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Classroom Community

For the thoughts behind this unit, please see the post from July 24, 2010.

The progress of this unit is organized from the most current day’s work first. Please scroll down to find the beginning of this journey.


Day 5: Finding Structure for My Madness

click here!!!!! –>  Classroom Comm UbD


Day 3: Confusion (July 25)

what am i doing? classroom community isn’t prescriptive. has my fear made me tighten reins and over-think things or am i just clarifying my hopes and purpose?

Later on Day 3: Reflection

Ok. When magic happens in classrooms, it is not by accident.

What have been the rituals or habits in the classrooms that had the magic?

This week, I’ve had the fortunate blessing of spending time with students from my very first class. Sigh. It has been complete joy to hear them (and even some parents) remember the year out loud.  After 6 years, what’s lasted in their hearts has everything to do with Community.  The one “academic” thing a student did mention was a writing celebration, which, in my opinion is all about community.  And as amazing and gorgeous as those kids are, there weredefinitely specific things that helped with the magic. And for some wild reason, I have not carried them across the years.

Later, I’ll process through the rationale and figure out where it fits in this whole curriculum, but before I forget again, I want to make sure they become etched in my mind! And it’s likely that if I write it down, I will be held accountable to do it!

1. Rose and Thorns ceremony at the end of each day.

2. High Five, Handshake, or Hug at the end of EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Which reminds me that I tried to touch and speak to every child individually as they entered and left each day.)

3.”We read all the time.”    READ ALOUDS EVERY DAY!  I think teaching elementary school again will fix this!

4. “There were songs for everything… If there was something we had to know, there was a song.” 🙂    Note: Students helped make them up! Choice and ownership!

5. Rainy Day Comedy Time   (Translation: We laughed a lot. I wasn’t so stressed or uptight (or scared of admin) that we couldn’t enjoy a few seconds off-task to indulge in some silliness. Often.)

6. ?? anything else?


Day 2: Random Thoughts (July 24th)

More questions: How do we become change makers? Why does compassion matter? How do we develop empathy for others? How can reading help us empathize with others?

Enduring understandings: Books introduce us to other lives and experiences.

Empathizing with characters gives us an opportunity to experience someone else’s life.

Note to self: Next time, don’t start planning at midnight.


Day 1: The MESSY BRAINSTORM  (July 23)

GOALS: A classroom is a place where students and teacher can’t WAIT to enter and stay. I want it to be a place that overwhelms them with comfort, safety, love, inspiration, and crazy fun AND pushes them to think, risk, act, and share. (wordy, much? Is there a word that embodies all these things?)

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS: (Have kids help think through these!!!)

1. What makes someone feel safe? comfortable? Loved?

2. What makes a group of human beings love and care for one another?

3. When is learning fun? magical?

4. What is a favorite teacher like? Who are the teachers you trust and why do you trust them? — way too specific for an essential question. Why is trust important in school/relationships?  What does she do? not do?  ( your biggest fan.. looks out for you. believes in you. knows you.)

5. What inspires people?

6. When do people/I feel o.k. taking risks?

7.  ??? What creates a memorable school year?

ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS (***Kids’ answers to questions should drive these. I am just taking myself through the process here.)

In our class, everyone is respected. You can take risks no matter what. You can be YOU and we’ll love you for it. Our room is a place where you can be known and accepted.(Learn names and histories and favorites as soon as possible! It’s easier to care for others when you know their story.)  If you need help, your classmates are like your family- we will help you out. Mistakes happen, and you will always be forgiven. It’s assumed that we will never hurt one another on purpose. But, if on accident we do, we can immediately go to one another and apologize.  * In every circumstance, we should put others first.  Why? This is tough. I think the answer might be “Why not?”  This could be the secret to world peace. If we get this right, WE might be the very people who change the world. Would you like the be the class that changed the world? ;) –> this links back to “What inspires people?” People who inspire me are people who live in a way that makes others’ lives better.

To be  continued. . .

Next steps: 1. Revise questions 2. Finish and revise understandings- do they answer the essential questions? 3. Have I included an academic piece?? should I?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cecilia permalink
    August 1, 2010 10:38 pm

    The July 25th post made me smile. I remember those days like YESTERDAY! I loved how engaged the students were in the classroom. I know for a fact that my son LOVES social studies because you chose to put the traditional textbook aside

  2. Cecilia permalink
    August 1, 2010 10:43 pm

    and use real authentic pieces of literature. He still talks about how you made it all come to life. Of course, we always laugh and remember Rainy Day Comedy time. Since he was a huge part of the “show”, we will get a repeat performance at the dinner table. Those are rare now, but they are a HUGE piece as to why he an academic today!!! Learning was fun, rigorous and interesting!!! You created community from day one and it has remained a huge part of those students lives. Most of them are entering their Junior year in high school…Most are taking advanced placement courses….Hands down, all of them know how much you cared and wanted them do their very best! You are a treasure in our field!! Keep up the good work. Your students will love your classroom and will be well equipped for the world!!!

  3. August 1, 2010 10:45 pm

    Thank you for this. I’m tearing up. He ate UP the World Wars!!
    This means so much, especially coming from YOU!

    (I’m just thankful you guys believed in my first year teacher self and encouraged me so much.) I remember that year more vividly than any year yet. MAN, we had fun!!!!! I would live it over and over again in a minute.. but they’re all 6 feet tall and determined to grow up on us.

  4. August 1, 2010 10:49 pm

    I just saw your second post and now am weeping!!!

    Thank you doesn’t suffice. But I’m telling you- hearing these words from an administrator is one thing…hearing it from a mama is even better. But having it come from my administrator who is a mama?!? well, there’s no better compliment! love you so.

    when Shamari Byrd told me she was in honors and Devin was talking about college, I thought I’d loose it. And they loved each other so much, which was the most special part.

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