Sunday, September 28, 2014

Self-Directed Learning

In my last post about our self-directed learning project I shared some of the project ideas students are exploring:

- learning how to sculpt/ researching  
   techniques/ maybe display at town    
   library or sell and donate money to a 

- learn the parts of a computer/take apart 
   a computer/ IMovie to document 

- research recycling and energy 
   conservation/ create an informational 
   stop motion animation movie about it 
   with Lego Animator

- learn how to sew on sewing machine, learn how to use patterns, document learning in pictures

This past week, we were lucky enough to get into the computer lab to get the ball rolling. Students were motivated and focused. It was amazing!

Students are learning how to research their topic and are taking two column notes: main idea/details. Also, in their spirals, students are writing reflections about the process. This week, I have a surprise for my students. They will each have their own blog on Kidblog. This will raise the stakes for the kids since now their work will be seen by the world! I am hoping to share my students' work with my Twitter PLN  and Facebook friends and get some immediate feedback for students. Please read their blogs and leave positive comments!!

Writing workshop

Students have been working hard in writing workshop. They have created lists to generate topics for their personal narratives, written multiple rough drafts on different topics and have begun setting goals for their writing. They have successfully checked their writing for a few goals:

1. Small moment
2. In the moment
3. Staying within Narrator POV

They are eager to start revising their writing. We will start multiple rehearsals this week after they write their flash drafts. Lessons on finding the heart of their writing, story arc and many more are still to come.

I chose to share the pictures below because the students enjoy sharing their writing and the small celebrations that make workshop so rewarding. More posts to come all year about our writing workshop progress.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Weekly Blog Post Goal

Well, I have a lot of great classroom reflections to write about and no time to write! I will make it up by writing two blog posts this weekend! Here is a preview:

Writing Workshop:

Self-directed learning:

Learn how to draw/shade

Become faster runner for 5K in October

Research a gymnast

Create an original Lego structure with multiple parts (a town)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Self Directed Learning: Getting Started

Very excited about incorporating self-directed learning into my curriculum. I work with two awesome fifth grade teachers who embraced the idea when I shared it with them. Great to not be doing this alone! 

We had two sessions where we got all the fifth graders together to brainstorm ideas and do an activity to see what a project might look like.

Now we are working with the students in our homeroom only. The students filled out a survey about their strengths, interests, life experiences, etc. They also listed whether they had an idea for a topic and project.

I have met with 8 students the past two days. Each initial student conference lasts about 10 minutes. It is time consuming in the beginning, but once they get going, the conferences will simply be me checking in on progress and facilitating learning/process. 

Meeting with these eight students the past two days has been amazing! They are so thoughtful and so thrilled to be able to direct their own learning! They all will write reflections in their blogs, on Kidsblog, every week or so. The only homework my students do is reading and working on their self-directed learning project/blog. 

I feel the need to share the students' projects so far:

- learning how to sculpt/ researching  
   techniques/ maybe display at town    
   library or sell and donate money to a 

- learn the parts of a computer/take apart 
   a computer/ IMovie to document 

- research recycling and energy 
   conservation/ create an informational 
   stop motion animation movie about it 
   with Lego Animator

- learn how to sew on sewing machine, learn how to use patterns, document learning in pictures

- Learn about history of codes and different kinds of codes and create an informational book about it.

- Research history of S.W.A.T. and specifics of the job/ maybe create a PowerPoint 

- Research the history of women in Lacrosse/famous women players/ not sure of final product yet

- Train to run 5k and track times/ research how to get faster/ not sure of final product yet 

** All the projects will include research and an authentic math component

What an incredible start! More information to come!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More Space for Our Space: Follow Up

This post is a follow up to my July 24th summer post about rearranging my classroom for learning.

First of all, I am adjusting well to not having my own teacher desk. It opened up so much space in the room. Last night, I realized another desk to clean off for Back to School Night! I have an area in the room to store any materials for lessons coming up and files for my students' work. I also have a small white wheelie file cabinet that is my storage for what used to be in my desk. I threw out a lot and gave things away if I hadn't used them in the past couple of years. I have a place for everything and, so far, everything in its place. Seriously, for the first time in all my years of teaching, I had no piles to hide away or mess to clean in preparation for Back to School Night. Surprisingly liberating!

The students do not have their own desks and it is working out really well. There is no clutter or mess coming out of their desks. They know where their materials go and binders, etc. are organized and out of the way when not in use. 

There were a few issues in the beginning and we discussed them as a class and adjusted the storage to make it work more smoothly. They had great ideas and  it brought them together early on as a team working to make our room a better place for learning.

Now, unlike last year, there is a large library area to hang out in and read. The students love the flexibility of bringing the carpets anywhere around the room to read and work.

I am so glad that I jumped into the deep end with the room decisions I made this summer. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Room 16 Soundtrack

This week has been crazy. I had intake conferences in the a.m. before school and after school this week plus a staff meeting this afternoon. Intake conferences are valuable to learn about my students and show that I care about creating a partnership between home and school, but they are time consuming. In addition, I have been working to get my math workshop prepared for launch next Monday. When I have more time, I will write about that! We start self directed learning tomorrow and the fifth grade team loved the idea. We are all doing it and kids from different fifth grade classes may decide to work together if they have common interests. Fun collaboration!

So, with all this going on, it is Thursday, and I don't have a blog entry ready, revised and edited. I have three drafted, but need more time with them. 

I have decided to reflect on one aspect of my classroom that is off and running. Music! I am teaching like a pirate and using songs for many different purposes in my classroom. I will write more details about the purposes and benefits of using music regularly in the classroom in another blog when I have more time. In this entry, I am simply going to list my class favorites so far. All are available on ITunes! These are songs my fifth graders love, and I highly recommend them! I continue to search for great songs for quiet seatwork time, as well as for transitions and movement breaks. The search continues!

- Vivaldi/Four Seasons
- Come With Me Now/Kongos
- Dynamite/ Taio Cruz
- Happy/ Pharrell Williams
- ABC/ Jackson 5
- I Want You Back/ Jackson 5
- My School Rocks/ Phat Jams
- We Are One/ Phat Jams
- Pompeii/ Bastille
- Safe and Sound/ Capital Cities
- Shining Star/ Earth, Wind, and Fire
- Everything is Awesome/JoLi (Lego movie)
- Ooh Child/The Five Stairsteps/ Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack)
- Without You/ David Guetta (became a whole class sing along today while they cut their times tables flash cards!)