Playlists and Autonomy in 2nd Grade

Today’s contributor: My name is Lauren Berrong. I currently teach 2nd grade at Galindo Elementary and am in my 5th year teaching.

After returning back to 2nd grade from teaching 4th grade for a few years, I was missing the established sense of independence many of those 10 and 11 year olds already had. Additionally, I wanted to find a way to make the time students spent outside of small groups with me feel more purposeful and productive. As I began to think and research more about how I could help to foster this autonomy and deeper thinking earlier on in my 7 year olds, I came across other classroom teachers utilizing playlists as a medium for personalized and blended learning. This was exactly the spark that I needed!

I started off the year by slowly introducing shortened math and literacy focused playlists. I collaborated with my neighbor teacher to create playlists that included a variety of digital and paper activities and explorations. As a class, we often debriefed and attempted to troubleshoot any issues that arose. I tried to frame the students as each others’ best resources in times of confusion or frustration. Students shared tips and modeled new strategies for anything from interpreting strip diagrams in their math must-do’s to what to do when the Seesaw app kicks you out on that pesky iPad #2. Through these open conversations about our celebrations and challenges, students came to own this time in our day as a chance to push themselves and each other to grow as readers, writers, and mathematicians.

Once students had the structure and general flow of our playlists down, we extended the playlists to last two weeks. Each playlist focused on a past skill for students to review. I began to work with students on reflecting on these most recently-studied skills and setting personal goals. From there, we discussed how we can better prioritize the activities we pick from the playlist to achieve our goals. At the end of the two week playlist, we reflect again on how much we’ve grown.

While I definitely still have a lot of room for improvement with playlists, I have been overjoyed by the enthusiasm, reflection, and growth I’ve noticed in my 2nd graders. Many of my students have vocalized that our Playlist time is their favorite part of our daily routine. One student chimed in that he, “would recommend others do Math Studio (playlists) because you can play fun games and do fun things while still getting better at math.” Another shared that he could feel the Playlists making his, “brain more stronger.” Between these raving reviews and my own observations, I can’t say enough about how playlists have changed my classroom. Even our youngest learners can gain independence, self-reflection, goal setting, and problem-solving through strategic and innovative instruction.

Below are some examples of a few of our math playlists so far:

Adding and Subtracting Playlist

Place Value and Fluency Review Playlist

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