Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tightening up the some degree

A few weeks ago I was venting here about my students not getting their work done, and I posed the question, "Do my students have too much freedom?"  I decided the answer was, yes...and no!  It totally depends on the kid (as is true in every classroom, huh).  So here is the solution I came up with.  On Monday, the students & I went through and set up a calendar for the entire unit.  I told them they are allowed to work ahead of me, but they cannot get behind.

I love that the students have been able to quiz out of certain aspects of a unit, and it is a big point of pride for the kids who are successful in quizzing out.  I didn't want to lose that, but I wasn't sure how to make it work with the newly, more rigid schedule.  I mentioned this to the students because I'm all about being transparent, and quite frankly they have really good ideas!  Once again, I wasn't disappointed.  One child said to me, "Mrs. Bush, why don't we just skip that section and do whatever we have next?"  Another child responds, "Or we can make our student made videos during that time."  And yet another chimes in with, "Or we could help other kids."  In my head I'm thinking, mean just like I had you doing before?  DUH!

Sometimes it's easy to get stuck on the fact that if one thing isn't working, then everything needs an overhaul, and that isn't so.  In this case, my kids who are responsible & on schedule still have the same options they've always had.

And so the week began with our new plan in place.  On Monday, we all watched the first video together (it is agonizing to watch yourself on video btw).  I made the decision to watch it together b/c I thought we could all use a little refresher on what's expected when we watch the video & complete our WSQ.  Also, we had a few new students and I wanted them to get a clear idea of what is to be expected.  In addition NO ONE passed out of our first learning goal, so I knew that everyone needed to see the video.

The next day, it was magical!  Everyone had their work done (b/c we did it together), and was ready to move on (as a side note...yes I realize it was only magical b/c we did everything together in a group, but let me just bask in my moment of happiness, ok?)  I was able to get to everyone and help with a very difficult concept.  The fact that I was able to get around to everyone also helped me realize how difficult this concept was, and therefore led me to our next day's activity...angle bootcamp!

As luck would have it, on Tuesday I had some visitors in my classroom.  I was just getting ready to send the students off to work & I mentioned how they were really lucky that day because there were 3 adults in the room to help (myself, my parapro & a parent helper).  One of my students raises their hand & says "Mrs. Bush, there are a lot more than 3 adults."  At which point I turn around & see our curriculum director standing there with a consultant from Alaska.  Then in walks my superintendant with another consultant from Alaska (long story on the consultant part...but they are experts at mastery teaching helping out our district).  I took a second to introduce myself to the consultants, then I was off & running.  What I found really exciting was that they (all 4 of them) went around the classroom for 5-10 minutes talking to students.  Asking them what they were working on, how the classroom runs, how they manage their work, etc.  I don't know what the students said, but I do know that they all seemed impressed when they left...YEAH!

Of course on Wednesday there were several students who hadn't done their homework the night before.  Being a woman of my word, those students stayed in for recess that very same day to finish up their work.  By Friday they were pretty much all caught up again.  While I am NOT a fan of making kids miss all their recess, I do think they need to realize what their priorities need to be.

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