ISPP Elementary School (KG – G5) Gecko’s Choice

Carina (G1 homeroom teacher) and Dee (Learning Support Teacher, KG-G2)

Gecko’s Choice is first introduced to Kindergarten students and then revisited at each grade level, to consolidate and extend their understanding of the different strategies that support them with conflict resolution.

Why teach conflict resolution?

“Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time.” Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. – HELPGUIDE.ORG

“Problems don’t go away if you ignore them – in fact usually they get worse. It’s a good idea to face problems and get them sorted out as soon as you can.” Dr Kim – Kids’ Health

Helping students from an early age to learn the skills of conflict resolution prepares them for developing strong, healthy and successful relationships throughout their life.

Gecko’s Choice empowers students to solve their own ‘small/ minor’ problems in and out of the classroom. There are nine choices that are taught and practised with support. Students are encouraged to try two of these choices before asking an adult for help.geckoIn Grade 1 Gecko’s choice is linked to the essential agreements created by the students at the beginning of school year. The first unit of inquiry, Interactions provided opportunities for the students to explore the problem-solving strategies of Gecko’s Choice.  Some examples of scaffolded learning included:

  1.     ‘I’ statements with sentence starters to support one of Gecko’s Choices,Talking it           Out.

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           2.     We identified, explored and practiced different ways to calm down. This supports                     the Gecko’s Choice, Wait and Cool Off.

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Booking Making in Action

How to CALM DOWN

Each student chose one of the calming down strategies they felt the most comfortable with, to create their page for their class book.

Later the book was published in book creator and shared with parents through the students’ individual blogs.

 

Project Making

Growing up as a child I always remember loving making projects. I would collect all kinds of materials thinking of all the projects I could create with them. The whole planning and step-by-step process seemed so exciting, knowing that later you would see what you had imagined come to life.

Project making is a popular learning activity with students.  Generally most students enjoy making and creating different kinds of projects. I have found that flexible groupings work well with project making. It can be done in groups, pairs or even independently. Project making can be a social and interactive type of learning. Students learn to negotiate with others as they share their ideas throughout the process.

Sometimes group projects we do with our students in the classroom can be viewed by others as fun art and craft activities. Drawing, coloring pictures, cutting materials, and putting things together I believe it is more than an art and craft activity.  It is a process that involves organizational skills, social skills, problem solving and time management skills to name a few.

How can we effectively use project making to access students’ ideas, interest, skills and knowledge?

What makes a good project?

Gary Stager has spent the past twenty-six years as an internationally recognized educator, speaker, and consultant. In his article, What Makes a Good Project he quotes,

“Projects are what students remember long after the bell rings. Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories” (p. 21).

Stager (p. 20) also includes the eight elements of a good project which are

  • Purpose and Relevance
  • Time
  • Complexity
  • Intensity
  • Connected
  • Access
  • Shareable
  • Novelty

                                                              The Umbrella Project

Two weeks into our Weather inquiry, I noticed that the students were not as enthusiastic as I’d hoped. To jumpstart their enthusiasm, I decided to put an old umbrella on a table next to my desk without saying anything… just hoping that one of my students would notice it….

….And that they did… And so our Umbrella Project was born!

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Post by Carina and Dee

Murphy (2011, cited in Creating a multilingual learning environment) states that it is essential that in the first five years of a child’s life their mother tongue is not neglected as, this can impact on their language development in both their mother tongue and an additional language.

Creating a multilingual learning environment highlights the need for schools and teachers to provide programmes that value and promote students’ mother tongue. A quote by Carder (loc. 451) below implies that maintaining a good level of ability in a student’s mother tongue is the sole responsibility of the school. However, from a different perspective, it is not a shared responsibility with parents? It is also just as important, if not more important that a student have their mother tongue and culture valued at home. A student who enters school with a good sense of identity in their own culture and language is more likely to succeed in learning a second language. Here at ISPP there are many students who have not fully developed an appreciation of their own language and culture. Some students have stated they don’t speak their mother tongue at home and neither do their parents.

It takes a village to raise a child and in this case, an internationally minded child that values multilingualism.

How can we at ISPP further develop our partnership with parents to enrich our students’ learning in an internationally minded environment?

“…if [international schools] are turning out students who are not fully literate in English, and who have lost a good level of ability in their mother tongue, then their claim on quality is questionable, and the damage done irrevocable.” Carder, loc. 451)

Celebrating Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

At the beginning of each school year I wonder what my class would be  like. How diverse will they be? Will I have a big class or small class? Will my students be the risks-takers that I hope they will  be? What kind of learning experiences are there to be made? Will it be another amazing learning journey just like the previous  school year?

A little over three weeks ago we started school. I found out that I have a linguistically and culturally diverse group of students.  And, yes, it is a big class! My students also happened to be risk-takers! So, I know for sure it is going to be another amazing learning journey.

Then I started thinking how best to celebrate diversity in my class.  I know it’s not something that will happen overnight but it will happen. I envision a celebration that will  go through an  organic progression. To begin our linguistic and cultural celebration

  • Everyone uses their mother tongue to greet each other in the morning.
  • We use different languages to say the word goodbye in our end of the day song.

There are 12 different languages spoken by teachers and students combined in our class.

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Students Taking a Crack at Collaboration

Our first unit of inquiry, Interactions, kicked off this week. The word interactions is quite a big word for my little guys so I thought it’s important to first unpack the word itself. I wanted this activity to be a collaborative learning activity but I was a little worried and asked myself if it would work since we just started school and the children are just getting to know each other. What will collaboration look like?

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My goal was for the students to work collaboratively to investigate and discover different words by identifying patterns that occur as they sorted the letters from the word interactions. Well, my class did just fine. In fact, better than fine! They did an amazing job collaborating.

 

Teachers Taking a Crack at Collaboration

The G1 team has chosen to work together alongside the EAL teachers and the LS teacher to support each other in their professional learning. Kelly Martin’s reading suggests working/ learning collaboratively “with others who have shared mindsets, goals, challenges and are solution oriented can provide powerful learning opportunities and build teacher efficacy.”

We are at the initial stages of our planning and walkthroughs/ observations of each other will be incorporated as a means to support our practice and, in turn, student performance. There is also the opportunity to sort feedback from our students.

Our team goal is to incorporate a variety of EAL strategies to enrich the literacy programme and further develop students’ language.

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Teacher Collaboration