We have an entire category on the theme of simplicity here. This is to add to that. I have always felt that what we need is a schedule that is simple to an extreme, repetitive and clear to us and our kids. But not a lesson plan. Oh please, not a lesson plan. You know what I mean.
Many of us try to do too much stuff and the result is that we end up scattered. How are all the cool new ideas that we get here going to help us if we let them overwhelm us?
We want to use our CI strategies, stories and all the rest, to help take us to the kind of calm day we dream of having in this, the #2 most stressful profession in America. Why let the cool strategies overwhelm us? They are supposed to help us!
I have a new routine to offer that is working for me that I would like to share here. It has brought me calm. It has made my quest for simplicity far more simple than anything I have done in previous years, when I never quite knew what was going on, and I always felt like something was wrong and they were going to catch me.
(Of course any sense of calm is going to be directly connected to our physical classroom set up, and I will attach in another post more pics of my classroom set-up that works for me. I acknowledge that I have half as many students as I did in my last building.)
Maybe this schedule won’t work all year, but I won’t stop making an ultra simple schedule my #1 priority all year. Getting better at the method is great and fun to shoot for, but without the simplicity, striving to get better at the method doesn’t do me any good. My sanity is at stake; all of our sanity is at stake dependent on how calm we can remain in our classrooms. We’re talking about a very big topic here.
The 85 min. block helps a lot. So, for those interested:
Block 1: PQA/Story (story must be finished by the end of those 85 minutes. No three week long stories like in the past.)
1) Review the work of the artist from block 1, who sends it to my school blog site. We discuss it as a review of the story to start this second block. That can go up to 10 minutes. (More reps on the initial targets!)
2) Translation of the text for a quiz grade. 5 min.
3) Ten question y/n content on the story. (I have eliminated the job of the quiz writer – the quizzes I got from them were too crappy and I find that with the story posted on my school website (for kids to study at home if they want and to translate to their parents to show off) all I have to do is write my own quiz by looking at the published story. I can write a quiz like that in five minutes, just scribbling the questions in English and translating them when I ask the quiz. 5 min.
4. Sacred reading of the text as per ROA. Lights down for that – the big payoff of all the work up to that final point with the story.
5. Now I can go anywhere with the class. It is my time to fit in things from the Big CI book like Textivate on the same story, or some verb work, any one of those great strategies we all use so well. (rest of class)
So I am basing most of my instruction on story scripts now. The scripts float my boat and allow me mojified fun, which I need. Just more and more stories. Practically nothing else except for the second part of that second block sequence.
So to conclude: I start a new story every other block, and I stay disciplined so that each class is in exactly the same place on the same story. No story goes beyond the first block.
How can I do that with different leveled classes? It’s easy -the more advanced kids just get more detailed stories.
Stories are so strong and powerful and interesting. I just wish I had more than Jim’s and Anne’s. Maybe one of them will come out with more volumes – it would be Jim’s second and Anne’s third.
Or maybe someone will read Anne’s description of how to script a story themselves and start writing some scripts for the rest of us. I’ll publish that as a post from Anne’s books.