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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

As the SMART goals begin to get ... smarter - Part One.

Hi.  It's been a while.  Sorry. 

A lame excuse.....

Frankly, I've been worried about the direction my Home Learning seemed to be heading.  I have spent a lot of time and energy this year paying close attention to the voices of discontent.  There have been such voices - although they remain the vast minority.   I've paid attention to different opinions because I respect the place from which all input has come - genuine interest in the best result for the kids.  I've listened to arguments for and against what I do each day with goal setting and Home Learning.  Now it's time to share the results I'm seeing in my classroom.

 It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.....

It's time to share the phenomenal inquiry circle that I was privileged to facilitate this morning with 10yr old kids.  Today, these kids reminded me why I started this journey into Home Learning.  Today, they got it so very right.  They've been inching towards this for weeks now.  FINALLY, this morning, the perfect storm of student engagement came.  FINALLY.

We started by discussing what we'd all done towards our goals.  This informal conversation happens most mornings in 4RB.  Nothing particularly new.  However, this morning the kids started offering up pretty amazing statements - and evidence of learning  *gasp*

T-Rex wrote about blowing up the school......

... and getting a Lambo for his birthday.  The blowing up school part made a catchier subheading.
T-Rex showed us a fake journal entry he wrote.  This was about his birthday where he received a Lamborghini and was allowed to blow up the school as a treat.  Funny stuff and pretty well written too.  The AMAZING part was when I asked him WHY he decided to write anything...
"Well, my guitar lesson was cancelled, so I figured I'd use that time to 
work on my writing goal and get some times tables sorted out."  
This kid has learned to manage his time so effectively that he can show flexibility and creativity on the spot.  T-Rex, incidentally, has started hassling me to show him techniques to develop his writing skills.  The kid groaned audibly when we used to write journals on a Monday....

Netty wrote a story about guinea-pigs.....

Loooooook at him!   What a fine fellow.  If he inspires writing, he's even cuter to me!

Netty LOVES guinea-pigs.  Obsessed?  Perhaps just a little.  None of us were surprised that Netty had written a story for her own entertainment about this topic.  We were, however pretty impressed with why she had done it.  You see... Netty wants to develop her writing skills - primarily her punctuation.  The story is NOT perfectly punctuated, but Netty WANTS to know how she can get it right.  I will need to offer my thoughts and feedback.

Lolly completed a 'weekly number' just for kicks......

Monday's inquiry circle included a cool discussion about memes.  It seemed appropriate to use one here.
 Lolly enjoys Mathematics now.  She used to fear it.  She told me that being in control of what she learned and when she learned it helped her to overcome her 'fear' of Maths.  Now she is trying some numeration skills and algorithms at home just for kicks.  Wow.

Other kids started sharing their Home Learning choices freely....

...and soon enough, there was a pretty great conversation happening about what we are all doing in our own ways to develop the skills we KNOW that we need for our futures.  Brayds is researching for his own skill development.  Hazz is smashing his spelling.  Vini does maths sheets like they're going out of fashion.  Kingy is still trying his heel-flip, but he is equally keen to sort his tables out by having his family test him.  
The stories just kept coming.

Is 'every kid' getting it 'right' yet?

Short answer:  No.
BUT there was enough positive vibe and discussion about strategies that WORK this morning to convert several skeptics in the room.  Tomorrow, I'll see if that vibe has taken wings or if it was a false start.  In the meantime, I'll take this morning as a victory in my fight to make Home Learning something that these kids CAN take ownership of and responsibility for.

That's just part one of today's story.
Part two will need to wait until tomorrow.
Sleep time.


Bruce Ferrington said...

Great to read some more of your wisdom and observations of what the kids are doing and thinking. Good stuff.

Nancy C said...

Just loving the idea of home learning. Especially, when it finally transfers to lessons learned in the classroom.

Keep up the good work. It's inspiring!