Friday, April 17, 2015

Prioritize, Then Teach

As I think of our school programs, I'm wondering if we would boost student achievement, confidence, and love of learning more if we prioritize better.

For example, what if we took a close look at our students and resources, then determined the three-four most important learning needs for every child and how to meet those needs in child-centered, creative, enjoyable and engaging ways?

The result might be something like this:

Paul's Week: First Quarter
  • Gym X 5 every morning in a small, athletically talented sports group led by the physical education teacher.
  • Art X 5: with a small group of students who demonstrate needs in visual literacy with respect to math. The children will work with the art teacher to learn to draw mathematical models that have meaning. 
  • Math X 5: Small group instruction of similar ability peers with special educator.
  • Reading X 5: Independent reading in library, reading books of choice in silent to quiet atmosphere led by librarian. 
  • Writing X 5: Writing assistant in second grade class. Helps with all writing tasks five days a week. Helps students' edit and publish their stories every day. 
Amy's First Quarter
  • Musical Theater X 5: Leader in multi-age musical theater group led by drama teacher.
  • Book Group X 5: Intensive book study group related to memoir. Reading and writing involved. Led by literacy coach.
  • Math X 5: Computer coding class that focuses on coding math models. Models will be published and shared with younger age students as one way to introduce those students to the chosen math concepts led by math teacher.
  • STEAM Lab X 5: Simple machines exploration and building led by science teacher.
  • History X 5: Local history research project led by social studies teacher. Large class of multiple teams. 
Tim's First Quarter
  • Instrumental X 3: Violin lessons and orchestra led by instrumental teacher.
  • Dance X 2: Hip Hop dance led by physical education teacher. 
  • Wellness X 5: Social competency and service learning project. Incorporates reading and writing instruction. Led by literacy specialist.
  • Magazine Club X 5: Small boys-only magazine club led by special educator.
  • Math X 10: Advanced math taught with blended format that incorporates gaming, explicit instruction, projects, and math team work. 
Taking the time to think deeply about each student and how we can best maximize our resources to teach the children well may result in a school that looks very different from the traditional structures we're used to.