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Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer countdown....wait, not yet!!

As the weather starts to change, flowers start to bloom, and the days get longer we all start to feel the early days of summer inching up.  Teachers, students, and even parents feel the excitement in the air and secretly count down the days until summer vacation.  But wait, don’t count too quickly!  This is an opportune time of year for reflection and planning.  Even though we do this throughout the year, it's even more important to stop and think about how much you and your students have accomplished, how much they learned, what you would have done differently, and set goals for September. 

Physical space
Look around your classroom.  Step back and ask yourself some important questions.
What I asked myself: Was the space conducive to learning?  Was it comfortable and welcoming?  Were materials accessible and organized?  Were my charts helpful?  Did my students use the charts?  Did I have too many charts?
What I realized:  As an intervention teacher, I work with 4-6 students at a time.  Maybe I should have taught more lessons on the rug, rather than at the table.  The little ones tend to lose focus and having them close seems to help.  Also, I teach grades 2-5 therefore have charts for many grades, ranging from combinations of 10 to fractions and multiplication strategies.  This can be overpowering for some students.  I will have to think of a new way to organize my charts for next year.  Add that to my summer to-do list!
math charts, manipulatives, classroom setup
3-5 anchor charts

math class, materials and anchor charts
2-3 anchor charts

Learning goals
Conferring with readers, writers, and mathematicians is quite similar in my opinion.  As Carl Anderson taught me, start by simply asking, “How’s it going?”  This open ended question is a pressure-free way to start a conference.  Talking about math can be quite difficult for children (and adults) so I like to keep it simple.  I have my students start the year by setting goals for themselves and thinking about what they want to learn.  At the end of the year I ask them to think about what they have learned, what they have accomplished, what they still are struggling with, and I help each student set goals for next year.  After our conferences I have them record everything in their math journals.  This year I will take this one step further.  I will have them write a letter to their new teacher(s).  What a great way to introduce themselves- as a reflective learner, writer, and mathematician!    
Like my students, I will need to spend plenty of time reflecting about the past year.  I will need to think about my lessons, strategies, and activities and decide how it went.  We all have room to grow and I never wanted to be the type of person that does the same thing day after day.  Luckily, I have the type of job that doesn’t allow me to do that.  With new students comes new discoveries, challenges, learning goals, learning styles, joys and lessons to plan.  I have a feeling my summer to do list has gotten pretty long already!

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