I think I have a plan.
I've been reading a million different things and I have a million different ideas in my head for what I want to do with this class - so many things that I just couldn't get my ADHD brain to focus on anything long enough for a plan.
However, I think I have a skeleton-ish plan. It's made me feel SO much better about starting the year, although I'm sure I will stress out more as the week progresses. (Teachers report back August 7th! Too soon!)
So here's my plan...(obviously it may change 400 times between now and school, and even in between that as I see where the kids want to go.)
PreK/K & 1st/2nd:
I saw a great article about an Early Childhood school in Auburn, AL that uses PBL (project based learning) in all of their classes. It was inspiring!
Here's the article.
I love that the students in this school decide what they want to explore and investigate! The teachers guide them and facilitate the projects, but they are completely led by the students. Once the topic is chosen, the teachers then frame their unit around it - incorporating all subjects into what the students want to investigate. This is the epitome of student-led learning and I love it. I want to do this with the PreK/K and 1st/2nd grade classes. (For those that don't know our school - our Montessori school combines these grades into one classroom. That's why I label them that way.)
I'm not exactly sure how to do this. I know what standards I want to cover, so I think I'm going to give them some parameters, like a few countries to choose from, or have them brainstorm things they are interested in and go from there. It's going to take a lot of work on the back end, but I'm used to that. I want this class to be a place where they are excited to go and learn - and can't wait to come back!
I'm considering using the PBL Recipe cards from Life Practice PBL. I've been reading through some of them and they look like something that could be easily adaptable, yet a great help in starting PBL if you've never done it before. I heard about these recipe cards from Ginger Lewman on the EduAllStars podcast a few weeks ago. They might be a great way to transition into PBL - or at least some great starting ideas for projects and driving questions.
I also want to begin investigations into coding and robotics with 3rd and 4th grade, so I think I'm going to start in 3rd with my Sphero robot. Using a few Spheros would allow the three 3rd grade classes a chance to code and program the Sphero robots without having to save creations from one class to the next, like we will have to do with the Lego Wedo robotics kits. The Sphero education site has a lot of great SPRK lessons that would help both me and my students learn coding. (Because let's be honest, I'm totally learning here too.)
PBL recipe cards here again, along with the Lego Wedo Robotics kits. There are only two classes of 4th graders, so I think sharing the kits with them, and flip-flopping when I use them with each class will allow me to use the 24 kits with the students. Also, hate to admit a little bias here, but these 4th graders were my 3rd graders last year - and they were the ones who inspired me to look into robotics and go to Space Camp so I want them to be the ones I share this with first! :)
Two words. Genius Hour.
I want my 5th and 6th graders to experience genius hour. From the beginning. I want to run genius hour on a 6-9 week cycle and close each cycle with each student sharing their projects. Our fabulous gifted/computer lab teacher is in on this with me as well, so they will have at least two opportunities to work on their projects per week.
I ADORE the Genius Hour concept. Adore it. I love Angela Maiers quote, "You are a genius, and the world needs your contribution." It's going on my wall. All kids need to believe and know this.
Toward the end of the year, I will probably introduce all students to Genius hour, but I want to start with the 5th/6th graders first.
Finally, I would like everyone to participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge. I'm not sure how this is going to play out yet, but I know I can probably get the teachers on board. I want the kids to choose an organization to raise money for and then create and play with cardboard. I also think our PTO and principal would be on board with this too. Haven't brought it up yet...but if nothing else I will do the challenge with at least one grade level.
There's my plan! Written out for me to hold myself accountable! (Ha! If you know me...you know this is a necessity.)
Now to get the room cleaned....