Weekend Coffee Share: A Week of Learning


Good morning. Hope you are well this week. I am feeling better this week but still need to have the tissue box nearby!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that despite my cold I have had a week jam-packed with learning. On Tuesday afternoon, I attended the third workshop session on Writing Development in children. Normally at these sessions, attention is focused on children learning in English. I was extremely pleased when they handed out a document pertaining to learning in a French Immersion setting. I came away from the session knowing that the sounds of a language should be taught (which I knew) and be tested (which I had never thought of). My intention is now to put into place a Spelling Test on sounds (the children write down what they think the sound looks like). Once the children understand the correlation between the spoken sound and the written sound, their spelling will improve. First the vowel sounds are tested, then the consonants, then the blends (i.e., ee, ea, sh).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my second learning experience took place on Thursday. For the first time, I signed up to visit an Exploration Classroom: a teacher in the School Board opens up her classroom to ten teachers from other schools within the same Board. The class was one on Art and we observed the teacher guiding the children in their application of printmaking. As a person who did not do Art at school, and who has a minimal amount of Art knowledge, the task was interesting. In the afternoon, the Art teacher guided us through the same activity. I am excited to try this with my students and am ready to order inks, rollers and polystyrene.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am working on a project with the library teacher at my school. I am helping her plan an Exploration Classroom, and she is helping me learn to bring technology into my classroom. Yesterday we had a planning session at lunch time. Not only did we begin the planning for our inquiry, but she also introduced me to Google Docs and how we can share the document with others. Our lunch together was fruitful and interesting –  the bonus was my unexpected learning.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today I am to attend another session of learning organised for the Beginning Teachers of the TDSB. The sessions are to take place in the morning and I am looking forward to listening to the ones I have signed up for. I would say good-bye now as it is almost time to leave home so that I can be on time.

Have a wonderful week.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diane, The Part-Time Monster)

Learning shapes

One of the expectations of the course that I followed was to create a unit for the class I am currently teaching.  I decided to do an inquiry on structures and, in order to understand how structures are formed, the children needed to understand that structures are created using shapes. The best way for them to learn the range of shapes that exist is for them to play games and do activities.

At centres, the children did the following:

  • Bingo: I asked them repeat the name of the shape after I had called it out (they were learning the French vocabulary at the same time as learning the name of the shape).
  • Tangrams: Using the cards in front of them, they created designs using shapes.
  • Matching: The children matched colours with shapes.
  • Lacing: In order to improve fine-motor skills, the children laced a range of two -dimensional shapes.
  • Memory game: I asked the children to call out the name of the shape on the cards they turned over. In this way they practiced saying the name of the shape in French.
  • Creating booklets: Children created their own shape booklet using pictures they had cut out from magazines. The pictures they chose represented the shape they were showing on the page of their book.

The children enjoyed the activities at the various centers – and they enjoyed playing the games for a few weeks. They learned the shape vocabulary quickly and were easily able to move onto the next step of the inquiry.

Do you remember how you learned about shapes?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

A Growth Mindset

Yesterday afternoon I went on a workshop based on teaching Mathematics to children in the Early Years (kindergarten to grade 2). One of the quotes that had been put up on the wall resonated in me:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

So often children begin to believe that they are incapable of doing Math – that it is too difficult for them and that they will never achieve in this subject. Once they believe that they are incapable, they close their minds to the various possibilities of problem solving. Our challenge as teachers is to make them believe in themselves and their abilities. And to encourage them to enjoy the journey of solving Math problems. Teaching kindergarten, I have not come across a child saying they cannot do Math – and yet as children get older, some of them begin to say “I am not good at Math”, “I cannot do this”, “Math is not the subject for me”.

What I love about the above quote is that it can be relevant to other things in a child’s life: writing a paragraph or essay, participating in gym or a team sport, learning another language. As teachers, and even parents, the best thing we can give any child is the confidence to try whatever task is set out in front of them; and to have the belief that they can grow from the experience. The experience is in the doing and the process – not so much a perfect end result.

I enjoy learning and I have learned that making mistakes is part of the process. It is my hope that each day I help children realise that it is in trying and in making mistakes that we learn. It is my hope that each day I help a child realise that they can learn anything.

Do you believe you can learn anything? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

Grateful for Course

This week I am grateful that I registered for the course I am following (French as a Second Language part 2). I am learning new techniques and games under the guidance of our lecturer who is extremely knowledgeable. In addition, the classmates I have are willing to share ideas and experiences resulting in interesting conversations. I enjoy it when the lecturer encourages us to look at one another’s work and give suggestions or ideas. In this way, a participant may receive an idea that she/he had not yet thought of.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015
Brainstorming ideas. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

I am grateful that I am learning many strategies in the course – and being reminded of a few. The lecturer is well versed in teaching both French Immersion and Core French therefore making most of what he is teaching relevant to my own experience.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post and feel free to use the badge my daughter created. )

I enjoy reading what others are grateful for – the posts make me think of other things I am happy to have in my life. Please remember to send me a pingback so that I know you have participated. 

A Little Science Investigation

In my classroom, we have set up a Science center where we leave magnifying glasses, objects for the children to look at, and a few books for them to read. Clipboards and writing utensils are left at the table as well so that observations can be drawn and recorded.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Recording at the Science center. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Once the children have completed their observations, I speak with them and ask them what they have recorded. I write down what they say as they are explaining their thoughts to me. The sheet of paper is then placed in their portfolio to be referred to when I write their report card – and also for the parents to see that they are learning and exploring in their kindergarten class.

