Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Polls and Graphs

Polls and graphs are a simple and concrete way to represent data that children can relate to. We have been using them throughout the year as a visual way to represent numbers. For instance whenever we make playdough we vote on the color and record the number of votes for each one- then I ask the class to interpret the data and figure out which color we should make. They have been building knowledge on the concepts since the beginning of the year and we have begun to create our own polls.
The class enjoys coming up with their own ideas. Asking friends about their favorite food, toy or color are popular choices. They then ask their classmates and record their findings with written dashes or numbers. The pictures below are from morning free play last week when we made polls about our favorite fruits.

Kimberly arrived first and I helped her to make her graph. Here she asks Esther and Miguel about their favorite fruits.
Hard at work on their graphs

We often use visual representations and drawings- below Miguel draws pictures of all the different types of fruit that he wants to ask friends about.

Polls are a great way to practice language on the subject matter, conversation skills, counting and problem solving.

We will continue using polls to represent and analyze data as the year continues.

Clothing Store

Even though we are maturing so much in the Kindergarten class we are never too old to learn through play. Last week we opened our own clothing store, practicing so much vocabulary, math and negotiation skills. We started out with free play in the morning. We have been reviewing clothing vocabulary for the past week as well. It was a great unit.
Looking at clothing in a magazine- the more immersed the children are in the curriculum and the more concrete the vocabulary the better the chance that they will remember the words. I try to incorporate as many props as possible into the language learning process.

After we had time to play in the morning we talked about what opening our own store would entail- making prices, coming up with a name and choosing roles for ourselves.

Below Miguel chooses prices for items and writes down the numbers on paper.

Priced shoes

Esther putting the price on a shirt.

Working to price all of our clothes for the store opening.

Sisa and Ana Evelyn hard at work- the class wanted to take out our tools to help build the store.

Esther hung clothing from the ceiling before getting ready to work the register.
After all of our hard work setting up, we opened our store and had time to shop!

It was a great lesson and an enjoyable way for the class to practice important vocabulary as well as the script for buying things from a store and waiting on customers. Sisa has it down after spending so much time in her parents souvenir shop. Each day I am so impresssed by the language the children have acquired and the way they are able to communicate in English. The progress they have made is amazing and I can see that they are starting to identify themselves as bilingual, which means we have already achieved one of our goals for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Moon and Stars

It is always nice when curriculum overlaps and teachers can share resources and lesson plans. Lately the Preschoolers and Kindergarteners have been learning about the moon, sun and stars. We have enjoyed sharing books and projects related to the subject. Here is a little taste of our lessons...
Preschoolers making moon and star mobiles
Learning about the phases and shapes of the moon

Kindergarteners making "craters," in flour with marbles

We have had lots of fun, hands on activities to bring the subject matter alive. We are looking forward to exploring outer space even more!

Improvisation in Drama

As the year continues Mercedes is taking her work with the students new directions. Friday afternoon drama continues to be a great hit with the students, who enjoy practicing their language and storytelling skills in an exciting venue while their peers look on. The past few weeks the group has been focusing on improvisation with the use of puppets and costumes. Mercedes has created exercises that allow the children to explore themselves on stage and in front of an audience.
While the audience works on the crucial skill set needed to sustain attention and listen to others, the actors are increasing their confidence while working on speaking and communication skills. The students spin their stories and dialogue on the spot, using the creativity that is inherent in children at this stage in development. "It is great for self esteem," says Mercedes, adding that "even the most shy students love it." Here are some pictures from the improvisation exercises that have been taking place the last few weeks.
Laura and Ana Evelyn collaborating on a plot line with puppets.

Oscouris using the postman puppet to tell a story.
Pheobe preparing to tell her story.
Aside from all of the great work that Mercedes plans for drama she has been continuing with art and music activities as well. Students are learning about rhythym, volume, pitch and tone of notes as well as some theory and musical scales. First and Second graders enjoy learning how to play songs on the recorder. Thank you Mercedes for your work Mercedes!


