When our ES1 students began in term 1 of this year they encountered a learning space that has been designed to facilitate creative learning opportunities and provide flexible seating arrangements. This choice was nothing new to these beginning students who had come from early learning centres where the program is based on individual needs and interests of each child. There are no designated seats for the children throughout the day which has meant a smooth progression into ES1 for our students. The furniture from NorvaNivel is inviting and easily adjusted to meet the changing needs of the students as well as the tasks we are exploring.
Our students are engaged in a variety of speaking and listening activities which flow into the choices provided in purposeful play. In this way the children get to work on a particular skill before attempting the task independently. One example of this was the lego bridge challenge where students had to communicate and collaborate with a partner to build a bridge that could go over the water that sat between them without touching it. To add an extra element of challenge the children were given a handful of lego as well as a 5 minute time limit….the conversations that developed from this task enabled the children to identify this as an ‘engineering’ task and they wanted to know if it could be possible make the water wider. Another highlight that the children shared from their self reflections was the importance to be able to choose the right pieces of lego and then talk to a partner about how they could both make it together. The children are extremely proud of their bridges and at the end of purposeful play they display them for others to view and appreciate.
So this brings me to the element of choice….where else in the curriculum can we provide the children with choice, based on something they want to do? This was the question posed at a professional learning meeting and in ES1 we reflected on how we could incorporate this into our literacy block. After much consideration it was decided that we would focus on a particular success criteria from shared reading:
I can retell the story
The children were then asked to think about and discuss what activities or resources they could use to enable them to retell a known story. The children decided that they wanted to use-
- Whiteboard textas to write and draw on the tables
- Finger puppets
- Coloured textas and their English books using a story map concept of beginning, middle and end focus
- iPads and the children chose the apps of Book Creator, Chatterpix and Seesaw
Over the last two weeks the students have retold the story of “Mr Huff” by Anna Walker and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.
The children have been extremely engaged and it is obvious that they are enjoying using a variety of materials to retell the story. The only part that requires some management is the level of noise created by the verbal retelling and element of excitement that vibrates throughout the entire room.
The challenge for myself as an educator will be to continually rethink how I can best support the children I work with in giving them a voice and choice in the daily program and curriculum. Next we are exploring the success criteria of-
I can read like a storyteller
Tomorrow I will be asking the children to think of the best activities to enable them to be successful…I wonder what they will choose?