Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Helpless??? I don't think so!

So, I had to go home on Monday because I got the dreaded stomach bug.  While my jeans would welcome ANYthing that would reduce my waistline, it did not feel like a blessing in disguise.

I had the day ready, so I was not too concerned, but I had just done what I rarely do... switched out EVERY one of my math stations out on Friday evening.  Generally, I gradually introduce the new ones.   I was a little worried for my substitute, but thought... the stations are self explanatory, so she will be fine.

As it turned out, there were a few delays and they did not get to math stations on Monday.  So on Tuesday when I was back I got to thinking... do I really need to explain ANY of these stations? Shouldn't they be able to figure them out on their own?

So issued a challenge to my cherubs.   Can you be a problem solver?  I gave them these guidelines:

1.   Most of the stations have an "I Can.." card which shows you what to do.    Can you use this card to show you what to do? Can you do your station independently?
Click on the image to find the activities.

Click on the image to find the activities.
2.  Some of these stations do not have an "I Can..." card but they are a lot like something you have already done.   Can you look at the station and make a smart guess?
Click on the image to find the activities.

Click on the image to find the activities.

3.  If you are still not sure... can you ask three before me?


You know what? They did not need me one bit. I wonder... do we do too much for our kids?   
How are you  fostering independence?

 If you try this out, will you let me know how it goes?

34 comments:

  1. Awesome idea DeeDee! I am really frustrated with my students' lack of independence. I include student directions in centers but they don't read them! Perhaps picture clues will help them.

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  2. Umm yes!!! Way too much! Sometimes I want to wear big hoop skirts to work just so that the kids won't be able to get so close to me...hahahah!

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  3. Genius! I love this. I plan to issue challenges starting tomorrow!

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  4. Hi Deedee!
    What a great post! I have to share with you that I did this very same idea with my own daughter just last night. She is in first grade, and has special needs. She had homework, and I told her to try it by herself, and that I was in the just across the room fixing dinner. I made I can cards for her, and she did it all by herself! Now...if I did it with my own child, I have no idea why I have not done this with my own class! Again, great post!

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it funny... I think we get into auto mode. We repeat ourselves and support so much that we don't let them find their way and let them problem solve.

      My kiddos were so proud of themselves when we were done!

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  5. Absolutely brilliant! Would love to incorporate this onto a 2nd grade level!

    Amy Howbert
    Little Miss Organized
    amyhowbert1@gmail.com

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  6. Deedee...I'm pretty sure I do too much talking. I think I will take your challenge!

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

    PS Copy and Paste...works

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  7. Hope your feeling better! Isn't is great to know the kiddies can survive without you! I've been so proud of my little ones too they've figured out all my "I can" signs and like yours they help eachother to figure them out! Which has been amazing this week while I was testing! I've added a lot of games to my math zones this year using, Candyland, Connect 4, Trouble, Zingo all as my math zones. It's great because i can keep grades on how they work with their partners at zones for their skills grades. Do you think we should have a Math Work Stations review to see how everyone is doing?
    Lindsey

    Whyte Water in Kindergarten

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    Replies
    1. Oh Lindsey, a review would be a great idea! I wonder when we can work it in? I need an 8th day of the week(hoping the additional day is part of the weekend)... ha!

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  8. I think I even do too much for my third graders, thus being an enable to their helplessness. Thank you for helping to rethink this.

    Jane
    Learning in the Little Apple

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome. I think I saw the clouds part when I did this on Tuesday! Hehe!

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  9. I think about this all the time! I feel like more and more kids are expecting me to do their work as these years go by. Occasionally I'll have parents admit that they have enabled their child at home because it was just "easier" to do it for them so that they could leave, or eat, or etc.. (actually had a parent mention this to me this year--which is what has stuck). I like to do activities with my kids that are similar to things we've done in the past. Instead of telling them what they are going to do, I will pass out the paper or show them the game, etc. Then I'll ask them what they think they will have to do. If it is a game, they have to look at the cards and recording sheet and try to figure it out. I've found that this helps tremendously! Though, I still have a few that are just not risk takers and want me to give them the explicit directions. They probably think I am mean when I keep asking them "what do you think?"

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing and hope you are feeling better!!!
    Angie
    Rulin' The Roost

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    1. PS-I teach first graders! :)

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    2. I do agree. I think parents probably have less free time, so they just do for their sweeties. And as a teacher, I can get swept into the same way of operating. I hope my blinders have been removed and we continue along our independent ways. Thanks Angie for joining the conversation!

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  10. I have been trying to do this more and more Deedee. We gradually have been building up to this. After Christmas, I really try and help my Firsties be more independent. I also give them the reminder to think about our objectives/skills for the week. I ask them to think about how that objective might apply to what you might be doing right now.

    We still have days and moments when they ask if we have already been to lunch about 15 minutes AFTER we just got back from lunch. The other day I had one who forgot they were in the frog reading group...and they have been in that group ALL year long. =)

    Heather
    Heather's Heart

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    1. Ha! I hear you! I think we can all go in auto-pilot sometimes! I am glad you are fostering independence in your room too!

