Monday, November 7, 2016

Standards-based vs. Product-based education

It's only been 45 days of 2nd grade and yet, it feels we've been together forever.  I mean this is the best possible way.  We are now comfortable with each other.  We can trust each other when we make mistakes.  We can all believe there's time and room for another try, a try again.  Also, our room continues to have a busy and boisterous personality because big ideas are brewing.

You don't realize how set in your ways you are until you spend your day with 7 and 8 year olds.  We are learning as teachers to move toward standards based education.  We are even told that we must communicate the standards to the children.  I like to think of myself as a pretty forward thinking educator.  Despite my newness to public school, I felt like I understood standards base, but this group of kids is really helping me to GET it.

For Social Studies, we are talking about gratitude in anticipation of Thanksgiving.  I presented the idea of making a book.  We carefully went through the motions of cutting out 12 different gratitude statements(Ex. I am thankful for a friend.)and gluing them into a stapled book.  Many kids did just fine with this, many kids used too much glue and many crashed and burned on the preparation of the book for various reasons.  About half of the kids were going through the motions but they didn't seem to be committed.  I thought a lot about this and then realized that the book worked fine for some, but I had to go back and think about what the reason was they were doing this project.  The objective is for them to gain a deep grasp of gratitude through writing and drawing in anticipation for Thanksgiving.  We talked about this today and generated other ways they could collect their writing - a book, a scroll, a set of flags.  Light bulbs really started going off.  I have to say that I'm not exactly sure what they will be bringing home for Thanksgiving, but I know it will be unique.

Next week, we begin our genius hour projects.  The objective is for them to learn about something of their choice, and then present what they learn in writing and pictures.  I'm hoping to be a clear and careful guide in our process, but to make sure there is room for their handprints.