art from Maplewood Parent Cooperative
On Saturday I was a presenter at a conference hosted by the Edmonds School District. This is the second time I’ve been invited to present at an Early Childhood conference and I have to tell you, it feels very good for 2 reasons: 1) to have someone think I have worthwhile things to say, and 2) that those things are worth paying for.
There were at least 130 preschool teachers at this conference. The focus was on becoming acquainted with the Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks especially as they pertain to four topics. The four topics were kindergarten readiness in literacy, fine motor skills, phonological awareness and social emotional development. I was invited to speak about supporting social emotional skills in the classroom. The woman who contacted me about presenting suggested that I do some role modeling and also requested that if possible, I share some ideas about how to use one of the big books that the attendees were receiving in a goody bag.
As much as I don’t like to role model, I do agree that it is a quick way to learn something – because by participating, you’re half way to internalizing the lesson. I led the group through my average everyday circle time songs stressing the reasons I choose particular songs and why I do them in a particular order. I have songs I use as “calling songs” to create community and songs or fingerplays I use to reinforce content. I also try to use songs that I call “energy busters” with motions and varied voice. My goals at circle time are to reinforce our classroom community, strengthen listening skills and produce an enjoyable activity that children choose to be and stay engaged in. They learn to read non-verbal cues from me and each other. I don’t assign seating unless a child is really having a difficult time making a good choice so my students learn how to be in a tight space together and take care of their own and their friends needs.
I went on to do two book shares. The first was with the book Yes by Jez Alborough and the second was with the big book, Mean Soup by Betsy Everitt. And it all happened in 25 minutes and then a new group came in and I did it again. 4 times.
I have promised to share some suggestions of songs – I guess I’ll try to make some sort of resource page on my blog. An interactive page would be great so others can comment and share ideas.
I also hope to receive feedback from the conference – I can’t learn and grow without it!