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Scribbler's Notebook

Notes for 7/20 Lesson

Example of advice column: having a sunny disposition about life can really get you through tough times. An example of this might be when you catch a cold, and really feel down, but you keep your head high and remind yourself that you'll get over it soon. This brings your stress levels down, and your body can better fight the cold when it's not stressed out! If you are down and depressed about your cold, it will only drag on as your body has to combat both stress and a cold!

Class Notes 7/16

Idea for theme for second grade: bridges גשר (bridge in Hebrew) מגשר means mediator/bridge builder.

Class Notes 7/14

  • Morning Meeting: stuffed animals or balls to pass around during sharing/greeting.
  • Morning Meeting book lists greetings in appendix
  • Job chart can start with just a few jobs (Commander of cream cheese - fills in as needed; Sweep looks for things fallen on the floor and is at end of line; Teacher comes up with new job title every day, depending on learning that day: brain enhancer, solutions supervisor, tactics analyst, Functionality Coordinator)
  • Choosing groups: first student is picked from Luck of the Draw, that student chooses another student, that student picks one out of LothD.

Journaling from today's class (7/8)

Even from being in the classroom just for two hours, I can see how distracting it can get! I can only imagine how 9 and 10 year-olds feel... Talking about a classroom and experiencing it are two entirely different things. It was fun and exploratory to come into the class and greet the teacher, and then go off and seek the healine story, and do what it says. Learning should be like that... a continual exploration. Another thing I experienced was how focused and industrious I got when we started working on our metaphors. I hope to harness some of these strategies in my own classroom next year.


Reading Notes

From In the Company of Children: (Ideas for the classroom)
  • create rituals together
  • choose read-aloud texts carefully
  • go on a walking tour of the neighborhood
  • go on a walking tour of the building
  • tour the classroom
  • get kids to bring themselves into the classroom - have them share hobbies, collections and favorite books from home
  • make the environment inviting
  • ask students to be part of the decision-making about the room and library arrangements
  • survey the students (see Student Survey PDF)

Journaling from today's class (7/8)

I wasn't quite sure what the purpose of the chart paper activity (what are some positive outcomes of communicating with parents?), but then we started talking about the home-school connection, and various devices for communicating with parents. It was good to preface this with a talk about why we should communicate with parents. My mentor teacher has a great rapport with parents, and keeps open lines of communication. She and the other fifth grade teachers write a short update on what they are doing in the class, and what students will be doing next. It's great to keep parents in the loop. However, I love the idea of having parents be responsible for something as well. In the same fifth grade class, the students wrote a letter to their parents saying what they did that week. Parents had to sign it and the students handed it in as homework on Monday. I suspect some parents never read it, or read it without discussing it with the kids. Later on in the year, only a few kids were actually bringing the signed letter in on Monday, and the teacher wasn't really holding them accountable for that.
I really want to adopt this school-home connection in my new school. It will be interesting to see if any of the kids with famous politician parents have a hard time getting their parents to do the assignment/task with them.

7/8 Class Notes

Morning meeting - an opportunity to do a "dipstick" reading of where students are with something.
Conducting a Class Meeting
  • Idea phase
  • Evaluation
  • Voting phase

Reading notes - Camps program

Ritual: The NPR program on camps gave me insight to rituals and the nature of rituals. It has been fascinating and mystifying to me what is so appealing about rituals. They seem to take on a life of their own, but apparently there's some secret formula to making a successful ritual. In our reading for Jocelyn's class, Life in a Crowded Place, he describes some of the rituals Americans do, such as stand for the National Anthem, etc. The Camps program seemed to imply that there has to be a perfect combination of history, meaning and ownership of the ritual in order for it to be successful. And authenticity. For example, why is it that a counselor can spontaneously add "whoo-hoo" to the birthday song and have it become ritual, whereas some new kid can't come in and announce, "we are going to change the birthday song." Rituals must be practiced to an exact art, but can be suddenly changed if the right person changes it at the right time.
In the classroom: When I listened to the program, I thought, "I want my classroom to feel exactly like camp." But the truth is I don't. However, it would be great to take lessons from the enthusiasm and ownership and belonging kids feel at camp, and invite those into the classroom. Ownership over routines and rituals, the ability to find your interests and run with them, just to name a few.

Reading notes: "Keeping Morning Meetings Greetings Fresh and Fun"
  • invite children to create new greetings or variations of the ones you've taught them
  • assignment: work individually or in pairs to create a new greeting for morning meeting
  • example: Say your name - whole class chants "say your name and when you do, we will say it back to you!" First child says "Andrew" and the class says back, "Andrew!" (class can chant this every time, or every 3 or 4 children, or just once)
  • more great examples in article, of course I made a fancy PDF of this:

7/6 Class Notes

Taking Stock assignment
Rituals/team-building/community building
  • Artifact: bring in an artifact that best describes you without any words. Student stands in front of the class, holds it up for all to see, and the other students try to guess what it says about the student. (Or bring in a favorite book)
  • Picture what you want to do daily all year long, think about what you want it to look like.
  • This American Life had an episode about camps that gives insight into rituals and why kids like them so much.
  • Kids love magic: invisible gold star; "Litnus lozenge" is a special lozenge that helps students relax and think of happy and sad things at the same time.
  • Create an SOS box with a pebble, bandaid, etc... that is special to them
  • Headline story: give a compliment to a person during morning meeting. Students will be handed a number, and they will give that student a compliment - preface this with having a neutral face, telling a story about what happens when someone makes a face or rolls her eyes
  • Eye contact: talk to the students about eye contact. In our culture, we give eye contact. Maybe in other cultures, they don't.
  • Closing story: created a routine around the announcements: Monday was the pledge, Tuesday was a riddle, etc... that
  • CHAT - "Come Have A Talk" a chance for kids to share information about themselves. It could be something big or small. There is a routine: Happens on Monday and Friday, one of the kids takes notes. The executive director announces that the CHAT has officially commenced. Rules: you can't share twice until everyone has shared. People can sign up for CHAT but they are also assigned. Someone takes notes, as simple as "Gabby: new dog" Use a Protocol, such as only allowing for the person sharing to talk. The next person has to make a comment to show that they were listening.
  • Teacher initially makes the teams, and gives them names, but after a few days or a week, redesign the team.
  • Think about what the children are used to, and what other classes they have
  • Placing students in teams every few weeks gives the students a chance to:
  • connect with their classmates
  • work with students with different learning styles
  • help other students in the group
  • get help from other students in the group

  • Ask the student to write down 4 or 5 students on a piece of paper who they would like to sit with
  • Make a sociograph to see who gets picked by whom
  • to make sure all students in the class are being picked
  • it’s the teacher’s responsibility to raise up that child’s social status
  • share news about a student being picked more during choosing teams
  • Select teams, trying to give each student at least one of their choice
  • teams are based on class dynamics
  • social and learning styles considered
  • homogenous or heterogenous
  • Teams make a team name and sign

Responsive Classroom info
Morning Meeting overview
Morning Meeting Activities
"Community begins with the morning meeting "
Spencer Kagan on Cooperative Learning

7/1 Class Notes

Morning routine

  • When students enter the class, they read the morning message.
  • They have to respond to a prompt by saying something to the teacher. For example: Please say "Hi Miss R, the moment(s) I remember from yesterday are: [blank]." (this gives you some info on how the kids are receiving the activities)
  • Morning message: I changed 3 things in the classroom, what are they? (Later in the year)
  • List of things to read: job chart, headline story, schedule, books, etc.
  • Headline story could be a math problem to solve.
  • Morning Meeting:

First Weeks of School

  • For the posters you want to create in the beginning of the year, have the students create the posters. Materials on the walls become invisible if the kids don't have a part in it.
  • Have materials that are unique to you
  • Choose a theme for the class
  • Pounce on the positive: be sure to jump on the things students are working on

Materials/Classroom environment

  • Homework bins by number: Bin #1 (write on board what goes in that bin)
  • Clear packaging tape for making labels
  • Protocols for teacher workshops
  • Critical Friends Group - use protocols
  • Classroom Spaces that Work
  • The First Six Weeks of School
  • Reading with Meaning
School memory
I remember my senior year of high school. I was in a class called Sci Fi Lit. It was a two-part course taken over two trimesters with an Asian teacher Ms. Bahng. She used to make me cry. It's not exactly a learning, but I just remember reading this book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and developing such an appreciation for science fiction. The class met one morning at a breakfast joint off campus (it was a boarding school), and we sat around talking about the book in this comfortable yet novel setting. I remember thinking about how science fiction can be so imaginative. The female protagonist was so powerful and strong, and I identified with her. Her nickname is YT which stands for "Yours Truly." I was so inspired that I tried writing a sci fi story with a female protagonist called Ziro Tuhiro.

6/30 Class Notes

First Day of School

  • students come into the class on the first day of school.
  • kids come in and read the morning message, which tells them to find their seats.
  • on the tables (of 4-5 kids per team) are the kids' name tags and numbers (cubbies have their numbers).
  • the kids also get numbers, which helps with homework accountability and checking out school supplies
  • kids do a scavenger hunt to get familiar with the room, use class colors to color name tags
  • kids have to figure out why they are sitting in their groups, and have to figure out why they are sitting in that particular group (what all members of the group have in common - season based on birthday, or birth order)
  • team names given by teacher as hints, later on they'll rename the team
  • this creates a feeling of ownership of the space and creates a class "family"
  • have a place where you take notes about your students - maybe a manila folder with the student's name (inside of a hanging file system with numbers), that you can take notes on stickies about the student

Two Truths and a Fib game

Graphic organizer says: It's not easy, but it's interesting to try to think of some truths and fibs about yourself. Think of some ideas below and then later today we will see if the class can guess your fib. Truth Ideas (with box). The two truths I am picking are: 1. My grandmother's name was Sarah. & 2. I have 11 first cousins. The fib is:
I once dyed my hair bright purple.

Say: I have 11 first cousins, I dyed my hair bright purple and my gradma's name was Sarah.

System for calling on students

  • Think about who gets called on and when. Think about this system. Sometimes designate an "executive director" as a job, and that person calls on the first person. Luck of the draw - a system using pulling spoons out of a lunchbox. Or use the nametag method.

72 - Resting pulse
88 - Active pulse

"In the shoes of" activity

  • create a poster: "if you were in Miss R's shoes, you would..."
  • quote: "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins." Carol Hurst from Walk Two Moons
  • creates a lesson around empathy (could be a theme for the year)
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