Friday, June 27, 2014

Big Rocks

My school is going through what our administrators have dubbed "The Extreme Makeover."  We are looking at our schedules, vertical alignment, classroom organization and content delivery.  Yesterday was the first of 5 summer sessions designed to help us revamp our instruction, and the topic was scheduling.
We were asked to come with a list of everything we try to fit in every day, including instructional activities of course, but also looking at things like transititions and restroom breaks.  It is amazing how much we try to cram into a single day!
We started off by watching this video clip:

Then we were given 7 sticky notes and asked to identify the things we felt were essential to our teaching each day.  It was interesting to see that most of us identified these 3 activities in some form- reading workshop/Daily 5, writer's workshop and guided math- but we also  chose activities like read aloud time and community building. Our instructional coach then encouraged us to look at these "big rocks" first when planning out our schedules and try to eliminate or condense some of the little rocks. (Fitting in grammar instruction was a huge topic of discussion!)
In addition to reading, writing and math workshops, my other 3 "big rocks" were:

  • read aloud
  • discovery time
  • discussion, sharing and reflection time
To make sure all of my rocks are in the jar, at the end of each day/week I want to reflect on these questions:
  1. Did I read a book just for the joy of reading?  Not because I am using it to teach inferring or summarizing or not because it goes with a topic we are discussing, but just because it's a great story and I want to share it.
  2. Did my students have a chance to explore or discover things for themselves?  Did they have an opportunity to learn about a self-selected topic?  Did they build or create?  I really want to explore the idea of a genius hour/wonder time!
  3. Did I remember to allow them time to share their writing or reading or problem solving?  Did I give them time to talk about their new pet or weekend camping trip?  At the end of the day, did we stop and think about everything we learned?
What are your "big rocks" and how do you fit it all in?

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