Saturday, September 28, 2013

1 month down, 9 to go!

I already am thinking about how next year, my September will be SO much better. But I also am going to pat myself on the back for the job I did do this September. As I reflect today, I'll describe it as being on a rollercoaster ride while juggling many balls. And I know this metaphor will continue and probably will get even more complex with more and more balls to juggle. But I am staying on the ride. WHY? Because I now have 27 new friends who I know I can help. And luckily, I still have 9 months to do all I can to help them reach their 9-10 year-old potential and to learn the life long skills of kindness and respect for others and the importance of reading to know how to live and writing to change the world (Thank you Lucy and the TCRWP for helping me to name WHY I teach!)

As my class filed out on Friday, I said something to each of them...Amr, have a great weekend. Will you be playing soccer? Salma, take care of your dad this weekend (he just had ankle surgery). Richard, good luck at Japanese school tomorrow...I smiled thinking that I know these kids now. I am in their 4th grade life and I need to do all I can to help them reach their full potential at this moment in time.

Then I gathered up all the data files I have so far and packed them up to bring home and study over the weekend. A month is over and I need to be sure that I am teaching them specifically and not just overseeing them follow routines. In reading, they listen to my mini-lesson, they sit and read, then share at the end of workshop with a talk buddy. But NOW, I need to be sure that I have the plan for what I need to do each day to confer or guide during Reading Workshop. I have lots to plan this weekend. Thank goodness teachers get Saturday and Sunday off from being at school!!

Friday afternoon went great. We had our first Writing Workshop Publishing Party. We are now authors of Perosnal Narratives!! Here's a few pictures:

First, I had all their writing folders so I called them over to specific places to sit. This strategic placement helped to keep all focused during our celebration. Then we did a Cicle Greeting (Responsive Classroom move) where after shaking hands, we said: "I am an author who wrote a story about ___." It does take time for 28 in a circle to greet. But this calmed us, got us focused on our writing, and helped us to stop and listen.  Then I asked each to take out their published piece and find one or two lines that they are proudest of writing. "We are not going to share the whole story aloud, just one or two lines we like the most. When you have the line, point to it and I'll know you are ready." Then I walked around, pushing all to get ready. "Just like in a Symphony, the instruments play when they are ready, we are going to SHARE when we are ready. When you feel like sharing your one line, please do in your loud, presenitng voice. Just like during our Grand Conversations, if two voices start at the same time, one wait and then go next. Finally, let me teach you a cheer. After a student shares, this is the cheer we will give them. With your finger, pretend to be pumping the spray nossle of the Fantastic Cleaner three times and say "ch-ch-ch" and then move your hand to look like it is wiping off the cleaner and say "FAN- TAST-IC". This will be the cheer we give each classmate after they read aloud their favorite line from their published piece."

And we began...AND IT WORKED!!! All happily shared a line or two. All listened respectfully. A few shier friends needed encouragement to share and 4 really shy friends allowed me to share their line for them. (This reminded me that sharing our writing is scary). Then I gave them free time to draw, read, or use their computer and I started hanging up their writing in the hallway to make it public.

Already in the hallway are paper-people we made to hold an I AM poem for back to School Night. One student, Lotta, suggested that now the paper-person could hold our story! Great the personal narrative is on t he paper-person, an illustration drawn by our talk buddy is hanging next to it (since our writing is so descriptive, it made a movie in our talk buddy's mind and THEY could draw the illustration!) and a reflection - I worked on _____ when writing this first personal narrative in 4th grade.

As I reflected on the way home, I realized that these kids are only 9 going on 10. The school they are in has not been running Writing Workshop with them since Kindergarten. As 4th graders, this was their FIRST publishing party. Happlily I celebrate!! I can't wait to do an on-demand on Tuesday and start teaching Personal Narrative one more time in October. I know we can write even better. I know they are proud now of thier work and ALL will be amazed at how much better they can write with more practice and guidance in October.

Now I need to get busy. I need to TEACH not just routines in October!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It sounded like how a Workshop should yesterday!!

Tuesday, I had a great afternoon!!

First, I did a RW lesson on how we need to read wide-awake and be ready to revise our thinking as we read. Then ALL were sitting and reading and it was QUIET!! I could go from student to student to have them share what they were working on. I conferred with a few to remember to not just read for plot but to stop and jot at times to record their thinking. I MUST get better at having something to take notes on as I didn't record any notes yesterday...oops! But I think I was just too excited that FINALLY, it was quiet during independent reading time!! About half-way into the RW, a teacher from DCPS who I had met at the TCRWP Reading Coach Institute came to visit. I loved having her there to see what we were doing and get feedback from her at the end of the day.

