What You Do Matters: 3 Aha Moments from this Week

Saturday, January 21, 2017

This week I had some awesome "oh my gosh, they're actually learning something important" aha moments that I'm eager to share with you! Don't you love when that happens?! As teachers, we want to know that what we're doing matters, that we're helping our students become amazing people and learn worthwhile life lessons along with academic content. I hope you read this and a) realize that what you do matters, b) you have your own aha moment, and/or c) you get some ideas to implement in your classroom!

The first "aha" moment came when we learned about Martin Luther King Jr. We read Martin's Big Words and talked about how MLK believed in peaceful protests and "fighting" with love, not hate. Wow! I mean, wow! I was beyond impressed with the reactions from the 5 and 6 year olds in my classroom. I did edit the story just a tad to have more appropriate language for my little leaders, avoiding any topic or word that might spark conversation not meant for a Kindergarten classroom. The main objectives for this read aloud were for the students to understand that Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a time when segregation among people based on skin color was happening and that he believed in making change in a peaceful way. It is amazing to hear their reactions to segregation and to watch as they grasped how MLK tried to lead this change. One of my students said, "I love love." It truly touched my heart. After talking about how people still remember him today, we created directed drawings as a way to help commemorate MLK in the present (pictured below). We used directions from Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business free product :) She also has an awesome blog post on MLK lessons incase you still wanted to touch upon it this week or want to put it in your files for next year!
Amazing Directed Drawings! 

The second "aha" moment was part of the first - those directed drawings! I can't believe I haven't been doing more of these, and if you haven't either, you will after you hear about this!! Every month my students are creating self-portraits and writing their names to create a personal book at the end of the year (which I cannot wait to see)! Their handwriting has changed drastically since September, but there hasn't been a large change in their self-portraits. I realize now that the reason we haven't seen a large change in self-portraits is because we haven't spent enough time on learning techniques of drawing and we really should be! Using pictures to express ideas is part of the Kindergarten curriculum. Not to mention - they're 5 and 6. Fostering creativity and a love for learning is arguably the most important part of this job. Later in the week we created self-portraits and the difference was incredible!! 
A close-up of several MLK directed drawings

The third and final "aha" moment of this week came when the district's internet went down and I couldn't access any of my flipcharts. (If you don't know what this is, it's like Promethean Boards version of Smart Notebook  and it's awesome!!). Because of this little mishap, we had to wing it - which ended up being valuable for everyone. Morning Meeting is my favorite part of the day! (I plan on explaining why in a future post). At this point in the year, it basically runs myself - isn't it awesome when your students can lead the classroom?! But I knew that with a change in routine, that may not be the case today. Instead of utilizing the smartboard to support our morning meeting, we went non-digital. Smartboard off. Classroom calendar posted on the board, singing with no music, and using actual magnetic letters and cookie sheets instead of interactive letters. My students have never been so focused! So teacher friends, I challenge you, stray from the routine every once in a while. Turn off your interactive white boards and connect with your little leaders in a different way.
A snapshot of one of our Morning Meeting activities, creating patterns
with oversized shapes. They LOVED this!

So remember, what you do matters. You are making a difference. Your students are learning invaluable lessons.

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