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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Free Choice Stations

You may remember that before Spring Break, the crew and I generated a list of things that we wanted to try after Spring Break. One of them was to have free choice during station time - free choice of activity and free choice of who to work with. We have tried that idea the last two Fridays and we recently sat down and talked about it as a crew to see how we thought it was going. All of the crew immediately agreed that they thought they it was too loud during that time. They had a hard time talking with their partners and hearing their partners. They also felt like some areas were too crowded. We talked about how this all might impact others: hard for me to teach reading groups at this time and it was hard for Ms. Josie to work with her students and some kids really just didn't like the extra noise. I loved that they all could see why we do stations the way we do them most of the time. They noticed that when they had a specific station they tried more of the activities that are available in our room, they were quieter and things were calmer, they didn't have to spend so much time negotiating for turns and space. I was very impressed with their awareness and their thinking. So by the end of the discussion, we had made some new agreements:
  • We will still have free choice time but only once a week so that we have some "calm" days.
  • We will do free choice time on Wednesdays - the day that Ms. Josie isn't here - so that we don't interrupt her work.
  • We will have set areas for the "louder" activities.
  • We will have limits for the amount of items one group can have out at a time and how many people are in a group.
  • People will need it will take a short break and read a book before returning to the group.
We discussed all of this without a lot of teacher involvement. They pointed out the concerns and they came up with the solutions. They are such deep thinkers.

Below are some pictures of free choice times - some from before our new agreements and some after. I have to say that all our our thinking paid off. They did a fantastic job today. They worked well with each other, they shared the space and kept the noise level down. They worked longer on bigger projects with a wide variety of friends - they were so proud of their collaboration. I was able to teach my reading groups and enjoy the work they the rest of the crew was creating.

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