One of my favorite parts of our school is the chance to work individually with the children. They have the chance to make independent decisions about what they are doing, and I get to have the personal conversations that really let me understand what they are learning and what their next steps might be.
Our Theme: Space
Our solar system is really start to come together. We have been studying pictures to try to get the colors of our planets just right and using paper mache to try to make our biggest planets the right size. We read The Moon Book and worked as fact detectives to try to get as much information as we could from the text. The Magic School Bus: Lost in Space took us through the solar system with Ms. Frizzle and reinforced lots of the information we've learned from other books. Inspired by Is There Life in Outer Space children created far distant planets and the life that might be on them. They had some interesting plant and animal species, and we talked about how some of their adaptations could help them survive.
Math and Reading
While Theresa and I both do some teacher directed learning in math class, much of each class is spent with the children working independently or in small groups to develop their skills. Theresa and I ask questions, gauge where each student is, and ask new questions. We have played "Monster Number Squeeze" as a whole class - a game that helps children work on the relative values of numbers using "greater than" and "less than" to zero in on an unknown number. Tracy's class made individual number lines to work on this skill and practiced with a partner. Last week the older students developed a survey question that they could ask their classmates, tallied up their responses, and graphed the results. Each of these projects helps them to get a little more directly involved in their learning.
Every day after lunch I get a chance to read individually with students during "Relax and Read." We are in a rhythm now where I read every other day with children, and on the days when I don't get to read with them, they are reading with one of our wonderful parent volunteers. We read at lots of other times of the day too. Each morning we read (and write) our morning message. When the children work to figure out their jobs on the job chart, they are reading. When someone helps me to take attendance, she reads each of her classmates names. We look at books together during free choice time and read messages that our friends write to us. It's threaded throughout our day.
Social Curriculum: Moving Beyond the Honeymoon Period
The initial excitement that carried us through our first month back to school has ebbed, and now we are engaging in the on-going work that makes a classroom (or any community of people) really work. We have had a series of conversations about what it means to include people. The children have this as one of our classroom rules, so we've talked about how it feels to be included and how it feels to be excluded. We also discussed that when we are joining into someone else's game, we need to respect some of the constraints that have already been established. We showed each other how we might look if we didn't want to play with anyone and how we would look if we did want to play but weren't sure we were welcome. We role-played some common playground scenarios, brainstorming ideas for each person involved in a situation and then acting out what we could do.
This work surely isn't done, but we made some really great progress and have some touch points for future situations.
May you all find ways to enjoy the beauty of fall!