Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Millie the Millipede

While we were talking about mountaineering shoes for snow, one of my kindergarten boys jumped up and called my attention. "Teachuh! Teachuh! Look! Look!" He was pointing at a millipede inching its way toward the other children seated on the floor. Remembering that I had to model an attitude of 'wonder', I stood up and picked up the millipede. "Look everybody." I said. Then putting it down on the table, because I was feeling ticklish. "Teacher, I bring home?" another boy asked, which I understood as 'Teacher, can I bring it home?' So I agreed. By now the other children were taking turns trying to touch our new crawling friend. Two boys were brave enough to let it crawl on their hand. We placed Millie in a box with clear plastic as cover and punched little holes on it. One boy held the box during playtime (he chose not to play) and placed it on the shelf during circle tim. One boy noticed that Millie was getting weak when he took a peek in between songs. "She's dying." he said. So I asked him, "What should we do?" While the other kids also took a peek inside the box, this boy replied, "Lets go!" which I understood as "Let it go." (He wanted to set it free). And so we did with Millie on his arm we marched to the door. He put Millie down on the stairs and said goodbye. Everyone said goodbye. 
I don't know if Millie will get well and recover from her encounter with the Kinder children, but I'm glad she came by to teach them to 'look and wonder' and to show compassion to all living things. Thanks Millie!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Free Falling Into Emergent Curriculum


“You have to learn to let go… It’s like free falling.” A co-teacher from STI Prep school described ‘Emergent Curriculum’ to me. And indeed, as scary as it seemed, it really is like free falling. After learning about Emergent Curriculum from one of my MA classes in DLSU, I really wanted to practice it. It has been 7 years since I decided to practice emergent curriculum in my classroom. And to be ridiculously honest, I haven’t fully ‘let go’ yet. But, I am enjoying it now more than I have enjoyed it when I started.
Emergent curriculum describes the kind of curriculum that develops when exploring what is "socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children."

It has always been scary for me to introduce a concept to children which I personally am not so knowledgeable about then ask, “What do you KNOW about (The World, for example) or “What can you tell me about The World? All of the children’s responses are documented, no matter how silly it may seem. Because, his response will always, always have a connection to whatever topic you are talking about, you just have to ask and find out how he came up with that response.
Then you ask an even scarier question, “What do you want to know?” Then you have to begin to investigate, research, experiment and WONDER. I have learned and discovered so many things since I began to wonder with 3-5 year olds. There will also be a lot of discussions (even arguments – from a classroom of 4-6 year olds, most especially). And I try (ever so hard) not to take control or interfere with any investigative activity the children are doing. I try to keep in mind that I can only facilitate. And after an interview, a field trip, reading a reference book, browsing the internet or finalizing an experiment, I share the same ‘AHA!’ feeling the children have.
For closure, I encourage the children to come up with a project to apply or present all the things that we have learned. The performing and visual arts now come in. The children are eager to express their new learnings and discoveries. And preparations for a culminating event is now underway.  
 I am blessed to be working with a school which allows emergent curriculum. I may still be far from really mastering emergent curriculum but at least, after seven years and looking back, I have learned to love it.

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