I know I have already posted this on our collaborative blog, but just thought I would post it here too, in case you missed it and might find something useful!
At the beginning of the year, my first graders are still very dependent on adult reassurance (they have aides in K) and there is frequently an air of ‘learned helplessness’ which can try the patience of a saint! My classes are always 30+ and all day long my little ‘hip-clingers’ are tap, tap, tapping away at my hip with the same question – “what do I do now?” I am very keen to guide them towards some independent thinking early on! (Especially as my daily timetable does not set aside a time for guided reading – it has to be done whenever it can be fitted in!) I therefore need to train my littlies to know what to do when I am not available. From this situation grew my focus wall. On the very first day they start to learn that everything they need to know ‘urgently’ can be found here.
|My theme this year is safari, hence the banana tree!|
When I am reading with a group I use this light:
The students know they have to wait.
When I need their full attention, I use ‘Bella’:
Otherwise they use the focus wall as their aid until I am free.
The focus wall is also useful as any visiting parents can see at a glance what is happening in the classroom. It also acts as a quick guide to any last minute subs.
The following are some of the things I use on my focus wall:
KWL Chart: The children have their individual copies which they complete in a small group. I take their responses and add a teacher version to the focus wall. (They fold the 'L' section out of sight and complete this when the topic is finished.)
|KWL Chart (Student version)|
|Top left KWL Chart (Teacher Version)|
The self-assessment system is used as they are completing work. They have a little dish of color-coded cards to use. When working with a guided reading group I can see from a distance who has placed a red card on their notebook. As soon as I am free, they get my attention first.
The ‘Must do, May do’ board is my life-saver. When students are unsure, they can check the ‘Must do’ board to ensure they have completed everything required for each session. They then move to the ‘May do’ board (this includes a daily task board) which gives them a choice of activities to complete – this may be completing an online task, listening to an ereader, playing Boggle or a math game – these are rotated daily, so that they don’t always choose the same thing and get a chance to practice a range of skills.
|Taskboard as part of 'May Do' board - this is just to the right of the focus wall.|
The color-coded circles match the color of their tables.
KWL Chart freebie - blacklines included: Just click on the pic!