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Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Typical Day at Colegio Menor

            A typical day at Colegio Menor closely resembles a typical school day in the United States. Parents drop off their little ones and help them settle into the school day. My CT has morning work ready for each student at their seat, so parents can help students get started and motivated with this work. The work is occasionally individualized. For example, if a student struggled with a concept or was not able to complete a task the previous day, this may be the focus their morning work. The work is mentally stimulating, but is not too challenging or dull. This work really seems to prepare the students for the day. The teacher uses this time to pull students individually and practice the vocabulary of the unit. Once they finish, they can choose a book to read. Many times, students will form their own groups and read books to one another based on their own interpretation of the pictures. Next, the students go to morning circle, during which they go over the weather, date, classroom chores, and schedule of the day. This part of the day resembles the style of morning meeting I saw when I worked in a Sheltered English Immersion classroom. The teacher focuses on the concepts, but there is a big emphasis on language as well. For example, the students were having great difficulty pronouncing “Thursday”, so the practice of the “th” sound turned into one of the focuses of the morning circle.
            After morning circle, half of the class goes to a special such as art or music, while the other half stays in the classroom for a small group lesson. It is beautiful to see that the school puts such value into music and art. As we lose funding for art and music programs in the United States, this Ecuadorian school teaches their students how to play instruments such as guitar and piano, has singing lessons, and incorporates all forms of art such as ceramics, painting, and drawing. The half of the class that stays in the classroom receives instruction in a 1:4 student to teacher ratio. Usually this instruction is in math. The students in specials then return to the classroom, and the other half of the students has their turn in specials. I really love this system and how it provides quality instruction and time for development in the arts simultaneously.
            The students then go to centers. The centers are designed so the students can move from center to center independently. Centers include dramatic play, arts & crafts, blocks and manipulatives, writing, listening center, and fine motor skills. I love that students thoroughly work at each center before moving onto the next center. Teachers monitor their progress and movement from center to center while simultaneously granting these students autonomy. I think this was accomplished through much practice and a gradual release of independence. The centers are also designed well, so that each is appealing and students do not rush through one center to get to the most appealing center. There are three to four Velcro spots below the name of each center. When they enter a center, students Velcro their nametag under the name of the center. This way, students know if a center is already full. After centers, the students go back to a circle. Depending on the unit, they engage in a whole group lesson that usually focuses on Language Arts, Reading, or English Vocabulary. I leave after this point in the day. Before I head back to the United States, I am going to try to stay a whole day because I would love to see what else occurs while I am gone!


  1. Madison - I loved reading both of your posts about Ecuador, it sounds like you are at a very interesting school with a lot of interactive learning - something I wish they would incorporate more of at the school I work at here in Spain! The importance of arts is incredible as well as the incorporation of family into the school day, especially if it something that is such an important part of Ecuadorian culture. I think that this is definitely something beneficial that could be incorporated into an American classroom, but teachers would have to be careful in how to define "family" since family dynamics are so diverse today in the US. I also really like the idea of having morning work sitting on each student's desk when they come in. I think that is a great way to facilitate a transition into working and is something that can be done at all grade levels. I have seen teachers who have posted a question for morning work on the board that all of the students have to answer, but I found many of the students wouldn't put effort into it. The opportunity to individualize the morning work is a great idea, and could definitely serve as reinforcement or informal assessment for students for certain concepts. I am surprised that the school that you are at is taught completely in English, is that challenging for the students or do they know enough English already? Finally, I think that it is wonderful that Ecuadorians take pride and incorporate all of the amazing natural features of their country into their teaching. I'm sure this is incredibly beneficial to the students and society in general if they are teaching the students to be environmentally conscious. I wish Boston had such diverse opportunities to teach science as well. Enjoy the rest of your semester!

  2. Hey Christy! Thank you for your response! Remarkably, these kindergartens have caught on and have learned so much English this school year. My CT told me that most enter with only knowing colors and numbers in English, with the exception of two or three students who have parents from the U.S. or England. Now, their receptive language is incredible. They can comprehend the majority of what is said to them. Their productive language has also improved immensely. Watching them learn English has really proven to me that there is a critical period for language. School systems in the United States are failing to offer languages until middle school ages, but children would learn better in the early elementary years. It has also been eye opening to watch how my CT manages to balance teaching language and content. If you are creative in your lesson planning and use appropriate ELL strategies, you can really manage to teach students content and language simultaneously.


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