Ok… As far as self-reflection goes, I’m the queen. I am always looking back to see what worked with the students, what didn’t… I survey them at the end of the day to see what they enjoyed, what they didn’t care for, and how they performed with each task. The biggest challenge I have to say, is dealing with the heat and assuring engagement with my group of incoming third graders in summer school.

This is the first year that our district is providing summer school for at-risk students in the lower grades. Each child was recommended by his/her school to participate. These students are struggling readers that need extra support throughout the year, as well as a push for the summer months. Each family has committed to sending their child to school for three hours a day for four weeks. This, of course, has been the last two weeks of the heat wave. Our curriculum consists of appropriate grade level standards from CCSS. A mix of literary and informational text with some poetry splashed in. Trying to keep twelve students focused on curricula when it’s 95+ degrees outside (and inside) is a challenge, to say the least.

We take it slow, but steady, and each child is truly enjoying his/her time with me in the classroom. The room has a Smartboard and I am lucky enough to have Kindles and iPads to use with the students. My goal is to make the stations as engaging as possible. The students seem to be involved and able to attend to the tasks. We are really working hard on creating a 21st Century classroom with all that we are doing.

I have learned so much in the last few weeks of my coursework, but I know it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Students need to be challenged and engaged. I know engagement doesn’t solve every problem in the classroom. If students are challenged on a personal level, they will do their best to meet the goal. No quoting statistics here, just my personal experience.

My “usual” age group is middle school (12-15 years) and this class is made up of 7 and 8 year-olds. What was I thinking? That I needed to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. I work hard during the year to support teachers in guiding them in technology integration or curricular connections. However, I don’t have my own classroom. As the consultant, I work on specified topics, not creating the day for the kids from the second they walk in, until the moment they line up to go home. It’s been about eight years since I had to do that. The summer school position has given me a whole new respect for classroom teachers. Not that I didn’t respect them before, I just forgot what it was like. Especially in a heat wave!!!

These photos are some of my students using tools to help them work on independent reading as well as reader response questions and story creation/fluency practice. I used the Story Builder app (iPad) for students to record him/herself and practice fluency. Each child has a rubric that they are familiar with that assists in improving their rate, expression and prosity. The ReadNRespond app (iPad) helps students respond to what is being read by providing set questions (they can choose on their own or have the teacher choose). I set up the question and the students responded after a formative discussion in my small group. The independent reading station used Kindles to allow students to access their personal accounts for Raz-Kids. Students can select text to listen to, read and take a quiz. We can talk more about real-time assessments in another blog… it’s too hot to get all worked up on that just yet.

So, basically, my biggest challenge this week has been keeping my cool and making sure the kids stay engaged. Tomorrow’s forecast is worse than today’s… but I’m optimistic that the students will look at me when it’s time for dismissal with the same look they have all week and say… “Really???? It’s time to go???? Awwww…. ”

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