Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What Do You Need?

How can I create a caring, nurturing environment for all of my students while meeting their individual needs? Through art and writing of course!

Each student received four individual squares of paper to represent their needs of fun, belonging, freedom and power. Newspaper clippings, pictures from magazines, photographs and clipart were assembled on each square using a collage technique.
All four squares were then grouped together to make one solid piece. Students enjoyed sharing their artwork with each other, noting similarities and differences. 

I decided to give each student a survey to determine which was his or her most dominant need. We placed our results on a central chart and noticed our classroom needs were quite balanced.

The survey results also helped generate a topic for writing. Students expressed why this need was so important to them and shared how they displayed this on their collage.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Creating Classroom Community

We have been working very hard this week getting back into the swing of things. I decided to read the story, Finding the Green Stone by Alice Walker. A friend of mine shared this "gem" of a story with me. I enjoy using this picture book to discuss themes such as inner happiness, values and self-fulfillment. It's a wonderful story that helps build classroom community. Students begin to realize that each of them holds the power to be positive, contributing in ways to make our classroom peaceful and happy.
After discussing several ideas about the author's message or purpose, I have students close their eyes and I walk around quietly giving each of them a green stone made of glass. We talk about what the stone represents and what we have to do in our classroom to ensure it remains bright and shiny. I have students create a web of ideas showing how they will keep their green stone, a shining one. We will continue to add to this as the year progress. 
Next, my plan is to have students write about a time when their green stone was shining - meaning when they have felt very happy. Or they may choose to write about a time when they may have lost their green stone - meaning they made a mistake or made a bad choice. There are many possibilities. 

What picture books do you like to use to help build classroom community? I'd love to hear your ideas!

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