog posts is focusing on Multi-Modal learning; what a teacher might want to focus on while delivering a lesson. When I was in school, everyone was labelled as a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, which may have encouraged teachers to differentiate a little bit, but it was still focused on only one way of learning. Below I have outlined the VAK theory.

VAK

The visual, auditory, kinesthetic learning styles model was developed by psychologists in the 1920s to help classify how most people learn. According to this model, most of us prefer to learn in one of three ways (visual, auditory or kinesthetic), although we usually mix and match the styles depending on what we are learning.

Visual  – A visual learner retains the majority of the information learned when it is presented visually; using pictures, diagrams and charts for example.

Auditory – An auditory learner prefers to listen to what information is being presented. They respond best to voices they might hear in a lecture or group discussion. The learner repeating information back or delivering presentations themselves is also helpful.

Kinesthetic – A kinesthetic learning uses physical (or hands-on) experiences to learn. They respond well to being able to touch, manipulate and feel an object or learning prop.

An extension of the VAK theory was developed by Neil D. Fleming, who added reading/writing to make the new acronym VARK.

Reading/Writing – A reading or writing learner uses repetition of words and writing. There is clearly overlap with visual and auditory learning, but a learner who prefers to learn this way retains information best by going through the process of writing it down in order to read it later.

So What To Do?

While many learners can connect most of their learning to one of these methods of learning and retaining information, most learners are a combination of two or more. In education today, teachers are required to consider differentiation in their classrooms in order to reach the whole population rather than just the “end pins” (Shelley Moore on Differentiation).

Learners today are so stimulated by their environments, technology, emotions and events, that there is no clear distinction of different kinds of learners. Every student needs to have experienced each “type” of learning in order to realize how they learn best. Often it will be a combination of various skills.

If teachers get rid of the VA(R)K theory, then they are just teaching the student. Isn’t that we are supposed to be doing anyways? Shouldn’t teachers be catering and developing their own learning and teaching to fit the need of the classroom and it’s students?

Multi-Modal Learning answers these questions. By incorporating different methods of learning into the classroom and the teaching, every student has the opportunity to develop their learning skills and achieve a deeper understanding of the subject being taught. The point of this blog post was to show how many teachers still teach according to the VA(R)K theory. They stick students in a box where they tend to stay until the rare opportunity for self-discovery comes along. Students who get stuck in their box end up adapting the way their brains really work (in a variety of complex processes) to sticking with one method that “works” according to what their teacher, and the teachers before that, have decided “works best.

Multi-modal learning is so effective because it provides a basis for real-world situations, but where should this type of learning stop? That will be answered in the next post, based around Multi-modal communication.

-Anna

When looking at Regio Emilia, what is a provocation?

What I feel is one of the major aspects of Regio Emilia would have to be provocations. That begs the question though, what is a provocation. In the most simple descriptions, a provocation is just something that provokes. That could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me and what I have seen a provocation is something that draws the students in and makes them want to engage in the learning you have set out.

When I first started looking into Regio Emilia I was overwhelmed with this idea. How was I going to engage with what it is that I want them to learn set up in an aesthetically pleasing way? I can barely get my own decor to be aesthetically pleasing and now I have to make my lessons aesthetically pleasing? It seemed to truly impossible. What I didn’t think about was the fact that I just had to think small.

With Regio Emilia, it is important for there not to be too much going on with the provocation. The table shouldn’t be crowded and should only have what is needed for the activity. Instead of using regular plastic bins, use wooden or metal bowls from a thrift shop that are interesting or look like a part of nature.  Doing this automatically makes it look better and it makes students want to see what is going on with it.

Provocation does not have to complicated, it does not have to be super beautiful. provocation is just a simple way to help to engage students in their own learning.

 

Setting up the first one so students who need help to start have an idea.

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Other possibilities that I would love to explore in an intermediate setting are:

  • An interesting photo, picture or book,
  • Nature (e.g. specimens)
  • Conceptual (e.g. changing seasons, light)
  • Old materials displayed in a new way,
  • An interest that a child or children have,
  • An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
  • New creative mediums,
  • Questions (from any source – i.e. What is gravity?)
  • An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)

 

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Final Lit Circle Project Ideas

After the students have all finished reading their lit circle books, it is now time for the final assignment.  I have a few good ideas for students to choose from for their final assignment.  When it comes to presenting the assignment, students will get together with their group and present the final assignment they chose.  Once again, they will use peer assessment with a different format.  Below is the format used for assessing their final assignments.

