Friday, August 23, 2013

Building a Community of Readers, Writers & Thinkers

My mission as a 4th/5th grade language arts teacher this year is:
  • to motivate students to do and be their best
  • to build a safe, accepting and inclusive classroom community
  • to inspire each student’s love of reading, writing and words in a creative, student-centered learning environment
  • to be a role-model for lifelong-learning and an ethic of excellence 
Right now, after 13 years out of the classroom and a mind jammed with 13 years worth of ideas, that is proving to be a tall order. But every journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. 
My first step toward building the community of readers, writers, thinkers and creators that I envision starts with building community.

So I have spent the first week of school trying to do just that. We have begun each day with a community circle where we share, listen to one another and review our classroom norms. The norms are the foundation, and they must be reviewed, modeled, lived and breathed.
An important part of our community is going to be having students do meaningful work in terms of documenting, creating and sharing our learning, our ideas and our 1:1 iPad pilot with the world.

The first "job" I introduced was "documentarian." The plan is for everyone to do the job the first time, and eventually, once all the roles are introduced and practiced, there will be some kind of rotation so that everyone gets a chance to try their hand at different ways of participating in and contributing to the community.

We used the Pic Collage app this week as our tool for documenting, and I gave the students free reign. I love their creative interpretations and the feedback it provided for me.

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