Kindergarten Smiles is hosting the book study and I'm really enjoying reading everyone's responses to chapter two! There are so many things to think about in this chapter! For some Daily 5 may not be the literacy framework that they are looking for....especially if traditional (Debbie Diller influenced) centers are working out for them. For others it may be just the amazing answer to what their classroom needs in regards to literacy. For me, reading chapter two really made me think about the type of teacher I am and what I would like to become. Caitlin's questions for chapter two are very helpful for self reflection of your "management" style in your classroom!
So....here we go with chapter two:
1. Do you trust your students...how do you build trust in order to allow them to be independent?
I must say that reading this section hit home big time. The sisters wrote about trusting your teenage son/daughter as they begin DRIVING. Well just yesterday I took my oldest to get his driver's license! Yikes! There has to be a HUGE amount of trust in order for a parent to give the keys to their child and let them venture out on their own. This amount of trust does not happen overnight of course. Nor does the type of trust needed for meaningful learning in a Kindergarten room happen during the first few days of school.
It takes time.
Lots of time.
I must admit that I am the type of teacher that loves to jump in and try new activities, programs and approaches. I've learned though that I must take TIME to gently introduce new things and expectations to my students. I must allow them time to practice, make mistakes, review and practice some more. Eventually as we complete the first few weeks of the school year trust between myself and the students builds and we can move onto the the meaningful learning activities I know they are ready for.
2. How much choice do your give your students during the day?
I used to give my kiddos an INCREDIBLE amount of choice during the day! However, I've tightened up a bit over the last couple of years. I've had some challenging classes that required a bit more structure and guidance that I began taking over things that I used to let up to the children. I was so lucky to have such an amazing class this past year. I have no doubt that if I would have given them more choices throughout the day that they would have handled it just fine. It restored my belief in giving children more choices. Now I'm looking forward to once again involving the children in making more choices in our classroom. When they take ownership in what is taking place in the classroom they work harder and try their best. Caitlin asks about daily schedules..I do have a daily picture schedule that I go over with the class each morning. We turn the picture cards over as we complete each activity during the day. Besides literacy centers and math stations I do have a "traditional" center time. I allow the students to choose which two centers they would like to work in during this time. I've also had years where we've not used assigned seats in the classroom. This has worked out BEAUTIFULLY some years and some years I needed to go back to assigning tables. I'm hoping to not have assigned seats after the beginning of the year this year. I've found that when engaged in a meaningful learning experience it doesn't really matter who they are sitting by or where they are sitting.
3. How do you create a sense of community?
Our supplies and materials are "community" in our classroom. We share and the children do feel a sense of responsibility for keeping our materials in order. My children do use individual writing tubs but we also have community crayons, markers, pencils and paper located throughout the room. Helpers are also in charge of keeping our classroom library and other centers organized.
We make many anchor charts in our classroom. We review these charts often and discuss what we need to improve on as a class. I love to see the kids reminding others of what we've discussed and what we need to work on!
We also work together each day to earn points on our WBT scoreboard. If the class earns enough points they can choose something together that they would like to have as a special activity at our traditional center time in the afternoon.
4. How do you instill student ownership in learning?
Lots of praise, motivation and goal setting! I love to let the students read aloud or share a story they have written during sharing time. It's a great motivator for the other students!!
I'm also hoping by returning to Daily 5 instead of traditional literacy centers that the students will take more ownership in their behavior and work since they are choosing their Daily 5 activity. Often when assigned to a center I always have a few that end up where they don't want to be and their behavior shows it. Usually this results in my small group being interrupted several times.
5. How do you build stamina for your students in the classroom?
I have to remember to s-l-o-w down at the beginning of the year. Our "read to self " time may only be one minute at first. We review, practice and review again. When I've remembered to slow down at the beginning of the year it has greatly helped to set a foundation for the students to build their stamina. I believe this is true for Daily 5 or traditional learning centers. On years when I have rushed everything I've spent more time going back and starting over again and again. If I would have taken it slowly to begin with I probably wouldn't have had to do this.
Finally, I love the last part of this chapter about staying out of the way of the students!! Once they understand the expectations and have practiced they are ready to go! Great advice to stay out of the way of a five year old who is ready to learn don't you think?
Have a great week!