1. We both chose Passion-Driven Classrooms to read this summer and have loved every minute of this book. Being honest this is probably what started us on the path to contemplating next year. We can’t wait to incorporate some types of learning clubs in our room, expanding on the district and state mandated standards through the process of inquiry and passion. We already have worked with our students to understand that they can use their thinking skills (their toolbox so to speak) to build on their understanding of various topics. Choice and student driven learning is also a big part of our multiage program. Hence our first plan: Carve out time every week for students to use their skills in an integrated fashion to pursue their own interests (already in the schedule and plan book – Friday Passion Project Time!).
2. Making connections is also a big part of our program. We routinely try to pull back from the specificity of learning topics (like landforms or explorers) to more broad topics (like Earth Science and People Who Have Shaped History) so that the information can be accessed for all of our students in the capacity for which they are ready. Some might worry that that would mean 3rd graders might hear the same information again and again, but instead it has helped us to open up learning for students and allowed them to investigate and connect many diverse aspects of a topic. So plan number two: Pursue learning through a wider lens, based on student needs and standard demand, while accessing a wide variety of curricular options.
3. The use of iPads and other technology were our students’ number one favorite thing this year. Technology became another tool, not just a novelty and our students began to seek out not only information but to use them as a method for showcasing what they have learned. So plan number three will be to expand our students’ knowledge of how to use technology. With the help of our PLN via Twitter we plan to make the time to connect across the country and globe through Skype and our Kidblog account. We would also like to pursue electronic portfolios and other means of collecting evidence of standards being met.
4. The community that is created within a classroom is one of the necessary components for a successful learning environment. We spent six weeks at the beginning of the year building empathy, emotional understanding and community connectivity among our students last fall. This year we will have 26 students returning who will be joined by at least 26 new students. So plan number four will be to expand our team building efforts, and develop new ways to help build our SLC.
5. Thanks to the amazing PD we are doing this week about Art Immersion, we are learning many different ways to expand our students’ understandings of literacy concepts like character traits and setting. We have been dancing through folktales, acting out character emotions and using different art mediums to develop an understanding of setting. Overall though both Celina and I are seeing so many connections to emotions, community building and creative expression. We can’t wait to put these ideas into motion with our students. So, plan number five is to immerse our students, standards and curriculum with art as a way to reach all learners, and to create more opportunities for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.
Five new ideas, and surely with two more months of summer vacation we can come up with five more. We are both thankful for the opportunities to read, rest, connect with our colleagues and expand the possibilities for our students next year. You gotta love summer! ~ Ann