"Welcome Back Friends!" These were the words waiting to greet the children on the white board at morning meeting today. Starting today, the children will be invited to participate in "reading" the morning message on our white board. As beginning readers, there is so much that happens before the actual decoding of sounds to make words! For example, looking for patterns and relationships–noticing a distinction between pictures and words or letters and numbers. Using one's schema to predict possibilities for what the message might say is yet another example. Making connections to the letters or words are other strategies.
We invite you to follow the children's observations below to see what strategies they are using as beginning readers. This is an open ended and playful way that children read and model reading to others–they can enter at any skill level and all contributions are valid. Teacher: Can everyone look up here now? We have something we want to show you–it's a message! Let's look at it closely. Does anybody notice anything about the message?
EH: It has an F like in Francie’s name.
Teacher: Can you show us where you see the F? Yes! Let's write Francie's name below it. Caroline writes "Francie" underneath the word "Friends". Anyone else?
SS: (Pointing to the date) That number up there is like how old I am. 3!
Teacher: You see the 3 up there? Yes, today is January 3rd. I'll underline the 3, Is anyone else three? (Several hands go up). Wow look how many friends that are three!
OCl: I notice that that (referring to the word Friends) doesn’t say Francie because it starts the same but it doesn’t end the same. Francie has an "i" and an "e" at the end but that doesn’t.
Teacher: Wow! You’re really looking at the letters and noticing that they are not the same word. Now we know it does not say Francie in the message!
SR: There are 3 r’s.
RM: My name starts with an R!
Teacher: Yes, let's circle all of the r's that we see.
OCu: That O is like in my name.
Teacher: Where do you see the O?
OCu points to the zero in 2012.
Teacher: Thanks OCu–you helped us to discover that there is something tricky like an O—what else can it be besides the letter O?
EH: A zero!
Teacher: Yes, these numbers make the year, does anyone know what the new year is?
Many Voices: 2003! Happy New Year!
Teacher: That’s a good guess, it’s actually 2012, that’s what it’s called.
FR: We saw the New Year Parade!
PFK: That’s where dogs are sliding on surf boards!
OB: This looks lika an O for me and Olin, (pointing at the date)
The teacher writes "Olin" and "Olivia" Is there anyone else in our class whose name starts with an O?
Oliver raises his hand: Oliver!
MM: I have an O in my name. The first letter is an M.
(The teacher writes [child's name] on the board).
RM: That’s a "C" like in Calvin’s name.
Teacher: How many c’s are there? Let’s circle them.
Teacher: Did we find all the C's? Now let’s have a go at the message. Any guesses what it says?
PM: It says, "Friends!"
SE: Best Friends Forever!
Teacher: Now I'm going to read it, are you ready? It says, "Welcome Back Friends!"
This is a beautiful example of what can happen when knowledge is socially constructed around a given subject–it opens children up to ideas and questions that snowball with newfound meaning and personal connection. When we as adults invite children to learn in this way, we also become the students–amazed by their capacity to uncover ideas for one another.
The children welcomed each other in many ways throughout the day as they reconnected with one another. The day began with hugs and continued with stories, laughter, and lots of playing. Below are some images from our first day back at school.