Here are a few different final assignment ideas:

Story Board

Create a storyboard of three main events/scenes from the novel/book.  Each scene should reflect either the beginning/middle/end or problem/climax/resolution of the entire story.

Your storyboard must include the following:

  • Three illustrated scenes with one paragraph for each scene
  • Be handed in on 8 ½” x 14” legal sized paper, the legal sized paper must be divided into 6 sections – 2 for each scene (illustration/paragraph) and space at the top for the title and author of the book

Each scene must include the following:

  • The illustration must be realistic and either colored or shaded
  • Each scene paragraph must include a detailed description of the setting, characters, and plot
  • Each scene paragraph must also include a text connection of justification for the selection of the scene

Your presentation must be rehearsed and not read off of the storyboard itself.

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

Shoebox Diorama

Re-create a scene from the novel/book in a shoebox sized display, using plasticine, clay, Play-Doh, Lego, or other such materials

Your Diorama must include the following:

  • Contain at least the main character, however, other characters will add to the overall presentation
  • The setting should be connected to the main plot or conflict
  • Two to three paragraphs written ahead of time on index cards describing the scene, setting, characters, actions, place in the overall story
  • One paragraph written on why the scene was chosen to represent the novel/book
  • Diorama has title and author included on shoebox
  • Evidence of having rehearsed the presentation

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

Grab Bag Book Talk

Select some objects which are vehicles for retelling the story.  Put them in a bog, and pull out each object one by one, explaining how the object related to the story.

You are required to include the following elements:

  • At least six objects, and for the following purposes – one of which represents the setting, two for the main character, two for the plot, and one for the conflict of the story
  • One paragraph written ahead of time about each object put on an index card
  • The bag has title and author and has at least one illustration, you are encouraged to pick an appropriate bag, such as a duffle bad for an athlete, or a suitcase for the main character who has just moved etc. (if possible)
  • Evidence of having rehearsed the book talk

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

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Causes of Student Stress

Hello All!

Last time I spoke about what types of stress there is and how it can affect students. This post is going to be about things that students stress about. I was reading this link and it was crazy to see some of these reasons students are stressing. Here are some of the factors that surprised me or shocked me the most:

Changes to routine: A routine including dedicated homework time and a consistent sleep schedule helps guide students through their day. When changes to the usual routine start to happen, your child may find it more difficult to manage his or her time, leading to more stress.” I know that some students do not like change to routine, and I see that in the classroom setting; but I had no idea that they could stress due to home routine changes.

Participating in class: For many children, the thought of getting called on in class and speaking in front of their classmates can be terrifying. This can be particularly true if your child struggles to keep up in a subject or area (common examples are math and reading).” Looking at my class this semester (grade 1), I can not see any of them not wanting to share in the discussion or wanting to try and read in front of the class. Even though I don’t hear them say they don’t want to, that does not mean that they want to. This really turned my head a new way.

 

To conclude, there is a lot of things I did not know that cause students to stress. My goal is to take this information into the classroom to help the students feel safe and happy in this environment. I hope that this helps you as well and maybe there is something you read here that you may not know.

Next post I will be sharing a different perspective of stress.

 

 

Common Causes of School Stress For Students

 

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Causes of Student Stress

Hello All!

Last time I spoke about what types of stress there is and how it can affect students. This post is going to be about things that students stress about. I was reading this link and it was crazy to see some of these reasons students are stressing. Here are some of the factors that surprised me or shocked me the most:

Changes to routine: A routine including dedicated homework time and a consistent sleep schedule helps guide students through their day. When changes to the usual routine start to happen, your child may find it more difficult to manage his or her time, leading to more stress.” I know that some students do not like change to routine, and I see that in the classroom setting; but I had no idea that they could stress due to home routine changes.

Participating in class: For many children, the thought of getting called on in class and speaking in front of their classmates can be terrifying. This can be particularly true if your child struggles to keep up in a subject or area (common examples are math and reading).” Looking at my class this semester (grade 1), I can not see any of them not wanting to share in the discussion or wanting to try and read in front of the class. Even though I don’t hear them say they don’t want to, that does not mean that they want to. This really turned my head a new way.

