Belonging: Creating Community in the Classroom
by Mona Halaby
What does belonging mean in the context of children's school life? Ms. Halaby invites the reader into her classroom, a school community where children have the opportunity to experience that sense of belonging.
Even the troubled child, the isolated child, and the student with special needs can find a positive place in the classroom. During weekly class meetings, a time when the students meet with their teacher to discuss their conflicts and concerns, the children learn how to listen to one another, to make friends, and to resolve their conflicts independently, but mostly they learn how to live and work as a community.
The near-verbatim conversations among the students, and Halaby's responses and comments, form the bulk of the book, with transitions that describe the changes in behavior and what it takes to support a student's growth. These fascinating discussions show how eight to ten-year-olds deal with issues presented by other students, and their increased willingness to confront problems as they see the effects of positive changes they never thought possible. The students speak with increasing sophistication about social and emotional issues, and the compassion and support they offer each other enable the reader to understand the sense of classroom community being formed.
Mona describes the development of the class meeting process, and provides detailed information on how teachers and others can apply the model. An experienced teacher of children, Ms. Halaby developed this model to cope with a range of difficult behaviors offered by students in her classes.
This book is interesting reading for anyone who values human relationships. Mona Halaby's classroom case stories are involved and engaging. You may laugh, and even cry, as you explore the different children's challenges and how they grow together and learn to belong. Mona's caring ways and proven methods for facilitating classroom meetings will be an asset to any program. I appreciciate the tools that I have gained, as a mother and as a Teacher, to help build a better sense of community for all I come in contact with.
About Teaching Math
by Marilyn Burns
About Teaching Math is an excellent resource for K-8 math teachers. I use this book as the foundation for my third math classes, but it would be equally as valuable to to other elementary grade level teachers. Marilyn Burns stresses big ideas in teaching conceptual math, not by providing a bunch of printable activities for kids to do that can fragment math skills and be just another worksheet, but by providing hands-on ideas using manipulatives and visuals to help kids see the meaning in math. All the activities are set in the context of what good math teaching is, which is clearly explained and emphasized in areas from classroom management to assessment.
This book provides great insight about how children learn math. There are wonderful ideas for hands-on lessons on many different concepts. Highly recommended!
The First Six Weeks of School
From Responsive Classroom
Responsive Classroom is a research-based education approach associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. Responsive Classroom practices help educators build competencies in four interrelated domains: engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmentally appropriate teaching. The First Six Weeks of School builds the foundation for a productive year of learning. Written by teachers, for teachers, this comprehensive K-6 guidebook shows how to plan a great first day—set a positive tone right from the start and ensure that every part of the day flows smoothly—arrival, recess, lunch, and dismissal times, as well as lessons.
I happily recommend this book. It really helped build community. It reminded me to focus on modeling the "little things". Things that may seem insignificant to us, but really are important and help the classroom run smoothly and efficiently. For example, how to use pencils. I showed my students how I wanted them to put their pencils away and how their team caddies should look like everyday. It made a huge difference!