Earth Week

The week of April 22nd to 26th we celebrated Earth Week at LTIS! The time of year that earth day fell on fit perfectly into our curriculum. We have been talking about the earth and our lessons culminated in a week of celebrating the organisms and biodiversity of earth while brainstorming solutions to help and preserve our home planet. We learned a song for earth day and participated in activities and lessons that went along with the theme all week including planting seeds "so that more plants can grow," and picking up trash to keep our neighborhood clean. Here are some pictures from our special week.
First and Second Graders using teamwork to complete an earth puzzle- we have been talking about the world and different people from different places.
Kindergarteners brought in plants and seeds to observe and later plant. We learned vocabulary for the parts of plants, types of plants and and what they need to grow (water, soil and sun).

We watched our caterpillar spin itself into a cocoon and are awaiting the moth that will emerge- what a magical process to watch an organisms life process firsthand. We took the opportunity to talk about the needs of insects, animals and people to survive and why we need to protect the earth so that organisms can continue to thrive there.

After learning the parts of a flower we made nature patterns with seeds, shells and fabric flowers. Patterns are a great way to learn spatial, sorting, observation and math skills.

Dileni's worked so hard on her pattern.

We always love taking the opportunity to join the school together for activities and on Friday Kindergarten joined First and Second Graders for a neighborhood trash pick up. The kids came up with the idea themselves when we were brainstorming ways to help the planet. Outfitted with gloves and bags we ventured out...

We had a lot of fun while cleaning up our community.

It was a great opportunity to work together to make a positive change in our neighborhood.
We had so much fun during Earth Week. We look forward to Earth Week 2014, and hope that the tradition continues, but for now we are moving on in our curriculum to learn about the universe outside of our planet. Next week we shift our focus to the planets and earth's place in the solar system!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Parent Meeting

Parent support and input has been instrumental in this first (second for preschool) year at Las Terrenas International School. Parent and family involvement is a large part of our school's philosophy and we communicate with parents daily to update them on their child's progress and to make sure that we are on the same page. Twice a year we hold parent nights at the school to discuss curriculum and get parent input on their child's education. On Wednesday the 17th of April we held our second parent meeting of the year. After a discussion in the large group about progress this year and preparations for next year parents broke into groups and went into their child's class to discuss curriculum and class specific issues.

There was a lot to discuss in First and Second Grade Class. Annette took time to speak to parents about arrangements that have been made for Milenia to continue as head teacher in the classroom for the remainder of the year. Erica and Mercedes will continue to work on English and Literacy with the students.

Later parents had time to ask specific questions about curriculum and their children. Mercedes also explained the work she is doing with art, music and drama and the positive effects it is having on the children.  
Annette was able to explain the philosophies behind her teaching in preschool. It is important to explain to parents about the developmental stage of their children and how children at different ages learn in different ways. In preschool children learn important problem solving, spacial, social and pre-literacy skills through play and interaction with peers. Annette lays the foundation for future English immersion at LTIS by speaking in both Spanish and English in her classroom. She reads to the class often in English and introduces them to letters, numbers and vocabulary.

It was very exciting to share the progress that the Kindergarteners have been making in all academic areas. After focusing for the beginning of the year on verbal communication, vocabulary, letters and their sounds, the class is beginning to sound out words and form sentences. I was able to share some of our literacy activities and materials with parents. It was a pleasure for me to explain the self initiation and love of writing that the children in the class have developed.

We also discussed our work in math, science, social studies and in social emotional areas. 

The LTIS teachers left thinking that parent night was a great success. We talked about a parent commitee for the school next year and have planned a few more events including a family pot-luck which will be a great way to bring the school community together. It was very exciting to us to share the work we do each day and the larger picture of curriculum with parents.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Exciting New Fundraising Project

We have been fundraising throughout this year and thanks to the generous contributions of many donors we have been able to provide quality education as well as furnish scholarships to some amazing students that are thriving and contributing to the community and our school in meaningful ways. We are so proud of the work we have done this year in creating the community, philosophy, curriculum and laying the foundation for the future of our school, which we have been thinking about a lot as the end of the year draws closer.

