With the advent of RTI and Common Core State Standards, I have experienced a growing sense of urgency in my teaching. My goal is to teach my first graders to be independent, creative, deep thinkers. I want to guide them as they set goals and help them track progress towards their goals.
In the past, an absent student would miss out on that day’s learning. Access to technology has changed this completely. An absent student can immediately continue along their learning path upon their return to school. On the flip side, a motivated student can complete lessons at their own pace in the elementary classroom.
I have always struggled to fit handwriting practice into the school day. Teaching students to analyze texts, infer, predict, and provide evidence for their thinking has been a priority for me. I strive to teach my students strategies to comprehend math and explain their thinking. I always thought, “Where does handwriting fit in to all of this?” We would be “fitting in” handwriting instruction right down to the last few weeks of school!
QR codes and the app “Show Me” gave me the platform to create videos illustrating correct handwriting formation. Students then were instructed to set a goal (completing at least 1 page per day), and then were given sheets where they could track progress towards their goals. Since the winter olympics were just starting, becoming an “olympic hand writer” was our theme.
The results were awesome! Students shifted their thinking from just trying to complete the page to trying to do it well. Many students chose to complete more than one page a day and they used any free time to complete the work. They are no longer dependent upon me to teach the whole group lesson. The learning is student driven and at their own pace.