The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Working Independently

As part of my goal of talking less and listening more, I have also been making an effort to give my students to work independently for longer stretches of time. We have started a lot of projects over the past few months, but we don’t always have time to work on them as often as I would like. So I made the decision to make Tuesday mornings our independent work time.

The process is, like so many things, quite simple: I provide the students a list of projects and assignments that we have been working on and allow them to pick what they will work on. Independent work time transitions into our social studies block, writers’ workshop, and literacy. Today I let them pick from the following: colony research, narrative paragraphs, submissions for the Young Authors contest, math practice, typing practice, or reading. While students worked, I answered questions, conferenced with students, monitored work, and, most importantly, let my students just work.

In order for independent work time to be successful, the students have to know what they are going to do and stick with a plan; at the same time, I have to trust them to really work. I don’t want to spend the time hovering over their shoulders, trying to catch them doing the wrong thing. Instead, I trust them to do their work while I do mine. It went really well today and I hope that we will be able to build upon this each week!

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