Then for WW, the Reading Teacher brought in the four 2nd grade teachers. I shared how the reader of our story will be reading it and making a movie in their mind. So as we get ready to publish on Friday, we need to reread and revise to ensure the clearest picture is being told with our words. I gave them my writing piece - the moment I realized I needed glasses. And we thought about how this story could be illustrated. Then I reminded the class that as part of their Friday publishing party, they would be illustrating their writing partner's story for them! I am hoping this added exercise will help them to understand how words make a mental movie in our mind, one that an illustrator can then draw. Then off everyone went to work on their writing and again, it sounded like workshop should sound during independent time - QUIET! We even had birthday cupcakes at 2:30pm (the 4th since school has started!!!) but we kept working while enjoying the treat.

I think I am turning a small corner with this group. I think they "worked" because I finally have enough high-interest books in the room for them to read during RW and they are very motivated to be ready for the WW Publishing Party!

I also get energy from having adults come into my lab class and participate with us. Knowing people are coming in pushes me to really have strong, well planned lessons and to work hard on classroom management.

At this moment, life is good!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

MUCH better day but still LOTS of room for improvement

I ditch the plan to do a science experiment first thing today and decided we needed to GET ORGANIZED!
I asked the class to suggest JOBS for our room and let me know who would like to do these jobs. Now I need to get the job chart up and running. I think we are ALL (myself included) realizing that ALL 28 of us need to help keep our space in order and help each other to learn.

Then I asked for feedback on WHO they felt comfortable being a reading and writing partner with. I can tell that turn and talks haven't been strong because they aren't feeling connected to this person. It needs to be someone they feel comfortable sharing with. I hope this helps.

Finally we cleaned desks. It has taken me until now to figure out what I need them to have for supplies as a team of teachers requested supplies last spring and I'm inheriting their list.

I also rearrange desks and rugs spaces and table spaces. I like the feel of the room so much more. I'll take a picture tomorrow to post.

Honest comment: I am putting so much effort into creating a strong minilesson and anchor charts that after I did the minilesson today, I sisn't have lots of energy to jump into conferring. I know this is bad. To do better, I need to plan exactly who I am conferring with and need to make a plan to get to all 27. I am collecting their drafts tomorrow to read this weekend and as I do, I want to make the confer plan. Who can I see in a group? Who needs one-on-one triage? And who is in the middle? I think that will help.

I am also teaching the FICTION unit using TCRWP Following Characters into Meaning. As my read-aloud, I am using My Name is Maria Isabel. So far so good. This weekend, I want to read it so closely, make lots of jots and then grow some theories based on my thinking.

I went to the library again tonight and got more books...I now have 132 books checked out!! I want to match students to a series and push them to read multiple books in a series and grow theories about the main character.

Exciting work ahead. Glad my meltdown is over!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 12 - meltdown for me:(

So much coming at me fast and by the end of Kiss and Ride Duty, I was spent. Then I returned to the room and picked up all they crap left on the floor and thought, "Who's in change, here. What a mess." So when 10 minutes later, the custodian said, "I know you are new here but you have to get the kids to pick up the room. I won't clean it when it is such a mess," I lost it. I took a walk and just cried.

I know it is only day 12 but I don't feel like I am in control of these 27 students. But maybe that's not how I should look at it. Maybe we need to have a class meeting and we come up with all the jobs that need to be done and we all work together to make this the best room to be in. I'm not in this alone. There are 28 of us.

I also feel the pressure to get the room working so the Reading Teacher can bring in other teachers to watch me teaching in a labsite situation. When she came in today I felt the mini-lesson went great. But then the independent writing time did not go great. I need to post, as Cornelius Minor suggested, a conference schedule. Then there needs to be writing options. I am teaching how to revise a draft and many felt done. In the meantime, maybe I have them return to their notebook and generate ideas while they wait for me to confer. So many writers!!

Tomorrow will be better. I won't have a meeting right up to the time the kids arrive (like I did today) so I will be more organized when they arrive. I will get them to help me get ourselves organized. I will keep breathing. I will get a good night sleep so I'm wide-awake and can be on.

Maybe that's what is so great abut teaching...I get to try again tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Love Teaching Math!

I decided to stop being a Reading Specialist and return to the classroom mostly to teach reading and writing (instead of coaching K-6 classroom teachers how to teach RW and WW) and in the process, I am having the best time teaching MATH!!

Today's lesson was repeated patterns and in groups of 3 and 4, they took blocks and collaboratively worked. Once I started snapping pictures, the groups patterns got more and more complex! And I ended out day adding an image as our daily tweet.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Writing during Social Studies - could be better

Today's Social Studies lesson was teaching "What are the five regions of VA?"
I made a notetaking organizer with the VA map at the top, 5 columns with the 5 regions listed as headers, and found 2 short videos that showed images of the land and products produced in all 5 regions. I was set....I planned to show the videos to the kids and they would take notes.

But I blew it...

When a handful were starting to get distracted, I should have stopped and modeled what their notes should look like right then. I forget that these guys are only 4th graders and need to be SHOWN. I was saying what to write and pausing the video which had the word on it but I didn't show them. I need to slow it down and ensure ALL get how to take notes.

