One More Uncomfortable Look At The 100th Day of School

For most schools in Ontario, this upcoming week marks two big celebrations: Valentine’s Day and the 100th Day of School. This post is about one of these: the 100th Day. My thinking on this day has evolved a lot over the years. This really started three years ago when I taught Grade 1, and began to question the authenticity of the 100th Day of School. Aligning with my one word goal, I decided to make some changes to the day, and these changes evolved even more thanks to some comments on this blog post of mine. This day was far from perfect, but it was the last time that I celebrated the 100th Day of School … and likely the last time that I will.

This week though, the 100th day of school comes up again, and I see many blog posts of Kindergarten and Grade 1 students preparing for this day. I know that Grade 1 really focuses on the numbers up to 100, but I wondered about Kindergarten. I thought our document emphasized the number amounts to 10, which is why my teaching partner, Paula, and I have really focused on understanding and working with these quantities. It was this thinking that led to this tweet of mine.

My tweet resulted in some responses on Twitter, including the following ones.

As I read through these tweets, I began to wonder, what does the Kindergarten Document explicitly say? I read this document a couple of years ago now, and while I remember the focus on quantities to 10, I wondered if there was more. Was I missing something here? So today, I went back through the document and had a look. Here’s what I found.

I think it’s the term “meaningful” that’s key here. Our Kindergarten Document does not negate the value in looking at bigger numbers, but in an authentic way that also aligns with where students are at developmentally. In the example provided, both children could be right, but an interest in big numbers also provides an opportunity to explore beyond 0-10. 

This Kindergarten Document example makes me think about the Boat City that students have started to create in our classroom. Yesterday, they pointed out to Paula some of the floating shops that are part of the city. 

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This blue sheet changed up the boat space today. First they worked with @paulacrockett to cut it and to place it under the boats. This led to a discussion about the different colours of blue water and what they mean. A great opportunity for @paulacrockett to introduce and use vocabulary such as “reflect.” Then students started to do the same. This is what Speech Pathologists have taught me to do before, for this very reason, and I see and hear it here! ❤️ In the midst of this, children began to talk about “sharks.” T. realized he was wearing a shark t-shirt. @paulacrockett worked with C., and used initial sounds, to read the words. Both E. and C. drew their own sharks. E. thought that they needed a separate space to swim “in black water.” He got some black construction paper for this, and relocated C. and the sharks. Then both C. and E. labelled their sharks. I helped E. with the “sh” sound, and he did the rest (will tweet out a video). B. was also concerned about some sharks, and made a big sign to alert others to them! So much literacy — writing, reading, oral language, and comprehension — exhibited in this space! ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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E. could not stop labelling his creations in Boat City today. Was sounding out three-sound words independently, and listening for beginning, middle, and end sounds in longer words. For the first time, was doing this confidently all on his own today, and blending sounds to read the words. ❤️❤️❤️ Definitely want to extend this writing interest tomorrow, and see if he can go back and blend the sounds to re-read what he wrote. Then M. and T. decided they wanted to make some paper sailboats to add to Boat City. They tried to do so on their own, but they didn’t work. I suggested an informational text. M. Google searched “how to make a paper sailboat” (I watched her enter the terms, but she did so on her own). I thought that the pictures might help, but she said, “We should click videos.” She looked for a good one, and then followed the instructions. She initially asked me for help, and I did sit with her to do this, but I couldn’t figure it out. She kept at it, and she did it. T. did so as well, and even created a pattern on her boat, which later led to some math talk and counting with @paulacrockett. I love all of the learning opportunities that can come out of child-directed play! ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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I wish that I documented more of what happened in Boat City today. What I love about this is that E. went back and read his work from yesterday, and made a decision about the placement of today’s fish based on what he did yesterday. He also built a “generator” this afternoon, and sounded out the word all on his own. He even got a second label for the R at the end. Wow!! E. was far more confident in segmenting and blending sounds today. ❤️❤️❤️ More students got into labelling today based on what E. did. Milla’s rescue boat “mveeol”: I wonder if she went mobile instead. Love how she sorted it with the safety boat. She thought they should be together. It’s great when reading authentically happens through play. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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We’d love to have them cover some of these shops next week, and even add some names to them as a way of incorporating even more reading and writing into this space. What if they also added shop numbers? We could even look online at some of the addresses of favourite places in Ancaster. What are the numbers? How do we read them? How might we organize them? This could definitely provide an opportunity to explore numerals beyond 10, but in a meaningful context. 

