Every year teachers at Westtown write professional goals for themselves. When asked in January how she felt she was doing in working towards accomplishing her goals “to develop second grade activities which require collaboration as well as solving authentic problems” and “contact other second grade teachers to find out what technology their students use at school and how they use it and re-evaluate what I think is appropriate”, Susan Proctor responded with the following:
I have chipped away at my goal to incorporate more collaborative activities and authentic problem-solving into the second grade curriculum. We are currently working on figuring out what kind of animal to get as a second grade pet. There will be committees to study different options and they will report to the group. This incorporates collaboration and is an authentic problem to solve.
When we produced our plays, making the props and scenery was a collaborative effort on the children’s parts. Groups of children worked together to figure out what was needed, what should be included and how to construct those things. Then they did the work of making the props together. Deciding parts for the play was an authentic problem to solve as well. The children worked out solutions when several children wanted the same parts and other parts went unfilled. Because there were three plays, about ten children worked on each play. It was a small enough group for the children to share and listen to each other. In some cases they had ideas for altering the play; in other cases they had ideas for altering and combining the parts. We let the children take the lead but jumped in to facilitate or to raise questions.
We have just begun our study of the solar system. We purposefully started with a partner activity rather than a small group collaborative activity. We listed the elements of cooperation we hoped to see. They are going to assess themselves and their partners using those elements. We will move into having the children work in collaborative small groups and hold each member accountable for elements of collaboration. We are planning a Space Day and will have the children help us plan, organize and assemble the activities. It is not clear yet what that will look like but it certainly will include collaboration and problem solving.
Amanda Huskey and I have gotten our 2nd grade blog up on the web but it is still private. We are exploring how, and if, it will be different from the newsletter and the web pages. Having heard another teacher talk about the idea of communicating with parents through storytelling has given us more to think about. We are considering having children write articles for it.