Learning journies

I blogged during the holidays about taking a new direction in my classroom teaching/management and thought it was about time to reflect on how it is going so far.

Term 2 I want to explore some possibilities. So these are my ideas so far:

* Desks are grouped in 5 table groups of 6
* Students will have a “home” group where they sit for admin purposes (Roll/SSR/End of Day etc) as well as for topic – they are mixed Y3&4/boy&girl
* Each table group will have a specific purpose during maths & reading/language time that will be the same each day (teacher, equipment, knowledge, investigation, basic facts practice for maths; teacher, reading activities & Word of the day, handwriting, writing (draft/editing/publishing), reading (buddy, library etc) for reading/language)
* Students will be in 5 groups and will rotate around the table groups over 4 days (I think 2 rotations per session especially while we’re trialling this)
* Students will also have a chart/poster of “other” activities they can go on with if they finished the assigned activity

This is really an adapted backbone idea but the activities are going to be varied – for instance:

* Publishing of work will have choices in format – on paper/blog/word/photo
* Some activities will be available via mimio and/or classroom computers
* The students also don’t have their “own” desk to return to – they have a home group (this is made easier by the fact that they have tote trays elsewhere with their stuff in them); the big difference is that while the activities may be similar to what they’ve been doing already they are not returning to “their” desks to work in isolation and some of the activities will now be a group activity rather than an individual activity

So how am I going so far:

  • students are quite settled into having a home with no specific desk – very much first come first choice of seating – some students are moved because they’re too chatty or off task but mostly they seat themselves and are quote happy about it
  • the groups for the maths and reading/language time are working well – they are grouped in 5s and aren’t all at the same exact levels but are close enough to work together
  • I’ve moved from the old ‘sitting in the teacher’s chair while the reading group sits on the floor’ to sitting at one of the table groups for doing reading activities – I really want a kidney shaped table for that purpose but this is working ok for now
  • having a specific purpose for each table group during the curriculum time works very well – it took some time to set up but they know to read instructions and to get on with the work
  • I set up a listening post using my old iPod mini – I’ve got a bunch of stuff on there including a number of short stories from NZ authors as well as some stuff for the whole class – we’re listening to Harry Potter #1 this term & our syndicate Jump Jam is on there as well
  • so far we’ve published to our class blog and I’m keen to go as paperless as possible – the fact that people from overseas had read their writing and commented on it was very powerful for them
  • My next move is to incorporate the use of Google Docs for some of the classwork – Google Forms is a good place to start and instead of just printing out worksheets with questions I’m going to try creating them and linking to them in our class delicious – that way the instruction can be to “go to the delicious page and click on the link entitled xxxxx” instead of printing out heaps of paper.

    I’m also looking forward to Google Wave – the possibilities of collaboration in writing/reading/maths between classrooms (my mind is whizzing ahead at 100 kph here) will be fantastic.

    I think by taking this journey step by step I’m having more success than I have in the past when I’ve tried to do too much in one go.

    I’ll be checking back in later in the term regarding this fantastic journey we’re on.