Calendars, Rural Life, and Something New

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Welcome 2014!

I always look forward to a new year whether it is a new school year or a new year I get to change a calendar for. One of the traditions of my parents is to collect free calendars from local businesses prior to our large family gathering during the holidays.  The calendars are then put on the table for the rest of us to sort through and pick which ones we would like to take back to our respective homes.  There are so many calendars that all of the grandchildren can sort through them as well.  What I like about this tradition is how each person examines the pictures of the calendars to determine what he or she wants to look at each day of the year.  Some look for quotes and others look for an appealing picture during the birthday month.

Calendars are often inspiring, catering to the interests of those who select to view them.  This year my family ended up choosing a patriotic calendar, one of picturesque rivers across the U.S., and one that depicts the life of rural America.  Perhaps it is my rural upbringing, but I find the pictures in these calendars rather soothing.  Unfortunately, the visual calendars that my family sorts through is moving closer to becoming obsolete as people rely heavily on calendars linking to their computers or phones.  Many are willing to let the traditional calendars be replaced with the high-tech versions, others can’t stand to let the physical page-turning object out of their site, and others, much like myself, enjoy both.

I think this calendar experience if very similar to teaching.  When teachers think about their colleagues, they can identify those who are willing to try something new in lieu of traditional methods, they can easily spot educators who will accept nothing but what they have always done, and they can marvel as those who embrace the teeter-totter world of both.

Thinking about the calendar analogy had given me the opportunity to reflect on my movement crusade.  Of course there are teachers who are willing to embrace the movement idea and add all sorts of movement activities in their classrooms.  I applaud these teachers and know that they will find some success with the approach.  There are teachers who are too nervous, or unsure of the application in their classrooms, to try movement activities, so they opt out of doing so.  Again, I applaud these teachers because I know they are doing amazing things in their classrooms.  And, finally, there are teachers who are combine teaching strategies they know to be effective with movement activities that they will realize also to be effective.  Obviously, since I consider myself as falling into this category, I give an enthusiastic applause for these teachers.  I think these teachers are the type that think through the teaching process and look for reasons effective strategies work for students.  Still, some teachers do this and realize that movement activities are not what they believe is right for their classrooms.  I believe it is a process most will come to love, but if it doesn’t work for some, the students will still learn!  I just happen to be a strong believer in the positive outcomes I have seen and researched.

One of the movement activities I  plan on using this year is based on a calendar.  This activity is used as a review of the week.  There are a couple of ways to complete this activity.  One way this activity can be used is to print out the days of the week (Monday-Friday) with one day printed on a single sheet of paper.  Two copies of each day are distributed to ten random students.  One the back of each day, a list of activities, terms, or various contents is listed based on what was covered on the specific date.  The remaining students receive a blank sheet of paper.  At the teacher’s signal, students with the blank sheets of paper walk mingle throughout the room locating a day of the week.  In pairs, they review the day of the week with the person holding the day of the week sign.  The pairs write down what was covered on the day with the day of the week person checking their work.  If the pairs have information not included on the day of the week sign, it is added.  Midway through the activity the roles are switched.  This can be done a third time to give each person a chance to be the day of the week person.

A variation of this activity is to hang large poster around the room with the days of the week printed at the top.  Students then walk around the room with post-it notes and identify what was covered each day.  These poster could stay posted for an entire unit with students adding information each day of the unit.

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