Friday, June 7, 2013

Our Last Day

We had such a great last day of school!  Last week, after reading a book about sunflowers and realizing that they are fully bloomed in the fall, the kids came up with the idea of planting sunflowers as a gift for next years kindergartners.  After talking about it some more, they realized that in doing that, they would actually be leaving something for them to investigate! I had all of this in my mind, but they ended up coming up with this idea all on their own! 

First they made a sign to grab the new kindergartner's attention next year.



We had a soil team and a planting team. The soil team took our worm habitat and dumped it out into our garden. It was great listening to them talk about how the worms would do their job and help the sunflowers grow! Then they used rakes and shovels to even out the soil.  The seed team came up with a plan through discussion and decided to plant the tall Mammoth Sunflowers in the middle and the shorter colorful ones around the edges. 







Hopefully they will grow and be ready next fall for a new set of investigators. What a great and thoughtful gift they are leaving!

To end our day, we watched a video of our year. It was amazing to see how much the kids have grown this year!  It was also fun revisiting all of the different things that we have inquired about.  Right before the video ended, it hit them. They realized we were all going to have to say good bye and the tears started flowing! They hugged me, Mrs. Hoang, each other and sobbed the whole time.  This group truly loved each other. Even with our large numbers, they were all close friends and loved each other very much! This picture says it all:


I can't believe this is the end. I have loved these children with all of my heart and now I have to say goodbye.  This time of year is so bitter sweet.  They will stay in my heart forever.  I must thank each one of them for making my first year of trying a more project/inquiry based way of teaching so much fun! They truly loved learning and made this year such a positive experience! I know that they will be successful in all they do because they are persistent and believe they can do hard things! They never give up! They have grown more than I ever could have imagined! I am so proud of them!  Parents, please feel free to keep in touch! Let the kids email me and please visit!  I thank you for the privilege of learning and exploring alongside your amazing children.  Have a wonderful summer!

11 comments:

  1. What a beautiful testament to your students and to your teaching. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences. You are an amazing teacher Darla, but then again, I always knew that you would be.

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    1. Mary,
      You are so sweet! Thank you for your kind words. I adore you! Enjoy your summer!
      Darla

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  2. You are amazing, I have always thought so! I rave about you to anyone deciding on who they want as a kindergarten teacher (and now Mrs. Hoang as well!). You leave a mark on these kids that only a special teacher could. BTW Caleb is now starting 5th grade, if you can believe it, and his DRA level is 50 (i believe that is where he should be reading at when he is leaving 5th grade...you had a hand in that!!!)

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    1. Erica,
      Thank you so much! You know how much I love your boys! They make my job so fun! Have an amazing summer and send me their sport schedules!
      Darla

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  3. Will miss your posts, but have a wonderful holiday - my school doesn't break up until July 26th, so there's a way to go for me yet.

    Have fun!

    Rachel (",)

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  4. Wow- brought a tear to my eye and I don't even know you!

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  5. Hi Darla,

    I just discovered your little blog and wanted to let you know what a wonderful place your classroom is! I am a kindergarten teacher at a private school and am hoping to begin to incorporate some more projects/inquiries and more play-based learning opportunities. I was looking into some Reggio inspiration as well. However, it has been hard to find a lot of information on doing this with Kindergarten age and up (there is a ton of info for preschool!). My question for you is since you are in public school, how are you being sure to get the kids ready for testing and meeting all the Common Core Standards? Do you still follow a set curriculum for reading and math? Do you have Guided Reading/Literacy Centers? Sorry, I know this is a long comment. I was just very encouraged and inspired by your work and would love to hear more about your daily flow or schedule. Thanks in advance! :) -Dina Morris dina.mprs@tds.net

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    1. Hi Dina!
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I do still have Writer's Workshop, and we still do literacy stations and math stations. I have the desire to totally incorporate all of these into the investigations, but have not gotten to that point yet! Baby steps! That is something I am researching this summer so we will see what things look like this next year! I am hoping to be able to integrate it better next year. It is hard! I will make sure to post my schedule on the blog once I figure it out. One thing I am thinking about trying is having writer's workshop at the end of the day instead of the beginning so that the kids writing can focus more on the investigation or projects. For math and literacy stations, the kids have data folders with all of the skills they need to learn by the end of kindergarten, including all of the sight words they need to read. They use these data folders to see what skills they need to learn, and they pick the materials to practice the needed skill, whether it be pinecones and buckeyes to practice measuring, or buttons to practice addition. They can choose letter rocks to spell sight words, or colored pencils and water colors to rainbow write them. The last hour of our day is our investigation/project time.
      When the kids come up with something they want to investigate, I put into my plans things that I know will cover those core standards, writing opportunities, math opportunities and research opportunities. I am hoping that as I get better at this, I will be able to have less "sections" to my day, but as of now, I still have separate blocks for each subject, I just have made it a priority to leave more time in my day for investigations and projects as a beginning step. I hope this helped! Let me know if you have any more questions!
      Darla

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  6. I just found your blog, while looking for ways to incorporate more nature/loose parts into my TK classroom for next year, and I love it!!! Wow... what you have done with your kids is truly wonderful. I can't wait for your new school year posts... :)

    Michelle
    journeyintotk.blogspot.com

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  7. Oh, and the fact that your littles left a sunflower garden for your new kinders to explore in the fall... I was really inspired!!!!
    Michelle

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    1. Michelle,
      Thank you so much for your kind words!!! It encourages me to continue! I really love to share with everyone because I love it so much and I have so much fun teaching this way! I still have a ways to go on my journey. I can't wait to see what they next year will bring!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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