Our students have accomplished much in the past year. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many of you for two years now! Here’s a month-by-month look at some highlights from 2013. Happy New Year!
January: In January, we launched this blog to celebrate the work of our students and shine a light on what Expeditionary Learning and constructivist teaching looks like in the primary grades.
February: In February, our first graders leveraged their increasing fact fluency to “use what they know to figure out what they don’t know.” They pushed each other in our math debriefs, asking, “Is that the most efficient strategy?”
March: In March we welcomed readers from our families and the White House to celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Their visit was a welcome break from our bee research. By March, our first graders were deep into their expedition on Colony Collapse Disorder. They were on their way to becoming experts on honeybees and other bees native to D.C.
April: By April, we were preparing for our booth at the Columbia Heights Farmers Market. Our classroom was buzzing as students published their all about bee books, built mason bee nests for our school garden, and met with local beekeepers to learn more about Colony Collapse Disorder and the honeybee.
May: After working with bee researchers and beekeepers, researching about different bee species, and doing fieldwork at the Franciscan Monastery, our students were eager to share with the world about the plight of the honeybee. They rolled beeswax candles, wrote flyers, planted seeds, made labels and tags, designed informational posters, and packaged hundreds of candles to sell at the Columbia Heights Farmers’ Market. In spite of windy conditions, they raised hundreds of dollars to buy a beehive for our school’s roof and impressed many farmers and shoppers with their bee expertise!
June: In June we celebrated our incredible work on the bee expedition with our showcase. Ms. Dorsey and Ms. Cummings spent the semester helping the students put together a musical, Too Bee or Not to Bee. It was a magical end to the school year.
July: I spent July in Philadelphia where I coached new teachers for Teach for America at their summer Institute. Rest? Who said that teachers rest in the summer?
September: By September, we launched our inverted math workshop. Students were busy with the rigorous work of constructing their own strategies and defending them to their peers during the debrief.
October: By October, we were taking our second trip to Rock Creek for our monthly fieldwork. We were deep into our expedition and students were quickly becoming water scientists, engaging in daily experiments. We also reached 25 minutes in Read-to-Self in the Daily Five!
November: To many cheers, we launched full choice in the Daily Five in early November. By this point, students had developed stamina in Read-to-Self, Read-to-Someone, Listen-to-Reading, Work-on-Writing, and Word Work and were left to decide which independent work was best the best choice for them during the two rounds each day. During our second batch of reading assessments, we saw so much growth, due in large part to the ample independent reading our second graders do each day.
December: In December, we held the Rock Creek Day of Action. After working with experts, researching on their own, and conducting months of fieldwork in Rock Creek, we decided to build a rain garden at our school and to hold a Day of Action. Our second graders knocked on doors around the neighborhood and told our neighbors about stormwater pollution and combined sewer overflow and how they pollute Rock Creek.