When students transition to 5th and 6th grade, then begin a different schedule where they split the day between two core teachers as well as attend electives each day. They have a two hour block with Language Arts and Social Studies, a two hour block with math and science, an hour for lunch and recess and an hour for electives. Students have whole group lessons and meetings, time to work alone quietly, time to collaborate with learning partners and small groups, time to get up in front of the class and lead a meeting or present material creatively, and time to get ouside and move.
As students arrive the students and teachers greet each other as they settle in and prepare for the day. They are getting organized, reading the morning message, schedule, assignments for the week, and announcements. It is a quiet buzz of activity and conversation, often with music playing. By using timers, cues with music, and student leadership, they come to gather at the right time, ready for our meeting and our first lessons of the day that follow the meeting. They have a strong routine of coming to circle, with their planners, notebooks, and materials open and ready and helping each other be ready and included.
Community meeting is a time to share what is on their hearts and minds, to create and/or reinforce class norms and problem solve when needed, to be curious and ask questions about anything going on in the world, to share their writing, their book recommendations, to have a singalong, to play a game to connect or do team building activities.
For writers’ workshop students begin by gathering together. We will typically share an excerpt from a published author to model an aspect of what we are practicing from memoir to argumentative or informative essays to poetry. In the writers’ workshop we use short mini-lessons, often with the student’s current writing. Students share their work on the document camera and projector and elicit responses from their classmates. They have time to return to their places and work on their own writing each day. They have a lot of choice in what they write about. Typically there are at least three teachers in the room conferencing with individuals or small groups.
Reading workshop functions similarly, with beginning together, typically reading aloud from a published text. We might be working on a whole class book club, small group book clubs, or short texts individually or in small groups. Students always have a book they are reading of their choice. Because of the way that the early FDNSC teachers instill a love of reading, the ability to choose books right for you, and to have consistent daily habits with reading, these kids read! We are able to focus on diving more deeply into the text and becoming observant, critical readers. They are able to notice and discuss literary elements of the text and are skilled at finding and marking up these elements as they are reading.
Throughout all parts of the day, we infuse looking at our community, our texts, history, current events and our actions with a social justice lens. Using our social justice mission statement and critical literacy questions about movements, issues, and people, students learn to reflect and question as they learn. We do a lot of research with real books as well as online tools to learn history, and try to constantly connect how the past has shaped where we are now. We have a lot of fun with maps and collaborating with peers for projects.
In 5th and 6th grade students really tend to blossom as readers and writers and thinkers. They begin to become reflective and critical thinkers. They begin to look outside themselves and become aware of their own life experience, what they know, what they don’t know. They are curious, inspired learners and so fun to work with!
During a typical day in 5th and 6th-grade math and science you will see, hear, and feel many different aspects of learning.
You will see:
- smiling and laughing to focus and pride all while working as a class, in small groups, or individually.
- Students start every morning with a community meeting where they greet each other, go over the day, talk, and talk about topics from the community
- The teacher facilitates discussion and in small groups of students.
- Students taking movement breaks throughout the day
- The teacher provides morning and afternoon study hall
- During math students are showing work in front of the class, using manipulatives, technology, and writing out work to solve problems while collaborating, working in small groups, or working independently
- During science students are testing and investigating topics, creating their own research question to research, are demonstrating topics with the teacher, and taking what they have learned to create art, songs, plays, models/diagrams, games, etc
You will hear
- Students and teachers discussing, collaborating, questioning, understanding, respectful comments but most of all, laughter.
- Students taking ownership of their learning and retelling what they have heard
- Students sharing ideas and math strategies
- Students leading class discussions
- Answering others questions and asking for understanding from each share
- Interactive learning from ALL students
You will feel