The students were finding out about systems. I wanted to create a learning experience that students could repeat over and over during their self-directed learning time, in our drama center. I asked them which systems outside of school they would like to explore in the classroom. They chose doctors offices.
What we did:
I divided the class into 2 groups. One group worked at the doctor’s office while the others were customers; then the following day we switched.
The receptionists crossed names off a class list whenever “patients” checked in. This was a way for students to practice reading names.
The students playing the role of nurse used this form: Doctors_form (clipart is from openclipart.org) to keep track of their patients. This was a great way to differentiate! The students who were demonstrating early reading and writing skills were given the role of nurse and filled out the form. If the “nurse” didn’t know how to write something, I suggested they just make a squiggly line.
Students who weren’t yet ready to read the class list or the “doctors form” played the roles of doctors or cashiers. The cash register was a great way for students to use counting skills as they paid bills of 1-3 dollars.
We repeated the learning experience as a whole class a few times. Then I told the students I would move the supplies into the dramatic play center for them to choose on their own.
Overall, I loved doing a unit on systems at the beginning of year because instead of me “teaching routines,” the class developed systems (for lining up, returning home reading books, managing supplies, etc.). This was such a great way to get the students involved in shaping a positive culture in the classroom.
This was a fun way for students to use their early literacy skills while participating in a system. The students who were just starting to learn English were engaged and seemed especially excited to take part in the group play. One student was so excited she even came to school dressed up as a nurse! We talked about the system at our doctors office many times after this learning experience, as the students began to design systems to use in the classroom.
The doctors office became a popular choice during self-directed learning.
At the end of the unit on systems, one of the ways students demonstrated their understanding was by drawing systems at school and outside of school: