This week’s post was illustrated by Sully, our class photographer.
We’ve had a fast week. We’re trying a re-arranged schedule where we were able to start Math Rounds. The children also began planning how they would use their literacy time: reading, writing/blogging, researching or other (completing assignments that have a shelf-life.) That’s a change from everyone doing the same thing at the same time. We met Earle the service dog, spent time exploring the Smarter Balance Test tools and format for reading and writing, and joined in on the start of the Global Kindness Project.
A New Schedule to Encourage Greater Self-Direction
This week we’re trying a new schedule, designed to help our class plan and use time more wisely. I can see that the kids like it. They appreciate having choice and planning how they will use their time. What I am uncertain about is whether they will make the best choices. When you are 8 and 9 it is difficult to judge time. We all know the state research needs to be done by the end of next week. That seems a long way off to them and I know it will come in the blink of an eye. I’ll keep reminding here. You may want to check in with your child to see how he or she is feeling about their choices and how they are balancing their literacy times in the classroom. For the most part they have been focused and working purposefully.
Also part of the new schedule is having all of us together for Math Rounds. There are four activities. Students more through three a day – two activities are to learn more about fractions, one is for practicing basic facts and the final activity is problem solving. There are 6 problems for the children to choose from – their goal is to solve as many challenging problems as they can in the allotted time. That is two or three for children who are focused.
Glogster – Digital Poster for State Wonders
This year we are using Glogster, a digital tool for presenting information, as a way for students to present their research and writing. We thought different format would capture their attention and challenge their thinking in different ways. The students will use poster template and then upload their writing, selected images, and audio or video clips in a way that will showcase their state. The main goal of these posters will be to persuade others to visit the Wonders of their state. They’ll be shared as part of the Parade of the States celebration on Thursday, May 25. This was not a technology tool that was listed on the permission that you signed at the beginning of the year, though it is in keeping with the school’s safe use policy. If you have any questions about this project, please let me know. It’s exciting to try something new and to offer students another way to present their learning beyond what has been typical.
Global Kindness Project
“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” Dr. Wayne Dyer – One of Mr. Brown’s Precepts from Wonder
This is a four-week project aimed at connecting students around the world through the theme of kindness. The goal of the project is to create an opportunity for classes to reflect on kindness, gratitude, and empathy and to find a way to take action.
This week our discussions were centered around defining what kindness is, looking for signs of when others might need an “extra dose” of kindness and brainstorming ideas of how we might share a little kindness around our school. Our first action will be to make and hide bookmarks in the library for others to find and keep.
Smarter Balance Testing Practice
This week the children had a chance to see what the Smarter Balance tests look like and to learn about some of the tools that are there for the children to use. They know they look long. They know they have to read them carefully and follow all of the directions. They know they need to take their time and do their best. Many of the children thought they were a fun change.
I think the greatest challenge for our class this year is going to be sticking with it and putting forth a best effort for the whole time. Some in our class really struggle to meet a challenging task with positive attitude. They give up before they begin. You can see it in their body language and you can hear it in their comments. The tests are long. They are hard. They have lots of directions. In the classroom, kids often skip over direction because they know a teacher will tell them. I do, when I see someone doing something incorrectly because they missed the direction, I point it out. And hopefully it’s early on, so it is easy to fix. That isn’t the case with testing. If they skip the direction, we can’t correct them.
Next week we’ll explore the math portion of the test so the class feels prepared for both types of assessment and then we’ll begin on May 15. Hopefully everyone will be well rested and ready to rock! The reading and writing tests are on Monday, May 15, and Wednesday and Thursday, May 17 and 18. The math tests are May 22 – 24, Monday through Wednesday. Children who need more time will be able to have it and make-ups will be fit in whenever and however we can. Please let me know if you have any questions.