This chapter is all about peer collaboration. This was a GREAT chapter-there was a lot of awesome information!
This was also a great chapter because Paul mentioned some things I already do in my classroom-which felt like validation, and made me feel like I do know what I'm doing!
He talks about letting students work wherever they want-check! Partner work-check! Available student supplies-check! It's good to know that I'm already on the road to a student led classroom. :)
Another thing that I already do that resonated with me was
Responsive Classroom, which I've blogged about before.
I always start the year off with Morning Meetings, and they usually stay strong until the holidays (when we start switching for science and my schedule gets a little tighter-and this year I had a TON of kids in band and chorus (which takes place during our MM time), so it usually fizzles out around then. Hopefully next year will be different!)
I find this is a great way to build our community, as well as talk about different issues that may pop up.
One idea that that I LOVED that can be done at meeting time is
I do talk about this in my room a bit- 'easy' is a bad word in my room. We talk about how while it might be easy for you, it might not be easy for someone else, and you could make them feel bad.
For example, someone left a comment on my blog on how crafty I am, and what else can I do. Now, I'm sure it was meant as a compliment, but I didn't read it that way. I felt like this person was judging me for being crafty.
I'll be honest-I am crafty! I love to dabble in different crafts, and seeing things that I create-plus is relaxes me. I'm pretty good at crafts-BUT, I am horrible with anything to do with athletics (or reaching things on high shelves! ;). My marbles are just allocated differently. But this person made me feel bad because their marbles weren't in a crafty cup-and that's not right. I will TOTALLY be doing this lesson with my kids next year! In addition to something not being 'easy', I hope it will encourage the kids to realize that they are ALL smart-some are just smart in different areas.
Another idea that I will totally be implementing next year is Responsibility Partners.
I love that kids will have a partner to help keep them on track, as well to talk to and clarify information. Plus, it will give them a chance to work with all different kinds of students (something I also do-since we can't always pick who we work with!), and become leaders.
Speaking of leaders-did you know that there are two different types?! I didn't!
I definitely had a lot of active leaders in my class this year-as well as some passive. And some who would rather sit back and do nothing at all (don't we all have those students?). In fact, one of my greatest joys this week was seeing one of my 'active' leaders become more group sensitive (sometimes the 'active' becomes bossy and overwhelming...), and suggest to the rest of the group that they let the student who had not picked anything yet go (and these two are not friends-there have been issues between them in the past). They did it so nice and quietly too. Be still my heart :)
Part of taking a leadership roll in the classroom calls for a why to get attention quickly-with
This reminds of my magic wand, which is kind of the same purpose. It will be interesting to see how the kids do with this. I love all of Paul's suggestions on times to use it (not in other classes or with a sub), as well as how to redirect those who may be using this inappropriately. This is a great way to empower students (which is another chapter!), and get them to take more control of their learning.
Since students are working together, there are bound to be problems that creep up. The class I had this year was pretty good at solving partner problems without my involvement (Love that! I'm going to miss them next year...), but the year before....oh dear! We wound up implement some simple strategies to help with that-some that Paul mentioned!
I LOVE that Rock, Paper, Scissor is choice. Of course, you could teach your class Rock, Paper, Scissor, Lizard, Spock for even more problem solving strategies ;)
It's clear and simple, and kids can never argue with the outcome (of course, I then hear "best two out of three?").
Compromise is a great one too-it teaches kids that they can't always get it the way they want-but if they give a little, they may get some of what they want. This is something we'll definitely practice.
The choose kind strategy really spoke to me. Just let the other person go. They may be having a really bad day-and letting them get their way in this one thing may make their whole day brighter. It's like my student above-who 'choose kind' to make sure a student got a turn.
Paul also talks about competition, and how we win as a team and not against one another. I talk a lot about how the only person you're competing against in this class is yourself-striving to do better. You don't need to compare yourself to others-they're not you! Just keep trying your best, and you'll go far.
This chapter was chock full of information-and most of it easy to implement and use. It showed me that having a student led classroom may not be as far away as I thought it was. In small steps, this could definitely happen-and I'll have better students for it!
Smiles and Sunshine,