Graham Seater: A double dose of open-ended invention
Year: 2018 – Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
Bowmore Road Junior and Senior Public School
80 Bowmore Road
Toronto, ON M4L 3J2
School telephone: 416-393-9450
School website: http://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/bowmore/
Subjects and grades taught: Junior and Senior Kindergarten
Graham Seater sees his two-year Kindergarten program as an organic whole in which leadership opportunities for young children grow naturally out of classroom projects. Students and parents emerge with a special faith in the limitless potential of young children to access the world and invent their own.
Graham combines his personal interests, including creative writing, media, art and Indigenous studies, with his students' inquiries into such topics as animals, buildings and outer space, and turns them into full-blown multidimensional courses of study.
In the Classroom
- Stresses open-ended invention to help students gain confidence: the hallmark activity of this approach is the Junior Author Project, which sees Junior and Senior Kindergarten students each write and illustrate a unique page of text for a class book that is then published in hardback
- Encourages children to follow their research where it leads: reading about constellations prompted them to enhance the artwork on the class spaceship, while reading about bones led a girl to bring in her surgeon grandfather's collection of bones for hands-on group investigation
- Immerses students in the tactile environment: several times a year they transform the drama centre (into a pizzeria or construction site, for example) and pursue endless activities there; the children also use real tools to create their own "magnificent things" out of recycled bits and pieces
- Incorporates Braille into learning about the alphabet as one way to show children that individual physical, social and psychological needs are an integral part of life in the classroom and beyond; a former student, who has a visual impairment, visits the class to act as Braille coach
- Expanded successful Junior Author Project into a community-based program for children ages 5 to 8 years, running it weekly at a local child care centre with the help of an early childhood educator
- Co-developed an Indigenous studies Kindergarten curriculum for the school board, covering the importance of First Nations, Metis and Ontario Inuit cultures, as well as traditional First Nations practices, residential schools and treaties
- Created One Caring Adult initiative to pairs at-risk children with school support staff: these adults check in with the students daily and build a relationship with them to help them overcome issues of self-esteem, social and emotional challenges, and attendance problems
"Within the first week of school [in Graham Seater's class] my once painfully timid child would skip into the yard with only the briefest of backward glances, eagerly anticipating whatever the day had in store for him."
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