FDELK is the acronym for the new Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten program in Ontario and it represents much, much more than just going to school all day. The program is based on the Reggio Emilia Inquiry approach to learning, which has been in existence in Italy for over 50 years. It is a new teaching/learning approach for Ontario, however, and some teachers are still working out a few of the kinks. It is well worth the effort, though, as the results I am seeing in the schools are very exciting.
Imagine how delighted I (Cathy) was when I visited one of my practicum schools to observe a student teacher working in a FDELK placement and discovered not only had she embraced the inquiry learning process, she was sometimes leading the teachers in the approach. Her mentor teacher proudly showed me some of the things our student teacher, Victoria, had created for the class. While exploring 3D shapes, Victoria created for an with the students a: 3-D Bingo game; 3-D shape story; 3-D treasure hunt ; 3-D survey; and, 3-D art.
I knew the 3-D exploration was working too. As I watched a small group of K’s make sets of counters to add up to ten, one of the boys suddenly exclaimed, “Look! I made a rhombus !” Ahhh, to be so smart at 5. But it takes good teaching to guide them there.
One of the greatest joys of my (Cathy’s) job is observing student teachers in their teaching practicums. In my next few blogs I will be happily sharing some of the highlights from these visits.
Yesterday I was observing a student teacher instruct a grade six science class exploring electrical currents. The student teacher wisely arranged his students into collegial groups and then gave each group a paper bag full of various parts (batteries, wires, light bulbs, switches etc.). The students were expected to find a way to put the put the parts together that would create an electrical current, hence lighting up the light bulb. It was fascinating watching the students trouble shoot their way through the process. They were so engaged. I was proud of the student teacher for setting up the investigation so well. Suddenly there was a squeal from the corner group. One of the boys was holding up a lit light bulb. His smile was brighter than the bulb. “What did you do?” I asked him. He was silent for a few seconds, staring in amazement at the lit bulb. Then he said, “I have no idea.” Everyone laughed. The process of deduction then began as the group tried to figure out why it worked. And next week I get to observe completely different classes, making entirely new discoveries. Lucky me.