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Saturday, June 30, 2012

I'm baaaaaaack!!!

It feels so good to be home and I can't wait to sleep in- in my own bed tomorrow!  I have learned SO much in the last five days.  I can't believe how much information was packed into five short days!  For those of you who don't know, I spent the last five days in Portland, OR studying with the brilliant Anita Archer and preparing myself to be a district trainer in Explicit Instruction (her new book).  I will probably post a couple of things throughout the year- but I am technically not supposed to give away too much information- otherwise you wouldn't need a trainer!  I did want to share some "Archerisms" right away and as I practice my own instructional skills throughout the year I am hoping to post with video and talk about all that I learned!

Easy to remember classroom "Archerisms"

  • Easy lesson design: I do it, We do it, You do it
  • While monitoring practice: Walk Around, Look Around, Talk Around
  • Regarding management: Avoid the void for they will fill it!
  • Regarding management (especially for recess/cafeteria): Scan, predict and move toward
  • Teach with passion, manage with compassion
That's it for now! Here I am with Anita at her house for a cocktail reception.  Some people think we look alike!  I would love to be as knowledgeable as she is one day- I'm on my way!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More from Daily 5!

I have heard some people say that the structure of Daily 5 doesn't allow for direct instruction.  This opinion has always interested me- especially because I am leaving tomorrow for a workshop with Anita Archer (the master of explicit instruction).  I can see the benefits of direct, explicit instruction and I can see the benefit of giving students the time to practice reading.  Gail and Joan actually addressed this concern during the workshop and I was so glad that they did!

The typical structure of Daily 5 could look like:

7-10 minute lesson (direct instruction)
20-30 minute rotation
7- 10 minute lesson (direct instruction)
20-30 minute rotation
7-10 minute lesson (direct instruction)
20-30 minute rotation
7-10 minute lesson (direct instruction)

That is 4 separate times throughout the day where the teacher is directly instructing students on reading strategies.  In other words, 20% of the day is direct instruction while 80% of the day students are practicing reading.  For me, this makes sense.  Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule?  This idea comes from Malcolm Gladwell and his book Outliers.  Basically, it means that experts become experts because they practice more than other people.  Specifically, "experts" practice a skill for around 10,000 hours.  Don't we want our kiddos to become expert readers?  I know that my students don't always have opportunities to read at home.  Their house might not be a safe place, they might not have access to books or they might be moving from place to place each night and can't keep track of books.  If I want to close the achievement gap and I want my students to be able to have the same opportunities as any other child their age, then I need to give them the time to practice at school!

My plan for the upcoming school year is to implement the structure of Daily 5 during my 90 minute reading block.  We do ability group our students (which I know is a "no-no" according to the sisters) and that has worked for my team and I in the past.  During my block I will hold 4 7-minute mini lessons and 3 20-minute Daily 5 rotations.  The students don't have to do each option every day.  In fact, read to self and work on writing will be 2 required rotations each day.  The third rotation will be their choice.  They will also be able to choose which order they complete their rotations.

Okay, now on to thinking how I am going to integrate the content areas into my literacy block...

See you in a week! Wish me luck with Anita Archer! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Daily 5 Conference

I survived the last day of school!  All of my kiddos are deeply into their second day of summer vacation and I just wrapped up the Daily 5 and Cafe training that I was fortunate enough to attend.  You might not believe that I get to go to so many conferences.  I know that not everyone is as lucky as me, but look- that's me in the scarf (in June- I live in the pnw) with my teammates and the sisters!

The workshop was DELIGHTFUL.  The sisters have such a wonderful rapport and presence that I can honestly say I was engaged 90% of the time (which isn't true for many workshops I've attended).  I have been a newbie on the daily 5/ cafe train and was so excited to learn from the masters and they didn't disappoint! In fact, I learned so much that I will probably stretch out all of the information into manageable chunks over multiple posts...the sisters taught me that!

My first reflection and "a-ha" of the workshop was on engagement and motivation.  The sisters highly recommended this book: In a Reading State of Mind by Fisher, Frey, Lapp

From their research they noted that students are motivated to read when:
  • They have access to a wide range of materials
  • We (as teachers) trust them enough to choose what they want to read
  • They are given ample opportunities to engage in sustained reading
  • They are allowed to socially interact with others about the text
  • Classroom incentives reflect the value and importance of reading
Well, duh!  As I was sitting there listening to this I couldn't help but think about my own experience with reading especially in regards to the social interaction.  I obviously crave that social interaction otherwise I wouldn't be writing this blog!  How do you cultivate that love of reading if you don't allow your kiddos to talk with each other about books!  I have seen a couple of different ways to do this and I recently pinned an adorable book recommendation chart on Pinterest.  I am thinking about making our book recommendations a little bigger this year and I am curious to know what y'all think! 

