Today the students entered the room and had to search for their desks. All of the students (except 2) had had their desks placed in groups of 4 or 5. I expected grumbling and confusion, but the 3rd grade group handled the change with little disruption to their morning routine. Morning worksheets, breakfast, lunch choice, Star Spangled Banner (and they still get the words wrong) and all of the other familiar morning activities occurred without issue.
The day's schedule was a bit altered from the norm. Junior Achievement took up part of the day. The visit from the guidance counselor didn't happen today. We worked on math more than usual. Math is where the biggest event happened today.
Some students go to the resource room for math. Since we had an extra lesson today, these students were still in the classroom. Mrs. J gave a short review lesson on the IWB, and then the students were split into groups to work on multiplication using unifix-type blocks. The students were instructed to take 18 blocks and see how many different ways they could represent the total; 2 groups of 9, 3 groups of 6, etc. I offered to take two of the students that normally do not stay for math.
One girl (I'll call her H) in my group was a bit reluctant to try the activity. I worked with her slowly and she started to grasp the exercise. With tongue protruding out of the corner of her mouth, she stacked, counted, and re-stacked the blocks to find all of the possible combinations. When I showed her that there was a pattern (3x6 and 6x3, 2x9 and 9x2,...) I saw the light come on. She was so excited that she had to go up to the front of the room and share her discovery. I was happy to see that her classmates nodded in agreement and let her have her moment of glory. Many of the at/above grade level kids could have easily shot her down, but they did not. I felt a sense of community and family in the classroom. H had her 15 seconds of fame and then we moved on to the next activity.
The new seating arrangement seems to be working so far. There is a little chatting, but there is also some collaborating and mentoring going on at each island of desks. It is fun to watch them try to help each other without giving away the answer. I look forward to watching them work together the remainder of the week.
My professor visits tomorrow afternoon for my second and final evaluation. I am teaching a language unit on the Promethean board, complete with a quiz using the remote voter units. I ran through the flip-chart once. It should be easy, but I'm still a bit nervous. I did accidentally bring the Promethean board's pen home in my shirt pocket today. Maybe I'll sleep with it under my pillow for good luck.