I’ve had some successes since my last post:
I’ve implemented something on Fridays called Ketchup and Mustard Time. I can’t remember if I got this idea from someone – I must have? It’s a chunk of time in the morning (about an hour) where I’ve made a list of the important items students needed to finish this week (usually things I’m usually for casual assessments) and give them time to catch up (get it? catch up/Ketchup?) and complete them. My varied group of students works at different paces and there are times when a student isn’t able to complete something in the original time I’ve given them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to finish for their own sake, and to add to the accountability. When they are done with everything on the list (usually four or so things – so a kid might have two things partially done and two they finished the day it was introduced, for example) they get to have Mustard Time – a light choice time. They can read or draw, play board games or do origami. So far (I’ve just done it twice) I’ve had a fun puzzle sort of packet or activity available also (like Valentine themed cootie catchers were a big hit).
Not only did they get into Ketchup/Mustard time, they loved the choice time and it never got too wild. Maybe because it is in the morning? Maybe because there is a clear list of Mustard activities? I also had one student even tell me that he works harder during the week to maximize his Mustard time. I want to spread that throughout the class to some of my time-killers as well. I want them to realize if they work harder FIRST they can enjoy it later.
We had the best Valentine’s Day party ever. I’ve been thinking about picking one holiday and really going for it every year, and I think I’m going to do Valentine’s Day. I timed it so we were right in the middle of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we had a Wonka themed party. It was fun for me and for them. They had such a great time. We did Valentine boxes as a take-home project and voted for six winners in different categories. I decorated to the hilt and hope to invest in some key items (a better working bubble machine and a chocolate fountain!) to be able to use year after year.
I’m seeing some students more clearly and that lets me meet them with more compassion. One student in my class – N – is a ball of hyper energy and has a hard time focusing. The past week or so, though, after I really let it sink in that he needs to move that body – I’ve been more patient and also better at problem solving. The amount of noise he makes is NOT okay – it distracts us all, and makes it impossible for those near him to work. So I’m trying to coach him in different ways to move quietly and want to get him a squeeze ball or something (I don’t want him to throw the squeeze ball).