Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Developing a Flow of the Day in Kindergarten

My RECE and I will be entering our third year of Full Day Kindergarten commencing this September. It is at this time that I must admit, I feel a bit more comfortable to post and blog about our Flow of the Day. It's been a journey consisting of many conversations, reflections, and many many changes. Through it all the students, and other educators have been a big support in helping us figure out what worked well, what things needed some changing, or taken out altogether. For further inspiration, please visit some of the sites below which have insightful information on the development of timetabling in kindergarten. 

There are many factors that come to mind when trying to develop a Flow of the Day plan, but a few important ones are your students, your school timetable (preps), and what you deem to be important program pieces that you would like to have that align with your teaching philosophy. I personally believe that given these factors, one must travel on their own journey over time to be able to perfect a Flow of the Day plan that works for them. With that said, I am thankful for the many educators that have shared their thoughts on this topic. As with reading professional resources that support our knowledge growth, I am grateful that I was able to read other educators' different ways of thinking, planning, and justifying their rationale for their plan development. 

Working in the Reggio Way by Julianne P. Wurm is another wonderful resource full of reflective questions and discussions aimed to carefully support you in examining your own program and values. One particular chapter that I found very helpful dealt with the organization of time. It includes some thought provoking questions that supported me with the development of my Flow of the Day.

Reflecting on Your View of the Child

  • How do young children move through their days? Slowly? Quickly? Are they focused on fluttering about from one thing to another?
  • How do children respond to unexpected transitions? How do young children respond to transitions in general?
  • If you were to define your ideal day with your students, what would you do? What would it include?

According to Wurm, "As each element of your practice becomes more clearly defined, it must be aligned with your vision." 

Looking at Time in Your Program

  • How many transitions occur during the day? What are these transitions? 
  • How long are the arrival and departure windows?
  • List the number of activities that are scheduled from arrival to departure.
  • Do the children have any unscheduled time?
  • How long are the different components of the day? 
Working in the Reggio Way, page 50-51

One of the most helpful tips from this chapter is the "musts" list. According to Wurm, "we must determine what are the "musts" of our time, because those are the things that will get done." 

Working in the Reggio Way, page 60

The big message I took away from this chapter: Create larger blocks of time, more fluidity, and fewer transitions. 

Working in the Reggio Way, page 63

Below is our updated Flow of the Day. As mentioned it has gone through many changes and I'm sure it will continue to change. A key point for Kathryn (RECE) and I, is being flexible throughout the day. As I learned from Working in the Reggio Way, wait time is important. Giving students the time they need to ponder and experience is very important. If something doesn't get done today, it can wait and be looked at the next day. 

Please note that there is no one way or correct way to create a Flow of the Day plan. In collaboration, we found that this plan worked well for our program values and the needs of our students. 

*We have done our best to plan around the inconsistent times of our prep periods. As there are seven kindergarten classes, scheduling can be tricky in trying to meet every teacher's specific needs.  

The components of our Flow of the Day:

Focused Instruction
  • Whole group instruction focusing on the introduction and investigation of new literacy or math concepts
  • Knowledge sharing about  inquiries, wonder questions, theories and research plans are discussed
  • Read aloud, shared reading, songs, poems
Log Book Writing/Literacy & Math Games
  • One group writing in their individual Log Books (log books are similar to journals in that students can write about anything they wish e.g., personal experiences)
  • One group taking part in literacy or math games at the carpet
Independent Reading
  • Selecting personal book bags containing leveled books (educators read with students one on one, students can also read with a buddy)
Exploration Time
  • Small group or individual learning conferences (Literacy  and Math Investigations)
  • Independent Writing (e.g. Drawings, My Plan, I see, I think, I wonder, Books, Instructions, Lists, Letters/Cards, Poetry, Log Books)
  • Play Based Learning/Inquiry Based Learning 
  • Self-regulated snack
Students self-select an exploration area (Construction, Light Table, Sand/Water Table, Reading, Snack, Art Studio, Writing, Math, Discovery) to attend. Materials and activities are purposely designed to maximize exploration and understanding of Ministry Curriculum expectations, through the focus of play and inquiry based learning. Independent writing is embedded at all learning areas.

During this time, literacy and math investigations take place in the form of small group or individual learning conferences (letter I.D. & sounds, name & fine motor, guided reading & word work, guided writing, math: problem solving, numeracy)

Outdoor Exploration
  • Exploring our community by using our senses to observe and interact with nature and the features that are found in our neighbourhood/community
  • A weekly sketching/drawing lesson focusing on looking closely at still life (e.g. flowers).The children will work on developing their hand-eye coordination, creativity, and listening skills
  • Sharing of personal best learning work/moments, discoveries, wonders
  • Student feedback (e.g., questions, suggestions, Five Stars and a Wish) 

I hope that this post was able to support you in some small way when reflecting on your own Flow of the Day.

Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. But as mentioned, please note that there is no right or wrong Flow of the Day plan. It is a continuing learning journey that is very personal to each individual education team.