My favorite memories of this year are the "ah-ha" moment from my students. They are a crew who just loved learning. So many times it was "the best day ever" and in my mind, it was just a normal day. They frequently asked for more time to read independently or more time to write. I've never had a class like this, and I had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy it!
|This was from November. They loved reading from the moment they realized they could do it!|
|This is the same kiddo in May reading on the bus on the way to our field trip.|
I started math journals/notebooks at the beginning of the year. I liked them and my kiddos were showing some good strategies. Then, we started getting into our routine and other things took over as a priority. Math journals never continued. We are switching to a new math curriculum next year (for the 2nd time in 2 years) so I haven't decided whether or not I'm giving them a try again.
I had the opportunity to modify as needed to meet my students' needs. I put in "full-blown" guided reading (we have a "detailed lesson plan" curriculum that does not include guided reading), and it was awesome! I read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer last summer, and I think it helped me want my kiddos to be avid readers. Their excitement to learn to read and to devour books after they learned to read was amazing to me. So, my game changer would be running with it watching/listening to what my students were interested in and needed. I didn't really push them to be readers, they just fell in love with it.
I focused on project-based learning this year. Throughout the year, I had to follow the themes in our curriculum, but I made adjustments and focused on different aspects of topics based on my kiddos' interests. The last 3 weeks of school were open for us to choose our topic with the focus being on project-based learning. My kiddos wanted to learn about games, and it was such a fun way to end the year!
I also spent some time trying to build family relationships. I did a monthly family survey via Google Forms. I would ask questions about upcoming events, what changes parents would like to see, who was interested in volunteering, etc. For those that didn't respond to the form within a week, I sent home a paper copy. I really wanted parent input on things happening in our classroom.
Some things were not necessarily "forgot" it was more along the lines of "ran out of time" or "didn't budget time well". I had a subscription to National Geographic Young Explorer, which my kiddos loved, but time seemed to get away from me every month and magically I had a stack of magazines. I got it together around February and started using them on "different days" (Early Dismissals, field trip days, etc).
This year was an amazing year! I think this happened for many reasons, one of which being that I had my smallest class ever, and with 6 less kiddos than last year, it almost seemed "easy". I don't think it is ever easy, and I think I worked harder this year than I have in any of the other 10 years of teaching, but it was also a lot of fun and saw so much progress. I was sad to see the year end, but look forward to summer and a great year again next year!