They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I guess I should start feeling flattered. We have an epidemic in my room: a bunch of Mini-Me's.
Last week I was trying to finish evaluations of where children are with their sounds and letter recognition. I sat at my floor table with the box of sandpaper letters and my notebook, making notes as I turned around each letter. About fifteen minutes after I had started, a kindergarten boy pulled out a rug and placed it about five feet away from me. He brought the digraph sandpaper letters to his rug. Soon after he included the capital sandpaper letters. He made a little card with his name on it to give to children. (Sometimes I place a card that says "Please come to a lesson with Miss Coventry" next to a child. When that child comes to a stopping point or finishes her work, she can come see me for that lesson.) He started inviting children over to his rug, one by one, showing them the letters and making notations in his notebook.
This started on Friday and we thought it was cute and would be short-lived. Instead, it started to grow. By Tuesday, four Extended Day children had set up rugs with sandpaper letters, sandpaper numerals, sight words cards, etc. They were inviting people over for lessons and making marks in their notebooks. Some of them are completely overshooting their academic skill level, but that is okay. Should the child who is struggling through sounds choose those digraphs, he may learn some of them if that other child knows them. It's a new way of learning and teaching each other.
The other amusing aspect is how seriously all of the children are taking this. They are very respectful when they get their lesson invite and sit with their hands in their lap. They wait until the lesson is finished before returning to other activities.
I have always maintained that the children learn better from each other than they learn from me with a lot of things. For example, my teachers always tried to teach me how to tie my shoes with the bow-tying frame. I couldn't do it. And then one of my special boy friends taught me how to tie my shoes in about two minutes. I have had this happen in the reverse numerous times. I do lesson after lesson and the kids don't get it. And then they sit with their friends and are tying shoes.
This is why we use our three-friend rule in the classroom. I think I mentioned this once last year when this blog was hosted on my regular website. Before you ask an adult for help, you must ask three friends first. Chances are you will find someone out of those three who can help you. This removes the adult from the equation. It makes the children have to do some problem solving. And if you can teach someone how to do something, you have to really know it yourself.
It will be interesting to see how many little mimickers there are this morning....