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Building classroom community in a first grade classroom

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Setz, Korey
Heimer, Lucinda
First grade (Education--Curricula); School children--Relations
In today's ever-changing world, teachers come across a variety of different challenges. With so much pressure being put on test scores, being held accountable for what and how skills are to be taught, and documentation of all teaching practices and outcomes, it tends to become easy to lose sight of what really matters and the purpose of school. Children need time to get to know each other and develop social and emotional skills. The teaching of these skills should be integrated into the school day along with mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. Guiding and encouraging students to be knowledgeable, responsible, caring individuals takes time. The purpose of this curriculum development project is to design a curriculum that builds a caring classroom community with first grade students. This project will help teachers develop effective lessons and activities that promote classroom community. Lessons and activities developed for this curriculum include morning meetings, role playing scenarios, weekly and daily reflections, sharing of thoughts and ideas, building relationships with peers and the teacher, use of "I Messages" to foster communication skills, and time to put skills into practice by working cooperatively with classmates on projects. The plans for implementation in the future include the following data collection materials: A teacher journal to record student observations as well as reflections on lessons and activities, a behavioral chart to record positive and negative behaviors, a questionnaire for parents asking open-ended questions about their child's learning style and interests, and surveys that pertain to student attitudes about their classroom environment. Materials designed may be used by teachers implementing the curriculum in the future to determine the effects of classroom community building on student social and emotional development.
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