Saturday, January 21, 2017

When Break Happens...

December 2016/ January 2017: When Break Happens...

As I headed into winter break, part of my thought, what have I gotten myself into now, and part of me was very excited. I began my break with creating my own curriculum map. I wanted to make sure I took an in-depth look at what the students were interested in, and I wanted to be sure I was able to touch on every aspect if possible. To do this, I took the students questions and ideas and made my own mind map. From there, I started thinking about what topics that would help us find the information we needed, but also be able to be researched.

During the last 10 minutes, before we embarked on our break, I showed my students my map to get input into what I might have missed. After adding a few suggestions, we were ready. Ready to research, ready to learn, and ready to dive in. My challenge: Over break, I had to come up with a way to map out what we were going to do, allow student choice, ensure I was teaching what was still required of me, and locate resources. I divided and connected the students topics and questions into several major ones: how kids learn best and schools around the world, technology, libraries, space and furniture, and taking action. These were some of the major areas to find resources for. As we began researching, I wanted to make sure that students were exposed to all aspects of the ultimate classroom to help build a robust understanding before heading into any actions we might take, I also wanted to ensure that students had the opportunity to choose what they wanted to research.

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A second thing I did over break was use my newly recovered chalkboard space to create a Pin Wall for my students. One of the things that my students felt important to have in an ultimate classroom was a #PinWall. Students wanted a place where they could "pin" information and pictures that they found. To get us started, I found some really interesting pictures of schools around the world to add to our Pin Wall. I loved this idea from the students. After taking a course on Visual Literacy from +EdTechTeam,  I have begun to see the images around us in a different way, and it has changed the way I approach images within the classroom.

In the final days of break, I journeyed to two awesome libraries with rather large children's collections, +Westlake Porter Public Library and +Mentor Public Library. At Mentor, I spent a couple of hours in the children's section gathering over 150 books. Talk about maxing out my library card (Mentor has an awesome teacher library card). At Porter, I utilized a new program they just started for teachers. After talking through some topics with the librarians, they went on a hunt and delivered over 70 books and resources to my school. As a third resource, I utilized InfOhio, a wonderful resource for teachers in the state of Ohio that provides access to child friendly databases for research. Armed with over 200 print resources for research and a framework of what I needed to teach and where we were going to, we were ready to begin.