Elements of Our Classroom
The Responsive Classroom Approach
I use a classroom management technique called the Responsive Classroom Approach. During the first week of school, the students and I will share our “hopes and dreams” for the school year. Together as a class, we will make a list of the rules we will need to accomplish our hopes and dreams. We will eventually narrow down the list to 3-6 main rules. Once the class has decided upon those rules, I will post them in our room. Because the students have had an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of each rule and were involved in the rule making process, they will be more conscious of them in their day-to-day routines.
Part of the responsive approach is “logical consequences.” This means that breaking a rule will result in a logical consequence, which the teacher is to administer. This means that for misusing the scissors, a student may lose the privilege of working with scissors for a while. For running in the hall, a student may be asked to go back and try again. For disrupting the class, a student may be asked to take a break. “Taking a break” is simply sitting out for a few minutes.
My Classroom Economy
In 2012, I began using a program called My Classroom Economy. My Classroom Economy teaches students financial responsibility through fun, experiential learning. It's a simple classroom economic system based on the idea that students need to earn school "dollars" so that they can rent their own chairs. To earn a paycheck, they need to take on classroom jobs. They can get bonuses for academic performance, outstanding behavior, or extracurricular activities. But students can also incur fines for dishonesty, disrespect, or breaking other classroom rules. Students get rewards by earning more than the cost of rent and participating in our monthly auctions.
Stonebridge uses the Everyday Math series of math textbooks. Everyday Math is designed differently from other math textbooks. It uses a spiral design in its curriculum. Kindergarteners will learn what is generally taught in both kindergarten and first grade. First grade then becomes mostly a review of the material that gives it deeper understanding. Second grade introduces concepts that are generally taught in second and third grade. Third grade becomes a review, and it continues in this pattern.
I will be using Everyday Math with fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades this year. Everyday Math is aligned to Common Core standards and promotes conceptual knowledge of math skills. Eighth grade will be taking Algebra for high school credit. Eighth graders that pass my algebra course will be ready for Algebra II when they go on to high school.
I will also be using IXL. IXL is a website that allows students to practice math skills. Students will have the opportunity to use this website in class, but should also use it at home.
Students in fourth through eighth grade will study science with textbooks, worksheets, and quizzes, but most importantly through hands-on labs and inquiry-based learning. Students will spend two afternoons each week in the lab working individually, with a partner, or in a group. Most of the labs will be inquiry-based. This means the students will design experiments to answer questions, test hypotheses, or make models. Students will be required to use evidence from the labs to support their conclusions. These labs will allow the students to conceptualize many of the facts we'll be reading about in the textbook, but the best part is that the students will have to think scientifically and logically to solve problems and to gain knowledge.
In 2013 a team of Stonebridge teachers was selected to design a new curriculum for Okmulgee area schools. The purpose of this program is to create a new generation of entrepeneurs. We will continue this program this year with students fourth though eighth grade. In this program students will learn valuable skills by building with LEGO robots, programming with computers, simulating a business digitally, creating a business model, running a small business (such as a lemonade stand), studying careers, job shadowing, and more. We had a lot of success with this program in the last few years, and we're proud to continue it.