August 16, 2016

Back to School Fun With a Student-Centered Approach!

I have been back to school for a whole week now and it has been great!  I am teaching third grade this year, but didn’t have to change rooms (and that’s a huge praise!)  But that also meant creating a whole new opening of a school year!  New projects, new ideas, and keeping some oldies but goodies going as well.  I’m joining up with the Grace-Filled Classroom to share all about our ideas for Back to School.  So, let’s take a look!

Student-Led Learning

When new directives come down the pike, I tend to be the one that says, “Fine, you want this, I’ll give it to you full force!”  Crazy, I know, but I guess that’s the way I protest!  That is what is happening with Student-Led Expectations!  If I could figure out a way to make every standard applicable, you better believe I’d do it.  But that really is unrealistic.  But I was thinking, what about our classroom expectations?  That’s doable!  So, I had to apply that to third grades, who were readily able and efficient at communicating school and classroom expectations.  After a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with I Know My School’s Expectations. Now, I have plenty of new students to the school, but that doesn’t matter.  By third grade they can pretty much tell you the rules and procedures for anyplace in a school building.  The one specific to our school I had all the old students do.  Otherwise, they were required to brainstorm all of the things they could think of that apply to that location in the school building, the rules and procedures that made them tick.  Then, after brainstorming, we gathered together so that the students could share those expectations.  This was true buy-in.  It took minimal amount of time, and, it was student generated.  It empowered my students with a voice on the first day, but was not overbearing and overwhelming. Get them for FREE here!  

 I did fancy them up, but all are hanging in our classroom to refer to whenever we need too!

Student-Led Learning Again!

Another way I plan on having a Student-Led classroom is to have the students record the standard in their notebook so that we can actually track what we are learning.  I saw this on Pinterest and thought, “What a great way to do standards!”  Yes, I could have spent a ton of time creating these, they could be fancy, but what did that do for my students last year?  NOTHING!  So, today we started our first standard in our notebooks, and on my focus wall!  

Why not, let’s give it a try!  Students will be referring to this standard, and others as we go, instead of me pointing out to them what they need to learn.  This instantly helped me to also think about projects to prove their learning.  One of the ways students in 3rd grade in Florida can be promoted is through Portfolio Assessment.  What if I actually started to have them KEEP portfolios of their successes.  This will also help me to have great resources for Student Led Conferences!  This is a new thought pattern that is coming out this very instant!  How cool is that!  Something else to begin planning for! 

Can I just tell you that for a second year in a row that I totally LOVE this for opening day!  The students get to explore the areas of our classroom by getting up, getting moving, and recording their thoughts!   I still highly recommend this product, although it is no longer free. It also provides that opportunity for students to have that control of learning instead of the teacher!  Another great way to include the students as leaders!  

Getting to Know My Super Friend

You can find this activity at First Grade Wow!  If you teach primary, her blog has AMAZING resources, including Soaring with Superheroes, for FREE!   This was a wonderful activity from that unit that we completed on the second day of school.  I had purchased the bracelets at The Dollar Tree and each child cut out their name from the alphabet page.  Then they met up with a friend and shared details about themselves with each letter of their name.  We switched a number of times and had a wonderful time completing the task! Well worth downloading and using!!  Thanks First Grade Wow! (And I used it in 3rd grade!)

Golden Year Starts with Golden Things

And, to finish off my awesome week, I had an AWESOME moment!  One of my former student’s father is an Olympian and a medal winner in swimming.  He couldn’t find his daughter’s new class and I begged off on him to come in and share super fast with my class!  And he said YES!!  When he pulled these babies out, I just had to touch one!  The next thing I knew is he dropped them down with a clank, and then lifted them to my neck and put them on!  Be still my HEART!  As a former swimmer myself, this was like a dream come true!  To feel what it is like to have these medals around my neck.  It took my breath away-and I hugged him!!  It was FABULOUS!  What a great moment to start a great school year! 

Let’s hear what is happening in your class to start out the school year!  May it be as golden and blessed with great things as mine.

(Here's a little something about my student's Olympic dad!)



Shanon and Courtney Juneau said...

Nice post!

1stgradefireworks said...

How fun! What a great class lesson! Wendy 1stgradefireworks

Mrs LadyWordSmith said...

I can tell you are a fabulous teacher! Student-lead learning is the best. I'll bet your students are excited learners. I wish you all the best this school year.