My students in the past have written their own blogs.  I use the host site at www.weebly.com and it is free to use and you can sign up students for their own account while you still have administrative access over it.  In the past, I would give them a topic to write about and they would go to the computer and write about it.  Their friends could go to their site and leave comments as well as parents or other family members who knew the web address.  I am thinking that next year I will have the kiddos add a book recommendation page on to their blog.  They can write a review of the book they are reading.  Family and friends can read it and leave comments.  I was also thinking that just like many of us do- the students can leave comments on friends blogs telling them to check out a book review they just wrote because they know their friend will love it.

My wheels are spinning! I learned so much.  If you have the opportunity to check out the 2 Sisters, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Classroom re-do

I can see the finish line!  Two and a half more days with the kiddos and then I am attending a Daily 5/ Cafe training Thursday and Friday and then the following week I am attending a week long training with Anita Archer!

Even though I have been swamped with report cards, field trips, field days, etc.  I haven't stopped thinking about how to decorate my classroom for next year.  Some people might think I spend TOO MUCH time thinking about it, but I want to try something fresh and I had a few kinks in the layout that I want to fix for next year.

So the first thing I wanted to try out was a new desk arrangement.  The first photo is from standing in the doorway and the second photo is from front and center!  So far I have enjoyed this U-shape.  It is easy for me to walk around and assist and it seems to add more floor space and open up the room.

I moved my listening center right behind my tech cart.  I actually had no idea what to do with it and I struggled all year to find the perfect spot.  I waited all year to ask my class what they thought about it and I don't know what took me so long!  Right away I had one little cutie who told me exactly what I should do with it.  I let her set it up and she even cleaned it off before moving it!  We have used it a couple times since setting it up and she was so right about this spot, I love it!

Looking at the front of the room.  I am not sure what I am going to do with the big green board up in front.  I will probably post our language arts anchor charts up there so kiddos can view them while doing their seatwork.  I moved a gutter bookshelf up to the front of the room.  I have all the read-alouds that I use throughout the year.

I opened up my library by pushing all the bookshelves against the wall.  I like that it has increased my visibility but it doesn't feel as intimate anymore.  I am not sure if I will keep it like this for second grade, I will probably end up changing it!

My new curtains! I love these!  The pattern is adorable and has all kinds of forest animals/flowers but it isn't so busy that you get dizzy looking at it!

Alright, those are all my new pictures for now.  I have a couple of projects that I plan to work on this summer and I will keep you posted with the updates to the room!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why has it been so long?

Many apologies for not posting in a while.  Honestly, I have been so wrapped up in end of the year stuff that I haven't had much time!

I remember I read advice somewhere that if you are planning on changing up your room arrangement you should test it out with your current class so you have a good idea of whether or not you like the flow, etc. I have been busy working on my room now so that I have less to do in August when I go back into the classroom.  First, I wanted a different theme.  I have enjoyed the colors that I worked with this year, but since I am switching to second grade I thought I wanted a little something different.  So, I kept the same paper on the walls but I got some new borders to put up.  How lucky am I that I don't have to take anything down for the summer?!
I love these borders from Carson Dellosa.  They are so cute and cheerful.  I picked them first but didn't want to go overboard on the owl theme.  So, I picked some more neutral borders in coordinating colors.

These are super cute from Creative Teaching Press and they look adorable.  I wanted a little something extra though to tie in the owls and forest theme I had in mind originally.  I had a burst of inspiration when I was cleaning out my closet and found some old discovery trimmers from TREND that were the perfect fit.
So now I have all the trim switched out and I am loving how they look together.  I left school in a hurry on Friday and so I didn't snap any pictures to show you.  I will post an update next week with the pictures.

I also took down all of my anchor charts and moved my word wall.  This year was my first year with a word wall and I actually used it and the kids actually used it!  The only problem was that it was up so high that I couldn't reach it without standing on a ladder.  I moved it so that I will have more access to it next year.  I am still trying to think of something so that the kiddos can use it more- I am thinking a glossary in a journal?  I would love to have the word wall somewhere that they can actually touch and manipulate the words but I just can't imagine a spot in my current space.

Well, I will update with pictures of the new trim and the new desk arrangement I am trying out.  I also moved my listening center and I am still thinking of a new arrangement for my library.  So much to do! I spent Friday sorting through my files and scanning in some things, recycling others, and keeping very few!  PHEW!  Enjoy your weekend, I still have 8 more days of school!