I’ve been going through my lesson notes from the past year. Basically I want to get an idea of how we arrived where we are now, and what the kids most need before the end of the year. What I’m finding is that we’ve covered a lot of ground – more than I would have thought considering that the third and fourth graders have been on the same projects for what feels like forever.
What is lacking, though, is organization. Fourth grade has jumped around as a result of the little prompts I’ve gotten from classroom teachers about where they needed support, kindergarten and first grade look similar but even more erratic due to their units being shorter. The thing is, I believe that if was able to establish more collaborations, the scope and sequence might look even more disordered. So maybe the fact that they do now is a sign of progress, not of failure. I can imagine getting to a point where enough collaborative projects were established that those could be the cornerstone of a yearly schedule, and the other days could be filled in with supporting activities that make sense in the overall sequence of the year. But I imagine that being much further down the line. As it is, anything I would like to do with the kids has to remain flexible so I can jump at anything a teacher requests help with.
I’m buckling down and working with kindergarten on the computers. Behavior has been a real roadblock this year – we’re at the end of the school year and they still seem to have little sense of raising hands or taking turns, so it’s been difficult to give clear instructions for the laptops. Imagine sixteen kids all yelling their questions over you, even though what you are trying to say would answer those questions! The teachers have indicated that the kids still need a published piece of writing by the end of the year, which is a perfect opportunity as we are covering the concepts of “creating” something in a program, saving a document and retrieving it from a network drive (while reinforcing the basics, like which button is left click, what a cursor is and where it needs to be, and remembering the difference between backspace and enter). I think we will get through a lot more if we’re working on a classroom project, and some teachers have even offered to stay in the library with their classes.
First grade finished their Mo Willems author studies, but they did such a good job on their Elephant and Piggie plays that I want to record them. So I’ve been taking a few groups each day and having them perform on camera. Although it cuts into my planning time to an almost disastrous degree, it’s probably the best thing I’ve done since starting this job. Getting the kids in small groups for just ten minutes is prompting all kinds of great stuff! One group realized that their play was too complicated and streamlined it, even as we recorded several takes. Other groups ad libbed sound effects, and others worked on reading with expression. Overall that has just been a really rewarding extra project.
With the end of the year nearing, I’m increasingly hearing adults in the building who are amazed that the library is still loaning books. Apparently this is a shift from the past, when the library was closed for checkouts in early May so that inventory could be finished. We go until June 26! I have no intention of cutting off checkouts until at least the second week of June. Inventory is important (and perhaps more so in my library which is in desperate need of weeding and organizing) but I have first graders just discovering chapter books, and second graders who used to argue with me about taking a book at all who have fallen in love with The Secrets of Droon. They come in every day for a new book because they’re reading so fast. When they finished that series, I gave them A Series of Unfortunate Events, which they are reading just as fast. I need to find another readalike – I’m scared to not keep up with them!
I would love to get back to daily blogging. I had to let that project slide for the time being. As valuable as it is, there are other, more immediate and pressing things to get through. School alone would be enough! But on top of that, Matt and I are working through wedding planning, job changes, a thesis that requires proofreading, triathlon training and some physical issues (hopefully just allergies). So blog posts will happen as they come to mind and need to be recorded. Six weeks left of school – six weeks to wrap up and put a positive spin on the year!