Code in schools is a Baltimore based non-profit that provides course modules for teachers k – 12 to ensure early childhood literacy in programming. I’ve included modules in my classroom to provide foundational skillsfor 21st century learning.
This picture above is an example of Computer Science & Math Small Group Work. Students are applying their knowledge of standard algorithms to determine different paths for the Codeapillar to complete when venturing around the classroom. This is a fun, interactive and purposeful learning experience in computer science.
InTASC Standard #8: The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
Multiple instructional strategies form a dynamic learning environment, which encourages learners to develop a deep understanding of content areas. Instructional strategies are the daily methods and practices, which compose the desired learning goals for each student. Our classroom learning goals are on or above grade level mastery in reading and writing, math, and programming foundational skills and to develop an admiration and passion for reading. Accordingly, instructional strategies that I implement in my classroom community encourage learners to develop a deep and long lasting understanding of foundational skills and apply each skill in a meaningful way to form connections, and build upon each student's schema for content understanding and growth.
The strategies I use in my Kindergarten classroom encourage learners to apply knowledge in meaningful ways by allowing scholars to use exciting classroom tools to apply thefoundational skills. For example, when learning our five sight-words each week for our word of the day activity, we use play dough to build the word of the day and then we use crayons to rainbow write the word of the day. Additionally, I incorporate reading into a majority of the day, each week we repeatedly read a short passage from our daily reading comprehension books and answer questions, following resource we have our read-aloud, before nap time we have story time using Storyline Online, and if time allows, during dismissal we have another story time. I purposefully use instructional strategies in my classroom to make reading meaningful allowing students to develop a deep understanding of the pattern of the English language and the world around them simultaneously.
Applying knowledge in meaningful ways for early childhood means allowing students to choose, make connections, build, create and explore. Each day through whole group, small group, individual and outside of the classroom exploration students are encouraged to apply foundational skills purposefully.
The most valuable lesson I learned when moving from a departmentalized 1st-grade classroom to an all subjects Kindergarten classroom is that cross-curricular learning and a variety of instructional strategies are paramount to students’ learning and comprehension of foundational skills in reading and writing, math, and computer science. In my Kindergarten classroom, the foundational skills compose the core of student learning. Our daily schedule facilitates a fun, interactive and purposeful early childhood learning environment. Specifically, I implement a variety of instructional strategies through a creative teacher designed schedule of small and whole group work to meet each students’ individual curiosities and needs. A plethora of learning activities throughout the day with a common strand of intentionally placed read-aloud times encourages learners to develop all content area specific foundational skills and apply learning in meaningful ways.
The video is from our classroom field trip to a local children's museum, Port Discovery. The students in this image use their foundational skillsto explore the STEM exhibit Wonders of Water. In this exhibit students use water to build, create and make connections with water. Specifically, in this image the students are playing in plumbers park, building a foundation and using water to play water chimes.
The image above is from our classroom shape party, students sort their favorite snacks into two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. This activity makes learning about shapes meaningful because the students organize their cherished snacks. The activity focuses on a specificfoundational skill encouraging students to identify two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes with food.
NACA I Kindergarten Daily Schedule
A consistent schedule allows students to focus on exploration and work because students understand and acknowledge each daily step in their learning process. The daily schedule includes intentional exercises throughout the day, intertwined with encouraging students on a daily basis to grow in foundational skill competency. Therefore, the instructional strategies outlined in the daily schedule below are purposefully derived with the intention of giving students the tools and repetition needed forfoundational skills acquisition and mastery, coupled with a deep adoration for reading and ability to apply all skills and knowledge learned in meaningful ways.
The daily instructional strategies encourage learners to develop a deep understanding of content areas because the consistent repetition of skills and hands-on exploratory learning practices allows students to constantly interact with the necessary foundational skills to achieve on or above grade-level mastery.
The Kindergarten Daily Schedule is posted in the classroom with visual images for each learning activity to communicate routine with students and other community stakeholders. The schedule serves as an initial snapshot of our daily activities and work for any classroom visitor. The Kindergarten Daily Schedule is displayed in the background of the three images above and outlined below.
Kindergarten Daily Schedule
Breakfast 7: 15 am - 7: 45 am Students eat breakfast in the cafeteria with other schoolmates. This activity is important to make sure each scholar gets the most important meal of the day and also good morning practice for socialization.
Freedom & Democracy Morning Meeting 7: 45 am - 8: 00 am Kindergarten students gather with the school community to learn about our three NACA I pillars: Freedom & Democracy, Superior Academics, and Superior Character Development.
