18 September 2010

Another exciting week in 3rd grade

This week has been full of fun and learning. It has been exciting to watch the children become more settled in the classroom, and especially to know that I do actually know all of my students' names. Well, maybe that's not quite true. I know the names of all the students in my "homeroom", but I'm still trying to learn the names of some of the students in the other grade teach, who are my students for mathematics, and I'll also probably have some of them for swimming.

As I learn the children's names, I am also trying to get to know their personalities a little better, and to learn the best ways to teach each child. This is challenging me, but is also very important to me. The better I understand my students, the better I am able to meet their needs.

Swimming was an interesting experience. We had girls' swimming on Thursday morning, and boys on Friday afternoon. As this was our first lesson with them in the pool, it was our first chance to really find out their abilities. The pool is a reasonable size, with a deep end and a shallow end. It has steps for entry and exit as well as ladders, and has some rails attached to one side at the shallow end for kicking practice (as well as giving less confident swimmers something to hang on to. Our first battle, with the girls, was to actually get them into the water! It was cold! At least until they started moving around. Since I was still trying to throw off the cold I'd caught a couple of weeks ago I didn't get in the pool this week, but usually I will. It was interesting to see the different ability levels, and also different confidence levels. We have them ranging from non-swimmers and scared to confident with little technique to some quite competent swimmers. It will be interesting trying to meet all of their needs, and especially making sure the non-swimmers get the chance to learn basic water safety skills and then to learn to swim. The boys were much more eager to get in the water, and most were very eager to show off their ability. They were also much louder than the girls! Still, despite the water being cold, I think that most had a good time in the pool, and are eager for next week's lesson.

This week was the first week with formal homework assigned and followed up, and children got a sticker for each item of homework that was completed (up to 3 stickers a day). At the end of the week, the level of homework completion determined who got to participate in "Fun Friday". Sadly only about half the class were able to enjoy this week's activity involving creating pictures using fishy foam shapes! Looking forward to having more children enjoy next week's activity.

This week I was also able to ability group some of the children for Mathematics, and that was really helpful. There are still some challenges associated with the Math program, and I'm going to have to work out some ways of extending some of the children, but it will happen.

Next week I hope to start assessing some of the children's reading levels, so I can tailor their instruction more individually, as well as ensuring that they have appropriate reading material for free reading & home reading. This afternoon I went to one of our local second hand book stores and selected about 80 titles, which I'll pick up early next week. Most were $1 each, with a few hardbacks for $2. I'm looking forward to levelling them, and getting them into the hands of the children. It's great to be able to get books for kids at such good prices. They're pre-loved, but all the ones I chose have plenty of life left in them! I did manage to find a copy of "Ralph S. Mouse" which I'm thinking of reading aloud to my kids. We'll do a novel study on "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" a little later in the year. That will be fun I think, especially in a country where so many of us travel by motorcycle most of the time.

That's all for now. It's time for bed, listening to the sound of gently falling rain! Hope we can make it to church tomorrow without a boat!

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