A Week in the Emu Class - Grade 1/2
The Emu Class at St Mary's Primary School is a blessing to teach!
St Mary's is a relocated school of 350 children P-6 and have been at out new site for nearly two years. We teach and learn in state-of-the-art classroom pod design that is an open plan learning environment. This space between the pods is maximized forsmall group instruction, junior assemblies, imaginative play and art display. The learning space is very spacious and with the use of windows inbetween meeting rooms and design studio, children can work in a variety of spaces and still be supervised.
To describe my class, I must begin with this. The Emu class of 2010 has refreshed my appetite for teaching. I still consider myself a relatively new teacher of 6 years however I feel I have the experience of one with 20 years. I believe in the past 6 years I have had to teach and work with some of the toughest children that I'll ever have. With a year level change this year and a fresh group of beautiful grade 1/2 children, 2010 has been the best year and has saved me from a drastic career change.
A typical week in the Emu class is amazing! I have 22 children, 13 grade 1's and 9 grade 2's. I have 1 child who has a diagnosed intellectual disability. I have 5 children I would consider as below average in their Maths and English skills. The rest of my class is at or above expected level.
The key to my class being a pleasure to teach is that I have instilled in my children from day one their own independence. My students know that this is their learning space so they look after it. I am simply an adult in the room.
Every morning the early arriving children will put their bags away and begin toprepare the room for the day. I have children preparing the agenda, putting chairs down, placing individual spelling journals on desk, arranging classroom jobs, returning our communication tray to the office, and laminating the list can goes on!
Once the 8:55am bell goes, the children automatically settle to their space and change readers, do their spelling words or read to a parent. We then settle to the floor for a whole class prayer and roll call (sometimes both are led by students). We discuss the daily agenda and special events happening today.
A daily program usually starts with our busy reading session. We begin with a big book that is used through the rest of week. We then have a range of Whole Class activities that are selected from the First Steps Program. While children are working on a whole class activity, I will take a small group to focus on specific skills. I have recently purchased a set of Sunshine electronic books to be used on my Smartboard. My small groups often use these to complete the fun interactive activities at the end.
At the conclusion of the whole class activity, we all gather to see what we have discovered and my small group might share their discoveries. We have a short whole class activity on reading conventions that incorporates the use of a smart board again. I often make cloze activities using notebook, so the children can come up and manipulate the text from the big book. I also prepare online games that focus on specific grammar skills.
After this we get a piece of fruit and settle down for a picture story book, with which we play an oral language game or focus on specific speaking and listening skills.
After analysing the needs of our children in mathematics, specifically in number, as a unit we decided to create focused maths groups based on First Steps Maths. These are two days per week and the children are grouped according to skill level. We send our class off to their maths groups and spend 30 minutes with intense numberlearning experiences. Once back in their classroom, we continue to work on the current topic. We have one lesson a week where we play Mathletics. My classroom has a range of maths equipment that is accessible to all students and they will help themselves to what ever they need and pack away accordingly.
By the recess bell, the children will have been packed up, they independently ensure their tables are tidy with supplies packed away and ready for play. Just Bliss!
After recess our timetable is flexible. We sometimes have the second half of our literacy block with a Writing session and a Religious Education session.
As an inquiry based school, we have an investigation that takes place for a whole term. The children along with myself, take on the inquiry and plot where they areheading and questions they want answered throughout the inquiry process. They suggest people they know for guest speakers, tools we could use to find information and how much time we need to work things out. It is a rich process of information collection and sorting out that comes together at the end as a personal response. We have had children recently in our previous unit 'Wellbeing' design healthy recipes and healthy promotion DVDs. Yes 1/2s can do this!
From Monday to Thursday after lunch the children have rotations. The children go to Science, Physical Education, Visual Arts and Information Technology. They also havespecialist lessons as a whole class in Performing Arts and Library sessions on Wednesdays.
We are a PBIS (Positive Behaviors in School program) and You Can Do ItSchool. The Emus have a 'You Can Do It' session once a week which focus on resilience, getting along, confidence or organisation.
Our PBIS program is running with flying colours. We have implemented 3 basic rules across the school. Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe. We worked alongside the children to adapt these rules across the school and wrote what would be respectful, responsible and safe in the toilets, in the pods, outside school grounds etc. As a teacher it's my job to 'catch' the children doing these things and reward with a merit. Merits are used as raffle tickets to be put into the whole school raffle. This is drawn every Monday at our whole school assembly. The winner receives a movie ticket.
We also have a traffic light chart in every room and depending on the child's behaviour they move up the colours. I say to my children at the beginning of the week, if they don't move off green all week you'll get a small reward on Friday.
To further encourage positive actions in the class this term we have an 'Excellent Emus' Chart. There are 100 squares on this chart and depending on the behaviour I'm looking for, the children collect squares. Throughout the chart at different intervals, I have rewards that build up to a big reward at 100. These rewards are covered over with sticky notes, so the children don't know until it's revealed what that have earned. It's very exciting to see what underneath the sticky note!
Use of Technology...
As the school ICT coordinator, I am always looking for new and innovative ways teach and assist children in their learning. My wonderful Emu class thinks they are pretty special to have me as their teacher and get to do lots of new and interesting learning experiences.
We have recently got a set of 16 laptops to share between 6 junior classes. We have one digital camera between two classes and I did have my personal Flip Camera. My Flip camera was mostly used for data collection, assessment, and behaviour observations and for children to use creatively. It recently died and we miss it a lot. It's made us become more creative with the laptop cameras and my iphone!
I often use my personal iphone for ICT sessions, I recently made silent movies with an application I downloaded, with my grade 1/2 and showed them at our grandparent's day! It was a hit!
We have two Smart boards in two of our six rooms that are used 90% of the time. I make a range of Notebook files for all learning areas and store these for future use.
ICT makes me excited (as strange as this sounds). My Emu class is a savvy ICT bunch of children who are always willing to do their best and try new things. They are a blessing to teach!Leave a comment
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