A Look Inside Mrs. Fleenor’s Second and Third Grade Class.
One of my philosophies of education is that we learn in different ways. I prefer learning visually whereas some of my students would much rather use their bodies more actively in order to learn. Still others, prefer using their voices or talking so that they can process what they know. I incorporate other preferences for learning in my teaching. For example, when we study sight and spelling words, I ask everyone to stand and clap/snap the spelling of the words as they read them. I tell them that this way, we are hearing, seeing, and using our bodies to learn the new word. The students love it, and I can always tell my kinesthetic learners by how they especially love to add extra movement and dance around a little bit during this time!
As an artistic individual, I love to incorporate art and creativity into the class. Why take notes with words alone, when we can sketch a symbol for ideas? Graphic organizers can take the shape of a bridge that’s a main idea with beams of supporting details or a landscape with the water cycle labeled on it. I also love to have the students create their own books. Sometimes we may be creating a class book in which each student is responsible for his or her own page. The subject matter can be anything from math problems with ant story problems to Spanish vocabulary. After the pages are done, I bind it together and showcase it in our library. Other times, each student is responsible for their own book. Our animal books are a great example of this. I guide the students in an activity that ends up being one of their pages, and in this way we work our way through the book. One page is a labeled diagram of the animal. Another has little paper flaps that open up to reveal written details of its habitat or special features. Other pages are bar graphs of all the animals’ weights in the class and narrative stories told from their animal’s points of view.
This brings me to another one of my framing philosophies of education. A learner needs to feel like they are part of the club, so to speak. If a student feels like he or she belongs and that they are excepted as a learner, they will learn even more. The publishing of the class books is one of the activities we do that helps students feel that they belong. After all, they have work that is published in our library! Another activity that fosters this is when the students work in small groups. Every fall, I ask my students to participate in a science invention competition. They can work alone or in groups. The room can get a little noisy and messy as they draw pictures of their ideas, then write their paragraphs, and finally create their posters and prototypes, but that’s OK. They are learning about the scientific process and learning to work collaboratively. They are scientists!
Learning by doing is an important part of the classroom. There is a time for learning about a subject matter by reading about it or being told about it, but there is also a time for learning by being actively involved in other ways, too. One of my favorite science units is my rock and mineral unit. We have our folded paper books in which we record all of our science experiment wonderings and results. I guide the experiments, but my desire is that I will get the students so involved in their learning and inquiring, that they will come up with the experiments or hypothesis themselves. Which brings me to another one of my framing class ideas.
Students will remember so much more if they feel like they came up with the idea themselves. Yes, I do teach my students in a direct manner sometimes. I go over math or grammar ideas on the document camera or at the white board; however, there are times, when I ask leading questions instead. I want my students to think and then after some time, talk it over with a neighbor. They may be grouped together with a math inquiry or just finished with part of a science experiment. Then I will ask for their ideas. I love that moment when I can tell that someone has come up with an idea or new thought! That student is so eager to share, and each student knows that they need to turn to that person, respectfully listen, and then add on to the idea. We learn from each other in this way that we all have ideas and each one’s ideas is important to all of our learning. We also learn in the classroom that learning is a process in which we all are involved, and that it can be very exciting and rewarding!