This will be the first of several posts that document some changes that have been taking place in Rm. 202’s neck of the woods over the last two weeks. We’ve been dealing with some struggles and are working on working through them. Kind of like in the beginning of the year when we were working on working together. Remember? And in true Rm. 202 and Robinson form, we’re problem solving as a class to figure out what to do. LOVE THAT! It hasn’t been easy, but with so many great brains working on the solutions, it’s coming along.
Here’s the beginning of the story…
We had had many days where our class was struggling to follow directions, listen to each other (including me!) and struggled with working well as a group. Of course I was frustrated, and knew that it meant something had to change. Luckily, because I know that these choices mean they’re telling me something (rather than just that they’re bad kids, or trying to make me crazy, or that there is no hope! LOL), I choose to try to figure out how to help them change those choices, by teaching or reteaching behavior, or by restructuring some other part of what we do everyday.
And because I work in the best school in the best school district anywhere, I am lucky to know about using a problem-solving model with most every classroom bump in the road. I learned years ago about how to use the ICEL protocol for this problem-solving and it came in SO handy to us lately. Basically it helps you problem-solve through a variety of items, starting NOT with the kids in your class, but with how you are teaching them.
So as I worked through how to best respond to the struggles we were having, I logically started with the I in ICEL, which has to do with HOW we’re learning and HOW I’m choosing to present things. Sometimes an easy tweak in this area can provide the response you were looking for. And also luckily (wow–do you get how blessed I am? LOL), I have a super supportive group of coworkers who are ALWAYS willing and able to help. We happen to have a place to post questions and ideas so I wrote this, looking for some suggestions:
And like I said, there ended up being LOADS of friends who gave their support and ideas for how we could respond, and even better than just helping me, anyone who read the thread could benefit. #collaborationforthewin
This response was what got us to this blog post today:
And since I cannot step away from a double dog dare, but more because I knew she had a point with her suggestion and was thinking we’d get some good results from it, I started our next day with this as our easel question:
Apparently I haven’t asked a question like this in a while, or they are programmed to answer this “learner” question in a certain way, because on our first draft thinking, their responses were “be quiet” or “listen to the teacher” or “be a good friend.” Of course those are all good things, but what I was asking was more like the answers on this second draft are responses I as expecting. The notes are grouped by type and the big pile at the bottom (not surprisingly) say PLAY. The rest say things like READ, WRITE, CODE, and DRAW. And yes, there were at least two that said they’d enjoy doing anything. Yes, girls, you’re my favorite students. LOL Just kidding!
We gathered for morning meeting and got busy building our schedule for the day. Again, this surprised my students MUCH more than I thought it would; I think I give them choice ALL THE TIME and work to be really responsive to what they need and want. Funny that this seemed so crazy to them. Anyway, we decided that they could choose to do something from the list of blocks/cars, art, Legos, or iPads. We also reviewed how, since this was normally the time when we did writing and sci/ss, they had to figure out a way to include those things in their work. I also gave the offer to let some friends help me start a bulletin board that first grade was in charge of making–4 friends took me up on this offer. The rest made their choice and got busy with their learning plan for the day. They had to start in their area by talking with the others kids there about how they’d use the tools they had available to them. As we got busy, I shared with them that we would stop to share our work after a chunk of time (I think I gave them about 40 minutes).
Once they had time to work on their creation, we gathered in each area so groups could report to us on how they spent their time.
When we returned later in the day, we got busy writing a report on how we had spent our morning. More on that later!
Oh, and I know you want to know how it went….this was one of the most pleasant mornings we’ve had together in a while. 🙂 They had choice, they were engaged, they managed their bodies and were in charge of their learning. And I went to lunch with a smile on my face (for whatever that’s worth. 🙂 ).
Please be sure to come back for the next chapters of the story–it’s a great one! Rm. 202 kiddos have GREAT ideas! Can’t wait to tell you about it.