She warned us, "This may change the direction of your TLLP a bit!"
1) a unique classroom environment to meet needs of many types of learners
2) team teaching - teachers share the responsibility for students from a variety of classes
3) technology truly being utilized by the students - not as a toy or to play games on, but as a learning tool.
4) inquiry embedded in practice
5) space maker
6) STEM - science, technology, engineering and math
7) self-regulated, self-directed, focussed, happy, engaged children
8) strong communications amongst students to complete tasks
This just skims the surface. As my TLLP team looked around in wonderment we all agreed, "We want this too!"
So with brains full, excitement brimming and knowing we had full support from our principal and could fall back on the Ottawa teachers as we went along, the car ride back to Uxbridge entailed tonnes of note taking and discussions about what to do first. Here is what we decided... to make a video for our grade 2/3 and gr. 3 students and to bring their ideas into the mix. We wanted parents to see it too and to get everyone feeling our excitement:
Well,...the enthusiasm was indeed contagious. Once students reflected on the video they came in with all kinds of notes, printouts from other classrooms, lists of ideas...as 2 classes together, we reviewed every single one! We made a t-chart - Keep ... Change.
This list was 3 chart pages in length with only a few 'keeps' and many 'changes'.
Here are photos of the lists we scribed on behalf of the students.
What was shocking is that much of what we saw, our students came up with on the list. Their ideas, we had just never asked them before!
With students ideas as our ammunition, Maryann and I spent the weekend shopping - Canadian Tire and online used items sites. We came back to school and set up the new classroom furniture. Our custodian was taken aback when we removed all of our desks. Our principal had our backs and actually, so did our custodians. In fact they love the change. So much easier to clean the classrooms. Together, our classes set up rules for furniture usage within the classrooms. As well, our students knew that they would be flowing between our two classrooms so they developed a sign in/sign out system, which they can do independently. This was a change that was only the beginning, but it was huge.
Next video was a homework video, but we told the students that it was homework for the parents! They loved that, and basically forced their parents to watch it!
As we continue to move forward, our classes tell us that they love flowing between classrooms. They now get to chose the literacy and math centres they go to. Carrying with them their learning goals on a ring. Each centre has a learning goal to go with it. As they work through the centre to completion, they can chose to meet with a teacher to conference and discuss why they think they have successfully achieved that goal. Sometime they may complete a goal and still feel that they need more practice. They are deciding this...not us! They are in control of their own learning! They are thinking about their own learning!
More to follow...