Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

New school, new room, new class, new kids....

At the end of last year I had to make a big decision.  My job I'd been in for two years, with a group of children I had become extremely attached to, was being downsized due to the roll.  I would only be 0.5, and that really wasn't enough to pay the bills.

So I hopped back on the job application round about again, and was offered a new job.  The new job was fifty minutes away on the other side of the district.  Instead of teaching Years 5-8, I'd be teaching Years 4-8.  Instead of having eight desktops and ten laptops available to the children there would be four desktops and four I-Pads.  Instead of a SmartBoard it was going to be an ActivBoard.  I'd have roughly the same amount of kids (more girls though), with some special needs kids and a full time ORRs teacher aide.

After two years teaching more with a contract style of programme, I've returned to what I used to do: a very structured programme.  It kind of looks like this:

  • Newsboard - current events and oral language and thinking skills
  • Poetry - poem of the week, focusing each day on a different language feature and thinking skill.
  • Reading Tumble (the kids do this while I take guided reading) - word study, punctuation/editing activities, handwriting, some other fun activities that involve reading and writing or oral language.
  • Writing - I model and waah on about language features and capturing the readers' attention and they go write using that stuff.
  • Mathematics - I'm still getting my groups up and running.
  • Silent/Partner Reading - read silently for ten minutes from their Fluency Boxes and then they read to a partner for five minutes and vice versa.
  • Fitness - get them out for a heart beating activity.
  • Swimming - getting in the pool as much as possible and sometimes I get in too, the bonus of having a teacher aide with me!
  • And then I try to fit in some Te Reo Maori, Art, Topic and singing in where I can.
It is all going good so far.  I've got the literacy rolling nicely, but am still getting the timing right and I am still in launch phase with how the numeracy will run.  The topic has yet to fully launch due to the amount of time swimming takes up.

One thing I'm pleased with, although the kids don't appreciate it yet so much, is the silent/partner reading.  I am trying to improve their fluency through mileage.  They think it is tiresome, but I'm thinking it may be time to change their books - one box a day - this week.  I'm sure eventually they will see the benefits of this reading time.

I'm still getting my head around the ActivBoard and I-Pads.  But I'll get there.  The best thing is that the ORRs child is also trying to fit in with some of the activities the rest of the class does, and my other special needs students are beginning to pick up the routines and have a degree of independence. 

A good gauge of how the class programme is going is the feedback you get from your teacher aide... and so far this has been fairly good.  But one of my challenges is to make sure she is just as engaged in the learning as the children, so she has job satisfaction too.

So far parents are happy with the Homework programme I have instituted.  Some kids were rather slack the first week, and I did the "if I spend the time preparing it you will do it" speech.  I've also had meetings with parents of the students I have concerns about.  I'm trying to encourage parents to feel welcome in the room, to be able to join in with activities and check in with their child's learning regularly.

So we have had six weeks so far.... and while I'm flavour of the month now, I'm just hoping that by taking time to set up a solid programme it will pay dividends later on.