Hope this Helps!

Hope this Helps!

Okay, I am working with haste to get this in the hands of people as fast as humanly possible. My mind keeps going back to the work of Alison Gopnik and her beautiful book The Gardener and The Carpenter. In it she tells us that we can not hope to predict the problems of the future, we can only help kids build the infrastructure to face it. As scary and stressful a time this is, this is also a time to teach children they are powerful, they have agency, they are capable. To this end I am quickly laying out how to set kids up for independent writing projects at home, with a focus on their feelings of power and decision making. This presumes you have one day of prep before kids are out of your sight.

You will need to:

  • take and print out photos of classroom charts and/or rubrics
  • make the same charts available online for children who have access
  • mentally make yourself okay with emptying out your classroom library and writing supplies

Lesson (I am writing this as I would deliver it to a group of generic children of an age between 6-8, modify as needed):

Give out this planning sheet. 

“Friends. Today we set ourselves up for some big work out of school. Thinkers don’t just rely on others to make plans, they make their own plans for learning. For reading/writing today, we are going to make plans and gather materials to take on big ambitious projects at home. Let me talk you through our planning sheet and how I might use it to plan…

For reading:

Hmmm, what could make a fun reading project? Do I want to read all the books in a series? Do I want to become an expert at retelling? I know! I think I want to get super good at my character post-its. Let me think about how to do this. First let me write down my project: BECOME A CHARACTER EXPERT. Okay, now, what will I need to take home? Hmmmm. Definitely books. How many books can I read in 2 weeks? Maybe 6? And they will need to have characters! And I will need post-its, and ooo! I need the character chart!

Okay, now, how will I celebrate this when I am all done? I think I will make a poster of characters I love? Maybe I can hang it in my house? Or maybe in the lobby of my building! That way people will have books they want to read! 

Now I have to think of the goals I might have for each day. Hmm. Day 1: read, and make a post -it? No, I can do better than that! Make 3 post-its! Okay, now what will be my goal for day 2? Maybe I will read more and make 3 more post-its!

Friends, do you see how I am getting this plan together? Lets brainstorm some projects together and then you can use this time to gather materials and plan!

For Writing:

Hmmm, what could a writing project be? I know! A graphic novel! A graphic novel about washing your hands! OOOO! If I make a graphic novel about washing hands, maybe  I can give it to my neighbors? Okay, so what will I need to do this? I will need paper. I will need my word wall/editing tools. I will need my folder/writers notebook. I already know how I will celebrate, I will give it to people! Okay, now comes making the plan. Hmmm, let’s see what I should do first….

Friends, do you see how I am getting this plan together? Lets brainstorm some projects together and then you can use this time to gather materials and plan!

And that is it.

I worry that we will feel a need to go to TPT and download a bunch of worksheets. Instead, lets see this as a time to put power in the hands of kids. We are teaching agency, we are teaching organization, we are teaching follow through. The academics are there, they will use what we have taught, and they might stretch themselves further because they feel powerful.

I hope this helps! It is what I would do with my kiddos. I would say, “Things feel a little weird now, huh? But there are people in the world helping. You can be one of those people. How will your reading and writing project make things better?”

Lots of love and solidarity in this time. I am not going to hide this plug, me (and lots of people who do work like me) are losing work. For me this means an almost total stop to income. It is scary, and I know there are others in the same boat as me. If you want a webinar, if you want a phone call, if you want some online support, say the word. It would help me, and hopefully I can help you.

Stay healthy and stay 6 feet away from everyone.

  • Tara
    Posted at 19:55h, 13 March Reply

    Love this! I was writing a post about math games, ideas for non-online learning at home when Forever in First shared this link. I added a link to my post to this article. I think it is the perfect way to handle something like this even if teachers have short notice! Thanks!

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    Posted at 03:01h, 14 March Reply

    […] Kristi Mraz:  Setting up independent work at home (Link) […]

  • Gayle Angbrandt
    Posted at 03:45h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you so much Kristi. Your post is helpful as I begin to think about how to lead our Kindergarten Team at FIS in distance learning with lessons in reading and writing workshop.
    Sending Well wishes to you from Frankfurt, Germany!🤗

    • kristimraz
      Posted at 20:42h, 17 March Reply

      Hope all is well there! Thinking of you!

  • Sandra Menhart
    Posted at 09:44h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you! Some great ideas (of, course!) and has got me thinking about some things I can do with my first graders. My district was closed without notice so we didn’t have the chance to prep the kids. We were allowed to make some packets that included some activities, iPads, pencils, glue sticks, etc. Luckily I work in a district with 1 to 1 devices so distance learning has been approved. My class has access to Reading A-Z which is helpful since they weren’t able to take books home We just started the “Readers have Big Jobs” unit and I’m trying to figure out how I can distance teach some of those lessons. In writing, we just finished the opinion unit so, for the time being, we are having the kids continue writing opinion pieces. I’m also exploring ways we can teach poetry writing via distance learning. Lot’s to think about so I’m keeping a close eye on your blog. Thanks so much!

  • Arielle Sykes
    Posted at 11:31h, 14 March Reply

    Those were great suggestions! I want home learning to be purposeful and fun, yet I want it to help keep my kids moving while they are away. Thank you!!!

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