Tuesday, December 5
When I entered the classroom the students were busy with another handwriting assignment, similar to the one about their father on Day 17. This time, however, they were finishing a sentence about something they had heard in the classroom. Already written on a sheet of paper was the words “I hear.” The students were to write something they had heard in the classroom, and then draw it.
After seeing the assignment at each student’s table, I went to each table to see if any student needed help. Brittany asked me first. Like before, since Brittany had trouble writing her letters, I would willingly spell out words she needed help with since she had trouble writing them. Unlike before, Brittany did not ask me to help her with letters that she clearly knew how to write (like letters in her name). Instead, she asked help for letters I knew she had trouble writing, since I had not seen her write them at the JCC. (Of course, she may know how to write them, but having never seen her write it successfully before, I cannot say for sure, and thus cannot make a judgment.) I did, however, explain to her that she should not ask for help for things that she knew how to do, and that I knew much of what she could do from my past work at the JCC.
Brittany did not tell me she understood, but she no longer asked for help whenever the time came to write her name or any letter in her name, so I suspected that I had gotten through to her. After I helped Brittany, I was asked from the other table to help Robert. Robert is a child I have had to help before—like Brittany, he often has trouble with his work, especially with handwriting and sequencing. Unlike Brittany, he truly is having trouble, and would not pretend to be unable to do something he truly cannot do. The same applies with Patrick, a student who is also struggling yet truly trying his best.
After Robert, I helped Rosie. In both cases, since they were able to write their letters properly, I followed Mrs. Shapiro’s spelling rule when helping them spell their words.
While helping students spell by giving them the sounds of each letter of a given word, it is interesting to note that when students do tell me the wrong letter for a specific sound, the mistakes they make are not random. (When I was 11, my piano teacher was fond of pointing out what mistakes I made were common among other 11-year-old students). There is one mistake, for example, that every student has made at least once. Whenever I say “eh,” the short E sound, I am told it is the sound of the letter A. “Uh,” the short U sound, “ih,” the short I sound, and “aah,” the short O sound, are also mistaken as the letter A.
But “ah,” the short A sound, is never mistaken as any other vowel. Another challenge that occurs is when trying to give out the sound for the letter C, since its two sounds are shared with S and K. The students will often say S if I give the “ssss” sound or K if I give the “kuh” sound. Since it is technically accurate, however, I will tell them to tell me the other letter with that sound. They always tell me C, so I know they understand.
After helping Brittany, Robert, and Erika, I saw that the students at the computers were busily drawing pictures of gingerbread houses. With other students wanting to be at the computer, I took out my computer and created a gingerbread house outline that the students could color in on MS Paint. Rather than animating this picture, however, I made it a cooperative project where more than one student was able to come and color the picture in, and the students colored the picture in together. Four students in total—Brittany, Erika, Ellie, and Jessica—worked on the picture. Once the picture was done, I burned it onto a CD-ROM and printed copies out for each student during Art. (I have a copy of the picture.)
Once the Gingerbread House was done, Free Time was over, and it was time to clean up. I took my laptop and burned the file onto a CD-ROM, and then promptly shut my computer down to pack it back into my backpack, as part of Clean-Up Time. When I was done, the students had cleaned up and had lined up for Art.
During Art, I printed out the students’ pictures, and also collected the pictures that had been made by the students from the printer in the Computer Lab. When Art was over and the students were picked up and returned to the classroom, Mrs. Shapiro read her students a story.
Mrs. Shapiro read the story “The Quilt Maker’s Gift,” about a quiltmaker who teaches a mean old lady a lesson with her magic quilt. The story ends with the lady traveling all over the world spreading good cheer. On the page that described the world, there were pictures of various world landmarks and different types of people. The students were curious as to what those places were. Mrs. Shapiro did not know many of them. However, having remembered many different places and different types of people from my anthropology studies and world history studies, I decided to take the book and show the students where some of those places (the places I recognized) were.
On that page, I recognized China, India, the Serengeti (a region in East Africa that consists of parts of Kenya and Tanzania), the Statue of Liberty, the Middle East, and parts of Southeast Asia. After showing the students what some of those pictures meant, the students were sent to their desks to complete an activity called “I Can Look Carefully.”
For this activity, the students were given a booklet that consisted of people’s faces. Drawn into every individual face was a specific letter—sometimes capital, sometimes lower case. The students were assigned to look at each face and write down the letter they saw in each face on a line below each face.
When the students started this activity, I went to each table to see if any student needed help. No one did, so I waited until students had finished their work so I could check it over and see if they got any wrong. Robert was first to finish. He had finished quite quickly and thus I was skeptical that he had finished. However, when I saw his paper, I saw that he had, and had gotten every single one correct. I then graded Erika, Alex, Patrick, Brittany, and Peter’s paper. Erika, Alex, Patrick and Brittany got almost all of them correct—Patrick got them all right, Erika and Brittany got 1 wrong, and Peter got 2 wrong. But Alex did not do as well—he got 4 wrong.
After I graded each student’s paper, I gave it back to each individual student and told them to put it in their backpack. Once each student was done, I lined up with the class and Mrs. Shapiro for Music class.
After Music was over, Mrs. Shapiro seated the students down in their rows to explain them about the Little Books library, a small collection of books in one part of the classroom.
The Little Books library consisted of a collection of “little books,” books at a kindergarten-reading level that were placed in containers. Each student was given the choice to check out a book for a few days. They would take a tag out of the book and put it in their card holder, which was glued onto a sheet of poster board. On the poster board was a card holder for each student. After checking out a book, a student would keep it for up to a week. When a student returned it, they would take it back to the class. If they were able to read it to Mrs. Shapiro or another assistant (I am not the only helper in the classroom), they would receive a certificate, which they could take home, which said they had read their Little Book.
After Mrs. Shapiro explained the Little Books to the students, each student who wanted to check out a book went to the Little Books library to get their first book. After they got their books, Kindergarten was over, and the students were dismissed.