Last week I asked my students to do a final reflection on Grade Six. I gave them a google form that asked four questions:
- Rate your year
- What is your favourite memory?
- What is one thing that you loved about the year?
- What is one thing that you would change?
It was amazing to hear their words and voice through the form. I loved the honesty and it really has me thinking.
The questions that I focused on was what did you love and what would you change. Here is the response to what I loved:
What really struck me were two things:
- They loved the use of technology
- They loved their freedom
Technology struck me because you often assume that these children are growing up in a digital age, shouldn’t they be used to using technology? But that really isn’t the case. Sure they are digital consumers of things but they don’t really know how to use it. In addition, I know that we have the tech in the classrooms but it isn’t always being used. I know that it is more but many teachers are hesitant to use it because we ourselves have no idea what to do with it. But what this really shows me is that our students don’t really know what to do with it. It shows me that we still need to teach them proper digital skills to create and use technology for educational means. They need to learn and be taught how to harness the power of technology and not just use it in the classroom. The kids want to use it they just need to know how to apply it.
The last part really struck home. This year I have been experimenting more with allowing my grade sixes to have the freedom to choose the path that they want. I want them to be in charge of their learning. The more I teach the more I am getting tired of pushing curriculum and telling students how to learn. I want my students to learn because they want to learn. I want them to be in school because they want to be in school. I know that we have a curriculum to teach and that it was made with good solid research but I still want my students to feel empowered by it and not because I put on a song and dance. This year I have tried a variety of things from rearranging my classroom, passion projects, to doing badging and going gradeless. It is great to see my student are loving those changes, that they actually made an impact. It’s amazing to see when you turn things over to your students what and how they learn. They are amazing people.
I was also equally shocked by what my students said they wanted to change:
A lot of it centered around working in groups for math. I think I need to do some more work around how to work in groups and why we work in groups. Though I also wonder if students need some time alone to think. It reminds me of the book “Quiet.” Do we as teachers sometimes forget about those quiet moments where we reflect or think on our own? I know that group collaboration is a skill but so is working on our own. Do we give our students enough balance? I also loved the line about more homework, had a chuckle with that one.
Overall, this year has been about showing my students that they have a voice and that they are in charge of their learning. I want them to be comfortable in who they are, and know what they need to do in order to learn. I did ask one more question and that was what is one piece of advice you would give next year’s Grade Six. I did smile a little when I saw the responses because it was exactly what I was telling them all year, “Be bold, Be Brave, Be confident!”
What would your students say about their year?
I would like to think that I teach through Inquiry. I really try to keep all of my work about the kids and their thinking; however, I do find myself still leading discussions more than I would like. Then I learned about provocations. WOW! I know that I have previously blog about this subject but since that time I have tried to use them more. Today in science I did just that (at least I hope I did).
Here is what I did:
1) I got a bunch of experiments working on air and water
Center 1: AIR
Center 2: Water
(note: some of these items were for other provocations)
Center 3: Water Cycle
Center #4: Pollution
I then broke them into groups had books and iPads at the centers and asked them what do they observe? Wow, I couldn’t believe the talk, the focus, and the engagement. Take a look at this shot:
Here the students were so engrossed in what was happening that they didn’t even notice me. They were saying, “cool look its raining!” They were also using the vocabulary that we have been building before this through our watercraft project.
What did I learn?
1) Inquiry (true inquiry) is allowing planned exploration. Students really need time to explore and make observations about the subjects.
2) This takes a lot of planning. I been planning this for some time now (many thanks to my amazing PLN for their help in this). As I have been planning I had to think about questions, get all of the materials ready and even think about possible misconceptions.
3) True assessment. I was amazed at what the students had absorbed through previous books, the Watercraft project and our discussions.
4) Its a lot of fun to watch the joy and engagement of true learning
So if you haven’t done provocations before, give it ago. Its a lot of fun and you would be surprised at what you will learn about your students.
So we started Genius Hour! Now you might be asking what is genius hour. Genius hour is a time set aside so that my kids can pursue their own interests in learning. It allows the students to learn, research, and develop what they what to do. Now you might be thinking, you let your kids have free rain? Well in a way, yes I did, however, their was one criteria, it had to benefit the classroom.
I was really hesitant of letting go control to my grade two classroom. This was not because of letting chaos happen or student discovery but more that I didn’t know if my students need more guidance I organizing their thinking and work.
I started the process with watching two videos on creativity and what is an idea. We then made a proposal that they had to share with their parents. The reason chose to have them make. A proposal was that I wanted my students to have a plan in order to succeed or feel like they accomplished something. My students then had to share this proposal with their parents. This was an interesting concept for many of my students. We had to have a discussion about what a proposal was and why it needed to happen. However, it did fit nicely into our covey habits and once explained with those my students had no trouble in identifying what they wanted to do.
The ideas have been flowing. Some of my kids want to get better in soccer, mathematics, and art. They have planned to research and make videos, or have an art portfolio.
I don’t know if I introduced this right but I. Am hoping that the kids will take off with it and I am really looking forward to what they have planned. We plan to do genius hour once a week.
Anyone else doing this? Any helpful tips out there for grade two? Love to hear what other stories.