UnCommon to the Core 10:365×2

Each day, I try to create a classroom that embraces my understanding of what the CCSS have the potential to be for our children. Most days, I know I fall short of my ideal.

The goal of each class is to have the kids say at the end of each day, when did we do Math?  When did we do Reading?  Math and Reading need to be incorporated into the various activities we do throughout the day.  Today my students wrote stories in Math, read books in science, and did basic computation in writing.  My vision of a common core classroom is one in which students are immersed in activities that are rich in literature, social activities, science, and math.  It is a classroom where art and music are incorporated into our projects.  A classroom where students ideas feel valued, and they are encouraged to explore them through the use of literacy, writing, art, music, math, or science.

Here are my favorite things that happened today and how it got started:

My internet was not working and I was not able to make the google docs pages I wanted to make in the morning, the QR codes, or the videos.  Our geometry lesson was ruined.  About 3 minutes before the day started I had to come up with something so I came up with: Take out four 3D objects in your desk.  Predict the flat shapes they will make if you trace their faces.  Draw each shape on the page.  Not my finest moment, but it got the point across and would let me know who knew what a “face” was before we tried something new.  When some of the students were finished, they started asking, “Can we make something out of the shapes?”  We had been manipulating 2D shapes a lot lately, and it seemed a simple answer.  “Use the 4 shapes you have to make a picture on the back. You may only use each shape once!”  This went great!  What a bunch of awesome ideas.

Then: BOOM Magic happened.  This is why I love 1st Grade!  “Mr. Costello, can we write a story about it?”

All of the sudden our Math lesson turned into a narrative writing lesson.  Please include who, what, where, when and why!

Later while we were working on plants in science, we read a book by Gail Gibbons (awesome non-fiction kids author) called From Plant to Seed, the kids were asking questions and I happened to have a few flowers (weeds) that the kids had picked me from last week, sitting in water in the room.  We looked at the different parts of the flower and then talked about how seeds travel.

Finally, for National Superhero day, we created poems about our self-made superheroes and used the Marvel Create your own website to make superheroes.  Students were writing and incorporating art and technology into their poems.  They were also given a minimum number of pages for their poetry books.  They were shown how many pages they had, how many poems we had done as a class that could be options, and told to figure out how many more poems they needed to write.  WHAT? A Math word problem in Poetry?

This is the beginning of my vision for an UnCommon, Common Core Classroom.  One in which texts are resources, the standards are guideposts, and the curriculum is created by teachers AND students throughout the day.

PS for my Genius Hour fans out there, my students who need supplies we do not have in the school are writing project proposal letters to our Home School Association to petition for the funds they need to complete their projects.  It is giving them a chance to evaluate their plan, reflect on their learning so far, and understand the value of money! They have until Friday, then the letters must be completed.  Looking forward to seeing this!

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