Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Daily schedule

I have been inspired by Aviva Dunsinger, a teacher in Hamilton, to talk about my daily schedule.  She posted hers not too long ago, take a look at: http://adunsiger.com/2014/01/04/a-glimpse-at-our-day/, great read.

I have been thinking about how to describe what my schedule looks like and have been struggling.  I think the problem lies in that my schedule really blurs, moreso now that I teach primary.  For those that know me, know that I teach predominantly through Inquiry and problem based learning. In fact, it is more the only way I teach. Too me it allows me to reach all of my students and meet all of their needs but enough of that.  Because of this, subjects become obsolete, I mean the curriculum still guides my practice but it's not like set periods of math, language, social studies, etc.  It becomes more of a fluid motion between subjects where one is integrated into the next.  Let me explain a little more:

Our school day is divided Into eight periods, but first period is short so really seven.  I lose one period a day for prep.  This roughly leaves me with six periods to work in various activities.  But I try not to see it as periods in the day more like blocks of time.  I always try to have a double period of math and a double period for language but this may not necessarily happen in a set time, it's where ever I feel it fits the flow of learning.  Sometimes we need to do some language because it is building a context for our math or vice versa our math builds the context for our language. It's also Inportant to note that even though our time may not be back to back, it still continues.  I don't try to wrap things up because I have to go to gym.  We just leave things were they are at and continue when we get back.  At first this left some redirecting and focusing but now my students don't even stop they just get right back to work.

So what do these periods look like:  

Math: is always some sort of contextual problem or an inquiry approach to exploring concepts (some strands are harder to find contexts for all big ideas). For example, we are exploring geometry and 3D figures, so the problem might be there are a bunch of figures on the desk what do you notice. Or look at these categories, one is a yes and one is a no, place the other figures into the categories.  These examples are more inquiry base but help build understanding.  Other times we may be exploring distances kids travel to school around the world.  This context would be read about in class, journaled about in writing and then explored in math.

Language: is predominately done in center form.  I would have five centers that students rotate around for the week.  One center is vocabulary, one is writing, a guided reading group, a read and reflect and another that would be dependant on social studies, science or our writing focus.  Students have choice in the various centers and the reading is often about a social justice theme, science or social studies.  Sometimes, I may use this time to work on just writing or just reading.  

As I mentioned above I try to have two periods for each but this often blurs to three or four depending on student engagement, need and work accomplishment.

For my other subjects (social studies, science, drama, art, media, oral) they are all integrated into math and language.  However, I will often put science, social studies on my schedule board so the students know what to expect.

For both of these subjects it is all inquiry. For science, we do a lot of experiments and posing questions that students have to research.  For social studies, it is one big concept and the students read, write, present and pose new questions of their findings.  Often students will push other inquiry from the discussions and ideas they were researching about.  The arts are also taught this way, with making music videos, podcasts, art work to use in math or media posters.

I also do genius hour once a week for my kids.  Genius hour has been the best thing for inquiry and promoting student engagement.  Genius hour is all about allowing students pursue their own interest a as long as it promotes learning and helps the class.  The students are so engage.  But this is not just let the students do what they want time.  It is tied I to researching, writing, reading, and learning skills.  They are also making media posters, oral presenting and so much more.  My students live it.  Follow the genius hour hashtag for more info.

Hopefully, you see my deliema in articulating what my schedule looks like.  Too me, learning is learning and subject content should be integrated, just because you're in math doesn't mean we aren't doing language.  I think this helps students see the bigger picture and use various skills all through the day.  

I know that I may have been a little confiluding but my hope was to show what my day may look like.  In the end, all I know is that learning in my classroom is always happening and it is always connected together.  

I Would love to hear how other people schedule their day.