We spend LOADS of time in the beginning of every year learning how things will work. How to do things, when to do things, why to do things…all with the intention of getting procedures and protocols in place and foundations solid so that the rest of the year can be spent on learning. The more we do up front and in many ways the slower we go, the faster and deeper we can go later on.
And because this group will be together for 2 years (yes, we’re looping!!), it’s even more important that I set things up well now so that they will work for us well for many days and weeks to come.
As a means to do this, we use a protocol that I found in the book The First Six Weeks of School called guided discoveries. They are just how they sound–where students are guided through finding out what they need to know and how they can use an item, how to get it and put it away, how to share it, etc.
So…we started around our kitchen table with a well-organized (if I do say so myself 🙂 ) box of color pencils and 19 curious first graders.
We started with just some silent thinking about what we noticed and what we wondered. I was really impressed with their noticings. Kiddos mentioned things like:
*They are in different cups.
*Most cups have only one color in them, except for two.
*They are mostly in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green…then the purple cup was next for some reason).
*Someone put them in there like that.
*They are the same colors as things in the world.
After we talked about what we saw, I guided them through a discussion about why the pencils are like that, and why we need to keep them that way–as well as WHO was responsible for doing so. They understood that this organization makes it easy for us to find what we are looking for, and WE are responsible to put them back where they belong every time, or it will become a mess and we’ll have a harder time finding what we need–and therefore waste our learning time.
After we had laid down the foundation for how to use the pencils, we got busy practicing what we had just learned. Kiddos could draw/color anything they wanted during our discovery, using their creativity and imaginations. I was super impressed with how well they followed the procedures, and helped each other when they forgot, or put a pencil in the wrong place.
Once we were finished, we took time to work on another important part of first grade learning–sharing with a friend! We got together to share a sentence about what we had decided to make. Many friends–without my prompting–even started working on asking questions to help their partners elaborate! What a great first guided discovery! Super foundation for more to come! 🙂