Reading, Writing, & Math Foundational Skills Warm-Up
Morning Work 8: 00 am - 8: 15 am Students review previously learned foundational skills and review with whole group discussion.
Daily Fix-A-Sentence 8: 15 am - 8: 30 am Students use their sentence tool kit to fix sentences with silly mistakes and review with whole group discussion.
Morning Meeting 8: 30 am - 8: 50 am Students gather with both teachers on the carpet to discuss the days of the week and the weather for the day. Additionally, students engage in restorative circles discussing conflict resolution strategies with peers and other upcoming classroom events.
Morning Stretch 8: 50 am - 9: 00 am Students engage in the morning stretch to develop spatial awareness and to prepare their minds and bodies for their working and learning day.
Play Dough Build-A-Word 9: 00 am - 9: 15 am Students learn one word each day to prepare for the end of the week spelling test. During this time, students read the word, build the word with play dough, write the word in two sentences: "Today is ________________. The word of the day is _____________________.", rainbow write the word, and then use the word to write student generated sentences.
Guided-Reading Instruction Warm-Up 9: 15 am - 9: 30 am Daily Reading Comprehension Journal (on or above grade level readers) Students read a weekly passage daily to build word recognition and confidence as readers. Each day students listen to the passage, underline sight-words with crayons in the passage, read the passage, and complete one short Reading Comprehension activity for the passage.
Small Group Sight-Word Readers & Nursery Rhymes (emerging readers) Students meet with the teacher's assistant in a small group to develop word recognition.
Resource 9: 35 am - 10: 20 am Students engage in different extracurricular activities, including: Martial Arts, Freedom & Democracy, Gym and Drawing Class.
Read-Aloud & Foundations 10: 25 am - 11: 00 am Students work in small teacher-led groups for fifteen minutes each, delving into read-aloud and phonetic and phonemic awareness.
Lunch & Recess 11: 15 am - 12: 00 pm Lunch and recess are important components of each student's development socially. During lunch students learn how to eat with friends and during recess students learn how to play with friends, negotiating right and wrong.
Before Nap time Story 12: 00 pm - 12: 15 pm Before nap time students listen to a story read by a community professional on Storyline Online projected on the classroom promethean board. This is a purposeful instructional time to encourage students to develop relationships with stories and positive memories of reading with friends.
Nap time 12: 15 pm - 12: 45 pm Nap time is an important time for Kindergarteners because it encourages a time of reflection and quiet in a very active and demanding day at school. Students are encouraged to rest during this time, but also have the choice of reading quietly and independently. This is a purposeful instructional time to encourage students to develop relationships with stories and positive memories of reading.
Computer Science & Math 12: 45 pm - 1: 30 pm Students work in small groups, including teacher-led groups engaging in topics of computer science and math. Students rotate through three sections of computer science and math during this instructional time.
Drop Everything and Read (Guided Reading Time) 1: 30 pm - 1: 45 pm This is a purposeful instruction time to encourage students to develop relationships with stories and positive memories of reading with peers. The class is grouped into three reading categories based on their Easy CBM assessment data: Emerging Readers, On-Grade Level Readers and Below-Grade Level Readers. During this time students in groups from five to seven meet with the teacher once or twice a week to build vocabulary and read with on-level readers to build reading stamina and fluency. Students that are not meeting with a teacher, are reading a book quietly and independently for fifteen minutes.
Choice Time 1: 45 pm - 2: 15 pm Choice time is an exciting time of the day for students. This is a time of well-earned student exploration in the classroom. During this time, students can choose any learning center in the classroom, which encourages through fun and engaging play student review of our classroom foundational skills.
Pack-Up & Dismissal 2: 15 pm - 2: 40 pm Students pack-up their belongings with table mates and once all students are done packing up. Students and teachers complete the afternoon clean-up cleaning off the tables and classroom boards, sharpening pencils, returning crayons to the community crayon boxes, and changing the date on the classroom board and calendar, preparing for the following working and learning day.
As an early childhood educator, my daily instructional strategies are developed to encourage learners to apply knowledge in meaningful ways to facilitate a deep understanding of foundational skills. The integration and interconnections of all instructional strategies facilitate a purposeful learning environment where each student can capture a love for reading and the foundational skillsnecessary to demonstrate on or above grade level mastery on assessments. Each instructional strategy plays an integral role in instruction and cannot individually suffice.