Today we go on spring break and as I keep telling my new teacher colleague, after spring break the yesar seems to speed up and disappear before our eyes. All of a sudden even the most experienced teacher starts to feel like they are not doing enough, have not gotten where they though they would, and we intensify our desire to teach more, do more, push more. Yet, the last few months of the year is not the time to get stuck in routines or expectations, for me it has always been the time to really explore, push my students, and create.
So it is not too late to
- Start blogging with your students. Even 3 months of blogging is an incredible experience. This year with my maternity leave we didn’t start until mid-November and yet my students have taken our blogging to a new level amassing more than 1,600 comments. Look at my friend Rob Hunt’s class, they just started a few weeks ago and are already master bloggers. If you need help on why and how please see this page.
- Get a class Twitter account. I admit it, I was a skeptic Even though I love Twitter, I didn’t see much point in my students as a class being on there as well. Perhaps it just seemed like too much. On a whim, I went against my own senses and did create them one @MrsRippsClass and it has been amazing to see what they have used it for. They have tweeted authors and received replies (!!!), They have asked for book recommendations, recommended great videos, and shared their live learning I am already excited about what else we can think to use Twitter for.
- Do something hands-on. I know we tend to pull the reins tighter as students get more squirrly but I have found that if I give them even more autonomy choice, and freedom in our classroom they live up to the challenge. Now is the time to really push them.
- Put it all together. I really start to focus more on themes in our learning and bridging it all during these last few months. One example is their dream city project currently happening; a fantastic exploration of scale, area, and models combining math, art, and science. The best part? The students don’t even know how much work their brains are doing.
- Give them authentic responsibility. We love doing Mystery Skypes and have become pretty good at them, yet sometimes they just fall apart on us. The students have taken on the roles as discussion facilitators and teachers and have changed our process quite a bit. They are living up to the responsibility I am offering up to them and see the results directly in their work. I step out of the picture.
- Start planning for Innovation Day. My students know this won’t happen until May but their wheels are already turning. They cannot wait to do this day of intense student-driven passion-led exploration day and I cannot wait to see what they will come up.
- Incorporate Genius Hour. 20% Projects, Genius Hour, Hour of Power, whatever you choose to call it but look for opportunities within your curriculum to have students self-explore topics. The concept is simple; research, create, and deliver all within an hour of the week. We will be doing this in social studies after break.
- Get involved globally. Whether through quad blogging, signing up for the Global Read Aloud (which won’t actually happen until October), or doing Projects by Jen; do something global. My students are currently working on a video introduction of our classroom for a 12th grade in Singapore, contact facilitated through Twitter. They love figuring out how to showcase our room in a positive manner and it is all student-led.
Now is the time to push your students, have a ton of fun, and let them be independent learners. Trust me you will not regret it.