Saturday, March 19, 2011

Classroom Renovation

A few days ago I wrote about restructuring schools, now I want to focus on the area that I have the most control over -- the classroom. How can I restructure my classroom for greater service and learning for all students within my charge. I am going to use the six structures that I put in place for my restructuring schools blog post.

1. Mentoring. Through NING and classroom discussions I will mentor my students. I will continue to think of their overall learning goals and then prioritize to help each child continue to grow socially, emotionally, physically and academically. We will have regular classroom meetings and I will encourage regular correspondence and questioning via our classroom social network. I will also foster students' reflection and goal setting through portfolio work. I'll re-look at my schedule to make sure I make time for this on a regular basis.

2. Essential Skills Development. We will continue to use the computation ladder to practice and assess our math skill development* We will also continue to meet in differentiated groups when support teachers are in to develop computation skill and ease. We will use an online phonics/reading program, Lexia, to develop reading skills. During reading workshop I will help students access just right books, and conference with students to develop reading skills. ebooks, iPods, hard copy books and Internet will be available as resources. During interactive read aloud students will focus on the comprehension strategies (Mosaic of Thought by Keene). Students will continue to practice writing skills via our classroom social network (NING), ePal letters, and project work.

3. Project Based Learning. Students will learn the grade-level content through project learning. I am beginning to store all the information on our school system's learning management system, It's Learning. It's Learning allows me to choose optimal materials and post those materials in one place for colleagues, students and family members to access. I am going to move more and more to the menu approach of project learning which includes unit expectations and choices. Essentially children will have a list of mandatory and elective learning activities including videos, research, field trips (virtual or actual), projects, online activities and others to help them solidify their concept, skill, and knowledge development in a particular area. Essential skill practice will be embedded in these projects.

4. The Arts. I will embed the arts into all of our project work, and some of our skill development work. Currently the arts is a separate strand in our school, but I'm open to as much collaboration as possible. Students will often demonstrate their learning through the arts via illustration, video, music, theater and more. We will use the work of notable artists and arts events to inform our work as well.

5. Physical Education/Health. We have healthy eating policies in place at our school which has definitely increased student health in my opinion - less junk food, lots of healthy food both at lunch and for snacks. We have a healthy amount of play time outdoors each day for students to run, play and interact with nature. We also have a wonderful physical education program that develops students' knowledge and understanding of physical fitness, sports, and team building.

6. Clubs. Students in my school system belong to many clubs and extracurricular activities. I will continue to think about how I can build this into my schedule and student's schedules. For now, I will just try to encourage all of my students' families to get their children involved in some kind of extracurricular activity that feeds the child's passion and interests.

I'm sure that I'll continue to revise and refine this list as I move forward to 21st century and life-long learning objectives and as technology continues to change and develop. I'm sure I haven't included it all. Please let me know if you see missing links or have considerations for this classroom model. In the meantime, I'm going to refine the mentoring and skill parts of the day, and work on creating my fraction unit to meet the criteria above. Thanks for listening.