Breanna J. Evans
In kindergarten, students want to know what is going on in the world around them and they feel empowered when retaining and reciting "real life" facts. As a kindergarten teacher, it is my job to feed the hunger for knowledge as well as entertain and nurture them. This unit will entertain my students and parents through fictional texts as well as nurture their need for knowledge with non-fiction texts. The fiction will allow for imaginations to roam as the animal characters in the text are personified and complete daily tasks that only humans can. This entertainment will set a platform for my students to receive the true facts in the nonfiction texts and compare and contrast the two. My students will be able to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction text features and ultimately, they will be able to recognize realness in stories that we read together. As for nurturing my students and parents, inviting them to participate in activities and class trips will resolve unanswered questions about different animals and places around the world. Both my students and their parents will be able to witness how these animals interact with their babies and the child rearing process in different animal classes. The division between fiction and non-fiction in this unit will allow my students and their parents to inquire about the unknown and research to find information that is true. The fiction will be interactive and engaging for the students; however, the non-fiction will be satisfying for them as well.
The twenty six students in a kindergarten classroom all have different life experiences; however one thing that holds true for all of them is a lack of experience with diverse people, places and animals. In order to prepare my students for "real life" situations, I am going to expose them to animals that are from various backgrounds and countries around the world.
My experiences in the inner city classroom have helped me to realize that although I am responsible for my students' learning, there is a barrier that many of them face on a daily basis. Often, there is a disconnection between home and school and this impacts student behavior, work ethic, parent-teacher interaction and even student- teacher relationships. Parental involvement and interaction with children determines how well the teacher can get their lessons across to the students and vice versa. This unit will provide the students and the parents with the opportunity to come to school and learn alongside their children about how animals raise their babies. The parents can in turn spend more time engaged in their children's education and actively learn about various topics that they will need to help their children on homework or projects with.
Initially, I set out to find why the kindergarten era of students in the inner city public school systems fared so low on the DRA assessment compared to their counterparts from more affluent areas in the state. My question was: How can these students be so far behind at such a young age? The answer to this question is compounded in many different areas of education and parenting. I found that the DRA assesses reading skills of students and even in cases where a student cannot read the words; they can use picture clues and context clues. However in many instances, students like mine have no prior knowledge on the non-fiction materials we teach. Some of my students struggled to use context clues and picture clues on the assessments because they did not know the animal presented to them or they did not know what the specified animals ate or even where they lived so they could not comprehend the text presented to them. This unit sets out to provide background knowledge on various animals around the world and increase parental engagement.
I began researching different ways to invite parents to read to and with their children in hopes that they would carry out these strategies in their homes. Then, I researched animals that have dynamic relationships with their parents. I wanted to find out how the elephant, seahorse, penguin and the wolf nurture their young. I know that these are animals that my students do not have prior knowledge about especially since they are not domesticated and common animals in the community we live in. This is a perfect opportunity to expose my students to new animals in their natural habitats while incorporating family interactions in my lessons. The animals we will examine will be animals that we would see at a Zoo, animals from around the World. I surveyed my class of twenty-six students and only three of them had actually visited a zoo. It would be a wonderful opportunity to take a class trip to the zoo and have parent volunteers to accompany you and build a stronger bond between teachers and parents. This unit will allow students to interact with the zoo animals and use literature and non-fiction texts to build background knowledge.