Push Stop and Reflect

In my last post, I described our plans for a more flexible learning day through the use of Choose, Act, Reflect time (C.A.R. time) to give learners more voice, choice and ownership over their learning. We wanted to engage learners in co-constructing our learning experiences and choice over how they structured their learning, so they could develop an understanding of who they are as a learner. We wanted the learning to be a motivating factor for writing, to give writing an authentic purpose within our learning environment. We were moving from a fairly structured learning environment to more time for free flow and choice. Since then, our KG hub has been a whirlwind of activity. We have reflected and adjusted, but not really had a moment to push stop.

“We need to push stop and reflect,” is a favorite saying of my colleague Zoe Roles (@RolesZoe ) as she reminds us of the need to reflect to move forward. So, this post is my reflection on changes we implemented in our Kindergarten learning hub.

So I baked cookies with my daughter to get me into a reflection mindset.

During the first week, I tried to take the time to step back and observe. We noticed engagement in the first learning experience that learners chose, but very little documentation unless it was adult directed. we also noticed that after a while, learners lost focus and would revert to their comfort zone (the want to do experiences), rather than explore new learning experiences.

Based on these reflections, we decided to model learning experiences, model using writing as a documentation tool and introduced one session of interactive writing per week in small groups. One of the benefits of teaching and learning in a hub is that we can have several groups with an adult mentor.

I also began to focus our planning of guided reading to meet the needs of each small group. To support us, I took the Teaching Every Reader course led by Anna Geiger, M.Ed. and Becky Spence, M.Ed. Through the course and discussions with colleagues, I discovered Jan Richardson‘s “The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading.”

Each guided reading session is planned to review and teach new sight words, develop fluency, phonemic awareness, decoding skills, comprehension skills, vocabulary and provide opportunities for writing. I strongly feel like investing the time to plan and establish the routines for guided reading has been a driving force in helping our learners develop the skills they need as readers and writers. The small group sizes mean that I can personalize learning and give feedback in the moment and we are seeing progress. Learners are beginning to see the importance of decoding strategies and learning sight words.

Having said this, the time it takes to run these guided reading sessions during C.A.R. time means that we have had less time to observe and interact with learners engaged in other learning experiences. Personally, I felt like we made the change so we could have more time to interact with our learners, and found that we had less.

In response to this observation we decided that it was time support our learners with making choices to support their learning. We created advisory groups so learners could meet in smaller groups. We shared the learning options and learners could stick icons to a planning graphic organizer. At the end of C.A.R time we met back in our groups to reflect.

Our C.A.R. Time planning organizer

We asked our learners how they felt about C.A.R. time and discovered that they liked having the planning discussions, but it was challenging to keep track of their plan. Over the next few days we continued our conversations and discovered that our learners missed writing together as a class and would like to so for some days in the week. They also suggested that they could plan their day without trackers if we took more time to model each learning experience. We also discussed simplifying the ‘must do’ experiences to number and word/letters learning. Finally, we decided to wait to begin ‘want to do’ experiences until most learners had opportunities to engage in the ‘must do’ experiences.

Not everything we have tried has worked for us, but each experience has been a learning opportunity. Through listening to our learners and own intuition, we feel like we have balanced our schedule to support our learners develop the skills they need to push their learning forward. Through engaging in a #riskandreflect process we are defining how we learn together in our kindergarten learning hub.