Friday, October 31, 2014

I love the kids at Cedar Tree. As soon as they see us come through the door, smiles brighten their faces, they wave excitedly at us and gleefully shout, “Jumpstart is here! Jumpstart is here!” That is definitely the best way to be greeted at 9:30 in the morning. Most exiting of all is their desire to be a part of Jumpstart and learn the Jumpstart way.

As soon as they start Welcome, they cannot wait to point out the letters in their names. They get so overjoyed when they see some of those same letters in their friends’ names. I have two quieter kids in my group so it is harder to get them to talk, but I try to get them involved by asking one of their friends next to them to point out letters in their name and in the quieter kids’ names. Sometimes, that will get the quieter ones to speak up about the components in their own names.

Once we began Read to Reconstruct, they got all excited again. They absolutely love Oonga Boonga. Therefore, it was not too hard to keep them engaged. However, when they did end up getting off topic (for example, one was telling me about his Spiderman Halloween costume), I was able to address and redirect. They also loved the word “Oonga Boonga.” One kid in particular would whisper it to Baby Louise, so I would flip to the page in which Daniel is whispering those words in Baby Louise’s ear. I also have a selective mute in my group so I asked him a few close- ended questions to which he not only responded, but also expanded upon his yes or no answers. I could not always hear what he said, but I was very happy that he was actually talking. Overall, Read to Reconstruct went well.

Circle Time was a bit more hectic than last well, All the kids wanted to sit in the middle(rather than o their letters), but the teacher’s aide also helped us out. Once we began singing “If you’re happy,” most of the kids were focused. They lost some focus with “Ten Little Fingers” but we were able to (for the most part) redirect their attention to Loren.

This time, art (my Center Time station) went much smoother. I have five smocks this time so a) the kids were able to remain relatively paint-free and b) there were only five kids at the station (as opposed to Monday when there were about eight or nine). I loved hearing them describe to me what colors they were making. They were so excited to make different colors with only three different colors. I can’t wait to go back on Monday!

-Ariel Rothman

The Meet and Greet

I was really excited to go into the classroom for the meet and greet with the children. We had thoroughly planned to read a book first, in a circle time manner, and then break into smaller groups to draw pictures of our favorite foods. I was a little nervous with how they would react to us, especially during circle time. But to my surprise, the children were extremely well behaved and very open to talking to us. I, for sure, thought that we would have a few extremely shy children, and although we did initially find a few quitter than others, once you expressed interest in what they were drawing they really opened up. 

I will admit that a level of awkwardness did exist among us core members when we were sitting on the carpet.  We did not originally seem comfortable interacting and redirecting the children’s attention. But I equate this with us being unfamiliar with the children, and their personalities. I think as times and sessions begin we will develop and understanding of each child’s interests and ticks. I noticed that the children that I was grouped off with were very interested in holding a conversation with me. I felt like all the core members were doing a good job of engaging with both the extremely talkative children, and the more so quiet one.  Overall the children seemed very excited to see us there, and I am hopeful and positive for this upcoming year in the classroom.

-Sinead Brennan

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What a great week!

Yesterday was Team Curiosity’s first day in the classroom, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Some things did not go exactly as planned; a corps member was absent, we forgot some materials, and our Smarttrip cards for the Metro ran a little low, but it was so worth it.

Unfortunately, I missed the team planning meeting prior that discussed session 1 in great detail, but my team made it very comfortable to me when we got to the school. We were all tired, but it was rejuvenating to see the children as they read along with Oonga Boonga, or participate in center time with open minds.

I was in charge of art, so we were using the primary colors to make new colors, and the children were having so much fun. They get to express themselves and learn at the same time, and nothing could make me happier to see their smiling faces as they showed me their creations.

After class, we cleaned the materials and reviewed for next session and now we know what we have to do for next time. I know we will work a little harder, prep a little more in depth, and wake up a little more energetically; for now we know the ends justify the means. As we finish our J is for Jumpstart books, and prepare for the second part of session 1, we know what we have to look forward to, and we know that it will be worth it. I am grateful for this experience, and I can’t wait to see the children again.

-Jake Jaehne

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jumpstart Reflection

This morning I helped lead our first jumpstart session. We had been prepping and training for this day for almost two months now, so it was great to finally get into the classroom and put all of our training into action.

Throughout training we had been hearing about how hectic and nerve-wrecking session one was. However, when we were actually in the classroom, it was not as bad as we had all been expecting. It was chaotic of course, but it was a room full of three and four year olds so that was expected, but all the kids were great. They participated in the reading session, and during circle time, and it was fun watching them go from center to center.

They were like little busy bees switching from center to center in a matter of seconds, and their tremendous energy exhausted me. I think the most rewarding part of this session, was the fact that a lot of the kids could recognize their names and talk about the letters in their names, and that made the discussion more involved. They were comparing the letter in each other’s names and then comparing them to the letters in my name. I didn’t expect that at all, I honestly didn’t think that the kids would be that phonemically aware.  

The most difficult part of the session was probably the classroom management aspect of it. The kids were very well behaved, but there was one point where I had about seven kids at my center all wanting to put together one puzzle, and it was very overwhelming. But a good overwhelming.

Overall I think my first session of Jumpstart when very well. And I am very fortunate to be able to participate in such an exciting and rewarding program. 

-Karmah McIlvain

Monday, October 27, 2014

Today was really great because I got to meet all of the students and the teachers in my class. They were all very excited about having Jumpstart there and could not wait to tell us about how they were learning about the letter “I” that day. They were doing centers. At one, they were practicing how to write their names on the chalkboard—a few of the kids even wanted to see how I spelled my name. In another, they were circling the letter “I” wherever they saw it. When the timer went off, they had to put their hands on their head and “hold a bubble.”

It was really interesting to see the different class management skills that were employed there. The most effective one was the aforementioned putting the hands of the head and “holding a bubble” in their mouth. If they had air in their mouths they could not talk; if they had their hands on their head they could not play with any materials. As soon as this happened, they would immediately pay attention to what their teacher was saying and then follow directions.

Another method that I saw employed was the rewarding of points. The group that was standing in line the quietest with everyone holding their hands on their head and holding the bubble was rewarded with points. Using points as an incentive, the teacher was able to better handle and gain control of her class. She also yelled, “freeze” and proceeded to shut off the lights. That way they could not see anything and had to pay attention to what she was saying.

Overall, it was a great experience. All the kids seem super fun and enthusiastic. I cannot wait until Monday when we actually get to start Session One and begin to work with the children. They are all so excited to learn with Jumpstart and I am so excited to implement the Jumpstart program with them. Unfortunately, I did not have that much time to actually get to know the kids. We arrived late because there was some coming from under the metro car and had to evacuate and grab the next one; furthermore, I also had to do TOPEL testing in other classrooms. On the bright side, the TOPEL testing went really well. I was able to get through a lot of students, with the help of one of my other Jumpstart friends, and we are almost done testing in one of the other teacher’s classrooms.

-Ariel Rothman