We are all excited for coming year, and although Erica, Mercedes and I will be leaving, we are eager to help LTIS in any way we can and will continue with support and fundraising efforts from home. Thankfully Patricia Pabst from The Mahatma Ghandi Foundation shared the Razoo site that they are currently using to fundraise. Razoo is comprehensive and easy way to share your cause and gather donations and LasTerrenas International School has joined. Special thanks as well to Mercedes for getting our information onto the site. 
Please click on the link below to read more about the school and to make a donation or pass the link on to someone who might be interested! Thank you for your support. As I have mentioned before, it is our goal for the school to be self sustainable, but as we build and increase our numbers of scholarship students in these beginning years we depend on support from generous donors like you!



Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Earth and Geography

Part of our curriculum in Kindergarten and First and Second Grade is learning about geography and planet earth. First and Second Graders have been studying geography since the beginning of the year and in Kindergarten we have been talking about maps, globes and where the Dominican Republic is located. We recently began to discuss what the earth is made up of and the seven continents.
First we experimented by closing our eyes and spinning the globe while pointing at it to see how many times our finger landed on water and how many times it ended up on land. We had to use our math skills to write tallies and add our results, and we determined that there is much more water on earth than land.
Then we had a chance to research using maps, atlases and the globe. The class drew their own renditions of planet earth and were very interested in the flags from different countries.

Since the First and Second Graders are continent experts we asked them to come into our class and teach us the "There are Seven Continents," song.

Miguel was especially interested in copying words and letters that he found in his atlas and created his own book about different countries.

We will keep on studying the earth, maps and geography as the year continues. A sampling of our geography curriculum includes different habitats, more in depth exploration of the continents and Dominican Republic geography. We are looking forward to some special projects at LTIS that we are planning for Earth Week as well!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Still Life Study

Here are a few pictures of a continuing still life project the Kindergarteners are working on. We have been using different mediums and honing our observation skills as well as looking at examples of still life artwork.
Introducing the project in a large group and drawing
Sharing work with others

This project also gave us an opportunity to practice vocabulary- fruits and vegetables and to talk about healthy food choices.

More still life drawing during morning free choice time

Painting still life during morning free choice
Lots of fun! We will continue to explore different types of art and artists as the year continues.

Art, Music and Drama Update

Our creative arts teacher Mercedes has been working on some truly amazing projects with our students!

Self Portraits- the First and Second Graders created these beautiful self portraits on real canvases. The group worked hard over a few weeks, first observing themselves in mirrors, talking about the parts of the face and measuring the distance between their features while making rough drafts for their portraits. Finally they painted over their sketches.

Sea with her self portrait

Kaleidescopes- Mercedes has been coming up with some really interesting recycling projects using hundreds of Italian comics that were donated to the library. Aside from paper beads, paper weaving and the big Las Terrenas International School tree that was on our float for the parade she made kaleidescopes with each of the classes. If you look closely you can see that the body of the kaleidescopes are tubes of rolled up comics!

Here the Kindergarteners decorate the outside of their kaleidescopes and select beautiful beads and gems to go inside.

Miguel looking through his kaleidescope

Here is another dimension of Mercedes' weaving and sewing projects- students weave string through a foam sheet with holes and reviewing our shapes!

Working on fine motor skills

Another great project that the students were able to throw their whole bodies into- jackson Pollack inspired painting by rolling balls!

Preschoolers getting their hands dirty!

Finished product- isn't this beautiful!

Drama on Friday afternoons continues to be a great way for students to express themselves creatively, practicing their English and sharing stories and experiences. Here students share stories that they wrote and puppets that they made.

After working hard to write a story Charlie shares with the group.

Sea using puppets to act out her story.

Creativity is such an important component of education and we are so lucky to have Mercedes and all of the work that she does with our students!