Saturday, March 14, 2015

Expanded Horizons-March 14: Slice of Life Challenge #SOLC 2015: 14/31

We're almost there! We've spent a little more than eight weeks, digging deep into the Westward Expansion Movement, working hard to come to understand the people that braved the elements to give up life in the east and take the enormous risk of spreading across the land. The parallels between these trailblazers and the huge loss experienced by the native tribes has not been lost of my kids. We've had many chances to stop and process, and then go home and ruminate some more.

But what happened yesterday was not necessarily so much content, but the process of high interest and high motivational practices in my students that really left me in awe of them. Our outcome for this process of weeks of working in research teams, in books that are properly leveled, and in using trusted websites to view videos and research through reading on the now boiling down to an informational book.

The unit stretched through snow days and is now, at its culmination, bumping up against the next wave of testing too.

It was the kids, though, who pushed forward, because they had a tremendous sense of internal motivation, grit and satisfaction in the writing, revising again, and again even toward the end. And then when they reached the point of constructing their books, they really hit a point of glee.

So yesterday, in a day filled with all sorts of surprises and a ton of face to face work with kids--they decided they were going to have a working snack...and then a working lunch too. In other words, they wanted to stay with me! I said to them, though..."You've been in for indoor recess all winter long!" They said, "It doesn't matter, we're having so much FUN!"

Fun! Boy, how could I refuse that? I told them, I'm not going to be able to pay a lot of attention to you, though. "You mean you're going to shun us?" the said.

Yeah, right. Shun them? I don't think so! Before I knew it, we were elbow to elbow with our lunches, with scissors and construction paper, hole punchers, markers, and string. It was a project day in the classroom, and we were having a blast getting the writing just right, and getting that very satisfying process done.

And as I look back on the unit, the learning, and the level of motivation in my kids, it's so great to see how the American story, the evolution of a culture captivated their interests and expanded their learning horizons in huge leaps and bounds!

Slice of Life Challenge: 
For the month of March, I'm participating in a daily writing challenge, blogging, and posting, and reading other teachers' blogs. This challenge was started by two writing teachers, and can be found at their blog each day: Feel free to join me! It's a great way to keep story threading throughout your brain each day.


Robin said...

It sounds like this was a very successful unit. Anything that gets them so engaged that they don't mind missing recess is huge! Exciting!

gael lynch said...

It was a blast, Robin...for me as well! Kids need to earn their learning. I think that is the one element that makes the difference in teaching today!

Anonymous said...

So glad you left that great comment on my blog because it pushed me to check out yours. I love what you put out here for everyone and I love your writing voice, Gael :D