Who We Are

Week 1: And so it begins.

This is the start of our inquiry journey. Time to welcome the new class. It is only a three day week so fingers crossed for a smooth transition. Here goes .......

The inquiry approach requires educators to think about their role and their students in a different way. It creates conflict among some educators, as it is a change not only in their practice, but also in their belief (Short & Burke, 1996).

Transdisciplinary Theme: Who we areAn inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

Central Idea: People’s relationships with each other can have an impact on well-being.

Lines of Inquiry:
  • How we develop relationships
  • How relationships affect us
  • Roles and behaviours within relationships

This inquiry had previously been my second as last years starting transdisciplinary theme was , How We Organise Ourselves. This had been concerned with communities. The reason for the change in order was that I considered that it was important to begin with ourselves before we could fully understand our role in the wider community. Also, being the start of the school year it is more important to think about 'Who We Are' and developing friendships. Especially for the Early Years social skills and developing friendships in vitally important especially when introducing a relatively large contingent of new children 

I would usually begin each inquiry by breaking down the central idea and lines of inquiry highlighting and discussing important vocabulary or ideas. My experience from last year, however, taught that the concept of 'relationship' was difficult for a class of 4 year olds to understand. As you can see this word 'relationship' is a common theme in both the Central Idea and the Lines of Inquiry. This is something that I had reflected on the previous year but unfortunately unable to change for my current year. Sometimes we have to do the best with what we are given. With this in mind I have decided that I will not begin with my usual breaking down of the Central Idea but instead re-visit this throughout the inquiry as the children are exposed to a number of different relationships with the hope that this understanding comes during the course of the inquiry.

We began our inquiry thinking about our own likes and dislikes. What are our ingredients that makes us who we are? Through class discussion we broke this down into areas that the children would be able to relate to at this stage of the year e.g. favourite toys, sports food and even colours. Using the examples by the children we then discussed how we we all different but we could also be similar in many ways. Also the things we like/dislike make up the 'puzzle-piece' of who we are. This was demonstrated by creating a puzzle piece for myself. Notice that I have left the concept of friends and family blank as we will return to these concepts a little bit later in the inquiry.

The children were given the task of creating their own 'puzzle-pieces' to demonstrate who they were. The children's work was then used to create this display for the classroom door.

To complement the display of 'How We Fit Together' the children were also asked to be creative when creating a template of themselves using a variety of materials. The idea behind this was that we are all unique. It was also a fun activity for the children during the first days of school. Their work was then used to decorate the other side of the classroom door.

During the first weeks it is important to get to know the children and for them to get to know each other. It is also vital at the early stages to create routine. Especially for the Early Years the initial morning contact with their teachers and their classmates is very important. I have found that beginning your day with Class Meeting is an excellent way for the children to transition. It allows opportunities to share thoughts and begin really meaningful discussion from the word. This is also an excellent opportunity to provide children with information about the day ahead. I have included a link below to an article that I have found very useful in making my Class Meetings meaningful.

For the first couple of weeks at least I will use the class meeting time to think about our emotions during these quite challenging first weeks in a new class and for some children a new school. I also thought it would be beneficial to complete a small inquiry into the children's names. The benefit of this being that the children begin to learn each others names and it is also a good opportunity to assess some of the children's knowledge in counting, letter sounds and are they able to recognise their own name? 

After looking a several other resources I was re-introduced to the idea of Question of the Day. Although I was aware of this before it is something that I have so far not used in my own teaching. After our initial greeting and sharing the children were each given a star with their name on it. Each day we began with a question about their name e.g. Does your name begin with a V? Does your name have 6 letters? At this stage each question is just a simple yes or no answer. Variations of these questions will be used throughout the coming week. Data-Handling is a strand of Maths that will be integrated into the inquiry so this is a nice starting point. It also gets the children engaged at the beginning of the day and also introduces the children to the concept of questions which will be vitally important during the course of our inquiries. Below is an example of how the board is organised.

During our Class Meeting time I introduced the children to the 'Clap a Friends Name With Me'. An opportunity to learn names whilst also getting the children to think about letter sounds.

As this has been only a short week much of my time has been spent getting to know the children, getting them to know each other and also developing routines. Even at these early stages of the year  I have been pleased that I been able to begin laying the foundations for our new inquiry. Getting the children to think about themselves and others. There have also been some great opportunities for some initial assessment of the children's skills e.g. counting, letter sounds, name recognition, answer questions and sorting. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our first school days of the year. I will try to update on a weekly basis but as many of you are aware the commitments to teaching are many. I will try to document our journey the best I can but I am sure there will be things missed or not documented accurately. I consider myself to be an extremely reflective individual and far from perfect in my approach. All constructive criticism or advice is always more them welcome.

See you soon ..............


Popular posts from this blog

The Importance of Documentation

Taking Action: Every mighty tree begins with a small seed.

Sharing The Planet: Our Journey Through Inquiry