Saturday, January 11, 2014

Celebrate this week-Re-Energizing Our Classroom~

Thank you Ruth Ayers for giving us this opportunity to connect and celebrate! I love being part of an
online community and celebrations are the best reason to connect!

This week's celebration actually began over winter break. It began when I stumbled on one of Pernille Ripp's blogs, Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension in this post @PernilleRipp shared strategies for   welcoming the return from winter break as if it were the beginning of the year.  "Goodbye January humdrum, welcome January excitement."  As I read Pernille's blog I began to think about how these ideas would fit into the community of our classroom. Many of the strategies she shares are responsive to the community. Rather than going into my classroom over break and making adjustments I wanted to see, I choose to wait and to make these changes as a class.

Welcome Back!~

I wanted to get my kids excited to come back to school and I wanted them to start thinking about changes they wanted to see on our room, so I wrote a post on our Kid Blog and asked parents (via remind101) to have the kids jump on the blog. The kids started sharing ideas for changes. Some of their ideas surprised me, I am not sure these ideas were even on my radar. Having an idea of what the kids were thinking allowed me a bit of time to think about how these changes would benefit our classroom community and their function in our space.

Morning Meeting~

On our first day back our  morning meeting was dedicated to sharing our (extended) winter break stories and discussing classroom changes. Kids shared what they liked about our classroom and what they thought would make our classroom better and why. I was impressed at the quality of their conversation. Ideas were shared, debated, tweaked and then brought to life right there in our morning meeting! I was surprised to hear ideas shared that included safety, more ample work space on the tables, improved traffic patterns and organization. Not only did they have ideas these FIRST GRADERS had reasons!  
We jotted down a few quick notes to help us remember all the changes we needed to make. 

And began making the changes we could…

Welcome to YOUR New Room~

Most changes were made as a class and happened as a part of our morning meeting. I waited until after school to move the furniture (for safety). The next morning when the kids came in I had the pictures (shown here) playing in a slideshow on the "big screen." The kids were so excited, here's the chatter I heard~ 
"Wow, I just don't know what to say!"  "It feels like a new room!"  "This is exciting!" "Oh, that was my idea!"  "Look, we have a new room!"  "Awesome!"

The kids know this is THEIR space, it fits THEIR needs, and THEY have power in this space, THEIR ideas are respected.

Our Class Promise Reflection~
After our space was set we started to reflect on ourselves in our space.  We reviewed our promise and our ability to practice this promise. The kids are refreshingly accurate in their reflections. Students who felt they were doing well shared strategies for listing, following directions, and showing self-control with those who are still working to practice their promise. The tips shared are endearing.
"I am a good listener because I get up early so I can just relax before coming to school."
"I go to bed early and sleep a lot."
"I just move if someone is bothering me."
"I look at the teacher and think about it."
You can see their promise practice strategies and goals here and hear their sweet voices as they explain their thinking.


What's Next? 
I am working to build more independence and more time for creativity in the new year. As I listen back to the VoiceThread I realize the kids think the key is listening to me! I am not the only teacher in our classroom. I thought the kids understood their are 22 teachers in our room, sounds like we might need a little work here!
Thanks @pernellripp for such an inspiring blog post! Our year os off to a fantastic start thanks to your willingness to share your thoughts! You have 22 HAPPY and RENEWED learners in our room! (this includes me)
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