Monday, March 21, 2016

Bring back the fun! - Updated to add pictures

     This is our last week before spring break.  When we return from spring break we have 1 week to review before we start our state mandated standardized testing.  I have been so focused on making sure my students are ready for testing that somehow the funny has slowly left our classroom.  The funny thing is that I hadn't even noticed it.

     This morning I was going through some old files from last year.  I found all sorts of fun projects I did with my kids.  Suddenly it hit me.  Learning used to be fun! I used to be a fun teacher! My students used to be happier! So naturally I did what any good teacher would do.  I scrapped what was in my plans and we had fun with our learning today.  We made posters of the shapes we have been learning in geometry.  Students used string, foam rectangles, and markers to display their knowledge.  I allowed them to work in groups and talk while they worked.  I was pleasantly surprised that there was way more working than talking.

     For our afternoon fun we did a book report in a bag.  Students used note cards to write the characters, setting, problem & solution, main idea and their review of the book.  They then wrote the title, author and illustrator on the outside of the paper bag.  They also drew pictures to match what the book was about and "decorate" their bag.  The cards went inside each bag.  I plan to hang all the bags up and allow students to check out their classmates' reports.

     Many amazing things happened when I scrapped my lesson plans today.  First of all the students were actually on task all day long.  Even though I allowed them to talk while working their voice level was very low and it was a pleasant environment.  Actual learning took place without worksheets or text books (I know this can happen.  It happens all the time in my room.  It just hasn't been happening lately due to test prep craziness.)  Students enjoyed themselves and took more ownership of their learning.  Everyone seemed happier today, including me.

     The moral of this story, friends, is that when we make learning fun and engaging it benefits us all.  I felt a deep love for teaching today that I haven't felt in a while.  My students seemed happier today than they have been in weeks.  Students learned and took ownership of that learning.  My advice to all of you is scrap the lesson plans and insert the fun back in to learning.  State test or not kids just learn better when they are enjoying themselves.

Because we were having so much fun today I forgot to get pictures of my kiddos' projects.  I promise to post pictures tomorrow.

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