Monday, July 11, 2011

Knowledge Infusions (also known as summer school)

As you may remember in March teaching 12 mornings a week in July seemed a fine idea.  It seemed much less like a fine idea in June.  And definitely by July 3rd it seemed like a very foolish idea!  I was exhausted and knew that I was getting a cold (the one I managed to evade a week or so before).  In 1996 I decided I wasn't going to teach summer school for awhile (I had taught five or six courses in about four years at SFU and I had enjoyed it but after a year teaching sixth grade six weeks of summer school even if it was only eight hours of teaching time a week seemed much less a good idea).  I put my "all" into teaching and feel as if I need the summer to recharge my teaching battery.  But this year summer school was going to be at my school and only for three weeks.  I also liked the idea of that extra shot of learning for our kids and figured I could put the money towards many good uses.  I also didn't have any really exciting summer plans so...
Last Monday we all had to go in for a couple of hours and I was there more than that and then my cold and I went home to bed practically.  I felt a bit overwhelmed although a bit inspired by the six ipads I had borrowed from media servics.

Tuesday, 22 bodies showed up in my room and the show was on.  Two of the students were from the grade six class, 12 were from my class, and the rest from the other grade seven class.
The first day I gave them the initial grade seven RAD which is a reading strategy test.   This was quite helpful to help me see who needed to work on what.  Wednesday we read an article on Tom Thompson working on main idea and detail.  The class had never heard of him nor the Group of Seven.  And before you knew it they were doing projects on the Group of Seven.

Class goes from 8:30 to 10:15 and then from 10:35 to 12:10.  That really isn't a great deal of time.  I knew I wanted to begin the morning with independent reading and then do responses and a quick math drill because this had proved really successful in my regular classroom.  That took me to 9:15 so then I needed to think how I wanted to set things up.  I also had decided I wanted to see how I could use six ipads effectively in the class and one way to do this seemed to be to set up with groups and stations.  Let's face it, it is summer and I also wanted to make it fun and interesting.  The ipads have been a great incentive.  I have also had fun figuring out good free applications.
Something else I wanted to see was if I didn't have my computer hotshots there would other students rise to the occasion.  Well, we shall see, but it looks as if students are all learning now to do prezis and glogsters and bitstrips.  And I can assure you they are teaching each other.  You also have to love how familiar the students now are with The Group of Seven.  All these students are the children of immigrants and some have only been in Canada a couple of years.  Tomorrow we will all see the projects and if they look good (I am sure they will)  I look forward to sharing them with some UBC student teachers on Wednesday.

I have set up the stations in a variety of ways.  Today for instance half the class spent a hour each working on their projects in the computer lab and the rest did a group vocabulary lesson, then five or six did assignments on the ipads while I did a math lesson on multiplication of decimals  with the rest and then we switched.  After recess the first large group went to the computer lab and the rest went through the stations.  This followed with a whole class reading of the first chapter of Call It Courage.  Other days there has been a cretive writing station or a whole class reading strategy lesson etc.  At the end of each day I give the students a few minutes to reflect on the day in writing.

Tomorrow after reading and responding,  I will go over the assignment for the first novel chapter and give them working time and cycle groups through  ten minute working times with the ipads.  I also think I will work with whole group on math as well as we will all watch and evaluation presentations on the Goup of Seven.
Stations are great though today I gave four mini lessons on math (that's a little repetitive for me but the kids love the small group instruction.
Marking and prep take a lot less time with 22 kids as opposed to 29 and it's nice not to have to worry about teaching science or social studies or French, and there are no interruptions the way there are in regular school.  And I think the kids are actually quite happy to be there.   And now that I actually seem to be recovering from the common cold, so am I!


Super Busy said...

Sounds like you have been super organized! Did you place each student's work during the morning in a personal folder or did they take their work home with them? I'm wondering how much marking time was required by you to ensure the Stations setup worked!

meredyth kezar said...

I actually usually gave them a sheet or put it on the board what the stations were and the order groups were doing them in. i had them do a ticket out commenting on what they did that day. Some stations required marking, others I could monitor without marking e.g. use of ipad. The marking was lots less than my usual mark load during regular year. Also if they did presentations I could mark as they presented. My marking was more about giving feedback and seeing how they were "progressing". Good questions!