Because of limited time as I was bound to Australia, I was not able to teach these children the whole alphabet or to count more than 10. I did not teach them how to add or how to read. For one and half month, my method was more on conceptualization or learning the why and the how rather than the what. In understanding the concept of number, aside from telling them to write the number “1” for example, on the blackboard or on their pad paper, I also told them the concept of that number. I relayed the story when numbers are not yet invented. Shepherds, in order to count their flocks of sheep, had to use sticks or stones. One stick or stone corresponded to one sheep. The numbers or symbols were invented when there were so many sheep and there were less sticks or stones in the vicinity. To retain what they have learned about numbers, I told my students to close their eyes and write in the air whatever number I told them. In this way, they not only imagined it but they learned it. They knew that the number “1” represents a single sheep or object and not merely a symbol.
The method I used in knowing numbers was also the method I used for recognizing the letters of the alphabet. Aside from pronouncing the letter “A” for example repeatedly until they recognized the sound for the symbol, I told them to imagine and write it in the air. For reinforcement, I told my pupils to bring cut-outs of the letter “A”, capital or small letter, to class and show them to class. In this way, my kindergarten students learned that the letter “A” has many forms and shapes but mean the same thing. In essence, they were also “reading” it.
My last day in class was culminated with the showing of the film, “Finding Nemo”. I found this appropriate because they enjoyed watching cartoons on the television. Besides, I wanted them to show a glimpse of where I was heading.
As expected, all my students were attentive and focused watching the film. It was made more so when I told them I will give a gift to whoever answered my questions correctly after the showing. I observed that all the students were so quiet, interested and involved in what they were watching. They were totally immersed and absorbed. I noticed then that my students are experiencing what Dr. Russ Dewey referred to as the movie theater experience. He suggested that this occurs when an individual is in a trance-like state where he is imagining that he is the one doing the act or in the act (Dewey, 2011).
After the movie I asked my students some questions. They were able to answer such questions as: what kind of fish is Nemo; the name of his friend, who captured them, who caught Nemo, who told Dory the way to Australia, etc. However when I asked them what lesson they learned from the movie, numerous answers were presented depending on their views and experience and what the question actually mean. Some of the answers were: 1) Obey your parents 2) Clown fish are funny 3) It was good to have friends 4) We must go to school. These answers proved that students learn differently even they were exposed to the same experience.
On March 2012, most of these kindergarten kids graduated from elementary. I might not be instrumental in their learning but the experience teaching them even for a while taught me to learn from them. Below is their graduation photo.
Dewey, R.A. (2011). Psychology: An Inrtoduction. Retrieved from http://www.intropsych.com/ch00_chapter_zero/movie_theater_experience.html
Huitt, W. (2011). Why study educational psychology? Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/intro/whyedpsy.html
McLeod, S. A. (2007). B.F. Skinner | Operant Conditioning – Simply Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html