Monday, July 20, 2015

A Sneak Peek of What's to Come...

We're getting excited.  I mean, super excited.  Beyond excited.  Next year is going to be the beginning of something AMAZING.  We always thought the future was going to be awesome, but summer school confirmed it.  What am I talking about?  Well, I suppose I should catch you all up on the awesomeness that is Lincoln Elementary.

Jace "testing" Ryan
As you know, we have piloted personalized learning in all 3 kindergarten classrooms, one second grade class, and one 3rd grade class.  Well, this coming school year, we are expanding it.  We will have a K/1 multi-age personalized learning classroom, a 2/3 multi-age PL classroom, and a 4/5 multi-age PL classroom!  EEK!  It's going to be amazing.  I can't stress that enough!  I get to be one of the teachers in these environments and I cannot wait.  We have had a lot of questions about the make-ups of these classes, but it's super simple.  It's the same as it always has been.  We balance kids into equal classes across the board, then we take one from each grade and put it with another one.  We don't group by ability...just all levels together in one classroom with 2 teachers.  It may seem like that's impossible, but with PL, you can truly meet each kid's needs because you're teaching to their individual level anyway!  AND kids get the chance to step up and be leaders in a way that would never be possible in a legacy classroom!!  How amazing is that?!  OK, so let me tell you some examples and show you some sneak peeks into what's to come:

Teja helping a kinder
For summer school this year, we thought it would be a good idea to try K/1 PL so we could start to wrap our brains around what was to come and hopefully prepare ourselves for the coming year.  What we found, blew us out of the water!  On day 1 of summer school, I pulled all the 1st graders (kids who were in my and Tiff's class last year) and I asked them to be leaders for the summer.  I told them that the kinders didn't know all about PLPs, or how to work independently, or how to use iPads and tools, and that we were looking to them to step up and be helpers.  Do you know what these kids did?  They STEPPED up!  It was AMAZING!  The 1st graders took it upon themselves to find a kinder and started asking them if they knew letters, sounds, taught them, even started assessing some of them, and were reporting to us how many they knew and how many they should focus on for their goals!  It freed Tiff and I up to start assessing and giving goals to the new kiddos in no time.
Mrs. Redieske teaching a lesson to
kinders and 1st graders
That same day, we asked the 1st graders to teach the kinders how to create an educreations, search for a picture, and write what the picture was.  Well, that blew my mind!  We witnessed our kids showing (not doing for them) the kinders how to use the iPads, how to type, and how to SOUND OUT WORDS!  They were chopping out sounds for them, asking them what letters made those sounds, and helped them find them on the keyboard!  I looked at Tiff, and I said, "Oh my goodness!  We have just been cloned 15 times!"  They were little teachers!  And the kids who were the leaders felt amazing, and the kinders felt amazing because they were getting one on one attention and felt like rock stars that were so proud of what they had created without an adult's help!
Jayden explaining a PLP to
a 1st grader, Henry who came
to Lincoln for summer school
On Friday of the second week, I asked all the kiddos to write me a sentence about a safari animal (we had been learning about them all week).  I told them there needed to be a picture and a sentence.  I didn't care if they used Educreations, a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or any other way they could think of, but they had until recess to accomplish it.  Then I let them go.  Guys, I had tears in my eyes!  The aide in the classroom had tears!  Every single kid....EVERY SINGLE CHILD was working.  The first graders who finished quickly took it upon themselves to help some kinders out too :)  Of course the kinders weren't writing sentences all on their own, but as I made my way around the room to help kiddos who were ready, they all had a picture started...independently.  If you have ever taught kindergarten, then you know there is no way that in June they are doing anything independently.  But they were.  It freed me and the aide up so that we could help each kiddo that needed it before recess.  The result, each kiddo got individual time with a teacher, learned what they needed at their ability level, and was super happy and proud of what they had accomplished.  It was at that moment that I KNEW next year was going to rock. 
Karli working independently
with shapes

I know I've said it time and time again, but PL has changed my life.  If you are an educator and you're flirting with the idea of making the switch, I encourage you to be bold.  Go beyond your borders, and try it!  You will NOT regret it.  If you need support, we are here, and we would love to help you out.  Spread the word!  PL ROCKS!!  I can't wait to post more this fall!  Have a great summer everyone!

Mrs. Bruegger working with kiddos
on number recognition

Kinder and 1st grader working
together on goals

Jace teaching a kinder while
Seth works independently