Greetings and welcome to week six! In continued preparation for the Mother’s Day gala on March 8th 2012 both cohorts continued their focus on the Family Unit and mastering the vocabulary and ways of personally expressing oneself about this subject. Major focus was placed this week on learning by heart our Mother’s Day Poem and selected song “You are my Sunshine.”
Our week was somewhat abbreviated by the “Defenders of the Fatherland” holiday on Thursday, but even that celebration when focused on the importance of male family members was integrated into our current unit of study. Due to the holiday and following Friday on which there were excessive absences (we had four students total!) some of the lesson plans and planned for activities had to be amended and will be carried into next week accordingly.
Many of our Kindergarten cohort students were ill and/or on holiday for this week, for those in attendance (and those who brought pictures) we began our personalized family trees! As is the case with many of our more elaborate projects I always do a demo first to help students understand through visual means what an ‘ideal’ outcome to their work might be. It is critical that as much as possible for both cohorts of students what they learn is personally and practically meaningful for them---this project proved perfect for that.
Given the family tree project requires a student to cognitively understand family hierarchies and sequences it was not carried forth to our pre-k cohort but they did enjoy creating a paper doll family. Asked personally about how many brothers, sisters and parents they have as a group we then created a customized paper doll family. This proved to be a great opportunity for cross-curricular/multiple subject learning as students practiced counting, memory recall, fine motor skills and creativity.
While it was initially planned to have students expand their family vocabulary to include more distant relatives like aunts, uncles and cousins the absences of this week, overall linguistic needs and need to review kept both cohorts firmly grounded in the nuclear family and grandparents. It has tentatively been decided that next week will focus on other (non-human!) family members e.g pets! This is being carried out as response to student’s interests and larger need to generalize their knowledge base.
Also this week saw slightly higher temperatures----we got to go back outside to play! There's nothing like a Russian winter.
This week both the Kindergarten and the pre school cohort began a unit on Family which will culminate in our Mother`s Day show on March 8, 2012. This unit has the primary focus for the pre school cohort of familiarizing them with basic English language vocabulary revolving around the family unit e.g Mother, Father, Grandmother etc and incorporating that with creativity through simple daily art projects. For our ambitious kindergarten cohort we will be focusing on nuclear family vocabulary this week and extending that next week by including larger family members such as uncle, aunt, cousin and even pets! Once this vocabulary has been verbally mastered (students can identify through pictures who is a sister vs. mother for example) we will be making a personalized family tree with student`s specific family pictures! This is definately going to be purposeful application.
On Tuesday both classes took the to honour a very special person: their Mother! It was Valentine`s day and by popular demand we all made special English language valentines for Mommy.
Both cohorts spent Wednesday and Thursday mastering English language vocabulary for the nuclear family. For the Kindergarten students this included: Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Baby, Son, Daughter, Grandfather and Grandmother. Rather than being an exercise in rote memorization--mastering this vocabulary proved to be a great opportunity for bilingual and cross cultural interactions as both the Russian and English were honoured and used---as they will always be in our classroom. The younger cohort kept their learned vocabulary far more simple: Mother, Father, Grandmother and Grandfather were learned this week.
As it is always our focus to learn new words and verbs in an immediate context and become comfortable with them before generalizing them to other parts of English speech or communication situations. For example students have learned that when they need or want something they should use the phrase: 'May I have?' This week we extended the verb `to have` and used it in speaking about our families: `how many brothers and sisters do you have?,` We will continue to practice this next week too but thus far the Kindergarten cohort is applying their learned skills wonderfully, as demonstrated in their latest `Friday Review.`
Continuing on our unit about food this week, we learned about different types of drinks in English. The kindergarten cohort also learned a crucial aspect of speaking in English—politeness---through the phrase: “May I have?” and subsequent responses: “Yes you may.” “No, you may not.”
Our younger cohort started simply this week by learning the verb to drink via a familiar situation: drinking juice. Similar to last week the Kindergarten group learned the drink based vocabulary: water, juice, tea, coffee through colouring…something they absolutely indulge in! Throughout the week our younger cohort continued to build their vocabulary up from Juice to coffee, tea and water. Due to excessive absences in this group of learners Friday was taken as a day to review materials learned.
The Kindergarten cohort is very bright and ambitious so it is important that we not forget to recall and use in a meaningful way vocabulary and speech learned in previous weeks. On Tuesday we spoke to each other asking for various fruits and vegetables using the polite speech “May I have?”
Wednesday’s and Thursday's Kindergarten activity was fantastic as this creative group was asked to make a self portrait and magazine-picture collage of what they like and do not like, encouraged to express often in English what and why they selected what they did. Though our unit is about healthy foods: fruits, vegetables, and drinks it is critical that children learn how to generalize their English language knowledge and ability express themselves to a wide variety of topics. Teacher’s note: as an educator I was so pleased by the creativity, enthusiasm and decision making student’s brought to this project! Excellent work kids and fantastic job in applying your English skills through art!
Friday saw the pre school cohort enjoying the English language film of the week "The Lion King" and our Kindergarten class completed their Friday Review III in fabulous order.
Week February 1-4: Dairy, week III
We had another wonderful week! Extending our learning, in this second week about foods we focused on dairy products, calling this week: “C is for Cow!”
Our letter of the week was C and this was perfect because where do most dairy products come from? Indeed a cow! For the older Kindergarten cohort of students much of the learning and projects we did had the basic goal of understanding the origins of the food we eat.
Starting with this basic premise the younger class water colour painted their very own “colourful cow.” This light activity had the intention of introducing the week’s material and calling on recall abilities in reference to what was learned previously: the colours. Naturally, this activity also allowed students to engage their creative senses and make decisions for themselves.
The Kindergarten class began straight away this week learning the different products we can get from cows via their milk. This particular class loves to paint, colour and draw so capture this through vocabulary based worksheets. These sheets allow the children to engage their creativity, learn new words and most importantly via speaking with other students and the teacher practice full English sentences in a natural and meaningful way.
For the pre school cohort class time focused on building a few core vocabulary words through art: cow, milk, yogurt and ice cream. The kindergarten cohort practiced and learned this week dairy related vocabulary the sentence structure “I like….” And the verb: “To eat.” It was also important in this respect that they learned to express what they don’t like.
Keeping with the idea that the older cohort should understand the origin of the foods we eat they created a three dimensional cow and dairy product project on Thursday.
Friday now will feature for the Kindergarten group the task of the “Friday Review.” While this by no means is a test it is a set of sheets meant to engage the student’s recall abilities in regards to vocabulary, sentence structure, learned verbs (and later adjectives) they learned throughout the week. This task is also critical to helping them practice and feel comfortable writing in English.
This week we did our second Friday Review packet and the student’s did splendidly!
Often we have extra or free time in class in which I encourage students to have fun, play and most of all be creative and independent. Usually during this time we watch an English language movie or listen to English language music.
Our English language film of the week was "The Princess & The Frog." A special thank you to Ms. Sereca for lending this movie to us!