One Sunflower

autumn perspectives

on October 17, 2010

Our weather has been dazzling lately.  The angle of the sun in the afternoon coupled with the autumn foliage tints everything in gold.  I often take myself out to wander our local paths, dog on the leash, camera on my shoulder, walking and thinking.

It’s that time of year when I need to write-up my personal “cycle of inquiry” that I will fold into my Individual Learning Plan for the year.  Our building focus is on “student engagement,” specifically “facilitating learning experiences that promote interdependence, interaction, and choice.”  While I feel this is an easier task for me then some – because all of that is the primary focus of my daily activities – it is still one I need to pay attention to especially in regards to students who are currently assessed at lower than standard.  I will need to be choosy in the experiences I design, and more intentional about my role within those experiences to support these at-risk students to develop the skills of this particular element of student engagement.

I have 4 students that I am most concerned about.  Two of them are on IEP’s for communication delays but I am concerned about their cognitive development as well.  The other two may be assessing low because of lack of experience;  one of them will be headed to kindergarten next year and has an August birthday so will be young in the class.  I want to give her as much support as I can so she has the best foundation for next year.

One way I am trying to create more quality in the interactions my students have with each other and the content has been to lengthen our free choice period.  This time is dedicated to students making independent choices about their activities, interacting with each other in positive ways and taking care of the classroom with the help of their peers and the teachers.  Last year, this block of time was about 45-50  minutes long; this year I’ve upped it to close to 80 minutes.  I am also striving to be more “in the work” by being “in the play” of my students.  I spent the first month teaching and supporting independence so that now, I can move around and play with small groups of children and let the rest of the classroom take care of itself.  Maestra pulls small groups for PE time, we both pull children for writing conferences but the bulk of the time is spent with  encouraging conversations, play scenarios, problem solving, experimentation.

I’ve chosen two students to be my “bellwether” kids this year.

Lady L is a tall, Native American child who is one of my students on an IEP.  She loves to interact with adults and struggles to be independent so my goals for her are to support relationships with other children, strengthen her ability to communicate with them and to problem solve by herself.

The second student is the one I mentioned above – my subdued Lady A – who will be a very young kindergartener next year.  She is an English language learner and currently doesn’t understand much of what I’m saying to her each day.  I hope to build up my relationship with her so that she trusts me so we can work together to focus on basic skills while we play together.

This weekend, after spending time thinking, I put my plans down in writing.  I reviewed my student assessments and blocked out some ideas for moving forward.  I’m pretty good at looking towards the big picture but often stumble when it comes to isolating the details of the work.  I’m hoping that since I’m already working in a different way than I did last year it will help me pay more attention to individual interactions over the course of a day.

Choosing bellwether students last year helped me improve my practice in strengthening oral language. I’m hoping my focus on being “in the work” of my students – both in their play and in their writing, will be most significant this year.

photos taken on the campus of Bellingham Technical College


One response to “autumn perspectives

  1. Your blog is so visually beautiful. Thank you again for it. I could look all day at the photograph of the birches (?) and their shadows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s