A couple of weeks ago, with the 100th day of school approaching, I started to re-think this celebration. Based on all of the amazing feedback from educators and administrators, I made some changes to my initial plan. Then though, I needed to face another decision: we had a Snow Day on Monday, February 2nd. We couldn’t have planned for this. Now though came the question of do we change the date of the 100th day or keep it the same? Since the Grade 1 team was supposed to be off this Monday (February 9th), we decided to keep the day on the Friday (since then, our plans for the 9th have changed). We just counted the Snow Day as a scheduled school day that got cancelled due to the snow. It felt a little bit like cheating, but it also seemed like the best option for the students, as having a supply teacher in on a day that varies from the regular classroom routine, didn’t seem fair.
With a confirmed date, now came the question of what to do. I really liked the idea of creating a story on our 100 Days of Learning (thanks Kristi). My class committed to publishing a class book as part of a project initiated by one of the intermediate teachers at our school: Mitch. This would make the perfect class story, and the timing was perfect as well, as this book needs to be completed before the end of February. My initial plan was to have the students show their learning in any way that they chose, and then capture this learning in a page for the book. I was worried about timing though. With my prep schedule for the day, I didn’t know if the students could get everything done. I also have many student absences, and this was also the case for the 100th day of school. I wondered if students were away, if they would have time to complete this activity when they got back. It seemed like a huge undertaking. So that’s when I decided to make a change: before the 100th day of school, we brainstormed some of the things that we learned this year. Then the students wrote and edited their page in the class book on Friday, but they just drew a detailed picture to go with their writing.
Overall, the students were happy with this option, and many of them really pushed themselves to share their best writing, and edit their work to make it even better. They loved that they will be published authors in a class book. The pictures were not quite as popular though. Not all students wanted to draw. Not all students wanted to put the time into a detailed picture. And I felt conflicted: I thought that the illustrations would help tell the story, but I also believe in student voice and choice, and I was restricting this on Friday. It felt wrong. As I kept on encouraging students to go back and add more details to their pictures, in my head I kept hearing the voice that asked, “Why am I pushing students to draw and colour? Could I have asked them for other “illustration options,” and seen what they did?” Maybe they could have taken a photograph of items in the classroom that aligned with their learning. I have to scan the text and pictures anyway. I could have made a digital picture work, but I didn’t, and I’m sorry!
Then there was the Maker-Ed/Structures component of the day. My students love to build and create, and I thought that this would be a popular option. I put out lots of rulers and metre sticks, with the hope that students would try and work with the number 100 as they built. They could explore measurement, and the links between materials, height, and stability of structures. We could also look at what “100” actually means, and when it seems like a big number vs. a smaller number.
While the students certainly got involved in building and creating together, I think that some of them required more direction. I left the task too open-ended. Maybe we should have brainstormed options as a class to help those students that didn’t know what to create or what to try next. The truth is that I had a horrible headache, two meetings at lunchtime, and then a Google Hangout with another class scheduled for the afternoon (with three of my students), and my head wasn’t in it. I apologize!
- I knew that I needed to pull the students back together as a class and give more direction.
- I knew that I needed to talk to students and ask more questions to get them thinking in different ways.
- I knew that I needed to work with those students that seemed to spend more time going from one building option to another one, instead of exploring the possibilities at each area.
- I knew that I needed to model how students could add sticky notes to our “100th Day Class Story,” to share more of their learning and activities with others.
I didn’t though. I tried to rotate and talk to students, but I think that I spent more time standing back than I should have, and I wish that I made more changes to my plan at the time based on my classroom observation.
All of that being said, I’m glad that I took the time at the end of the day to reflect with the students on what they did and what they learned. This helped me see what they already know, and where we need to go next. I also saw how they’re thinking more about “time.” Some students really seem to understand the passage of time, and some students are still learning about how long it takes to do different activities. Now I can help capitalize on this interest and these student needs, as we begin to look more closely at time in class next week. (I must say that even just the addition of the analogue clock in our classroom last week caused many more discussions on “time.”) We can also look more at numbers in meaningful contexts: helping students think about “100” differently, and considering what numbers really mean.
I ran out of recording space on my iPad, so we continued this discussion during our “consolidation of learning.”
These are podcasts of our “consolidation of learning.”
The 100th day of school was not my best teaching day ever. While there were benefits to what happened, there were also drawbacks. Reflecting on the day though, helped me see what I could do differently. This was a good day for self-reflection though, and what I learned from the students will definitely help me as I plan ahead. Maybe this day was a good reminder that we’re teachers, but we’re also human. We make mistakes, and we learn from them. We try again. I’m eager to try again for the next 100 days, and many more “hundred” after that. What are some of your mistakes? What did you learn as a result? I hope that we can all share our learning and learn from each other.