Let the makeover begin...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hi everyone,

I have been a busy bee trying to transform our summer storage space (a.k.a. our classroom) into a place of possibilities for our new kindergarteners.  It's going really well so far, and I can't wait to share the new photos with you this weekend.

Stay tuned!!!

Please note that these are photos of the pre-transformation for this school year.  It is the way the classroom was left in order for our caretakers to work their magic over the summer! :)


  1. Hi Joanne
    I am curious to know where you store all of the 'stuff' on these shelves? I realize for summer things need to be put away for caretakers but I also observed when visiting your classroom and from looking at the photos of your inquiry spaces that your shelving units are inviting but not bulging with 'stuff'. In K we always seem to have so many things to build on inquiry but storage for me is an issue. Please share your secrets:0)

  2. Hi Heather,

    In our school we have small storage rooms or pods between each kindergarten classroom. That's where the school purchased materials are stored. I keep all of my own books at home and change them often, while the other "stuff" is often contributed by students and parents for our investigations (or collected from recycling/nature walks). Once an inquiry or play based learning area is complete we don't necessarily keep everything, as things may change year after year. It is either given back to the child, a new child, or donated to another staff member who may want to spark a similar inquiry. I've also become really good at hiding things! So under certain pieces of furniture I store our extra baskets, picture frames, glass jars, etc. Another example is our pet food is stored under the paint easel, which is covered with a table cloth and therefore kept out of sight.

    What I never get rid of though are our documentation binders. They now have their own shelf!

    When I used to teach with themes, I kept ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!! Even the extra pre-cut whiskers, ears, etc. This was because I thought I might try it again the following year, or year after that. Now what I re-visit isn't necessarily the same materials, but rather the pedagogical documentation. Discussing this with students allows us to consider where we might take a similar question, and brainstorm our new intentions.

    My D.E.C.E. partner had the most fabulous idea of sending home "inquiry bags" with a short explanation of what we are inquiring about, to encourage more families to send pictures, research they have done, books, artifacts, etc. I can't wait to try this!! We are still sorting through the logistics of it, in terms of what we will use that is different from the mailbag.

    Sorry for another rant...

    Have a nice long weekend and check in again, as I will be posting new pictures of our classroom.

    Take care,


  3. Thanks again for your questions! When blog visitors comment, share, or question directly onto the blog then we all learn from one another!! :)

    1. Hi Joanne,

      I am so excited to have found an Ontario Full Day Learning blog and have many questions. How do you schedule your day? Do you do large group instruction (ie writing, math etc)? How many provocations or inquiries do you have on the go at once? Do your kids eat in your room and if so where?

      I currently teach in a full day program and struggle to let go of some of the traditional teaching methods (mainly large group instruction). What do you think are the most important steps to take for someone who is open to changing their program so that it becomes more emergent? Please bear in mind that I don't have a D.E.C.E. this year.


  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    I'm so excited that you found us too and am happy to attempt at answering your questions!

    Our school schedule requires an entire post, so I will save that one for later.

    We have a few whole group lessons which include: DPA, Class meetings, Math dialogue, Read-aloud, Shared Reading and Writing instruction. The remainder of the time we are working with students in differentiated mini lessons (fine motor, guided writing, letter identification/sounds, guided reading, and math through problem solving), assessments, inquiries, and supporting their play based learning.

    We try to have at least two inquiries going at the same time, but have had up to five depending on the interest and number of volunteers or TC's that we have in our room.

    The children eat in our room at a large "dining table." I will add a photo of it tonight in my latest post. It allows twelve children to self-regulate themselves at a time.

    It was really hard for us to let go of our more traditional ways too. Just be patient and have the courage to try. It may work, or it may not. Regardless, it's learning!

    If you would like to be more emergent, then I would suggest looking carefully at your schedule. The way time is structured can allow inquiries to flourish or it can hold them back. Having a free-flowing period throughout the day will really support this way of teaching and learning with students. Start with one chunk of your day, and slowly you will transition to doing so for up to three times in the day.

    After you have looked at the structure, consider the learning environment, materials you have for students to use, and pedagogical documentation.

    Have a good night,


  5. I wanted to ask about the white binders at your inquiry spaces. What is contained in them and how do you use them with the children?

    I also wondered how you collect and use the "I wonder" papers (I noticed them at the bird centre).

  6. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for your questions!

    The white binders include our inquiry planning template (includes: curriculum expectations, guiding question, projected tasks, etc.), notes of what the students say, do, and represent, photos of them during the inquiry, as well as their drawings and writing samples. The children and educators use the binders to reflect upon what has occurred thus far in order to plan where to go from here, and the students use it is a way to re-visit and think about their learning to date. For parents, administrators, and visitors, these binders make visible our inquiry-based learning practices.

    The "I wonder" papers are all collected and considered when working through an inquiry. Sometimes we bring up the question with the small group or whole group for discussion purposes, and later for research purposes.

    I hope that this helps!