I made a couple of small changes on my “helper chart” this year that have led to less teaching, more learning, and better class participation during circle. Last year we had these helpers:
Line Leader, Caboose, Calendar Helper, Art Helper, Math Helper, Reading Helper, Weather Watcher, Counter
The first three are pretty obvious. My “caboose” also served as the door holder. The art, math, and reading helpers worked during those times to pass out papers or other materials. The weather watcher dressed our weather bear each morning, and changed its clothes if it started raining. The “counter” counted the number of children we took to and from lunch and recess to make sure we were all present.
I had used that helper chart for three years and it worked fine, but over the summer I got a couple of new ideas. Here are the changes I made this year:
Line Leader, Door Holder, Caboose, Weather Watcher, Paper Helper, Calendar Helper, Letter Helper, Math Helper
The line leader and caboose are still the same, although our caboose now does our head count for us. The door holder only has that job, because I realized that with the three doors we have to go through each day, he or she is too busy to also be caboose. The weather watcher still does the same job. The paper helper passes out any papers I choose. I try to make sure I use them at least three times during the day. The calendar helper finds the current date (written on the board), points to it on the calendar (with my “magic wand”) and then reads “today is….” to the class.
The biggest change is “letter helper”. Last year I took our letter and picture pieces out of our alphabet pocket chart and asked the children to identify each one. Then we made the ASL letter sign and said the sound. Now the helper takes out the letter and pictures and names each one for me. The he or she turns to the class and has the class name each one. Then we do the letter and sign. Much better participation!
Math helper writes our number of the week on the board in a box I have drawn. Then he/she takes a magnet circle or circles to make a set that matches the number, and then I write the number word. In a few weeks the children will be able to write the number word also, using our chart. Right now that is a little difficult for most of them. The math helper shows the class the number using fingers, then we all close our fists and count to ten with the helper as the leader.
These may seem like trivial changes, but I’ve found over the years that the less I “teach”- meaning stand up and talk- and the more the children “participate”, the better our results. I’ve made some other changes in our day and I’ll share those with you later!