My lesson plans were complete. But, I just couldn't predict how productive my second grade kiddos were going to be on the first day back from break. After attempting to write the schedule on the board twice then erasing it, I came up with an ingenious plan. "What if I told them all we had to get accomplished today, but let them talk out the schedule?" I was completely honest with them. I told them I wasn't sure what their stamina for learning was going to be like, so I decided to ask them what they felt like they could do in each subject. Their eyebrows went up. Some of them even sat up on their knees, they were so engaged. Truly, I saw a physical change in the group. I even asked about the amount of time they thought was a good amount of time. Since these second graders are just starting to grasp the concept of time and how long something takes, it was perfect and relevant learning!
Then today when the math lesson didn't allow for enough time to spend on two step story problems I tried the schedule strategy again. "How many of you feel like you need more time with these two step story problems before the review? Lots of hands went up in the air. "So, looking at our afternoon schedule, what can we take out or move to another day?" Kids just started talking. Lily said, "We should get rid of word study. "Why?" I asked. Most kids chorused, "We don't like it?" But, I explained their opinions needed to have reasons more convincing. So, Lily tried again, "We could skip word study for today because we have it for homework." That one made sense. But, here is the most crazy part. As soon as I said yes, I would prepare some math two-step story problems instead of word study, they actually cheered! I glanced slyly over at the Hope College student who practically had her mouth hanging on the floor in total disbelief. That's how it's done, baby!