By Stephanie Bartlett
I don't think you can plan these moments. Or perhaps the planning comes from the very action of NOT planning our day down to the minute. Had I written my day plan today, it would have looked like this:
8:15 Greet students outside, français intensif, songs, check in with each other
8:30 Play outside
8:50 Enter into classroom, flow of the day on the carpet, ABC and numeracy skills
9:00 Guest educator from the National Music Centre
10:00 Journal about our experience, centre time, snack
10:40 Clean up
11:00 Au revoir
My day plan looks like we covered the social and academic curriculum, we had an interesting visitor and we enjoyed activity time. This is curriculum as plan (Aoki, 1987/1991). But reading this brief sequential description, you just don't know- it is impossible to know- what we experienced. Read on to discover curriculum as lived (Aoki, 1987/1991). Curriculum as lived can be described as deep learning within an authentic context where both students and educators are fully engaged. The topics or experiences tend to arrive from the interests of the group and unfold organically to provide rich learning that covers both curriculum outcomes and life experiences.
The idea of kairotic time (Smith, 2014) is when time is almost suspended while we live in the present moment. Chronological time does not matter here. For a previous post describing a similar experience, please click here. With kairotic time in mind, let's revisit our morning.
The lingering effects of the orange sun rise were behind us as we ran to our tree together. I know how much we all love this moment of the day, because we all gather together with bright smiles to greet our friends. Part of our discussion and our français intensif, is to close our eyes and listen to the sounds we hear. Then we talk and share. What does it look like for an outsider to see 19 students lying on their backs for a minute?
We moved seamlessly from this activity to free play. When it was time to go inside, there is never any reluctance. We gather our things and move inside to slowly transition and meet each other on the carpet.
Here, we ran through our number recognition and flexible thinking about math, as well as our alphabet rhymes. This could be so flat and one dimensional as we practice these very necessary skills but it is so wonderful to see how readily the students represent different groupings of numbers (2 +3 + 5, 5 + 0 +5, 4 + 1 = 5) and how their bodies move to the rhythm of our alphabet rhyme. We then assembled our visual schedule for the day and talked about Monsieur Evan who was going to come in a few minutes. We were excited and wondered what he would teach us about music.
When Evan came in, he started to talk to the class about patterns in music. His "Repeato Machine" allowed him to say a name of one of our pets into the microphone, and then it would repeat to make a pattern. We started dancing and moving around the room as we learned the difference between listening to sounds and listening to how sounds can be put together to make a pattern.
When we began to colour in our own circles to create our own patterns, this is when I heard "I love this." "This is so cool." "Can you play mine?" "I am choosing two colours. I chose pale green and light green for mine."
We said a happy goodbye to Evan and began to draw this experience in our visual journals. It always seems so funny when a room full of Kindergarten students is quiet and everyone is intent on their work. Max drew his journal on a log. Autumn lay down nearby. Two tables were full of students working quietly and sharing crayons. Angus took his over to the block centre to rest on a log over there. Often when we write, we discuss the expectations and that everyone should write quietly and whisper so as not to disturb concentration, and there is a level of maintenance involved on the part of the educator to ensure this happens. There was no reason for reminders here. Everyone was fully engaged in representing their favourite part of Evan's visit.
Students then moved seamlessly into their play as I met with each student and scribed their thoughts. Even this was different. Focused, concentrated play as students met and conferred at the Smart Board, drew shapes and charts on the white board near the blocks, created art and built at the tool table.
We cleaned up at the end of the day with some regret, made sweeter by the fact that Ivy had brought us all cookies. We munched our treats and commented on the story that I was reading.
Walking you through curriculum as lived, shows how we covered many aspects of the curriculum today that are laid out in government documents and school board policy. Sometimes magic rises up to meet us and enhances our day. There is no recipe. I could have followed my curriculum as plan and we could have had a chaotic day as we moved hurriedly from one activity to another. Instead, we floated. The effects of kairotic moments reach beyond our time as a class and I find myself floating through the rest of my day long after my students go home!
Aoki, T. (1987/1991). The Dialectic of mother language and second language: a curriculum exploration. In W.F. Pinar & R.L. Irwin (Eds.), Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki (235-245). Mahwah,NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Smith, D.G.(2014). Teaching as the practice of wisdom. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.