 

To conclude, there is a lot of things I did not know that cause students to stress. My goal is to take this information into the classroom to help the students feel safe and happy in this environment. I hope that this helps you as well and maybe there is something you read here that you may not know.

Next post I will be sharing a different perspective of stress.

 

 

Common Causes of School Stress For Students

 

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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder??

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder??

ADHD is quickly becoming one of the most diagnosed disorders seen in schools. Children who are showing signs of having energy and not being able to focus for more than 5 minutes (pretty much any child ever) are being diagnosed with ADHD and are having pills shoved down their throats to calm them down and make them focus the way the adults think they should.

But do these children actually have ADHD and how would we know?

Here is a quick video to help us get started

A few points from the video

  • People who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder don’t actually lack attention, they lack the ability to regulate their attention.
  • Good analogy – It’s like watching tv. You have the remote and are able to change channels (attention) when you want. Watching TV when you have ADHD is the same, but you don’t have the remote. It’s like your younger (slightly annoying) sibling has stolen the remote and mashing the buttons in the corner causing the channels (attention) to change without you having control over it.

 

The 3 Categories of ADHD

There are 3 types or forms of ADHD that you will see. There is inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of the two. You cannot be solely inattentive or solely hyperactive/impulsive. Every person who has ADHD has a combination of both types, however, people who have the inattentive type are predominately inattentive and the same goes for hyperactive/impulsive. The difference between these types and the combination is that the combination type has a fairly even split between the two. Here are some characteristics of these types.

  1. Inattentive
    1. miss details and are distracted easily
    2. get bored quickly
    3. have trouble focusing on a single task
    4. have difficulty organizing thoughts and learning new information
    5. lose pencils, papers, or other items needed to complete a task
    6. don’t seem to listen
    7. move slowly and appear as if they’re daydreaming
    8. process information more slowly and less accurately than others
    9. have trouble following directions
  2. Hyperactive/Impulsive
    1. squirm, fidget or feel restless
    2. have difficulty sitting still
    3. talk constantly
    4. touch and play with objects, even when inappropriate to the task at hand
    5. have trouble engaging in quiet activities
    6. are constantly “on the go”
    7. are impatient
    8. act out of turn and don’t think about consequences of actions
    9. blurt out answers and inappropriate comments

 

The main take away from this post that I would like you to have is that ADHD is not a choice for your students. It’s something they can’t control and often the hardest part of their day, and while this is the case, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful. They can be, but it takes a bit more effort on everyone’s part.

 

 

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The Downfalls of Homework (researched)

This post is going to be researching the negative aspects of giving out homework instead of looking at it from a first hand perspective. Here is a list of 12 cons that you may not have thought about when it comes to giving out homework.

  1. Children benefit from playing – with too much homework, a child doesn’t have enough time to play and that can impact their social development. Low levels of play are associated with lower academic achievement levels, lower safety awareness, less character development, and lower overall health.
  2. It encourages a sedentary lifestyle – long homework assignments require long periods of sitting.
  3. Not every home is a beneficial environment – some children have highly invested parents that are more than happy to help their child or get a tutor in order to help their child succeed. Some children do not come from homes like this,, and they may be offered little to no help at home.
  4. School is already a full-time job for kids – At my school, the bell rings at 8:42 and then again at 2:37. That is almost 6 hours of work that kids as young as 5 are putting into their education everyday. Add in extra-curricular actives that schools encourage, such as sports, musicals, and after-school programming and a student can easily reach an average of 8 hours of education a day. Then add homework on top of that? It is asking a lot for any child, but especially young children.
  5. There is no evidence that homework creates improvements – Survey after survey has found that the only thing that homework does is create a negative attitude toward schooling and education in general.
  6. It discourages creative endeavours – If a student is pending 1 hour each day on homework, that’s an hour they are not spending pursuing something that is important to them. Homework can take away time from learning an instrument, painting, or developing photography skills as well.
  7. Homework is difficult to enforce – Some students just don’t care about homework. They can achieve adequate grades without doing it, so they choose not to do it.
  8. Extra time in school does not equate to better grades
  9. Accurate practice may not be possible – If a child is struggling with their homework then they may ask a parent or guardian for help. This can cause more confusion because the person may attempt to explain it to the child in a different way than the teacher. The teacher will then have to re-teach the topic which may result in a prolonged learning process.
  10. It may encourage cheating on multiple levels -Some students may decide that cheating in the classroom to avoid taking homework home is a compromise they’re willing to make. With internet resources, finding the answers to homework instead of figuring out the answers on one’s own is a constant temptation as well. For families with multiple children, they may decide to copy off one another to minimize the time investment.
  11. Too much homework is often assigned to students
  12. Homework is often geared toward benchmarks

