Coming later today . . . in the meantime, please send an email to us to request detailed lesson plans for this activity!Director@21stCenturySchools.comThe video below is from the old El Sullivan Show. The object of this lesson plan and strategy is NOT to get your students spinning plates.
I use the "Spinning Plate" a a metaphor for getting the students in your class to begin working independently, and it works great!Of course, you must begin with the the First Spinning Plate. Once it is going you start another spinning plate and so on.
I will be sending detailed step by step plans on how to implement this in your classroom. It is a teacher's and a student's dream come true once they get used it to, which take a bit of time, but it is so worth it!.
As soon as my students and I have completed the Take What You Need
activity, I follow with this discussion.Here is where high expectations are set - firmly! We have discussed that we will continue to build our classroom community on a daily basis all year long and why that is important.
Then I do an informal survey, asking the students how many of them make all A's, B's, etc. My point is not to embarrass anyone, but to get an idea of how the students already think of themselves as learners. It was amazing to me as a fourth grade teacher how many students, nine years old, came into my classroom on the first day of school believing that they were stupid, slow, losers, failures and would always be so.I pointed to a huge banner across the front of my classroom (which our art teacher has so graciously created for me). It said:If It Isn't Good, It Isn't Done!I then informed the students that NO ONE in this class would EVER make a grade of less than a B. If I were back in the classroom today I would change that to "No one in this classroom will ever make a grade of less than an A!"Many of the students looked at me with incredulity - they simply could not conceive of the possibility of making grades that high. But I promised them that they would, and that I would help them. Essentially I told them that learning and succeeding was NOT AN OPTION in this classroom.Let me make one thing clear right now (I sound like Richard Nixon here.) The students in this classroom were a diverse group, except that none of them were identified/labeled as GT (gifted and talented). We had regular kids, and lower level achievers, and some students were "special ed". Some came from homes with good incomes, and some students lived in poverty (about half of them). Also, for about half of the students, English was a second language and not spoken at home. There were plenty of family conflicts, dysfunctions and crises to go around - for example, parents in prison, siblings in constant trouble with the law, drunkenness, divorce, boyfriends running off with mom's paycheck so the child had no way to purchase school supplies. I'll never forget a little boy coming to me on the second day of school, tears streaming down his face. He was ashamed and thought he would be in trouble because he had no school supplies. Mom's boyfriend took her paycheck and left.So these students weren't what some teachers would call "the cream of the cream of the crop". They were good, regular people.
And these students achieved beyond their wildest expectations.I always say to teachers: "What are you really telling a student when you assign them a grade of 42, or 57 or 73? You are telling them two things:1. You are not smart.2. You do not have to learn this"So, just do not let learning something be optional. Do NOT let failure be optional. There are ways to set up, organize and run classrooms, curriculum and instruction that WILL enable the students to learn all the content and skills you want them to learn, and they will learn them at much higher levels than you, or they, expected.Get the classroom and curriculum set up, teach them the strategies, provide the support, maintain the highest expectations, and then - get out of their way! One of the biggest problems we have in education today is seriously, shamefully low expectations.Once your students realize that you are serious, and they begin to experience success, their self-confidence will grow. They will be willing to take on much greater challenges than they every have before, and succeed.That's what school is all about!
How to make the first day of school a fantastic success for your students and for you! Whether you're a first-year teacher or a veteran, you'll find these simple strategies to be an excellent way to launch the new school year!1. Take What You Need!
the best community-building strategy you'll ever use. Get all the details here!2. If It Isn't Good, It Isn't Done!
- establishing high expectations that really make student achievement soar - for all
students! Read the details here
.3. The First Spinning Plate
- this is a great way to get students working independently on Day One. Here's how!
Building Community - Take What You Need!
- To establish a positive classroom climate, safe emotional environment, and to begin building community immediately requires deliberate, conscious planning and strategies. This is one you and your students will love!It's a great example of a specifric philosophy I share with William Glasser "Learning is serious, but that doesn't mean it has to be grim."First thing, first day! Gather your students into a circle. My preference (if it is possible) is to gather on a large rug. I always purchase a 12' x 18' piece of inexpensive carpet from a roll at Home Depot.
