Have you ever heard the saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten”? The kindergarten teachers, Mr. Coyne, Mrs. Fiore, Ms. DeCos and Ms. Augustus, like to think it is more factual than just a saying, even though it puts some added pressure on us to get this important job done.
These days, however, it is challenging for us to know exactly what our children will need to know in preparation for their future. If you have ever heard Dr. De Jarnett speak about the future that our children are facing, you have likely heard from him that the vast majority of jobs our children will be doing when they enter the workforce have yet to be invented, which presents us with an interesting challenge.
For example, the three C’s can be found all over our Reading Workshops, where we have been focusing on story structure by reading books that don’t have any words. Students are asked to use the pictures in these books to help them craft stories in their own words. They need to be cognizant of characters, settings, problems and solutions. They use story language and transitional words as they move from the beginning of a story to the middle and from the middle to the end. Much of this Reading Workshop work is done with different partners. Students need to clearly communicate with each other in order to give these stories words. They must also be actively listening so teams can create a cohesive story that makes sense. Additionally partners must compromise, as teams are deciding on which book to work with, what the characters’ names should be, how their voices should sound and what details should be included in their story telling. A solid understanding of the way stories operate will be extremely beneficial for students as they begin decoding and interpreting texts, or reading, on their own.
Our Writing Workshops also lend themselves to practicing communication, collaboration and compromise. Recently, students have been working on personal narratives or true stories about their lives. A premium is placed on coming up with a plan for writing before students even pick up a pen, so they are asked to communicate specific story ideas with a writing partner. Students let each other know which part of their story will go on each and every page making the actual pen to paper writing much less stressful. Writing partners also work with each other during the revision process, letting each other know about things that can be fixed up to make a story the best it can be. At the conclusion of our writing units, students are given the opportunity to publish stories they’ve written, share them with classmates and compliment each others hard work.
In both of the above examples, as well as nearly all other times of day, kindergartners are challenged to explain why they think the things they do because in order to successfully communicate, collaborate and compromise we must first develop an understanding of each other. These things are the foundation of a successful community, and how to be a part of a community is something students will always need to know.