Thursday, July 31, 2014

Successful Cooperative Learning - Setting Expectations

The countdown has begun!  Only 11 days until the teachers report to school, and only 13 days until the students start.  Personally, I have one child that can't wait and one child that is dreading it.

I will be using the elements of MAX Teaching in my classroom.

Because we will be learning in a variety of ways, I was excited to find this chart on Pinterest.  I would love to give credit to the teacher who created this, but the link doesn't lead to more than a picture.  

I have the poster ready for a classroom lesson.  I think it is important for students to help set expectations, so we will spend one of our first days together discussing what each of these entail.  I may even draw from my experiences working with my early elementary teacher friends and do a "Looks Like/Sounds Like" activity.

For this activity, I will use the Four Components of Successful Cooperative Learning.
  1. Each student will INDIVIDUALLY write down what each model Looks Like and Sounds Like.
  2. Students will share their ideas in SMALL GROUPS - approximately four students per group.  Students will work to determine which ideas are most important, coming to a small group consensus.
  3. The teacher will record thoughts as each small group will share one idea during a WHOLE CLASS DISCUSSION until all ideas are exhausted.  

Since I will have six sections, I will take ideas from each hour to add to the poster before laminating it.  We will refer to the completed poster often throughout the first months of school as we move through the different stages of group work.  Procedure, consistency, and having a real problem to be solved are key to making cooperative groups successful.

Monday, July 7, 2014


I've been wanting to start a blog for some time.  Quite honestly, I have been stuck on finding the perfect name.  Every time I thought of THE perfect name, I realized someone else had beat me to it.  I obviously should have started this whole blogging thing years ago.

The goal of this blog will be to share my experiences and the connections I make as I head back into the classroom.  I never intended to leave the classroom - teaching is all I have ever wanted to do.

The "When I Grow Up I Want To Be..." section of this book is the same year after year. As my friends were searching for their calling in college, frequently switching majors, I felt blessed to know exactly what I wanted to do.  

So what happened?

In December of 2010, I was provided the unique opportunity to become an Instructional Coach.  I didn't really know what an Instructional Coach would do, and I really didn't want to leave my classroom (and AWESOME group of students).  However, following the advice of a trusted mentor, I took a leap of faith.  

In June of 2012, I found myself in another opportunistic situation.  The Oklahoma State Department of Education was set to hire 60 Instructional Coaches to provide professional development to the teachers of Oklahoma.  I sent in my application, interviewed, and in July found myself among 59 amazing educators.  

(There will be more on each of these jobs later.  I don't want my first post to be too long!)

As much as I loved learning and sharing new ideas with teachers, there was something missing.  I grew jealous of the teachers walking into their buildings and into their classrooms.  I missed the connections - the relationships - that develop between a teacher and her students.  Inquiries were made about possible teaching positions, and there is no way to describe the joy in my heart when my new principal said, "I have an opening if you want to apply."

That brings me to this photo.

Just an ordinary classroom after it has been cleaned in June.  However, to me, it is like finding my way back home.  I can't wait to build connections with new students and colleagues!!!