I personally struggle with the release of control in my classroom. I know that it is an educational best practice, and students benefit so much from ownership and choice but giving up that control to student choice is very uncomfortable for me. However, the time had come in my math classroom. My students have completed all of the days of LAUNCH and I knew they were ready to begin choosing their own ZONES.
I typically start out kind of on a small scale. I offer only 3 or 4 ZONES choices and a very simple menu. That way students get the opportunity to choose a zone but it is more of a gradual release which makes me happy too.
This first full ZONES rotation included Z, O, N, and S. I planned for each rotation to take 15 minutes and take place over the course of 3 days. Day 1: Whole group lesson, ZONES introduction, and one zone. Day 2: Whole group mini-lesson and 2 zones rotations. Day 2: Whole group mini-lesson, one ZONES rotation, catch up and review on rotations.
I also need to make sure they are practicing the expectations independently of the other students' ZONES choices. If the behavior does not fit the expectations, I immediately correct it to jog the muscle memory and encourage the students to continue to practice the expectations.
Did they build appropriate stamina with very specific expectations? If not, back up and re-train. If the training went well, then I would modify and simplify the rotations even more. Start with breaking the lesson up into three 10-15 minute zones. Do each zone as a whole group with all students doing the same zone at the same time. Once that is successful, break the students in half. Have half of the students work in one zone and half in another zone, then switch. I like to use MemoriZe and On Your Own for my initial zones, as both of those zones are quite independent and do not require students to move and get out many materials. If this is successful, then move on to a more active zone of Explore or Play With Someone.
And you might just need to take the leap. I often need to be pushed (shout out to Christi for always giving me the much needed shove) but I am always so happy with the results!
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