The idea of having fourth graders set their own course for working and learning is not widespread. It can be hard to find people who are trying the same thing in their classrooms- people who might be able to shed some light on my fumbling around. The lovely and talented Ann Marie Corgill, is doing this work in her fourth grade class in Alabama. She started it a month or so before we did, and inspired me to give it a go. With not much more than a hazy vision of what independence and self-determination would look like, we launched.
Our biggest learning has been through finding out what does NOT work. We’ve turned a lot of disappointment and frustration into interesting and helpful conversations about how to avoid pitfalls. The first of these was navigating individual, partner, and group work. This was not too hard to fix, though we do have occasional flare-ups. We all just need to remember to schedule group and partner work before individual work, and book clubs have to check in briefly with their schedules to see if they have planned to meet that day.
Ou current challenge is in the arena of time management. In a recent Teach & Share, a few students told us how they had faced this challenge head-on and found some workable strategies.
Maya put a favorite part of her day, Independent Reading, at the end of a time period. Like MANY of us, she finds it hard to stop reading. If it’s at the beginning of a chunk of time, she might not be able to tear herself away from the book. This isn’t such a bad thing, in the grand scheme of things, but when you are Maya and you also want to meet with your book club and read about the Age of Exploration, it could become problematic.
Isa has tackled another piece of the time-management puzzle. She has blocked out specific amounts of time, and written down what time she will switch to the next thing on her list.