This year my school has several new initiatives to improve student achievement. I am in a new position so I am not experiencing the initiatives as a classroom teacher. I have taken a step back and have watched as the classrooms have evolved through the past few months.
I, myself have taken on new initiatives in my classroom as an intervention teacher and have also had to step back and reflect on my instruction.
After teaching a quarter of intervention groups and different grade levels in a variety of subjects, there are many things that I have enjoyed so far this year. I have made significant changes in my writing instruction, but unfortunately I only feel that is possible because I am an extra resource and an extra teaching time to these students.
The biggest change that I have made is the product expectation from my students. We have not concentrated on 1 type of writing for a quarter, but rather they have been exposed to a variety of examples. We have read the examples made connections to our lives and then written our own pieces.The products have not been on traditional writing paper but rather I have given my students a choice to use a graphic novel template. Each student has worked on their drawing and then added a sentence. None of the children only drew illustrations, they wanted to add a written description to their illustrations. As we were completing the writing, each child referred to the sight words around the room, their background information activities or the model text. Not one child asked me for help or guidance. If they needed help, they asked the peer next to them, or were thinking out loud and the peer offered help.
Here are some examples from their 5 senses writing:
The other writing activity that I started this year was using story cubes to tell stories. You can read about it in Excitement About Writing Stories. This activity was new to me as a teacher and I was impressed by the variety of stories the children told. The most exciting part was the way the students worked together and loved the writing process. They all wanted to have some part of the story and they worked together. This verbal storytelling was a new activity and they knew exactly what to do. I gave them the activity again and they tried to work independently, but I could tell that they enjoyed working together in a group.
All of this is great for me, not a classroom teacher, not feeling the pressure of the curriculum, so where does this fit in a classroom. This is where I struggle.
- How can I show teachers that this is worth it?
- How can I work with teachers to implement these practices into the classroom?
- How can I persuade teachers to step away from the curriculum and add these assignments into their classrooms?
I have noticed that I am more of a risk taker and will try something new without knowing if it will be successful or a failure, but I am one of a few. With all the new initiatives at our school, teachers don’t want to take on something new, teachers don’t want to steer away from the familiar. So I am stuck with —