Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Learning Calendar

Several years ago I started The Learning Calendar with my students.  I was teaching first grade at the time.  I wanted to find a way to help my students reflect on the day's events as well as what they had learned.  Originally, my thought was that if we talked about what we learned at the end of the day, maybe they could remember it for at least a few hours.  When Mom or Dad asked, "What did you learn today?" the response MIGHT not be, "Nothin'."

We started by meeting at the end of the day to talk about these things.  We would sit on the carpet while I modeled for the students what I wanted them to do.  I would say things like, "Today we learned about visualizing when we read.  Visualizing is when you make a movie in your head.  It was Joey's birthday today.  We earned 2 character rocks today.  In math, we learned to skip count by 5's."  Then I would write these things on a calendar that was posted in our meeting area.

The calendar had a small writing space which made it really hard for students to do the writing.  I ended up always writing our day's entry.  I really wanted this to be a student led activity in the end, so I designed a much larger "calendar."  (I had the idea, but I didn't build it)

It is attached to the wall at a height for students to write on.  We have one student each week who is in charge of writing on The Learning Calendar.

Our calendar really is a large roll of paper.  It scrolls behind two small plastic pieces that hold it in place.  I made a template from poster-board that goes over top of the paper.  It has a place for the number of days we have been in school, the temperature and sometimes we have a drawing of the weather (like a sun), the date, who is recording the information, and what we learned.  It's a simple way to collect some data that we review later in the year.

The big white space is for writing what we have learned.  I have tried to teach the students to begin their entries with "Today we learned..."  or "We learned that..." because I really want the focus to be on the learning.  They usually include some other little notes too, but that 's fine with me.  It makes it more original and memorable when it comes from them.

We continue to write an entry a day for the entire year.  At the end of the year, we have a Celebration of Learning.  This is when we display the learning calendar.  It is really cool to see it all rolled out for the entire year.  I usually do this in our school's gym because it takes up so much space.

Students enjoy looking for things on the learning calendar that they remember throughout the year.  Sometimes they look for special days like field day or when an author came to visit.  Other times they look for their birthday or when a new student joined the class.  But it also reminds them that we have really learned a lot throughout the year.  They remember when we just started multiplication in math.  Now the students are great multipliers and can do this independently!  The students have such a sense of accomplishment when they review The Learning Calendar.

It's also great for parents to see.  They are often amazed at how much we accomplish in the year.  The Learning Calendar really helps document our growth and accomplishments.

Do you have an end of the day reflection piece?  What do you do?  I would love to hear some other ideas!


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