I wrapped up my 6th year of teaching on Friday. It was, as usual, a bittersweet day. I love my class and will miss them a lot next year, but I always look forward to a summer full of professional development, travel, reading, and recharging by myself and with my friends and family. As I am now in day two of Official Summer Vacation, I thought it might be good to do a little reflecting on the year as a whole and see what I want to do differently next year. This was my first year in 5th grade, and I will be teaching 5th grade again next year.
Reading in my classroom was a success this year. My students loved to read, and I was able to introduce to them so many amazing books through our daily read aloud. I would have loved to give them more independent reading time, but I was able to give them about 15 minutes every day. We practiced a lot of reading skills during our independent reading and read aloud times, so they had authentic practice with literary features such as tone, theme, main idea, author’s purpose, and figurative language. Also, I did book clubs this year using a variety of different formats, and by the end of the year, I finally found a format that seemed to work well for everyone. Next year, I want to do more with independent reading time, including more consistent reading conferences and more writing about their reading.
Math was another success this year. I started a self-paced classroom, and while there were some challenges with it, overall, I loved it, and so did most of my students. My students were able to work through the material as quickly or as slowly as they needed to, and I only had one student not complete the curriculum by the end of the year; the rest of the class finished early enough to review learning from the whole year and/or complete some student-led inquiry projects. Next year, I want to start each class with a modeled word problem; word problems always seem to be tricky for my students, and I want them to see a lot of different types of problems over the course of the year. I also want to include more review throughout the year; since our curriculum isn’t really spiraled, they tend to learn it once and then forget it. We have cumulative assessments that I am thinking about using in place of traditional end of the unit assessments. Also, I have some “math minute” resources that could be useful to get in additional, spiraled review, even though I probably won’t time it.
My students made good progress in writing this year, but I would say that in general, it is a weakness at our school. My schedule is very tight, and there are some days where I didn’t have writing instruction. Next year, I am going to make daily writing instruction a priority; I also need to include more grammar in my writing conferences and/or mini-lessons. I am planning on reading this book when it comes out in August, and I am hoping it prepare me with additional explicit writing strategies to bring to my students when school starts.
Finally, I need to do better with executive functions next year. We didn’t clean out folders or backpacks often enough, and I know that they got messy this year. I was just lucky that my students this year were more or less on top of their own stuff.
Just some things to think about as I head into my summer vacation. Now, time to hit the pool!