It has taken me a while to even begin this post for a few reasons. Chapter 4 is about the importance of developing a certain culture in your classroom. It is the culture that I have always envisioned as how my classroom would work. However, it has not always turned out that way. The picture above is from one of those days last year where I left school on top of the world. My students were 100% engaged, my room was filled with a community of learners that were focused on solving a math problem. The time flew by, excellent math discussion took place -BETWEEN STUDENTS, etc. So why couldn't I have that more often? Why couldn't that be everyday?
After reading the first 3 chapters I can tell you one thing about this day...they had a really good task, it was on that half sheet of paper and their group was to find the cost of taking a trip from NY to LA. That was all the info I gave them, they had to think of and account for everything they would have to pay for in order to take that trip.
OK, so back to chapter 4. Hoffer explains that there are three key elements to building a community of learners.
- Intention-having a vision and expectations for your classroom
- Interdependence-Basically teaching kids how to work together, creating tasks that require group work, not just tasks that could be done solo and throw them into groups just to make groups.
- Homeostasis-this section talks about classroom management stuff, hold everyone accountable, give authentic consequences, immediate feedback, self monitoring, etc.
There are some really great suggestions in each of these three sections.
One of my biggest takeaways is the idea of presenting my expectations in the form of norms (pg. 53) I loved her chart, and I'm thinking that if I present this to students I can have them create the "rules" of class together, something I've never done. Actually by posting the Norms of the class, somewhat eliminate a need for a list of rules, the rules become -you're either supporting the norms or your not. Actually the more I look over her chart the more I love it!
I have to say I am so glad that I am reading this book now, over summer break, it is really giving me direction and focus for my plans for the coming school year!