Do you enjoy looking at things as a scientist?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post is linked to Paula’s Black & White Sunday)

Learning a Song

The current philosophy in kindergarten teaching is to use the children’s interests to extend their learning; and to teach using that interest. When we went back to school after the winter break, many of the children’s conversations centred on Disney’s latest animation, Frozen.

Elsa and Anna were the topics of many conversations. Outside in the playground, scenes from the film were being re-enacted. While working, the girls would sing Let It Go. As we are a French Immersion class, I kept telling them to sing in French. After choruses of “Aaahh”, they would begin to sing the French songs they know. I wondered whether they would be able to learn the French version of their current favourite tune. Then I thought, “Why not?” I wrote the words out on chart paper, found the song on YouTube, and set out to learn the song with my class.

Each day I sing this song with my class, following the written words on the chart paper. While they are working, I play the song for them as well. What is astounding is that these children (who started learning French this year) are now singing Libérée, Délivrée. Many of them know more of the song words than I do! And what is even more surprising is that while they are working, they are singing the song in French – without the aid of music. We have decided to sing this song at the school’s year-end concert given for the parents. When discussing this option, I loved the comment one child made: “Madam, we need to take the chart with us in case we forget the words.” An added bonus is that they are learning to recognise some of the written words of this song.

Now, of course, I need to learn the song properly so I can lead them. At every opportunity, I am playing it and trying to sing along. The result? I have this tune in my head night and day! 🙂

What song is currently playing in your head?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

On the Threshold

Working with young children, I get to see them exploring with words and with the letters that make up words. Using magnetic letters, or foam letters, children practise the words they have been introduced to in class – in particular the French words and sounds that they have been introduced to.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Exploring with words. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Often the next step is writing these words using paper and pencil – and later on using them to write phrases and sentences.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Copying words using pencil and paper. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In kindergarten, the children are on the threshold of expressing themselves in the language they have been immersed in. It is exciting to see their development.

What exciting thresholds do you encounter in your everyday life?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Threshold)


A Learning Journey

The last four weeks have been crazy for me:

  • Setting up a classroom;
  • Learning my way around a new school;
  • Trying to discover what it is that makes a successful senior kindergarten class in French Immersion;
  • Planning for my classes;
  • Meeting deadlines;
  • Helping my own children;
  • Doing housework;
  • Spending time with my family.

The list seems endless and there never seem to be enough hours in the day. I spend moments second-guessing myself: Am I doing things properly and in the right way? Have I done enough? My exhaustion drags me down. I feel tired. I cough. I lose my voice.

And yet it seems worth it when my students begin to ask “Puis-je allé aux toilettes?”; when they respond “jaune” after I ask the colour of an object (in French); when a parent tells me their child is singing French songs at home; when my students know to go to “le tapis” after hanging up their coats. What a pleasure it is for me when a child counts up to 15 with no errors; or when hands go up to answer a question I have asked and the correct responses are given – all in French.

What begins to blossom in my heart is the sense of satisfaction I know will only grow during the year. It is the small moments of satisfaction and the pleasure I get at seeing a child achieve the learning goals of the class that encourages me to go on, day after day, week after week, until I find the best way to teach them.

For now I continue to search, to discover, to learn the ways in which I can engage my students in their learning. And I know that as I am learning I have a forgiving audience in my students as they learn with me at their side. We are all on a journey of learning; and all we can hope for is to learn to the best of our ability – and to take pleasure in the journey.

What learning journey are you on at the moment?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Grasp and Understand



Finally, the moment when something is understood.

I help children everyday to learn new things: to explore, to experience, to learn. There are those who grasp quickly; and those who take a little longer. However, sitting beside them, showing them step by step, I see the understanding slowly emerge. Suddenly  the child looks at me with understanding: “I get it.” What satisfaction it is to me when I hear those words. Then I know I have achieved what I set out to do: I have given the child the satisfaction of knowing they are capable, and able to do the task that has been set out for them.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to grasp certain things. Add anything technical into the mix and I am a little slower at figuring things out. Step by step. Bit by bit. Sometimes at a snail’s pace. Eventually, though, with a little self patience I can get there. I need to just believe in my self and have faith that I can do it.

Never give up and it can be done.

What is your experience of learning new things?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

(Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s prompt is: Grasp)

Letter to a Student

Dear student,

 I walked into your classroom today as a guest, expecting to receive the respect one should show to one’s teacher and elders. I walked through the door today expecting to help you on your road to discovery and learning.

 I was sadly disappointed.

 The disrespect you showed me was apparent from the first time I met you: outside after recess while I waited for you to line up. You had disregarded the ringing of the bell and were still playing ball. The walk to your classroom was unkempt and loud – I know you could do better, and I am sure you do so with your classroom teacher.

 The line outside the classroom was maddening – and your behaviour contributed to it. Pushing and shoving, loud disagreements, ignoring the request to keep quiet and face the front. Eventually you settle down enough to enter the classroom. But your behaviour does not improve.

 My request for quiet so I can begin teaching is ignored. You bandy insults across the classroom. Do I make fun of your name? Or comment on your accent? I am astounded by your lack of respect; even when a classmate calls attention to your inappropriate behaviour.

 I heave an internal sigh of relief when the time spent with you is over. It is a pity that you did not wish to learn with me – I may have had something new to teach to you. Learning with me may have allowed you to see a familiar subject in a new light.

 I am saddened by your inability to welcome a newcomer into your space. Learning should be an exciting adventure, no matter who is guiding you. Respect should be given to others; as it is by giving respect to others that they will in turn respect you.

 Your behaviour has impacted my life for only one day; but will impact yours for longer.


Your substitute teacher

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012