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

Today’s Topics v2.1

At the start of my second year teaching at Wiley, I decided to implement an idea that one of our second grade teachers had been using with considerable success for a number of years so that I could help my students stay organised. The idea was the C.O.Y.O.T.E. Binder, so named because we are, of course, the Wiley Coyotes. (The acronym in the name stands for Carefully Organising My Own Things Every day.)

A major component of this binder, in addition to the homework folder and information sheets for parents with our daily schedule and fourth grade learning standards for mathematics and English/language arts, has been Today’s Topics. At the end of each day, we would come up, as a class, with three statements that students could go home to tell their mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or aunt or uncle or dog or refrigerator–whoever it was that took care of them when they got home. (Yes, this was the list that I would routinely rattle off every single day.)

I have used this system with success for the past three years and had begun using it again this year when a friend shared a blog post with me a couple of weeks ago. It was entitled “30 Questions To Ask Your Kid Instead Of ‘How Was Your Day?'” The point was simple: parents should ask specific questions if they would like specific feedback from their children!

I decided to take on a 30-day challenge. Instead of having the class come up with three statements that they would all record, I would use these questions as the starting point for Today’s Topics. Instead of three statements, they would write one.

Here are the prompts I gave during the past three days, drawing straight from Sara Goldstein‘s list:

Today for lunch I ate _________ and it was ___________.

Today at recess I ____________ and it was ____________ because _________.

The funniest thing to happen today was __________ because ______________.

I chose to skip question two. I’ll have to come up with my own when we get to the end of this experiment. So far, though, it has been quite successful! Students have been reflecting on their days and writing sometimes entire paragraphs about their topics! Thank you, Ms. Goldstein, for such a wonderful idea!


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