This Friday I decided to feature Julie Ham and display her marvellous commitment to our students and early learning. Each Friday I plan to place the spotlight on someone or something relevant to early childhood education. Please see the "On Display" page for more information about this, and the index of previous "On Display" posts.
Julie is the Designated Early Childhood Educator that I am so fortunate to work with each day. She has been working with children for over twenty years in daycare settings, a Montessori school, a church community out reach program, and now for our school board. Julie believes that all children are precious individuals who need to be given many opportunities to flourish and develop within a supportive environment. If this occurs, she feels that they will reach their full potential.
In our classroom Julie enjoys helping the children in literacy, art, play-based, and inquiry-based lessons. She really appreciates the shift to play-based and inquiry-based learning, for the reason that she is able to meet students where they are at and differentiate for them. One of the differentiated mini-lessons that she supports with within our class is letter identification and letter sounds. At the beginning of the school year, I assess our students using the Observation Survey. One of the assessments gives us information around what letters our students are able or unable to recognize. Based on this data, we form groups to improve their letter identification. If a student knows all of their letters, they are then involved in other differentiated mini lessons (e.g., word work, critical thinking, guided reading, etc.). During her letter i.d. group, Julie helps students by playing alphabet games, singing alphabet songs, and reading alphabet books with them.
Julie and I have built a strong relationship over the two years that we have known each other. Now that we are in our third year together, we have a fairly good understanding of our strengths and how and when we can support one another. Her advice to new teams would be patience, flexibility, and above all communication.
Julie is also a wife and mother of three children. In her spare time she enjoys being creative (crocheting and painting), spending time with her family and friends.
In addition to all the great things above, Julie has been supporting a group of students in a Spinners and Movement turned Lego Inquiry.
Here are her insights:
- When students bring things in from home (such as in our case the Lego characters) there is a reason for it. These things are important to them and can be incorporated in a meaningful way within our learning areas.
- Every day the students create new structures out of our lego, and throughout this process they are engaged in oral communication, writing, math, and they improve their social skills (e.g., sharing, solving conflicts, making decisions, teaching/learning from one another, etc.)
|Sorting lego by colour and writing labels.|
- Art is a process. The students created plans for their Lego characters and then they drew them, traced them with sharpie markers, and finally painted them.
- Students can learn to co-construct a math number wall using Lego characters. This taught them patience, as it did not occur quickly, and teamwork to fulfill their goal.
Julie closed off our conversation by shedding light on the very important notion of us as educators learning to see opportunities in every area of the curriculum.
I am very lucky to work with such an amazing partner each day! It was a pleasure spotlighting her practice first.
Stay tuned for next Friday's "On Display" post...