Fall Practicum Report 1: Inquiry Without Borders

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by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

Hey guys. I know its been a while! I finished my 4 week practicum block on November 20th, and then I started my last 3 weeks of the fall semester on November 23rd! If you have read my other blog post, you will know that I was sick the last couple of days of practicum. So I was not a happy camper going back to school exhausted and sick ūüôĀ

But enough of my sick self, and lets talk about my practicum. I was in a Full Day Kindergarten class in York Region. My AT was¬†amazing! This was the first time I saw and was apart of an inquiry and play based model She really let the students’ inquires guide the discussions, activities and interactions in the class.

During my first experience day, my AT asked if I could teach a colour unit with the class. She let me create my own unit, and lent me some resources to use. I was excited as it was my first inquiry unit! But then again, it was my first inquiry unit! I had no idea how to implement anything…so I turned to a teacher’s best friend, Pinterest!

After sifting through an overwhelming amount of “pins,” I realized that there had to be some structure to the inquiry unit. So I decided to to have a ¬†general discussion about colours on the first day and then focus on a colour a day until the end of the inquiry. Before we began our colour inquiry of the day, I read a book to set create a focus for the day. I have a detailed book list in this blog post here.

I didn’t want to just read the book and have the students be on there way. I wanted to incorporate a variety of activities to accompany the colour of the day too. ¬†I had to think of flexible and differentiated ways to engage my young learners. In doing this I was able to engage in cross-curricular subjects or create lessons for subjects I was not familiar with! I wanted to share some of my activities that are simple, meaningful and exciting to my students.

Math

  • Students were able to sort various classroom materials by colour. We sorted legos, coloured letters, jewels, and much more
  • Students made colour patterns. I cut up strips of chart grid paper and had students create their own pattern using colours. I clipped the strips onto clipboards so the strips did not slip around when they coloured. If you decide to do this, try and¬†have students vocalize the colours as they colour the squares. It will help them remain focused and on task.
  • Created different patterns using link cubes.

I have done math in my previous practicums but I was so excited to engage students in doing coloured math lessons! They were having so much fun and didn’t know they were learning math.

Science

  • We experimented and made colour volcanos from this page. The kids loved it, especially with the overflow of liquids! We co-created the chart paper together. We identified the materials, our predictions and wrote down what the two colours made. I had two students come up and help me pour the coloured vinegars together. They loved that part and seeing the overflow!! ¬†If you decide to do this experiment, make the coloured vinegar as concentrated as possible. Like put a lot of food colouring in there!¬†I only used 8 drops per colour and the colour pay off wasn’t that great.
  • We tried to make snow slime.…and it was only great to play with for one day. The students had a lot of fun to make it, especially sprinkling the glitter in! This recipe was alright, but I don’t think I put enough borax in there. I will try and experiment with another recipe next time

I have never been interested in science, and I really didn’t like how it was taught when I was in school. Even though these two activities did not pan out the way I expected it to, I think¬†they were a great start to my future years of teaching science.

Literacy

  • I cut up construction paper and wrote out the letters, in upper case and lower case. I had students help me construct the word on

    the board after I read the book. I also had additional letter cut outs on the literacy table.
  • Students used white boards to try and practiced writing the colour of the day.
  • I left the coloured books out on a table
    in the classroom. I didn’t tell the students I left them there. I wanted them to “discover” and read the book independently.

I had to create different activities as my students had a range of needs and strengths. For those who couldn’t write their letters, I had the letter cut outs so they could at least arrange the letters to form the word. For those who were interested in reading, I had the books out for them to look at without any judgment.

Social Studies and Socio-Emotional Development

  • We engaged in discussions about different skin colours and how each person’s skin colour tells us a story about our history and family. I started this discussion by using two books, “The Colours of Us” by Karen Katz and “Skin again” by Bell Hooks
  • We talked about how colours make us feel. The students often said that their favourite colour made them feel happy. So when the students drew themselves, using one colour, they often said their favourite colour makes them feel good or happy.

Students have a profound way of communicating themselves, and these lessons were no exception to that fact. Never underestimate a child’s power to connect and express their feelings about themselves or their global community.

Fine-motor Development

  • My AT found these long foamies at the dollar store. She thought these would be great for students to cut out and exercise their fine motor abilities. They surprisingly had so much fun doing it! After we cut them up, we put them in our sensory bin and had students sort them amongst the other colours. For even more fine motor development, students could use tongs and have them pick them up!

This is a crucial area that needs developing, especially in the early years. For some of my students, they couldn’t even hold a pencil correctly. This task helped them gain control in their muscles and move their fingers accordingly.

Are you curious about the OISE student experience? Contact me:

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

1 thought on “Fall Practicum Report 1: Inquiry Without Borders

  1. Pingback: Fall Practicum Report 2: Literacy is Everywhere! | OISE Student Ambassadors

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