The day before school, I was ready. Ready to jump into the adventure that is first grade. And then we went on strike. When we eventually went back to school, I felt scrambled and rushed, it was the middle of September already! Today was our tenth day of school and suddenly I realized what was going on in my classroom. I was rushed and my students knew it, so they were rushing to keep up with me. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to slow way down and start taking small, focused steps.
Last week I tried a math lesson with iPads. It was not a complicated lesson at all, in fact the concept of making tens with unifix cubes was developmentally right on for my first graders. My plan was for students to create an Educreation project with three different slides showing the different groups of ten they created. In my haste, I forgot got that my new first graders had limited experience with Educreations in Kindergarten. Needless to say, the task was much too complicated for most of my students. This project had way too many steps and tools to navigate for students to begin with. So I took a step (or two) back. And began again.
Today after my mini lesson in word work, students had the choice to graph sight words from a weekly sight word list, make words with letter tiles or write words using white boards. Whatever they chose, they needed to show their learn through pictures and words. I asked students to use the app Pic Collage to take three pictures and write a sentence about their word work. This was a simple task, however, it reinforced many skills my students will need for larger, more complicated projects. Students practiced taking clear photos, selecting a font, typing in a text box and saving their work to the photo library. Pic Collage is a very simple to app to navigate and every year it is one of my students favorite apps to use.
I realized today that what I had forgotten in my rush to develop independent first graders was the small steps we take daily to lay the foundation for the future work ahead. And the need to start with simple tools that help are students be successful from the beginning. That’s how we grow the independent, self directed learners that leave our classrooms in June. My goal going forward is to slow down and remember to keep taking small, focused steps forward. We shouldn’t be in a hurry.