My Vision for a Day at Jubilee Academy

This is our classroom at Jubilee Academy. Students will have a blast learning in our classroom and out in nature.
This is our classroom at Jubilee Academy. Students will have a blast learning in our classroom and out in nature.

Jubilee Academy equips students to communicate, collaborate, and think critically for the glory of God.

That is the vision statement for Jubilee Academy. I want to go a little deeper and explain what I expect Jubilee Academy to look like. Here is how I envision a typical day at Jubilee:

9 a.m. Students arrive. They are glad to be here because they know that they are valued members of our learning community, that they are among friends, and that they will learn something meaningful today. After they put away their backpacks and lunches, they join me on the carpet for morning meeting. At morning meeting, we read about a character trait, such as loyalty, and discuss how we can apply it to our lives. We talk about what the Bible says about loyalty. Then we play a game, where everyone must greet a classmate with a compliment. To wrap up morning meeting, I give a quick overview of the day.

9:15 a.m. We begin reading workshop. The younger students start out by working on stations. There are activities around the room that help them with their reading skills. For example, there may be strips with beginnings and ends of sentences. They need to put the strips together to make three serious sentences and two silly sentences. They will write these sentences down on a piece of paper that I will check and return. At a second station, they will read a passage and answer questions about it. At a third station, they will read with a partner, taking turns reading and explaining what they read.

While the younger students complete stations, I teach a mini-lesson to the older students. Today we are studying main idea and supporting details. I distribute copies of a magazine article to each student. We read through the article together. Then we discuss how to find the main idea and what the main idea of the article might be. I write the proposed main idea on the board. Then we talk about the details that support that main idea. I write those ideas down under the main idea. We check whether our supporting details line up with the main idea we chose. If not, we change the main idea to reflect the supporting details. This process should take about 15 minutes.

Once we are finished with the mini-lesson, I hand out another article for them to work on together. They are to discover the main idea and supporting details together and return the article to me. Once I am satisfied that they got it right, I send them back to choose books individually and complete the process on their own. At the end of reading workshop, they will turn their work in for me to check and return.

While the older group is working independently, I call the younger group to work with me. We will examine main idea and supporting details as well, but it will be with a text on their level. We also cover phonics concepts, sight words, and reading comprehension strategies as needed. Once their mini-lesson is complete, they work in pairs and independently on main idea and supporting details.

10:45 a.m. It’s a nice day so we go out to the playground for a short break. Students have a snack at the picnic tables and play when they’re finished.

11 a.m. Today we begin writing workshop with a nature walk. Kavanaugh Center has several beautiful nature trails. Before we set out, I tell the students that we are going to be writing about what we see, so I want them to be very alert to the details of the trail. As we walk, we stop periodically to discuss something of interest. We talk about how God created a variety of trees and some of the differences we observe.

After a 20 minute walk, we return to the classroom. Students get out paper and write about what they saw today. Some students choose to write about their entire walk, while others focus in on something specific, such as a leaf or a butterfly they encountered. Students are encouraged to draw what they saw as well. Younger students dictate their writing to me or to a classroom assistant. If I feel they are able, I have them copy the dictation.

As students write, I circulate, checking in with them, asking questions to stimulate their thinking and making suggestions to improve their writing pieces. I notice that three students are having particular difficulty adding sensory details, so I call them to the table for a focus group lesson. After working with them for about 10 minutes, I release them to work independently.

When writing workshop has 10 minutes left, I call the students together for an author’s chair session. Anyone who wants to share what he wrote is welcome to do so. Once a student shares, others may ask her questions or give compliments. They also may give suggestions, but they must first give a compliment.

12:15 p.m. We pray and eat lunch outside.

12:35 p.m. Students have recess. Some play on the playground. Some play basketball. Others sit at the tables and play games or talk.

12:55 p.m. I set a blanket out under a tree and call students over. They sit on the blanket as I read aloud to them. Today we are reading a missionary biography about Nate Saint.

1:10 p.m. We pick everything up and head back inside to begin math workshop. The younger students practice flash cards and complete a math concept review sheet while I complete a mini-lesson with the older students. Today we are discussing measurement. I teach the students about metric measures and how they relate to each other. We work on a couple of word problems. Then I give them a set of word problems to work on together. Once they complete the word problems, I check them and give them a couple to work on independently. I repeat the process with the younger group, but I use a less difficult set of problems. While students are working,  I check in with them to make sure they understand the concept. I call students in groups or individually to work with me if they are struggling. When there are a few minutes left, I call the class together to discuss how they solved the problems. Students learn different strategies from each other as they demonstrate how they figured out the answers.

2:30 p.m. Clean up time. Everyone has a job to do. They pack up their things, including a communication folder with notes to each parent about what their student has done today.

2:35 p.m. Closing meeting. We reflect on the day and I preview what we are going to do next time we meet.

2:45 p.m. Parents pick students up.

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