I spent the last week in a kindergarten classroom, and it reminded me of how important it is to set your students up to be independent (unless, of course, you like managing a circus).
My plan was to do big work with kindergarteners this week. HaHaHa!
By the end of the first day it became quite clear that students had a wide range of needs and skills, and would need some help working independently. It is hard to reach a goal when students are putting papers in your face saying, “What do I do now?”, crying because it’s too hard, or shaking the butterfly habitat too hard.
I had to change tactics and spend two days developing routines with which we could co-exist (ideally I would spend at least two weeks teaching and reinforcing routines).
When you work in a student-centered class and value differentiation, students need access to work that they can do independently and materials they can access easily. Introducing one independent activity at a time, ensures students better understand the process and expectations. Here are a few examples:
a folder/journal to keep work
- access to objects to count and counting charts
- worksheets with numbers to trace
- old problems to revise in their journals
- solve an old problem using a new model
- add on explanations to a finished piece or add on explanations to someone els’s piece
- math stories to read
- paper to write your own problems