Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Most Remarkable [Normal] Morning

Most of my observations of Mr. Mitchell's classroom occur on Friday afternoons. As you may have gathered from this blog, those afternoons are usually devoted to exploring new topics, apps, or projects. I thought it might be interesting to showcase a normal morning so that followers of this blog could see what the rest of the day might look like. As you'll see, what's normal in Mr. Mitchell's class is hardly normal for most 5th grade classrooms.

The video below was taken on Monday, October 24. There was nothing special about the schedule or the activities. I wanted to document how the students went about their routine of getting down to work. Mr. Mitchell gave me a quick interview just before the students arrived, which I used as the main narrative for the video. I was immediately struck by the fact that there were no verbal directions given to the students when they arrived at 9:00. They went directly to the class blog, read the instructions, and got to work. They figured out what they needed to do, figured out how to share learning resources between partners, and worked until they left for gym at 10:00. During that time, they completed several assignments and emailed the results to Mr. Mitchell, who evaluated them as he received them. By 10:00am, all of the assignments--audio recordings of spelling and vocabulary words, grammar and usage worksheets, and spelling/vocabulary exercises--had been turned in and evaluated.

Several students started in on other projects--math practice using IXL.com, Accelerated Reader exercises, reading their personal books (always encouraged), and others--as they finished the assignments. All were productively engaged for the entire hour.

Here are the directions give the students, directly from the blog:
Make a plan so that both members of your group complete the following assignments by 10:00.
  1. Using AudioMemos, read/record your spelling words, and vocabulary words with definitions
  2. Complete today's Grammar10b and Spelling10b (Adobe Ideas and Email)
  3. Write (paper and pencil) your Spelling Words 1 time, Vocabulary and Definitions 2 times
That's it. The rest was up up to the students

"Make a plan" is a powerful way to begin a lesson. These students are learning to take control of their own learning. They're not waiting to be told what to do or how to do it. Feedback is immediate and corrections can be made as soon as they are noticed. As Mr. Mitchell says, that's the real world.


  1. Dear Students,

    How do you feel your learning has changed with the use of the iPads? Do you feel more responsible for your education? Have you seen yourself grow in different ways as a student?

  2. This is such a great classroom!
    I love how the students can take control of their own learning!