Friday, March 29, 2019

Shifting and Sorting the Schedule: Using Energy Well

In the final months of the school year, one of the greatest challenges is to use energy well in order to maximize the teaching/learning for every child. That's why I find myself sifting and sorting the schedule to match right activity to right energy.

For example, today students will engage in a hands-on volume exploration--it's a good match for Friday energy levels, especially the energy after the big test they took on Thursday. I noticed on a recent assessment that students could not identify the number of cubes in volume pictures that they looked at. Clearly some did not have enough experience with building with cubes to know how to look at the pictures and count the cubes or determine the volume in another way. Also on last year's MCAS, students had difficulty with problems related to depth--they thought of volume as buildings but not pools or liquid containers. So today students will have the opportunity to build a number of buildings, decks, and pools that they see on a page--then they'll be tasked with figuring out the volume of those spaces. This is a good, playful learning match for a Friday, a day when students are a bit more tired than the days early in the week.

I typically have a running list of lessons ready and then match those lessons with student interest and energy. Some of the lessons on that list include balloon explorations, test practice, independent reading, climate change service learning projects, order of operation puzzles, line plot exercises, and more. There's never a shortage of learning experiences, but as I often remark time and energy are limited so finding the right match of experience and energy is a key ingredient to good teaching.