Something I take for granted from my time that I worked at Apple was the ability to build consensus. It was in our culture to compromise and support each other as colleagues. When I look at my students, I realized that I challenge my students continuously to work together as it is an important part of the skills they develop over the year but this year I decided to stopped and looked at how I was encouraging them to build consensus in their decisions.
Last year, I didn’t give my students much of a choice but to work together. They had to come together and agree on many things but I never intentionally gave them activities to learn to make decisions together. This year, I decided to start my students off with building a number of team building activities.
To start the year, we started with out expectations of each other, ourselves and our teacher. We talked about similarities and I guided them towards an list of things that we felt were important. This then shaped our class agreement. Later in the week, I had the students in Phys Ed doing a number of cooperative games where having a leader wouldn’t necessarily be the best option. They quickly learned that if they shared the responsibility, they were more successful in their task. At the end of the I put the students into “Tribes”. They needed to come up with a tribe name and a cheer. The point of this was much more to see how they came up with their idea. It gave me a lot of insight into who lead the conversations and how they worked together. These tribes are being used for classroom management – both for classroom tasks and as a reward system. They work together to fill their jar with marbles by working hard and completing their tasks.
There will be many more activities, group work and challenges but it is awesome to see each other supporting each other in their learning and in their classroom.
In January, I started to see some little issues emerge in the class. We had just started working on our own and instead of having 2 teachers and 44 students, we had 1 teacher and 20 students at the time. There was less supervision and more freedom. After hearing some name calling, we did some kindness activities to confront the things I heard one day. The students responded quite well to this. We each became uncomfortable to become more comfortable together. Together, the kids created a class agreement about what kind of reputation we wanted to make for ourselves and how we wanted our class to run now that we were working together on our own. The kids came up with two pages of what made us a learning community and how they thought about themselves as learners in our class. This agreement has also helped welcome 4 new students into our class this year so they had a sense of who we are and what we do in our class. I am so proud of the kids and ability to create this document. My favourite part is that they titled it “What it means to be a part of Learning Community 5A” instead of something like Class Agreement.
Each time that I listen to the students talk about their learning, I am amazed and proud at their growth and their ability to explain their learning using the vocabulary that we use in class. Seamus and Cailynne had the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Cameron about feedback and how it helps us grow in our learning. When Mrs. Cameron told me the story, I was so impressed with their description. They described like climbing a staircase and each feedback loop allowed them to move to the next step. It was phenomenal to hear. I have since used that example to explain to teachers in other districts about the work that we do. For this video, the students put together their ideas. My job was simply to hold the camera still and put photos and video together in a format we could share.
LC 5A learning for term 2 from Courtney Albrecht on Vimeo.
I am so proud of the students and can’t wait to see what Term 3 brings in our #bestyearever
Thank you parents for coming out to our goal setting conferences.
As a class, we worked hard to set our goals. We even came up with criteria for setting out goals. We were all proud to share these goals with our parents the last couple of nights. These goals will help direct our Best Year Ever here at Greystone.
We feel that goals should be:
A big thank you for those who added to our board of questions from the statement “A World Without Canada”. There are some amazing questions on there.
The first two weeks has been a great experience. 5A and 5F are temporarily sharing the music room until our space just off the purple pod is ready for us. Boy, are we excited! Despite having 44 kids in one room, 2 teachers and sharing a hallway with the grade 9s, the students are working great together. Everyone is still getting used to being in middle school but I am seeing growth in the students everyday.
Week 1 we focused on how to make this the Best Year Ever – that feedback will help shape our time shared and lead to a good transition once we head out to our new classroom. We’ll be adding to the #gcmspride on twitter as we get comfortable
Week 2 as a group, we have looked at Peer Feedback and what makes good feedback. We’ve summarized it pretty good into this chart, though we have added that positive feedback can also be a suggestion for improvement if we word it properly.
We have also learned about the Scientific Method in science and how it relates to being a good scientist, brainstormed questions to ask Cst. Lucas when we have our video call with him next week about digital citizenship, had a class meeting and looked for ways to work cooperatively, and also got all set up on Google Docs. We’re still working out the kinks to all this technology use but slowly, we will get there. Having a class blog set up was a big step.
We’re just getting started on our #BestYearEver