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  11. As the saying goes - Necessity is the mother of invention! I always remind myself that kids will let you do as much for them as you are willing to do! But they can really do so much for themselves. What a great reminder about fostering independence.

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  12. We have certainly seen a shift in the lack of problem-solving skills over the past few years. They just can't seem to do anything on their own. We also do the "3 before me" and work a lot in groups or with table partners where they have learned to ask their group. The other thing we just started is having them start reading directions on their own (when it's an appropriate assignment)and calling on a friend to explain it to the class.

    Thanks for sharing Deedee and glad you're feeling better. Great post!
    ~Christy
    Fluttering Through First Grade

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  13. Way to go! Your kinders are getting so independent! I love the can do cards. They are so smart!

    ThePolishedTeacher

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  14. I try to do that, especially post-Christmas, because every year my kids come back from break with what I call "Christmas Break Magic"... all of a sudden they come back and I realize, "Wait... I only had to say something ONE time? And everyone is working in their seats? And quietly at that?" Haha. I do think I am guilty too about not giving them enough credit for their independence! Time for them to take more responsibility! :)

    --Caitlin
    thekindergarden.blogspot.com

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  15. I was out last Friday with the bug! (Although if I had to choose, I would definitely rather be out on Friday than Monday... too much important stuff going on during Mondays!) I love your ideas for fostering independence. I really need to make some "I Can" cards for our centers with picture directions. Thanks for all the great ideas!

    ~Jessica
    Fun in PreK-1

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  16. Your class is a well-oiled machine, my friend! That just says a lot about you as a teacher. I LOVE the "I Can" cards. :)

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  17. I have LOVED your I Can Cards. It also helps the associates for students tht I have in the classroom. I have completely started to work students -- YOU CAN DO THIS.....DO IT! I firmly believe that if not pushed "just a little" they will never jump to see how far they can actually FLY!

    This group has needed MUCH more assistance to get there....but its amazing when they DONT need you! Then, I have done my own job well, then I can actually teach my students NEW skills. Then they can actually PRACTICE their own skills to know how to get BETTER! LOVE! Cant wait to check out your math stations!! YEA YEA YEA!

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  18. sorry to hear you have the flu bug...hope you are 100% very soon.
    Kids usually rise to our expectations....and the only time we spoil them is when we do things for them they can do by themselves.
    i have a very young, immature group...who seem to be trained by parents that feel guilty for not "taking time with them"...so they didn't know how to do most things alone...they are slowly making progress...but it is progress...i just hope i have hair and half my brain before we get to the end of the year!
    lol!!
    laura
    lhardin@lcisd.org

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  19. We began using a new curriculum this year and have been asked to include "less teacher talk" and "more student talk" in our classrooms this year. At first it was difficult to "hand it over", but I am impressed with their independence. I taught third grade before moving to kindergarten, and people are usually surprised at the things I expect my students to do independently. It paid off today when I was working on a behavior problem and my students essentially ran calendar time using the SMARTboard without much input from me. I love the independence that usually comes in January in kindergarten! Thanks for sharing your ideas; I look forward to issuing the challenge in more areas of the day to my students!

    Amanda

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  20. Boo for the flu! It is going around like crazy...hope you feel better soon!
    I also feel like each year the kiddos get a little less independent. Parents/families are busier and it does become "easier" for the parents to just do it...I wish they realized that it is not helping their child, but doing the opposite. If we do not foster this independence, we are hurting the kiddos. I'm so glad to hear your kiddos rose to the challenge and thanks for reminding me to continue to foster independence in my sweeties.
    On another note, can you tell me more about the Macarena math poster in the background? :)

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  21. What a great post! Thank you. I needed to be reminded of that! I have been fighting some serious disappointment because I, like so many others, am used to that magical moment that comes after Christmas when they are more independent and things start to click, but it hasn't come to my room. My kids (I actually just posted about this because it has consumed my thoughts now for the last week and a half :) this year have proved to be the complete opposite! I experienced that euphoria really early on and was so excited to have such an independent class this year and then they came back and have required so much support and redirection that I have gone home drained every night! Your post really gives me pause for thought though, because what if I am assuming they need the support and review of procedures after a long break, when really I am enabling them to be less independent and should just step back?? I switched things up today by flip-flopping my schedule and it really seemed to make a difference (I guess it was just new enough to spark their interest, but not so new that they didn't know the routines)... but tomorrow I will really try to take note of whether or not I am giving them too much direction! Thank you again, it is so great to be able to reflect and process with such a great group of educators!

    Sarah
    adotdoesalot.blogspot.com

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  22. There is no doubt that you always share something new and this time again you did fantastic job just keep up the good work.

    Italian Villas for Rent

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  23. Great post, Deedee. I accept the challenge. Independence is a life skill we all know is important, but somehow we do go on auto-pilot like you mentioned and talk, talk, talk. Learning independence may make more of a difference in their lives then the math skills themselves. (oops- did I just say that?) Thanks for your insightful post.

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  24. I love how you challenged your little ones! I teach second grade and I would be soooo afraid there would be utter chaos if I didn't thoroughly explain EVERY detail! But, you are right... foster independence is a life skill that so many need to learn. I accept your challenge and look forward to trying this out when I return to school once my maternity leave is over.

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