A Week in Mrs Davies Year 3 Room
by Mrs Davies...
Our school is in the Perth metropolitan area and has over 700 children from Kindy to Year 7. Our class is one of four Year 3 classes.
In Western Australia Year 3 is at the 'upper' end of the early childhood phase of schooling. I came into Year 3 last year after spending many years teaching kindy and pre-primary. I was quite concerned about how I was going to be able to mesh together my early childhood teaching and learning philosophies and the'academic' curriculum pressures of Year 3 complete with national literacy and numeracy testing.
In our class we have 12 boys and 10 girls who are mainly 8 years old, but we do have a few who are 9 because of the change in school starting age. We have 3 students who come from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds, 4 students with auditory processing difficulties, 2 students with very low literacy and numeracy skills and a student with severe behavioural difficulties.
Quite a mix and certainly a challenge! For our literacy and numeracy blocks, the class is sorted into ability groups and when we are completing science activities and experiments or researching for Society and Environment or Health, the class is organised into mixed-ability cooperative learning groups.
In considering entering this competition I asked the students in our class what they would write. The following represents their combined reflections on a week in our classroom...
Mrs Davies tries to make sure our classroom is always bright and friendly. Every morning Mrs Davies greets us at the classroom door and is always ready to listen to our out-of-school adventures. After we have put our bags away, we read themessage board to find out what our morning activity is.
Sometimes we do a quiz (which is always fun) or read with a partner or a parent helper. Our parents are always welcome in our classroom and many stay to hear us read or help us with our quiz! When the bell goes Mrs Davies sings good morning to us and then we meet her on the mat so we can find out what our daily schedule is.
Our classroom values respect and responsibility. We always try to encourage others, do our best and never give up. Every day we have a 'Student of the Day' who shows these values within our classroom. Our 'Student of the Day' writes up our daily schedule, marks off the calendar and records the weather.
On Monday mornings we have a classroom meeting where we discuss any classroom or playground issues. One of us is the meeting chairperson and Mrs Davies is the secretary who writes the notes about what we say. On Friday afternoons we have a community circle where we can talk about the week and write any issues on the Monday meeting agenda.
We stay with Mrs Davies for English, Maths, Science, Society and Environment, and Health. We go to other teachers for Art, Phys Ed, Music and Italian. We enjoy these other classes but it is always great to be in our room with Mrs Davies. Nearly every day Mrs Davies takes us outside for fitness and usually has a game or two to help us learn teamwork and leadership skills.
In our class we do a lot of learning about our emotions and our behaviour. On Monday after our class meeting, Mrs Davies will talk about an emotion that we can feel. We talk about how that emotion can make us sound, look and how our body can feel. We also problem-solve the best way to act and behave when we have that emotion, and how we should treat our friendswhen they feel that way. When things go wrong in our class or we have fight, Mrs Davies helps us to work togetherto work out the problem.
Mrs Davies tries to make learning fun and hands-on. She says that we can learn more that way! She will usually bring in games and activities that she has made or found and she even has games to help us spell, read and learn maths!
When we are learning something new, we investigate it as a class and in our groups before we work alone. Mrs Davies would love to have an interactive whiteboard in our classroom but we don't, so once a week we go to the library to use the one in there. We do have three computers in our classroom and we use these as part of our learning activities. Mrs Davies also lets us use her digital camera to record our own learning.
English and maths times are never boring in our class. We all learn together. Mrs Davies will give our maths groups problems that are not too easy or hard, but we do need to think and work together. There are always lots of things set out for us to use to help us work out the problems, especially when we are measuring or calculating.
In our 'Literacy Block' we have time to speak and listen, read, view and write. Our reading time is called Literacy Circles and in this time we read together and help each other to understand texts that are at our level. Mrs Davies always tries to be part of our circles once a week. Our speaking and listening isn't just telling news. Sometimes Mrs Davies will give us a topic and we get time to think and then we share our ideas with a partner. We feel safe this way.
We don't like writing but Mrs Davies always makes sure we know how to write a story, a report or an argument before she asks us to write alone. She has taught us to think about our ideas first, and then plan before we start writing. We love doing brainstorms and fish-bones to sort out our ideas.
Our day ends with a short community circle. We talk about the day - what was great, what we learned, what we need to work on tomorrow. We also choose the Student of the Day for tomorrow.
When the siren sounds we say goodbye but some of us stay and talk with Mrs Davies about what we are going to do after school.
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