As of today, the class of 2018 in Room 211 has spent one full school week together. So much has happened, and we've already learned so much! Here's a little of what we've done.
We have been working hard on practicing how the classroom operates. The students' responsibilities start right when they walk in the door. It's been great to see the students helping each other remember to drop off their folders, put their chairs down, and make their lunch choices. We are also establishing the importance of how we start each day with our Morning Meeting and end with Closing Circle. We will continue to practice these routines, until they become automatic. Pretty soon, these fifth graders will be able to run the class themselves!
Reading and Writing Workshop
Language arts instruction is already underway! The students have been learning how to check out books from the classroom library, and also learning about the importance of their thinking when they read. They are examining what powerful writing about reading looks like and incorporating those strategies to their own books. Writing workshop has centered around generating multiple entries in Writer's Notebooks, and what to do if you can't think of what to write in a given moment. Students are learning how to draw small moments from people, places, and things that have meaning to them as well as times they felt strong emotions and "turning points" in their lives...first times, last times, best times, worst times, and times they realized something.
One of the most important activities the students have participated in over the first week has been establishing our classroom norms. While we have all accepted the CP Code of Conduct as rules that we should always follow, it's important for the class to work together to develop norms that we can all hold each other accountable to. The discussion begins with the students' hopes and goals for the year. We then start to brainstorm a list of ways we want the classroom to be, looking for common themes. Finally, we boil these ideas down to no more than five norms. This process provides a great deal of opportunities for conversation and peer feedback. Once we have our norms, we take a while to "practice" them, to see if they work. Finally, once we agree on a final list, we'll codify and sign them, and then begin living our norms!
Instilling a Sense of Community (and Fun!)
One of the most important things to be done in these opening days of school is to establish the importance of teamwork and community. We begin each day with a Morning Meeting, where we greet each other, play a quick game or activity, have a time to share news or things going on in our lives, and then we begin our day. Additionally, at the end of the day, we recap what we learned and accomplished, and also reflect on goals that we have set for our behavior and actions. We explore the idea of working together in a variety of ways, including partner activities, team challenges, and even games!
It's been a full first week-plus! I can't wait to see what the next few weeks bring!
5th grade teacher in Princeton, NJ. Passionate about education, technology, and the New York Giants!