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January 03, 2007

Students as Teachers: An Amazing First Day Back

"Happy New Year!" I exclaimed to each of my students as they walked in today. In the past, this week back after the holiday break often proved somewhat hectic, with many of the children getting back into the swing of our daily routines. This year's return is shaping up differently. Here are a couple of highlights from the first day back:

  • While I planned to review our "talk it out" approach to conflict resolution later in the week, the students independently devised their own scenarios today. As part of our introduction to a three-week exploration of winter, I showed them two bears: one fully dressed for winter and the other wearing only a tee-shirt. After we passed them around, I asked them what they noticed about the two bears. Samar responded, "That bear with the jacket hit the other bear with a block." We then began discussing various ways we could respond to such a situation. The students came up with everything from apologizing and telling an adult to getting another block the two bears could share. We ultimately did talk about and explore winter throughout the day, but the teachable moment involving the bears was particularly valuable because it derived from student interest and demonstrated their deepening understanding of how to solve conflicts.
  • After reading the poem "Chicken Soup with Rice" for January, we laced up our make-believe skates and tried pretend skating while sipping our own soup in the auditorium. We discussed potential dangers such as: "wind that could blow leaves in your soup" (Kevin); "rain that could make the soup taste nasty" (Derrell); and, "snow that could make the soup cold" (Sierra). As we skated around the auditorium, we managed to escape a wolf "hiding behind a tree" (Jeffrey), but suddenly a dragon appeared. We just started exploring snow and ice today, so, like any good pre-k teacher with Greek roots, I had to use a bit of the Socratic method. After breaking it down with detailed questions, we figured out that the fire from the dragon would melt the ice, causing us to have to swim back to our classroom instead of ice skate. As Ravon said, "Whew, that was a close one."

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