This on-line book study is really interesting! I have met two teachers who by their accounts, are not teacher-bloggers, but rather “are teachers that just happen to also blog” and have enjoyed the camaraderie in our on-line exchanges. I think this is going to be fun! So here goes with Chapter 2:

Below are the questions for Ch. 2 featured on Mel’s site, “Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations” who is hosting the book study, but I also “hopped over to Nicole’s Blog “Teaching with Style”  and read her thoughts. So I decided to approach this chapter a little differently. What I liked about Nicole’s answers was the manner that she used  to respond to the questions. She had a bit more of a reflective tone instead of  the Q & A style that most of the bloggers were using. This actually gave me a different perspective, so I’m going to answer the questions, but I’m going to try to be more reflective in the process.

1. What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in Chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter?

3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

I whole-heartedly believe that the relationship that I try to build with my students is one that includes an understanding that they can trust me and I can trust them.  I begin building trust by giving them opportunities to demonstrate that they can be trusted. For example, I love giving my students “jobs” in the classroom, which allows for them to learn about responsibility and keeps me free from those time-consuming, but “necessary”clerical duties. For example, I don’t have to worry about turning on our computers, projector, opening windows, shutting off and on the lights, answering our class phone, etc. I have helpers that rotate these jobs and they were quite proficient at it. So in this small way, my students know that I trust them to do their jobs without playing around. However, there are times that they aren’t as responsible. For example, sometimes hands-on labs requiring collaboration doesn’t go so smoothly because some students get off task.  Sometimes I have to intervene and re-direct students so many times that I’m exhausted by the end of the activity.  The kind of TRUST the sisters are talking about is going to be a challenge for me next year, if I have a similar group of students.

Now as far as choice goes, this I already anticipate that will be easier in some ways. The key will be in the preparation. I must be careful to prepare activities that will not only give the students an opportunity to practice the desired skill, but also provide them with a purpose for doing the assignment. I like how the sisters summarized, “Purpose + Choice = Motivation” (pg.21).  I know that I will need to be very diligent and provide them with meaningful activities.  I am concerned though about differentiating for my SPED students. The challenge is going to be in how I will present these materials to the students. What if the students with more abilities choose easier tasks or if the SPED students find the work too difficult?  Another concern that I have is whether I will have the time to do all  D5 activities daily. Hmm? Time is limited, schedules are usually not in my favor.

I have fostered a sense of belonging in my class and that has allowed my students to feel that they are part of something BIG. My class theme is related to Rock & Roll (No I’m not a Dead Head) and I tell my kids that “We Rock!” From the beginning of the year I stress the importance of being finely tuned and how everyone has a big job in being part of our band. I know it’s cheeeeessssyyy…but they buy in every year! This type of brain washing has helped me achieve a wonderful sense of community with my students. They know that everyone has an effect in the band and they have to be “with it” at all times.  They also know that I will not allow anyone, not even another band member, say or do hurtful things to another band member. My only expectations of them is to remember to be kind and accepting of each other as individuals.

While reading “Frindle” this year, I had provided the class with group activities that required them to do “Word Work” using the infamous dictionary,  allowing me an opportunity to work with small groups.  Most of my students  balked at the idea at first, but in no time they actually were able to do the work  and complete the assignments by the end of each week. This really proved to me that they understood that it was ALL business. This weekly deadline provided them the urgency to complete their work.  In fact, what better way to understand the sense of urgency if not by reminding them of a ticking clock to avoid the ZERO they would earn if it was not completed? However, what the sisters mean by sense of urgency is related to the understanding that what one is doing is important for oneself. It means that the time we put into something has enormous value and implications for our future. This awareness comes from intrinsic motivation and cannot be driven out of a student by a teacher, but must be carefully fostered.

Now STAMINA, Oh! How I dislike this word! It reminds me of the high stakes testing preparation we put our students through every year!!!! ARGH!!! The way presented in the book and video on the website for that matter is different from what I just described and it makes sense. After all, we can’t run a marathon if we can’t first run around the block! So I get it…I’ll start slow and increase more time accordingly; no real worries here. HOWEVER, staying out-of-the-way? That will be a dream come true! If I lived in a perfect world where students understood the importance of learning and did everything they needed to do because it was important for them to learn, and everyone reminded everybody to behave and not interrupt the learning process, then and only then, will I be able to STAY OUT OF THEIR WAY. Now I know I’m sounding a bit sarcastic here, but some of my SPED students require what we (SPED teachers) call, “proximity control.” Many of these students still have not developed their locus of control and depend on supervision. So this is certainly an area that I will need to learn to develop while my students are learning to be more autonomous.

Feel free to comment or reply to my reflective answers. It is in the interchange of other teachers that I develop new perspectives and boy do I need some new ones!

Mrs. P