Collaborative Conversations and a bit of Cooking too!
Help me give my students alternative seating options for collaborative conversations and extended work times, an opportunity to learn basic recipes for self-care, combination locks to ease junior high worries and inspired texts based on perseverance and invention.
My students live in an urban environment surrounded by wild animals and wild weather! Moose, Geese, and even Black bears have been known to roam our neighborhood and playground while we shop for groceries just a quarter mile away. The weather can change in the course of minutes, from rain to snow, to hail and then rise twenty degrees with a little dab of sunshine. Our school has over 500 students, including grades K-6. My students are eager to learn and are keen observers of their immediate world. Many emotions in our classroom revolve around ever-changing home lives, job loss/gain, hormones, middle school here-we-come, and our crazy seasonal changes.
When life is in a state of flux, my students escape into books, friends, technology and the warmth of indoors.
Within my classroom, creating a friendly, steady environment with clear expectations is always a priority. Working through life's troubles is a constant; having a safe space to allow students to try-out different problem-solving skills is important to me. My students have resiliency, good-hearts and a strong work-ethic.
Providing a space where students can move while staying on task is a challenge in our traditional neighborhood schools. With stools, exercise balls, alternative table heights and cushions, students will be able to choose what works for them during different subjects and then rotate throughout the day as their needs change. Sitting on the floor to brainstorm an essay and then using a lap desk for math computations allows my students the ability to have movement and still be task- efficient.
Being able to collaborate and communicate effectively with peers is highly important in our global community.
A traditional desk style does not always lead itself to conversation whereas a rectangular open table allows for equal standing in conversation. Students are savvy when sharing texts/documents with each other but verbal communication is a skill that often needs to be fostered. Through socratic seminar, conversations revolving open-ended questions and peer-to-peer dialogue students are able to increase their academic understanding of information while acknowledging the work and effort of their peers. The classroom environment can have a strong impact on the way students are expected to learn. Having different seating choices, and movement encourages students to work together and recognize that each student has unique needs.
The popcorn maker, convection oven, cooking pans, and trivets will be used to show students the ease of a few simple recipes that can be made on their own, without many ingredients. As my students age they are increasingly responsible for themselves and their siblings; A few simple recipes can go a long way. The popcorn maker, will allow my students to have a quick snack that is healthy, cost effective and quick to make.
The latest non-fiction books I selected are particularly important to pre-teens as they show the creativity of invention and perseverance.
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