Making the Most of Opportunities:
Close-Up Views of a SAGE Program
A Report of the Collaborative Action Research Project of the SAGE Program
at Webster Stanley Elementary School, Oshkosh, WI, 1999-2000
1. What limitations does a half-day kindergarten program place on children's learning.
2. What additional learning opportunities does a full-day kindergarten program offer children?
I have been a kindergarten teacher for 15 years. I have always taught two half-day sessions, and felt great frustration with this time limit. More and more topics have been added to our kindergarten curriculum. However, we have not been given any extra time in our day to accommodate for these extra lessons and activities. It has become increasingly more difficult to teach our regular curriculum subjects. I felt this was the perfect opportunity to study the benefits and limitations of a full-day program.
Lauren Flanagan leads a discussion of her students about a graph they made of their favorite farm animals.
Make-up of classroom
We have a very diverse population at Webster Stanley Elementary. We have children from India, Iran, Russia, Bosnia, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Half of my a.m. students are Hmong and the other half is European American. Over 50% of my p.m. students are Hmong, while the rest are European American. Sixty-two percent of our elementary population is at or below poverty level. I currently have 29 students. Fourteen of these students are at poverty level. Seven children receive reduced rates for breakfast, while eight students receive no financial assistance.
One of the most important methods I used to collect my research was my daily journal. I also used parent surveys, interviews with the children, and journal articles.
I discovered three main findings in my research. One is that as a teacher I feel very frustrated about teaching the kindergarten curriculum in a half-day program. I'm rushed daily to teach all the curricular areas. Another main finding was that my students preferred a full-day at school. The interviews concluded that 20 of the 24 children interviewed wanted to stay in school for a full-day. The third main finding came from the parent surveys. The majority (88%) of my families would prefer a full-day program.
One major action I took as a result of my research was the power point presentation given to the Oshkosh Area School District School Board on the creation of a pilot full-day kindergarten program at my school for the 2000-2001 school year. The school board not only approved a full-day program at Webster Stanley Elementary, but also later extended this to six other schools in our district.
A smaller action I took was to change my Friday schedule to allow for the completion of any activities from the week due to the limited time of the half-day program. As a lesson comes up that we are unable to finish, I place it in my Friday schedule. This has helped to reduce my stress level of having to rush each day to get all of the curriculum taught.
Lauren Flanagan observes her students as they experiment with water and wood by placing a drop of water on different pieces of wood and observing the results. Amy Thompson, The ESL Teacher, supports one girl as she participates in the activity.