I'm sticking with a "time traveling through history" theme (hence the old suitcases, books, globes, etc.) and have re-created my awesome people (of color) wall and quotes. Added a few new figures to be truly inclusive of the population I'm teaching with and look forward to adding more figures they personally identify with.
I'm really interested in the ways in which I'll be able to incorporate critically conscious thinking, teaching and learning into the curriculum in ways that I hope will help students to more critically engage with the world around them. I'm in the process of reading and re-reading several texts so as to best frame how I want to approach my classroom this year (including Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Zinn's People's History of the United States and Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath's Social Studies, Literacy and Social Justice) and am actively engaging in conversations with other peers and educators alike to provide the most meaningful experience possible for our students. As a History Department in whole, we've discussed a multitude of academic and non-academic goals we want to set for our students this year, including more History-related fieldtrips, research-based assignments and opportunities for students to engage with their communities. I'm excited to see how all of this will play out and am eager to learn, tweak, create and re-create more as the year progresses.
In terms of what we've actually been doing so far, our fifth grade focus right now has been on starting and organizing our Interactive Notebooks. I've done some experimenting with Interactive Notebooks in the past and to be honest, it hasn't always been successful. They're tedious and time-consuming and you have to have a very clear vision from the very beginning on how you want them to be set up and maintained otherwise student investment dies out pretty quick (as does yours!) So I spent some time this summer researching and pulling resources and though we're only two weeks in, so far we've been successful. I provided students with Guidelines, had them process the information creatively, and have been very hands on in terms of step-by-step instructions and modeling as we continue to add to it. I've positively framed the entire experience as 1. being an extremely creative means by which students can take and organize important notes in a way that makes sense for them and 2. as a piece of artwork to be proud of and to treat with extreme care. I've been really amazed with some of the work so far!