A sense of agency, as brought to us by Choice Words, is the idea that children’s mindset at school should be that they can reach their goals. It takes me back to the concept of “if you say you’re a writer, then you’re a writer.” It’s all about attitude, motivation, and relationships (but not necessarily in that order).
It all begins in the classroom with a teacher modeling a certain activity or behavior for his/her students. We as teachers need to model the behavior that’s expected for students in order to fulfill those educational needs and ideals. Once an activity has been modeled it becomes an identity. The learner can identify with those expectations and the light bulb moments start to occur.
Then comes the all important motivational boost. When we are given compliments on our work that boosts our confidence and ego a bit. It’s a natural phenomena of being human. So we motivate and celebrate our students which improves our relationship.
From there comes self reflection and revealing. We are feeling confident that we did a good job but was everything successful? What were we not sure about? How did we figure things out? It’s highly encouraged to look back on our own work and reflect on our progress-strengths and weaknesses. And by reflecting and motivating and even finding that identity, we are able to keep the cycle going and open up a world of possibilities. And all of this is possible through finding and creating that sense of agency.
These past two weeks we have been working on our multiplication facts in math. We have been learning the tips and tricks for solving multiplication problems in a variety of ways. We have even outlined the “rules” such as any number times zero equals zero and any number times one is that number.
It’s so inspiring to see the kids faces and hear the exclamations as they reach their “Ah ha!” moments during our lessons. A lot of them came into the unit frustrated or feeling behind, so it’s wonderful to see their faces light up and their hands raised because they now know. It has taken us a few days but they’ve really grasped the concepts quickly and I couldn’t be more proud of the kiddos.
We also read the book The Best of Times by Greg Tang which gave us a new look on some old and new tricks for figuring out multiplication problems. We worked some of them out on the board to fully understand the concepts Tang presented in his colorful mathematical picture book.
We started off focusing on the grouping of numbers by playing a game from Marilyn Burns called “Circles and Stars.” This game led us to the creation of the mushrooms, since it is mushroom hunting season it seemed fitting.
And as always they look a good math trick so we discussed the rule of 9’s using our hands. Do you have any other “easy” multiplying tricks or tips?
As our times have progressed we moved onto more assessment type material such as the above activity. This was a great way to combine all the techniques and equations we have learned into one single activity.
For our U.S Government inquiry, I’m working with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders on campaigns and propaganda. But before we can jump into the thrill of elections we need to find out more about the rest of the government. We need to “branch out” so to speak.
And, of course, rather than me reading a book aloud and telling the kids about the branches of government, they will study the branches themselves. Students do learn better when information is put into their own words and they can interpret the material.
I numbered off the kiddos into three groups each to research and share about each of the three branches of government. Which of course they are presenting their information on a giant branch to then go onto our Three Branches of Government tree in the classroom.
In our Writing Focus Lessons we have been discussing poetry. We have broken down the various categories, concepts, and elements of poetry as well as reading some. The kiddos knew quite a bit about poetry but haven’t had the chance to study or write any. Poetry is often a topic that either gets thrown into the whole mix of literacy times or its withdrawn from curriculum as the school year winds down.
So the kids seemed pretty intrigued when I introduced this lesson. Currently only a few students have been inspired to write their own poems and I’m excited to see what they have in store for me. In the meantime, here’s a fun and helpful haiku to remind you about haikus:
Haiku three lines here,
Seven syllable tercet
Five syllables shoe
On Monday we started our newest social studies topic on the United States Government. Before we split up the class into groups we realized we were missing a crucial emblem to our great nation and the focus of our latest study. Our classroom was lacking an American flag.
So we did what anyone would do and we constructed an American flag with all 64 of our hands (teacher hands included). We divided up the tasks and conquered the construction of our classroom flag as a class.
Once the glue had dried and the glitter had settled we raised up our flag onto the fall and recited the Pledge of Allegiance once and for all.
And who said we couldn’t rise up from the ashes and bring a nation to its knees? They must have never seen a group of dedicated kids as these.
It’s one thing to believe in ourselves. It’s another of course to believe in our students. But how can we get our students to believe in themselves? Through language and celebration we can make these breakthroughs together.
When we start to think a certain way, we begin to act a certain way. “When I was a child I spoke like a child, I talked like a child…” When we say we are writers, we begin to believe we are writers. We begin to think like writers. We begin to draft like writers and write like writers. Then we start to publish just like a writer. But without that language and without that support and celebration of saying “Yes! I am a writer” or whatever it may be, then how can we expect to achieve those goals and aspirations?