Day 76 (of 186) continuing a theme (focused day)
I like to challenge myself when it comes to working with anxiety within schools and classrooms. My previous rant https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/day-150-of-188-my-anxiety-rant-edited-continued-blog4mh-anxiety/ has led me to doing a tedx talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-JpBJal3F8
and talks at a few different districts at event at an upcoming CrossCurrents professional learning session.
But I know that there is still more exploring to do.
It’s what has kept me coming back to two ideas:
The Finnish schedule (45 minutes of work 15 break) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/20/finland-education-system_n_12102450.html
and also inspired by Finland….
Thematic Days – breaking down the ‘academic walls’ of subjects – or as it’s described by others: “Teaching by Phenomenon”.
I tried this leading into winter break…..
we had our days of Story, Music, Building, Games and Christmas Around the World
This week we are starting off with another day of Story with days of Social Learning, Numbers, Games and Science coming up later on.
And a day of story has some upside – time to start writing and have a variety of times for the authentic writing to actually begin (I hate the concept of: here’s a writing prompt….go! and time’s up!!) I like giving ideas early so that brains have chances to process and think about them well in advance of any creations. Also allowed some easy reading to start the calendar year and the introduction of an upcoming project: readers theatre.
Now I’m debating a couple of things:
Do I want to start a journaling activity that is daily? weekly? – While I blog each day of learning, I am all too aware that this is not a good fit for everybody.
Do I want to continue to have silent reading each and every day…..or do I do assigned readings connected to the daily theme……which takes away student ownership of what they read……
Should some subjects like math be done daily? Or can a full day of numbers make it more engaging and relevant? (we will see….)
and I am only too aware of the implement dip….things may not go great the with the first attempt, but that doesn’t mean “stop”….it may mean ‘trust the process’….
I am planning on continuing our morning rituals: we start each day ‘as a school’ doing morning movements or assembly and then the class stays in the gym for daily physical activity…..which usually leads into our first “mini recess”. and many “transitions” – so for a class that was struggling with transitions, I have actually increased the number of transitions because it feels like “less” because of the commonality of the subject/theme of the day…..
So our first schedule of the day looked like this:
We did have a discussion about “bans” because of the social media actions of a youtube favourite Logan Paul (and him being banned in Japan…..and until we see how he responds we are doing a temporary? ban in the classroom as well…..but not a forever ban – a just-for-now-ban (leads into our discussion tomorrow about laws and governments and who makes & changes laws)
I know my daughter was jealous because she was already anticipating 8 pages of math homework to start the week (one of the banes that makes math a “not favourite” subject way too often) especially as I have been floating ideas by her about what wednesdays “numbers day” might include…..
I noticed that many of my anxious learners were doing quite well staying on task and completing their work. Some are really connecting to the “mini recess” knowing that there is a break in between breaks. Some are liking the “lack of transitions” as we are staying in the same theme.
I am curious to see how music and library blocks may interfere in the upcoming week as well. Thematic days are great in theory but it is interesting how difficult our school cultures can be to enable this……there are always so many (great) interruptions along the way!
But day one of 2018 ended the way I hoped it would: It’s the end of the day already? was the common comment. Anxious “interruptions” (aka torn worksheets or “breaks”) were significantly reduced to 0.
I know this is a work in progress….and still at a very early start….but so far I am happy with how the students are responding to this approach as they know that I am experimenting and how we are doing things today may be tweaked for tomorrow….and next week…. and we will be thinking about things that have been “every day” (like daily physical activity and silent reading and math) and if they should be “every day” or “not….”.