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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Team Talk: Students Lead Classroom Efforts

Edward Gorey Art
We had our first 2015 Team Talk yesterday.

Students gathered in a circle seated in chairs, and I posed the question, "What can we do to make this a better learning community?"

Students offered the following ideas:

Display More Art
Students wanted more art in the classroom, art from famous artists like Edward Gorey and their own art. It was decided that we'd make a creativity corner where students could display their creative work. Many wanted to hang origami from the ceiling in that area too.

Movement Breaks
One child said that we needed more movement breaks such as a quick run around the playground now and then. We started that yesterday with a five-minute run/jog/walk around our big playground (about 1/4 mile in length). I must say I was energized after the quick run/walk, but realized I have some catching up to do to keep up with my agile fifth graders.

Digital Art
A child who received a bamboo pad  as a holiday gift requested that we add more digital art choices to the learning menu. He also asked if he could bring his pad into school. I sent him to the tech integrationist for permission and will look for more ways to add this kind of work to the learning schedule.

Lunch in the Classroom
Many requested lunch in the classroom, and I said I'd follow through with that when I can. Many students perform the informal atmosphere of the classroom for lunch rather than the cafeteria.  The generally play games, create, talk with friends, or work on homework as they eat lunch when they eat in the classroom.

Class Jobs
We came up with new jobs about a month ago, students applied, and then I didn't follow through--I have some homework to do.

More Science
A lot of our learning to date has been devoted to mastering all the math standards for grade five, and we've left science a bit behind. I told students that once we catch up with all the math in preparation for the March PARCC test, then we'd add a lot of science. I also noted that we have several science days planned with visiting scientists and new materials.

Math Standards
I noted the long list of math standards to cover and the fact that I wanted to prepare them for the tests. I said that the good side of this is that getting a good, strong foundation with math now means better learning and more choice later.

Current Events
One child asked that we discuss world events more often. I remarked that our Flocabulary Weekly raps often lead to those discussions, and we'd add that at least once a week.

Water Cooler
One boy requested that we have a class water cooler as that would mean less plastic bottles and more clean water for all. I recommended that he write a letter to our PTO about that as perhaps they'd fund water coolers around the school. They did fund one for the teacher's room.

Team Talk Regularity
As a group we determined that a Team Talk once every other week was a good pattern for our class.

Now that the ideas have been expressed, it's time for me to follow through by checking the list and working with students to make sure we make the class the kind of learning environment that meets students and teachers' expectations and needs.