This makes me wonder about who determines “meaningfulness.” In the case of Boat City, the children determined the interest. We extended it, and are exploring more ways to connect the literacy and mathematics behaviours to the students’ play. Who’s driving the 100th Day explorations? How are they creating these authentic links to learning? Maybe there are ways to celebrate the 100th Day and still hold true to the Program Document, while also extending children’s understanding of number amounts. I would love to hear what others have tried and what they consider during the planning process. 

I think that we’re lucky to teach in Ontario, with a play-based Kindergarten Program Document, which really allows us to dig deeper instead of graze the surface of more. But knowing the Grade 1 math expectationsdo we sometimes feel the pressure to do more? We also all teach students that can count orally well beyond 10, and even work with number amounts beyond 10. And while I love listening to the number debates around the eating table, and the math thinking as kids ask each other addition questions, I also worry if math is just seen as the asking and answering of addition and subtraction questions.

How do we get children to see and critically think about math in their world? Can a 100th Day Celebration play a role in this, or is it highlighting a different messageAs uncomfortable as these answers may make us feel, I think these questions are worth thinking about. What about you?



4 thoughts on “One More Uncomfortable Look At The 100th Day of School

  1. Hi Aviva,
    I saw your post in IG and decided that I needed to read it as the title caught my eye….an “uncomfortable look” at the 100th day. I teach a K/1 class and we are celebrating the 100th day of school next week and we are quite excited about it. From my perspective, I see the authenticity in exploring our number system and while our K expectations don’t explicitly say that students will explore numbers beyond 10 I think that going beyond supports their understanding of the patterns in our number system and connects really well to the patterning expectations as well as the math process expectations. As you mentioned, larger numbers come up naturally in play. I see the 100th day as a way to support this natural curiosity with bigger numbers and having a focus around the 100th day of school creates a “playful” opportunity to count, explore quantity (100 can look so different), and notice patterns around us. Perhaps I have this perspective because I have the grade 1 curriculum in mind but I really do see it as a way to develop curiosity and exploration of numbers.

    • Thanks for sharing, Kim! I’d love to know more about how you’re using this day to help develop these skills. I think that many people celebrate the day diffently, and while I do wonder about the meaningful link between numbers and the 100th day, maybe there is a way to do both. I’m also curious about your kids that are still learning numerals from 0-10. Do you have any, and how did you plan on supporting them on this day? I’m betting that in a K/1 class, you have a very wide range of skills, so I’m curious to hear more about how these number explorations might vary depending on the students.

      Thanks again, Kim!

      • In our k/1 we do have a range of skills but as I reflect on it, all of our students are working well with quantities of 1-10. We do have a small group who are consolidating the teen numbers but as I mentioned I find that working with higher numbers he,ps those students see the pattern that are little more hidden in the 11-19 range (lofts love the English language). I would likely feel differently about the 100th day if I had a year 1/year 2 class as I agree it with you that it would be too far away from that “zone of proximal development” for too many to warrant a whole class activity.

        Our “celebration” only took place during our math block and included a museum of 100 things….. the students each brought in a collection of 100 things and they wrote about their collection on a museum “plaque”. We took photos to make a class book and we also had a math meeting about how sometimes 100 looks like a lot and sometimes it looks like a little.

        • Thanks for sharing, Kim! I love how you mentioned the “zone of proximal development,” and how this weighed in on your decision. It’s a good reminder to really know our students and how to meet their needs. Maybe exploring these bigger quantities isn’t for the whole class, but just a small group, and maybe this can be done in different ways. I love how you mentioned a math talk, and looking at how 100 might look different. What a great tie-in to measurement!

          Thanks for the great discussion!

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