Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What If?

A Pre Blog Warning:  I think this post could wander a bit.  I'm primarily brainstorming tonight.  Do Not interpret this post as a teacher who is going to throw out her schedule tomorrow.  I'm just asking What If? You've been warned...  :)  Now then...

In Iowa, like many parts of the country, we are getting blasted with cold weather.  This is making it impossible for us to enjoy an outside recess.  (God Bless You if you Live in Texas.  I declare several days at home for snow/ice days might be worse than inside recess for several days in a row.)  Seriously, we've been hanging in there, minus a few more wiggles at the end of the day.  This has given me more opportunity to observe my little friends and get to know them better.

Wednesdays have a bit of a different schedule than the rest of the week.  I knew at 10:00 we would not be stopping to go outside.  I made the decision to continue on with a 'normal' schedule for the morning, which involves a combination of mini lessons and time to work.  (In groups, independently, with a partner...whatever needs to happen.)

A bit before lunch, I then made the decision to give the children a version of modified recess.  Other classes were still working in their morning schedule, and I didn't want it to become a free for all.  So I shared with the children that they could continue on their reading/writing work, they could work on a math station, or they could create some art.  I took a moment to breathe, and watch.  And then I saw this:

In the back, my fabulous associate is using language and social skills to work on art projects together.

And this:
Math on the floor; writing at the table
And this:
Technology in the front to explore large numbers.  Spontaneous math collaboration to the right.  They are discussing how much money to spend at the store and what coins to use.  
And let's not forget this:
iPad use in the front of the picture to review sight words; reading an e-book in the back. 
There was such a level of engagement and joy.  It was as if we were "getting away" with something by not being so structured in our work.  A teacher wandered through at one point and noted how many students had chosen to work on math.  And then it hit me.  My class does choice and freedom really well.  So I started thinking/dreaming/wondering:

What if their work wasn't limited to "math time" and "literacy time"?  
What if they were allowed to work on what was important to them first?
Couldn't they work on independent math work when they wanted to, reading when they wanted to, writing when they wanted to as long as it all was completed and worked on each day?
Wouldn't I be the only one who needs to be structured to make sure that needs were being met?

Now, Do Not interpret this brainstorming as a free for all.  I'm talking about the work that they are expected to do.  In first grade this would mean some rounds of Daily 5 work, math stations, reading, writing. I would still teach focused mini lessons and small groups.  

But if they were excited to come to school and start their day with reading, why couldn't they do that first?  Why am I so structured in when they have to practice and build independence?

On day 10 of #nerdludtion, just some questions I'm kicking around in my head.    



  1. I think you have hit on something extremely important: Joy in learning. Now what if... this happened some days... Just thinking. What might this turn into. Love #nerdlution thanks for sharing.

    By the way, so many wonderful teachers I've met via blogs/twiiter from your state. My heart goes out to all of you. Weather is so hard. Hang in there.

  2. Thanks so much for reading our blog. I've been reading a bit about inquiry based learning and project based learning. Yes, I have been kicking around once or twice a week just laying out an agenda and conferencing with students while they work. I probably won't try anything until after winter break. Nice to connect with you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!