Today was a good day. It was mainly a good day because I had many real chances to connect with my students in meaningful, interactive ways.
First, I pretended to be a fourth grader taking the state test. I modeled the entire process from start to finish. Although it wasn't the most exciting lesson, the process was worthwhile as the students could hear my thoughts, see how I tackled the task and think about their own strategies for the upcoming test. The test requires students to plan, draft and write a final copy story or essay that responds to a prompt in a day by hand. It's not an authentic task, and it is a mighty task for anyone young or old. That aside, I was able to share some great stories about my childhood days with "My Best Cousin Judy." It was enjoyable to see how the students reacted to stories of jumping in hay, playing Monopoly to the wee hours of the morning and making tree forts.
After that we had some time for recess, and then we got to work making our "self regulation plans." That title sounds strange, and I told students that the plans were our personal strategy or to-do lists for the big day. The idea had been a suggestion by a visiting consultant. On the plans, students wrote their rationales for doing a good job, and then listed their planned actions for the big test. After that they shared the plans with me. I enjoyed discussing the plans with them, and then let them pick from my sticker collection as a reward--they liked that.
My story about Judy had all the students wondering about what happened with our friendship which led to a great conversation about life, relationships and change. We all shared stories, which I reminded them was another good way to prepare for writing.
Later in the day we had lots of time to read books of choice. Some children gathered on bean bag chairs and shared iPods and books while others found cozy corners for reading. They read and read for about 45 minutes. After that we went outside to play on our gigantic snowy playground lit by lots of bright sunshine. Finally the day ended in the computer lab as students took their weekly facts quiz, played SumDog and had a few minutes of free choice.
It was a all in all a happy day of play, learning and conversation--a great way to finish the week!