Sticks and Sand

A dear friend of mine says that all she really needs to teach her students is a sandbox and a stick. How can that be? Take a moment and think. Strip your teaching down to the essentials of what you do, the core philosophy and pedagogy.

How about that interactive white board? What does it do that can't be done with some base-ten blocks, beans, or Popsicle sticks? Sure it projects. But, if I have a big enough meeting area all of my students can see whatever modeling their peers or I do.

Speaking of meeting areas. Does a rug need to define it? Not necessarily. I could create the same effect by carefully arranging my classroom. Maybe push the tables to the perimeter or cluster them so that there is enough space for all of the children to gather in one space and/or see from a chair.

I can not easily say the same for other classroom materials. I would need manipulatives for math. Even if they were just counters or beans. Not all of my students would need them, but some would and it is important that they have the option.

Paper would be necessary as well. Working with primary aged children I have found it difficult to get away from. Many of them need the paper to flesh out their ideas. Sure, they could use word, paint, or excel, but many of them prefer using their hands to plan.

Technology is a must. While it may not be necessary for every child to have his/her own device it would be necessary to have some technology. Being able to access up-to-the-minute information and resources is invaluable. Never mind students being able to create interactive content of their own.

As I looked around my classroom last Wednesday it seemed bare. Granted many of the books were piled high on the counter. But, bare it looked because I eliminated those things that we could live without. Now what would happen if I did that with the curriculum?

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