Well, as always, the end of the school year brings a great deal of things that need to be wrapped up. My classroom is barren…void of all of the student work that has adorned the walls for the year. Classroom centers, games and manipulatives have all been stored away. My iPad cart has been rolled down the hall to it’s summer resting place. All that’s left is last bits of paperwork, passing out report cards and saying goodbyes.
As I go through the end of year rituals for the 25th time, and as I prepare to say goodbye to this sweet group of children, I can’t help but flash back to some great highlights from this year. Our focus was creating a true, student centered classroom. Students were leaders in their own learning, and exercised voice and choice. We participated in the Hour of Code. This lead to further creativity and exploration throughout the year…well beyond the initial Hour of Code. We explored Augmented Reality. This expanded into using Chromville app to enhanced our writing activities. We skyped with Jen at Blokify and my students were blown away with this app. The 3D printed samples that Jen sent us led to such enthusiasm, our school purchased a 3D printer. Toward the end of the year, we focused heavily on reading and research. We used our iPads to research and write about a topic of our choosing. This created a seemingly insatiable desire to read and learn more on a variety of subjects. “Can I please look up more on ocean animals?” “Can I research more on sloths and write a book?” Daily, I’ve been asked for permission to read and research more on a topic that is meaningful to a particular child. Without being a requirement, these children took their findings and always turned them into a Book Creator book or a drawing with notes and information. One of our last activities was writing about and rating our favorite apps. This activity resulted in future conversations about how a certain movie was rated or even their own writings!
While this list is certainly not all we worked on, it is a good recap of our highlights. Keeping my students at the center of the learning, engaging them in decision making, and providing a literacy rich environment for curiosity and exploration has paid off. Once again, all of my students are going to first grade reading above grade level. They are prolific readers and writers. They think deeply, question, read and respond, experiment, fail and try again, problem solve and persist in the face of difficulty. They are now 6 years old and ready to boldly step forth into first grade. While this is not the ending of their story, it’s where my story with them ends. I will watch them as they grow and succeed. I will celebrate their future accomplishments and know, that in some small measure, I was there in the beginning.
Today we will do exciting new things! Let’s get to it!