This year things have just felt different. The first 30 days have come and gone and we are still trying to become that community of learners! The working hum is sooo close…but, just a bit off. Last week, I worked the kinks out of the Guided Reading. So now, I decided to take a closer look at my schedule and notice where we can enhance the rest and rigor to get the most bang or the buck! Eric Jensen talks about alternating the rest and rigor so the children can maintain a cognitive and emotional balance that encourages learning.
Our morning is much longer this year. The children are having lunch almost 30 minutes later. (Yeah! More time for Writer’s Workshop… but empty bellies that require an additional brain snack! Note to self: The kids need another brain snack!) The longer amount of time spent in the classroom has also made me look at the rest and rigor relationship to decide if it is working efficiently. It clearly isn’t. The expectations are off. The children are getting plenty of rigor and they are working their hearts out… but I know if I can give them more rest (brain gym break, make sure they know they are to take drink breaks when they need them, high energy poetry, fun and expressive stories, 2 minute word sorts…Note to self: Add more of these brain rest activities!) I know they will be able to work better! So… I made an executive decision! (Can I do that?) We have been hitting the floor running! Go, go, go!!! All day. Our schedules are handed to us with all the blocks built in; reading block-CHECK, writing block-CHECK and math block-CHECK! Already built in. I am so grateful I don’t have to work out the gruesome details of the schedule… but I have come to realize our longer morning sets us up for play…THEY NEED PLAY! Good old run and scream or swing so high you feel like you are in the clouds! PLAY! So this week instead of returning for Math Workshop, (Which has felt like a push and pull relationship… not the comfortable flow of learning.) we returned to the classroom and did Word Work. A hugely kinesthetic and often loud activity. After stomping, clapping, funky spelling the words and lots of belly laughs… not only did the children write the words beautifully, they were focused and ready to work. We did this prior to math and I couldn’t believe how much more productive the children were during the entire math workshop. (I should have known better! Note to self- When I know better- THEN JUST DO IT!) This process has reminded me, I need to invest in their interests (fun!) and then they will invest in mine (learning). By golly, if we continue to vary the rest and rigor… the individual interests become a focused team effort. All of us pulling together, alternating giggles, fun experiences, emotional experiences… and gee – we just become a community of learners!