If you don't have a rug, the floor will do, or just arrange desks into a circle.Don'
t say anything, just take out a roll of toilet paper, tear off a length with about 10 pieces, hand the roll of toilet paper to the student sitting next to you, and just say, "Take what you need." Of course, the students will be surprised/shocked. But don't say anything. Let each student take as much or as little as they want, then pass it to the next student. After all students have had an opportunity to take some toilet paper (it's possible that one or two students won't take any because they aren't sure just what this is about)
you can explain to them what you're doing. Say that for each square of toilet paper they have taken they will now share something about themselves with the class. This is a "getting to know you" activity. No one is required to say anything. Demonstrate the type of information you'd like them to share by modeling - you go first. I always give the students my first and last name; I am emphasizing that I am a person
. So, for example, I may say . . .[Tearing off Square 1] - My name is Anne Shaw.[Tearing off Square 2] - I live in Austin, Texas.[Tearing off Square 3] - I have three children, all grown, and five grandchildren, ages 2 to 10. [Tearing off Square 4] - I love to cook (and eat!). I especially like enchiladas (and fried chicken and mashed potatoes.)[Tearing off Square 5] - I used to live in Pensacola, Florida, and my favorite thing about that (next to living near and spending time with two of my grandchildren) was watching the Blue Angels flying around every day.[Tearing off Square 6] - My husband and I just spent a fantastic week in Turkey! [Tearing off Square 7] - We are going to New Delhi, India and Shanghai, China in September. I want to, among many other things, bring home beautiful saris for all the women in our family! [Tearing off Square 8] - During the last 2-3 year I have become very interested in environmental studies in education - from building sustainable school buildings (or living buildings) to school gardens.[Tearing off Square 9] - I am super excited about a new global, collaborative classrooms project we are developing called Food and Culture! See possible Issues and Themes here.Now, allow each student to do the same. The point of my modeling this first is to prevent everyone from saying the least amount of information possible and to get them to provide information that provides the rest of us with insight to who they really are - really unique, specific information.Usually, not only do we have one or two students who opt out, we usually also have one or two (I refer to them as the 'funny guys") who start rolling it out, and end up with a huge pile of toilet paper. This happens in workshops with teachers as well, and it's always a big laugh for everyone when I tell them that for each square they have to tell us something about themselves. In short, it's a lot of fun, and the best way I know to begin creating real community immediately.After everyone has had their turn I explain to them that we are a team, a community, and that we are all there to support, teach each other, and learn from each other. We build on this community every single day of the school year - first thing every day. We do not do the toilet paper every day, but usually on the second day of school the students who did not opt to participate on day one ask if we can do it again. We do, and then everyone is much more relaxed, sharing and open. It only takes a few minutes, and it's worth every second.Thereafter, we just have regular "rug talks" to start the day. Not everyone goes around the circle and says something every day. We just allow anyone who wishes to share something the chance to do so. Sometimes it is something like, "We had spaghetti at grandma's house last night." Or, "We went to the county fair last night." And sometimes it is quite serious.One day in early Spring I realized just how strong and profound our community was.
A mother came to me before school; I was outside on playground duty. She had tears streaming down her face. Her ex-husband (the father of one of my students) had died during the night, unexpectedly, due to an epileptic seizure. Of course they offered, and expected, the little girl to stay home from school, but she insisted on being there with us. And when we began the day with our regular "rug talk" she asked me to tell the group what had happened. When I did, she let out this huge sob from deep inside her soul.That was a powerful learning experience for all of us. We were a true community. In true communities of learners (including teachers) a support system is built in which we can share not only tragedies, but triumphs, bits of joy or fun from daily life. And from within that context, the Emotional Environment, we are safe to take risks, to grow and develop into our true selves.
As you may know, we had a fabulous time in Turkey recently. I am working on a paper about the experience, and it should be ready to read soon.
We are receiving a growing number of inquiries from people in India, so it looks like we will be going there in late September, and possibly on to Shanghai, China from there.
If any of you are from India or China and would like to attend our workshops there, or know someone who would like to, I'd appreciate your putting them in touch with us. Director@21stCenturySchools.com
Here are some links to possible funding for teacher to obtain professional development overseas. I think it's very important into our growing population and globalized world. And, really, it would be great if every teacher could do more traveling. It truly gives you an entirely new perspective on people, cultures, societies and history.
Follow this page to find several sources of funding for overseas PD, as well as a growing list of information about what you can see in India!
And just think of the ideas and items you can take back to your classroom!