Connecting all of the dots!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This post is dedicated to the students and families in our class.  If you haven't had a chance to come in yet this year, we encourage you to try to stop by soon...

Here is what you will see, engage in, and learn more about...

Our Flow of the Day:

Daily Physical Activity (DPA)
Morning Meeting
Writing Feedback
Make a Plan for Thinking and Learning Time
Self-Regulated Snack
Morning Recess
Special Activity
(Gym, Learning Buddies, Library, Music, Art)
Drawing/Writing Lesson
Make a Plan for Thinking and Learning Time
Self-Regulated Lunch
Lunch Recess
Listen to Reading on Tumblebooks
Math Instruction
Make a Plan for Thinking and Learning Time
Finish Daily "Work on Writing" Task
Clean Up
End of Day Meeting
Mailbags and Home Time

Please note that the students freely flowthroughout the school day, however the teachers
provide highly structured instruction:

a.m. Ms. Babalis engages in inquiry-based learning.
Mrs. Ham provides small group support in
fine motor and guided writing, letter identification
and sounds, and Levelled Literacy Intervention.

p.m. Ms. Babalis provides small group support in
guided reading (read to self, read to someone,
word work) and math through problem solving.
Mrs. Ham engages in inquiry-based learning.

Both educators document the learning,
make observation notes, and assess students when

The students had the very innovative idea of creating a collaborative Dot and Beautiful Stuff Tree (More documentation to follow):

Help us think of a name for our pet rabbit:

Read documentation, take a scavenger hunt of our learning environment, and complete a survey for us to get to know more about you and your family:

Please leave us your questions or comments below...


  1. Hi Joanne,

    Since I have been following your blog I have tried to implement some of your amazing ideas. I really like the idea of the daily plan but it has not gone over to well in my class. I have read you previous post but I was wondering if you could explain how you introduced the concept to the kids so that they didn't think it was an onerous task.

    Thank you,

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    My advice is to start off by having them explain their "plan" orally (we do this daily before they share where they want to go within the classroom, so that we can help support/challenge them as well as see how their thinking and learning is linked to literacy) and then gradually increase that responsibility to them drawing/writing about their plan.

    The written plan is invitational in our room. Some students find it helpful to focus their work before creating/building while others prefer to explore and draw/write about their discoveries afterwards.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    Writing is just not happening in our room to the extent that I would like to see and I really like how the children are responsible for writing about their activities. A few questions... First, when you are supporting their oral responses what is the time frame - I worry with 26 students this may take too long. I had the good fortune to see you the conference this past weekend - thank you so much for all of your wonderful ideas! - and you mentioned that you send a large group (those who are interested) to snack to help with the numbers. When those children are finished at the snack centre, do either you or the DECE touch base with them to ensure their choices have been supported/challenged as well? Also, is their a requirement throughout the day for students to write about their activities or only during this first block? And finally, how do you support your reluctant writers - we have some that would never pick up a pencil if we didn't require them too!! Thanks for taking the time to respond - your assistance is truly appreciated!!

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for your comment, and for attending my presentation at the conference last weekend.

    I'm sorry to hear that writing is not happening during play-based and inquiry-based learning as you would have hoped that it would.

    Our oral planning time takes approximately five minutes. When the students finish their snack, they can independently place their photo where they would like to go. We check in with them when our inquiry group or mini lesson students are working on their independent task(s). Students share their plan three times per day (after each transitional period).

    We support our reluctant writers through guided writing mini lessons, or we bring the learning to what they are playing with or inquiring about.

    Hope that this helps!

    Good luck,


  5. Hello,

    I have been reading your blog and I am inspired! I am a kindergarten teacher in Dufferin Peel, and I would like to pick your brain about your program.

    I was looking at your schedule and I am wondering if you could explain some aspects to me.

    Writing Feedback--What is this?

    Self-Regulated Snack--Do all the kids sit together at the same time?

    Drawing/Writing Lesson--Is this based on any particular resource?

    Relaxation--How long is this?

    Math Instruction--Is this based on any particular resource?

    Finish Daily "Work on Writing" Task--Can you explain this?

    What is usually discussed at your morning/afternoon meeting?

    I can see that play is an integral part of your program. How long is it usually?

    Right now, my program is play-based, but I do not understand how the DAILY writing and reading is able to come out of the program. I also feel I am not visiting with enough children in one day to properly extend their learning.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, I find your practice remarkable.

    Laura G

  6. Hi Laura,

    Thank you for visiting the blog and for your wonderful questions! I am sure that others have similar questions as yours, so I will try my best to respond to them.

    RE: Writing Feedback--What is this?

    Every day our students write about what they were thinking and learning about. The following morning we look at the displayed work and give feedback to two students who showed their personal best.

    RE: Self-Regulated Snack--Do all the kids sit together at the same time?

    Our eating table seats twelve students at one time. Sometimes it's full, sometimes there are only a few students there at one time.

    RE: Drawing/Writing Lesson--Is this based on any particular resource?

    No. This is something that I created and scaffold with my students. We use the gradual release model of: modelled writing, sharing writing, interactive writing, guided writing (during differentiated mini lesson time), and they complete their independent writing each day. I want them to learn how to draw as much as how to write. Drawings are often the source of their ideas, so I feel it's important that they have the skills and confidence to draw. We use how to draw books, observational art, and books to inspire this. Finally we use scaffolded writing as our main writing strategy. There is a great article about this if you google it.

    RE: Relaxation--How long is this?

    Relaxation is like meditation after yoga. It's lasts anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on how much quiet and calm I feel the students would benefit from.

    RE: Math Instruction--Is this based on any particular resource?

    We are working on math through problem solving. This often links directly to our other inquiries, as we do our best to integrate literacy and mathematics in all of them. We also teach our students a number of math games to build on their growing understanding of mathematics. Math is taught in differentiated mini groups (students are paired with like-ability partner) to work through our problem or a math game, and the other part is when our students share their learning to another small group or the entire class. Our math discoveries daily lead us to further investigation.

    RE: Finish Daily "Work on Writing" Task--Can you explain this?

    This is the writing task that explains their thinking and learning from the day and a part of our daily five.

    RE: What is usually discussed at your morning/afternoon meeting?

    -items students brought in to discuss
    -learning discoveries
    -at the end of the day we ask, "What were you thinking, learning, or wondering about today?"

    RE: I can see that play is an integral part of your program. How long is it usually?

    Yes! It's interwoven all day! The students have learned to write at their play-based, inquiry-based, or literacy-based task(s). It has now become second nature to them!

    I really encourage you to ensure you balance your instructional day with differentiated mini lessons (all based on assessment data). In the morning Julie (D.E.C.E.) pulls groups for letter i.d., fine motor, guided writing, and Levelled Literacy Intervention. In the afternoon I pull groups for guided reading (usually 3) and math problem solving (usually 2-3).

    Good luck and don't hesitate to add another comment if you need clarification!

    Thank you for you kind feedback,


  7. Hi Joanne,

    could you give a few examples of your math games that you teach the children

  8. Hi Joanne,
    Just reading through the comments and noticed that you mentioned you use Daily 5 in your classroom. Could you elaborate a bit more on how you have integrated this into your program?
    Thanks so much for the detailed responses you provided to the above poster explaining each part of your daily schedule!
    Love reading your blog!

  9. Hi Joanne,

    I love your on display board! Would you happen to have a closer picture of what each child's interview responses looks like. I would love to do this.

    Thanks for all your inspirational work!