 

20 Pros and Cons of Homework

 

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Literacy Center Assessment

Through out my research about assessment I noticed that their is more to assessment than formal documentation, and anecdotal based off observations. Assessment can be done through many different facets and each lends its self to new insights about the students and their needs as a learner.

Initial Assessment for Learning

In Early Reading Assessment:A Guiding tool for Instruction it is stressed that every student who comes into a class, comes in with different strengths and weaknesses. So formal reading assessments are done to determine what each student already knows and where they have gaps in their knowledge. Assessments like these allow teacher to be informed instructors. At Vancouver Island University we were taught how to use bench marks to assess students reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension; but their are more formal assessment tools that teachers can use when assessing their students. Some teachers find some tools more effective then others. Bellow are a few different prelearning assessment tool that can also be used.

NOTE: Its important to fully understand tools and be trained in them, before using them with students and it is important to not solely rely on these tools to assess students abilities and what they have learned.

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP):
Assesses phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid naming. Use in K-12 for student performance. Administered individually only.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS):
A set of standardized measures of early literacy development designed to monitor the development of prereading and early reading skills. Use in K-3. Administered individually only..

Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS):
Assesses the reading areas of vocabulary, word analysis, and reading comprehension. Use in K-8. Administered individually or group.

Multiple Intelligences (MI):
A theory that eight intelligences should be used to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Observations 

In Alison’s Blog post How to assess Primary Students’ Work in Literacy Centers she shares some helpful tips on how to assess what learning is taking place in literacy centers. Her tips are both simple and provide informative feedback on how your student are doing. One idea is to pick two students each literacy block to check in on, since the teachers will be doing small group work this could be as simple as standing up and looking over at both students twice for about a minute each time, to see if they are on task and if possible what they are working on. Quickly jot down what they observe and return to small group work.

At the end of the week she would go through the students written work that have been placed in their literacy folders. She makes some simple comments, maybe a tip to work on for next time, to show the students that the teacher is checking their work. While she is doing this she also records what she is noticing about their work on this grid. She puts check marks where students are meeting expectations, giving her an overview of what is going well and what needs attention with individuals and the class as a whole. If you would like to see what exactly she focuses on you can check out her blog and get a FREE recourse package on literacy center assessment.

That being said some centers do not have written components so it may be hard for a teacher to see what students are doing in these centers, this is where the teacher can encourage the student to show case the learning they are proud of through the use of technological. Students can capture themselves; reading out loud, making new words with magnet letters, or showcase a puppet show they have created. The teacher can review these over time and use them when assessing the students learning.

All of these observation can help build up a learners portfolio; they show how the student is interacting with materials and provide insight in how the student is doing and what areas the student can use more support in. This being said Alison cautions teachers to not to formally assess work done in literacy centers, for example in report cards, since the purpose of literacy centers is for student to practice literacy skills, not showcase their learning.

Self Assessment

Keeping student personally accountable for their work can be done in many ways. This can help students look at what they are doing critically. Both of the previously stated  articles give suggestions on how to have the students assess how they are doing in their literacy centers.  A simple way to check in with students and have them assess how they did in centers, is to have them fill out a simple happy face table. (shown bellow) And allow them to write on the lines below what they did well and a goal for next time.

Get this FREE self-assessment form for literacy centers in the blog post!

The End

In conclusion it is important to continually assess students learning to provides informed instruction to the class as a whole and to individual students. Weekly assessment of the whole class can allow teachers to find where students are excelling and where they need more guided practice and support. Observing a few student in literacy centers each day allows for purposeful observation of all student (over time) and help teachers know if centers are accessible to all students. By providing simple feedback and instruction, students are held accountable for the work they are doing and give purpose to the work they are doing. Self assessment also allows students to create goals and think critically about how they are doing in their literacy centers. A balance of formal assessments, observation, self evaluations and evidences of learning create a functional and informative learning environment for literacy centers to take place.

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