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Limited Time and Space by Jasmin Valladares

August 30, 2015

I was prepared to share and demonstrate the many classroom techniques and transitions that I used in my classroom in an Indian classroom.  As I was trying to overcome the distraction of voices and noise coming from the other room and thinking how amazing a door would be, I came across the students’ school day schedule on the whiteboard.  The students began their day at 9:00 AM and went until 4:00PM.  I should also mention that they do also attend school on Saturday! Saturday!  A normal school day would consist of morning prayers/pledges, Reading, Telegu, Math, Lunch, Hindi, Read Aloud/Shared Reading, Science/Social Studies, and Writing journal/independent reading/class discussion to end the day.  The students do get a 10minute break in the morning.  I was expecting to see a transition at some point but nothing!  I was okay, for Lunch they will have to transition…and no.  The students got up at lunchtime and went to find their favorite spot in the school to have their lunch.  They did not have a lunchroom in our school.  I was surprised to find out that the little ones are pretty much confined to their desks throughout the whole school day; there wasn’t much opportunity to move around.  As a teacher of younger children, one knows that they need to get their wiggles out.  Surprisingly, most of the students did maintain long periods of stillness before getting restless.  However, their teacher did notice at times she needed a brain break and would give them one.

The challenge was going to be introducing Centers in the class within the limited space, and also thinking of wiggle breaks that would allow the students a chance to let their wiggles out within the limited spaces.  The Centers was a challenge because of the small classroom size.  I created 3 centers and told the teacher that the good thing about centers is that she can scaffold or add rigor according to her groups.  She had her classroom setup in groups that consisted of a high student, average student, and low students.  This created some issues because the students who were dominant in the activities and answering questions were the higher students.  The lower or shyer students weren’t as active or participating.  So the first day we implemented centers she had separated her groups into highs, mids, and lows.  She then had them get up and get into one of the three sections in the classroom.  They centers involved sight words, sentence orders, and chunks of words to allow the students to make new words.  (This was created to help the students build their chunking strategies since this was one of their weaknesses when they came across unknown words.)  During the first day of implementing centers the students were a bit loud, but I think it was more so because they were excited about the activities that we had planned.  It was not so much that they were being intentionally loud.  The transition into groups would allow the students to move some.  But little did I know I would then realize some kinks that I had not accounted for.

I realized that I had made a few errors.  I had scaffold the students sight words according to the lows, mids, and highs, but had not scaffold the sentence sort.  I realized that some of the sentences had one too many adjectives and could have created sentences based on their levels.  I also realized that I had not accounted for students finishing earlier than others and how they would have to wait to receive the resources from the other students.  Lastly, I also had not accounted for the wind blowing from the ceiling fan.  The sentence strips and word chunks were flying everywhere.  But one thing I have learned as a teacher is that despite the crummy day one may have, one should always look for a positive.  My positive from that 1st Center day was that one low group was able to solve the sentence that had excessive adjectives before any of the high or mid students had.  I made sure to positively praise them and feel accomplished for solving that sentence.

I returned to the hotel that day with tweaks that needed to be made.  I created more sentence strips that would allow the students to work in a timely manner without waiting for other students to finish.  I also altered some of the sentences to have a few less adjectives.  Day two of centers was a bit smoother.  The students had the creating word chunks written on sticky notes that helped keep the papers from flying.  As well as I had made the sentence strips a bit bigger to allow to place under their notebooks to avoid flying away and made extra copies so the students could work more efficiently.

The kids were excited and enjoyed the centers.  I also was able to give prompts to the students to help them sort the sentence out, like asking them who or what they thought the subject of the sentence was and what they thought the predicate of the sentence was.  I also had them identify the words to ask is it a noun, adjective, or verb.  This I found was a bit more helpful to unscramble the sentence.  I told the Didi that she could make a chart that the students can reference to help them during that center.  To push them in writing sentences I also had the students who were writing the words 5xs each to use that word in a sentence that would help develop their writing skills.

It was amazing to see the students enjoy and take part in the centers.  Students who were shy or tended to allow someone else to do the work, I was able to see get more hands on in the centers and practice the skills.  I also told the Didi that I was working with that once the kids got into a routine of the centers, she could have some free time to pull a small group and work with them individually.  This would allow her some time to meet student’s needs within their busy school schedule.

Again I am grateful that I had a Didi that was willing to work with me and open to my feedback!  I hope that the introduction of Centers despite the limited space and time will allow for some individual or small group interaction in the classroom.

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