Written by Nolan Benson, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member serving at Dr. George Washington Carver Academy of Mathematics and Science.
Photo credit: Daniel Kleiman, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps Member

Arrival: 7:45am on a Monday. First circle. “Good morning everyone!” “Good morning Nolan!” Let’s get this circle started off with some joys, ripples, and appreciations.

Work Time: Sit at my desk, man that coffee hits the spot. Okay, what do I need to do to prepare for the week? Start writing English Language Arts session plans. Grab my strategy book from my desk. Ahhh, let’s do “writing to a prompt” (Writing to a prompt is a research-based strategy found in the strategy book each corps member gets at the start of the year. Scholars receive a prompt from the corps member and the corps member helps walk them through how to respond) next week! A half hour goes by, two session plans done! Still have twenty minutes. Oh, I have coffee left! Sip coffee. I’m awake! All right, let’s go check in with my partner teacher. Talk with her about the week until 8:45am.

Announcements delivered by Nolan:  Head to the library and open the announcements folder. What quote do I use today. I like that Michael Jordan quote about our school’s core value of the month, Stewardship. The papers are all visible on the desk, cool. “Gooooooooodddddd Morning Carver Cougars, welcome to another brilliant day of learning and fun at Dr. George Washington Carver Academy! Each day our mission at Carver Academy is to be learners today, leaders tomorrow through academic excellence and strength in character. We do this by following our core values. Today our value focus is on Stewardship. Michael Jordan once said, "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. We can't wait to see that in action today. Remember, B-spire, B-spire, it will take you higher!"

Whole Class Support, 9:00am: Stop at the other 5th grade classroom with check in and check out slips (check in check out is a time for each corps member to have a positive conversation at the start of each day and to set a goal with three selected scholars. The teacher rates each scholar throughout the day and then the corps member checks out with each of the three scholars at the end of the day to see if they met their goal). Talk to the three scholars in the program, and then walk into my classroom filled with scholars. Say good morning to the class. Circle of Power and Respect, share what you did this weekend. Five scholars share and then the teacher asks, “What did you do this weekend, Mr. Nolan?” “I went out for a nice dinner with my fiancée.” Make attendance phone calls while class sits down and pulls out reading textbook. Tap the books of scholars who could use a little reminder to follow as the teacher reads.

Stations, 10:00am: Wheel my “Words their Way” (a phonics program used at my school which City Year runs) cart over to the front of the classroom. First group gets their folders and a pair of scissors. The folders have a sheet of words with three to five headers into which the scholars must sort. This repeats in two other groups. Stations happen every day and each day the scholars do something different with the words.

Planning Time, 11:00am: Sit down at my desk to enjoy the quiet for five minutes. Okay, time to copy my math sessions for the week. Look in the binders for a new lesson to run (Carver has corps members test their scholars in math to see what they know and what needs work. Then the corps member uses the data to find a pre-made worksheet on the topics that need work). Mixed numbers? Yes, this would be perfect! Go to copy room on first floor to make six copies of the work sheet and one copy of the lesson plan. Write warm up, I do, you do, we do, and exit ticket on the session plan. The I do part of a session is where the corps member demonstrates part of the lesson, the we do is where the scholars and the corps member work on something together, and the you do has the scholars do something on their own. The gradual release of responsibility helps solidify the learning process. Then I place my completed sessions in the math folder in the crates next to my Team Leader, David’s desk. 11:42am. Sessions completed for end of day Tuesday. Head back to class.

Whole Class Math, 11:45am: Sit at teacher’s desk with deposits and deductions sheet. Monitor behavior. Get up to help a scholar. Return to desk. Need to rest my legs for a little bit. Teacher goes through the lesson. 12:15am, scholars have 25 minutes of work time. I go around the classroom to see who needs help with their work. “Mr. Nolan can you help me?” “Try it on your own first and I will come back to check on you.” Walk around the class. Return to the student. “Oh, I see how you did that, but remember how the teacher showed you? Does this number go here?” “Noooo?” “Really? I’m not convinced.” “No, it goes here!” “Yes! Great work figuring that out! Now try the rest of the problems on your own.”

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