It's been a busy time in the school library and when I contemplated what to write about for this week, I took a peek at the photos I took. There were a lot of moments from the kindergarteners and the work they did related to this year's Blue Spruce nominees. I thought I'd highlight a few of our projects, give credit where we need to, and then get political at the end.
For the book Where Oliver Fits, the students created "pictures" using the flat shape blocks. Then, they worked with a partner. The original creator took away a piece of their picture and the friend had to determine what was missing. We all fit; we all belong.
For the book Sun Dog, the students examined the illustrations and how they were created. They listed the Arctic animals mentioned in the story, selected one, and then used plasticine to make the animal and a background. They explored with blunt tools to make texture to resemble things like fur.
Credit time! Very few of these ideas came from me. Huge thanks goes to my dear friend, Peel District School Board teacher-librarian Melanie Mulcaster. Her site, Forest of Making 2019, is a treasure trove of multiple ways to explore the ideas and themes from the book in a hands-on way. I've written about Melanie before on this blog (and her Forest of Making site as well) but it deserves more recognition.
Credit also needs to go to Thess Isidro and Jen Cadavez, the Early Childhood Educators in two of the kindergarten classes. Their input cannot be underestimated. Thess was the one who thought up of the plasticine art activity for Sun Dog and she led the lesson. Being the modest person she is, in her Facebook post, the light shone on the student artists and on me, unnecessarily. As for Jen, she has been so good with extending the time for these activities into regular class time and sacrificing her own time to rearrange schedules to make completion possible. We only have a 40 minute period for media and many of these tasks take much longer. She is also the "wellness thermometer" and knows exactly the right things to say to students who get distraught when we have to leave the library and the activity isn't completed. Last year, the two of us designed some activities together for a Blue Spruce nominated book.
Here's where it gets political. The current provincial government has made some serious cuts to education. They've increased class sizes in Grades 4-8 and high school. I can't find the Facebook post that alerted people to a polling survey being used via phone that asked citizens about their opinions on how to staff kindergarten classes, suggesting that the current model of a OCT certified teacher and a registered ECE together could be replaced. Despite claiming that kindergarten caps will stay in place, there's no guarantee that kindergarten as it stands today will stay. (See this CBC article from February 2019 about potential kindie cuts.)
I could not do what I do with our kindergarten students without the help of another qualified adult like the ECEs. Even in the smaller kindergarten class at my school that does not have an ECE, often the classroom teacher will come in and permit extra time to complete these activities, working together with me as a similar type of team. Be wary of "cost-saving measures" in education. Read from many different sources about what might be axed and why. If, like me, these actions concern you, make your opinion known. This ad, produced by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, appeared in the Toronto Star on March 16. I'll end today's blog, about programs and educational professionals who make it possible, whose jobs could be in peril, with this thought.