Sunday, September 7, 2014

The What, Why And How Of Fun On The First Week!

Exciting faces and laughs are a reminder of how lucky we are to be teachers and be able to work with students who become our new family in our learning shelter. 

I find it important to build this community of family as soon as the new members step in with so many wonders about their new home. It is important to immediately make this new home a happy and comfortable environment, Yes even on day one! Letting them connect and feel the ownership, the belonging, making decisions, having all voices recognized, the inventors, the wonders, the responsible and the joy of being together and respecting each other.   

The only instruction that I shared with the students were, where to line up outside for coming and leaving to and from school and how to change classrooms from French to English. I let them discover their needs as the day developed and had them make their decisions on where, how, when of daily routines and with whom to sit. Students discovered cupboards, closets, dug through school bags and around the classroom labeling in French their classroom needs. There was laughter and team collaboration. We will continue this activity by adding on questions for our needs. Some even labelled me as a need and Liam labelled himself being important for his team. Why was it fun? because it was unusual! It was a different first day, it was them moving, deciding, gathering together! 

Met my students through crumpled papers guessing names and selfies shared on Padlet of what makes them happy. 

The goals of the week where to let students explore through tasks to unpack skills of collaboration and self-regulation. Giving them opportunities to learn from and with each other on the first week. To have them feel the sense of accountability and the need to explain their thinking in second language. The videos below capture our tasks.

 Audioboo was introduced to capture voices of collaboration, voices of joy, attempting and sometimes succeeding, as well as communicating in a second language. We co-constructed the criteria on collaboration and the actions required to improve the French language. 

Throughout the tasks I was scaffolding students' attention to become the observers of their actions and reflect on team work.

listen to ‘Equipe 3 JKPB’ on Audioboo

Questions to focus on while I continue to establish the happy and comfortable environment:

Have I established the purpose of  the classroom environment?
Have I established the connections between the students and me?
Have I incorporated risk taking and ownership?
Have I thought of fun and  realistic tasks?
How will I  downgrade my control and promote autonomy?

Twitter is also my learning classroom. I am sharing a couple of tweets that I came across Saturday morning that reflect my thinking.


  1. What an interesting first week of school! I love seeing what students did, how they engaged with each other, and this reading and writing happening in a meaningful context. Where do you see going next? Will you continue with such open-ended learning, or will this change? How? I'd love to hear more!


    1. I will continue with the open ended learning to develop skills to tackle curriculum inquiries. I would like them first to build some skills about the importance of thinking through collaboration and learning together. we will be comparing and categorizing ideas this week. I will try and update on the thinking during the week.

  2. Hi Rola,

    What an engaging, joyful and fun first week! Great to see it on the faces of your students. I love that you had them label the room with sticky notes. I'm struggling with my students who are not confident writers yet and want to find ways for the to express themselves. I might try the sticky note activity. Did you have them share what they labelled?

  3. Each team gathered their sticky notes on a chart paper.They will categorize their notes this week and then each team will pic a category and prepare questions to guide their oral French on everyday needs. I will blog the next steps. If I have time they will also bring value to all of their items by calculating the money spent by parents for getting ready for school in order to have an appreciation and not waste their supplies.

  4. I love this idea Rola! Scott and I were just sitting here marvelling at how you create a sense of respect between yourself and your students. I forgot about Padlet! Were the students using an iPad for that Padlet?

  5. Rola! What a great week! I personally love how you are just as involved with the students as they are with you. Building those connections are so important. This whole post was an interesting read as well. Thank you for taking the time to make a post so interactive.

    I have not heard of Dean Shareski before. Does he have a book? How did you find out about him? I would like to read more about bringing joy into the classroom.