My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Category: Teaching & Leading Experiences

Book Review

This book has been on the top of my reading list for a few months now. Ever since I heard that Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt had a hand in contributing to this book I knew I had to take a look! I know Rebecca through a friend and we did a Personalized Learning Institute Program together in 2015.  She is a Kindergarten teacher in Victoria who is extremely active on social media. I often scroll through her Twitter and Instagram accounts to get inspiration for my own classroom. She does everything from free inquiry, raising and releasing salmon, to mindfulness and meditation with five and six year olds!

Even though I have previous experience with inquiry, I found this book well laid out, straightforward, and is full of small things teachers can do in the classroom to develop a culture of wonder and inquiry. I did two of my practicums in IB schools as well as am a Level 1 trained IB teacher. I think this book is great for people that are anywhere on the spectrum of inquiry within their classrooms. I would love to introduce it to some of my colleagues as it provides a framework of how to set up authentic inquiry and some resources to support (spaces, places, technology, visible thinking strategies, etc.).

In this day in age, skills developed in an inquiry-based classroom are becoming more and more valuable. Skills such as questioning, critical and creative thinking, researching, and connecting to the community are what we are wanting to develop in children in order for them to be successful in their future.

Below are some ideas that I am going to try and integrate into my own practice and classroom this year!

  • Posting a question grid or question/wonder prompts in order to give students a starting point
  • Create a provocation space where students can interact with materials connected to our unit(s)
  • Rolling cart with loose parts and materials in order to create a mobile Makerspace for the School
    • With some inspirational books for students and teachers
    • Also have a ring of cue cards with visuals and/or challenges for students using the different materials
  • When planning my inquiry units – think more critically about how I can move from structured to free inquiry throughout the year (provide my students, especially the ones in grade three with more independent learning and researching skills)
    • Post the visual of the different types of student inquiry on our inquiry board
  • Using morning tubs for the first 20 minutes of the mornings instead of morning activity worksheets (give students the opportunity to create and communicate first thing in the morning and a good start to the day)
  • Working with the Librarian to possibly create a Wonder Wall in the Library
    • Can help support inquiry from the class but also can be a place where questions can guide what type of story or activity the librarian introduces to the students
    • “The design of our library spaces impacts how our learners interact with one another as well as with the resources and experiences in the space….Add a provocation table, a poetry center, a Wonder Wall, and flexible furniture as well as visual cues, sentence stems, and supports to guide learners in how the spaces can be used…the Library should be the hub of student-led interests and passions in the school.” (pg. 118)
  • Somehow combine classroom communication and social media (FreshGrade, Professional Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.)

I look forward to this upcoming school year and seeing how these ideas transform the learning community at my school!

I will ensure to update how it is going in the classroom this year! 🙂

Miss Miller

A new approach to teaching Math…

I have been inspired! In May I went to a workshop at Lions Bay Elementary School put on by Janice Novakowski and I have not been able to stop thinking about it! She works for the Richmond School District as a Teacher Consultant and her primary focus is Math. Her work these days focuses on teaching math inspired by the work of Reggio Emilia.

The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching values the child as strong, capable, and resilient. Every child is believed to have an innate sense of curiosity. The fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia approach are; children are capable of constructing their own learning, children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others, children are communicators, the environment is the third teacher, the adult is a mentor and a guide, there is an emphasis on documenting children thoughts, and it is believed that there are many ways that children show their learning and understanding. Reggio classrooms are usually very neutral and filled with objects from nature. And the learning often happens through provocations and prompts in exploration centers.

Thankfully, the classroom that I am moving into this year is already very neutral and filled with nature based materials such as; wooden counting blocks, rocks with numbers and mathematical signs on them, and pinecones, leaves, rocks, and horse chestnuts for counting and sorting.

Since I am going to be teaching the early years – most likely grade ½, these are the years it is extremely important for students to develop a strong foundation of math principles and number concepts. Therefore, I am going to take advantage of my students curiousity about the world and to problem solve and present provocations once a week (at the beginning of the week) surrounding our math big ideas. This way – especially for my English Language Learners – they can explore the materials, show what they know, and have a basis of understanding to build on for the rest of that week, the unit, and the year. Here are some examples of provocations that teachers have done following Janice’s work. Some of the information that I am going to be following to help support me in this journey of exploration are: the book ‘Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools’ by Mara Krechevsky, and Janice’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge documents that can be found on her webpage.

Janice Novakowski’s Blog –