Reflecting on First Quarter
Reflection is one of most essential elements needed for learning and growth. We all must find time in our busy days to pause long enough to truly think about our experiences. We have to allow ourselves an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and commit to memory the factors that contributed to our success, and we must also process our shortcomings and learn lessons from our failures and mistakes so they can be avoided in the future.
As we come to the end of the first quarter of the school year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some of our academic accomplishments in Lower School.
- Pre-Kindergarten has introduced its Peak with Books program. The teachers have introduced this literacy program with the selection of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Activities included enjoying multiple versions of the story, a journal entry, acting out the story in creative dramatics, and lively discussions! Students have also begun working in writing journals. This authentic literacy experience has helped students grow in sustaining focus on one project and has stretched their imaginations as the children reflect upon the stories shared. Some children are already feeling comfortable using inventive spelling to add to their journal entries, and others have been quick to dictate their story lines to their teachers.
- Kindergarten has implemented the last component of its new balanced literacy program and students are now engaged daily in a reading workshop. Our young Ravens are building a strong foundation for their reading lives and are given opportunities to read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, and work in small groups with their teacher every day.
- First grade has been using document cameras in the classroom to introduce new concepts, work on collaborative writing pieces, practice and reinforce skills using games they play together, teach new games for students to play with partners or small groups, highlight student work, model correct letter formation, and demonstrate usage of Handwriting Without Tears paper. They have also been implementing character education lessons by inviting parents to come into the classroom to read books and prepare an activity for the class to practice the character trait.
- Second grade students are learning the beginning skills that will be needed to begin writing in the digital world using blogs. Teachers are using reading response journal activities to teach students how to analyze and evaluate responses to given prompts. Students will eventually create their own blog posts using these written responses and engage in higher-level thinking such as comparing and contrasting, making connections, and evaluating information to form an opinion. By allowing students the opportunity to use a blog for this type of writing and responding, they will be given opportunities to explore digital writing and be better equipped for the type of writing required in a digital society.
- Third grade students have been using Google docs to collaborate with their teacher and classmates on their writing pieces. Math instruction has been delivered through a workshop approach to allow teachers the opportunity to differentiate their instruction and have all students actively engaged throughout the lessons. Students rotate through three stations during the workshop: 1) direct instruction from teacher in a small group tailored to meet student needs 2) partner work using manipulatives and games to review skills previously taught and 3) independent practice and review in math journals.
- Fourth grade has been incorporating inquiry/project-based social studies lessons that integrate technology, specifically Google Earth. Students used this tool to engage in explorations of the three regions of North Carolina (Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal), touring state landmarks such as Chimney Rock, Jordan Lake, and Cape Hatteras. Fourth graders investigated latitude, longitude, altitudes, and imagery data information during their virtual tours. Teachers have also enhanced the science curriculum by including more hands-on learning, and a Science Olympiad club is being offered after school for interested students.
- Fifth grade students are also using Google docs to engage in collaborative revision and editing of their writing pieces. Quizlet is being used in all subject areas to reinforce concepts and vocabulary. Students are also being given their first opportunity to explore the use of a digital textbook with their new Science Fusion program.
When I think about this long list of accomplishments, a smile comes across my face. I feel extremely proud of our students and teachers, but what is most important is what made this all possible …
The takeaway for me during this reflection process was the reminder to provide time for teachers and students to collaborate. Amazing things happen when great minds research, discuss, plan, create, and problem solve together!
Each one of you will soon be receiving written and verbal feedback from us about student progress during the first quarter. We want feedback, too! I hope you will find time to share your own reflections in the comments, in an email, by phone, or in person so we can learn and grow along with you.
What do you think our strengths and areas for growth are based on these past nine weeks of school?
Reflection image from: http://www.graphix1.co.uk/2011/04/18/20-outstanding-examples-of-reflection-photography