We’re excited to bring you the second instalment of our Guest Writer Series – this time we are featuring Isabelle Mercier who teaches Grade 1/2 EFI at Meadowlands…enjoy!
The way I teach comes from my own personal experience – English is my second language. I grew up on various military bases and attended school on military bases, until grade 11 when I moved to Ottawa. I started Kindergarten, knowing only a few words of English. In school we sat in rows, one desk behind the other – “smart kids” in the front near the teacher, others ￼in the back so that they couldn’t bother anyone. You dare not disrupt the teacher, as she/he would certainly call your dad’s military superior and you’d get a stern talking-to when dad got home. Group work was not allowed, class discussions rarely happened and you’d better have the right answer when called upon.
When I would get home from school, I would set up my dolls in front of the huge blackboard my parents set up for me in the basement and I would “teach” my dolls and Barbies – in a much different way than my own teachers. I sat my dolls in groups, spoke nicely and practiced how to speak in a way kids my age could understand.
Our job is to teach the students we have.
Not the ones we whould like to have.
Not the ones we used to have.
Those we have right now.
All of them
-Dr. Ken Maxwell
I prefer to teach when the children are sitting at the carpet with me – it’s more comfortable, natural, invites camaraderie and I find children are more willing to participate. I think that the use of manipulatives, hearing noise, and taking part in play, are extremely important! Here’s why:
For every 1 paper-and-pencil task we do, there are probably 3 or 4 “Show Me” tasks. Not everyone can write, and not everyone likes to write. Not every task requires a written element to demonstrate knowledge. Asking a child to “show me” using manipulatives is a great way for them to demonstrate their learning. Tactile and kinesthetic learners are all around us. Watching a child use objects and manipulate them to show a concept is a fast and easy way to check for understanding. Give a task and provide a variety of materials (manipulatives) and see what happens!
Here, she is learning about sorting.
Here,she is sequencing events.
Here, they each have a pumpkin in order to measure, weigh, examine, etc.
Working with a partner to figure out what’s needed to build a geometric solid
Working with a team to explore if a solid has dissolved
One team member records the results for the class.
You will never find my class set up in rows- to me this doesn’t foster a positive space. I love partner and group work – the children learn so much from one another! Visit my class and you will hear noise – probably a lot of it – I love productive noise!
The grade 2 children in my class have been speaking solely in French since October and my grade 1 students have been speaking solely in French since January. The noise you will hear is all in their second language – even when casually talking with their peers they are learning to listen and speak clearly so that their message is being understood.
If a child cannot learn in the way we teach, we must teach in a way the child can learn
What better way to learn about the globe than to make our own paper-maché version!
“Playing” and building solids and learning about stability and balance at the same time!
Here are some math websites that I love – try them out! Does this mean your child is playing? Sure – but also learning! These sites have been kid-tested
www.ct4me.net/math_manipulatives.htm (Computing Technology for Math Excellence)
www.mathisfun.com (Math is Fun)
www.mathplayground.com (Math Playground)
Think your child is “only” playing? Read this (PDF file)