Two things did go well:
1.  I showed 2 videos - 2 sources and emphasized that it is important to read or view more than one source as the second one can confirm the info in the first but also might give more information. And sure enough, we were able to add to our notes after watching the 2nd one!
2. I ended the lesson using a Kagan Strategy called Rally Robin - all paired up. Then one student said a feature or product of a region and the partner named the region being described by their partner. Then back and forth they went to talk aloud the info we took notes on.

I guess I shouldn't beat myself up too much. I just want each lesson to go well. But by daily reflecting, it will help make tomorrow better! And it is only 4:15pm so I still have some time to get tomorrow all planned.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

9 Days Done...171 to Go!

The first 2 weeks are completed.
Back to School Night is completed.
Sitting with my 4th grade team through 8 meetings is completed (1 hour each, Tue-Fri).
Now I have Saturday to reflect and rest and make my plans for the next 5 days...

Reflection: What is going well? What do I need to do better?

Good Stuff:
* If you walk into my room, you can tell what we are learning thanks to the anchor charts hanging.
* You can tell reading is important because of the central library location and abundance of books.
* I assessed writing doing an on-demand
* I started them drafting yesterday so we can get a story published and then do one more unit like this to fine tune. I decided this after reading and seeing that they have the ability to write a paragraph essay of their big ideas but cannot naturally write a story about themselves. They need help with this!
* I created and gave a great reading comprehension assessment - lots of data to drive my instruction.
* I was able to meet with 3 groups and then 2 groups over 2 days to do a short character lesson on how to write a post-it about a character. (I need to make that lesson visible in the room - the character picture, the words, and then a posting! - I'll do that on Monday! And I want to move all the examples to the window in library so it stays visible.
*I met with Mimi to learn how to teach math
* I naturally use collaborative learning to do social studies and math. On the fly yesterday, we used the SS newspaper and then did a jigsaw of the 5 regions. It worked great!
* LOTS of parents came to BTSN and it went really well.
* I am understanding the feel of the schedule, sticking to the time, and no matter what, teaching reading and writing daily. For instance, on Friday we have FLES in afternoon so I made sure they read Tumblebooks in AM and recorded it on the log. Then I insured we had an hour after FLES for writing and then still independent reading time. I am trying not to waste any minutes!
* I love my physical school and I love being in a pretty school that has gardens and is a good stewart of the environment.
* I tweeted daily for the 9 school days and have a total of 51 tweets! I like adding a sentence out to our followers and I like posting some pictures. (I wonder what our readers think? I wonder if our followers are reading?)
* I think I know "stuff" about every student. I call them by name and I am beginning to understand how they
learn: strengths and weaknesses.
* I need to get these 27 kids focused. They are so chatty. Once I have their focus, they are attentive. But once I lose it, it is so frustrating.
* I try to wait. I need to be even more patient. I need to stay calm. (I'll admit, I yelled during quiet writing time and quickly realized it did NOTHING and I guess, on reflecting now, I was modeling what they WERE doing!!)
* I hate the idea of PBIS...why do we need to give a CHEER to get us to respond in the appropriate manner? (I wonder if this overall management style will become a deal breaker)
*I don't have set procedures for WHERE to be sitting in the room.

*I want to give out positives constantly!
* I want to not let Matt, Abian, Amr, and Henry to drive my actions. I need to keep all safe but maybe I try to calm them down by standing close to them and by also picking new seats
* I want to add 2 rugs (Home Depot this weekend!) and need to add a table.
* I want to assign spots - should it be for reading and writing. I think so now. It is too confusing otherwise. But who will partner with these 4 boys mentioned?? I definitely have the room space so I need to make it happen!! I brought home an anchor chart to make for room seats so I'll get that made and it can be for the rest of this month...then the 1st wk of Oct, I'll let them tell me where they want to be and who they want to be with.
*Complete the word study assessment; start TC assessments; work on revising writing.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trying to do TOO much

I tried to have kids record on a timeline when reading was the best and when it was the pits. But I also wanted them to have a bag of books and to book shop. And I also wanted them to read, stop and jot. And we needed to get the I AM poems finished and hung up for BTSN. And I wanted to model a read-aloud....

I see Annie's picture hanging in my room (a staff developer at TCRWP) and hear her saying, "Don't be the tennis coach who throws all the balls in the hopper at one time. Send 1 ball at a time." Annie's so right!

So now, upon reflecting, I realize that I need to just teach ONE 10 minute mini-lesson a day...I can tell other things during a conference or a mid-workshop interruption. BUT I NEED TO STAY FOCUSED and NOT do too much at one time!!

Tomorrow I will be more focused!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Using Twitter

After 4 days of school, we have 20 followers!

To encourage students to tell their family members to follow us, I am sending home a "feather" thank you for following us gift! I hope it will get more to join!

I also made a How-To set up a twitter acct! This way parents and teachers can follow the steps to join our account! Many who said "I don't have a twitter acct" now are following us!!

I was annoyed by the image of Justin Bever asking me to follow him. So today I chose to follow Mo Willem's Pigeon and Eric Carle. Now other book authors and characters are suggesting we follow them, instead of Justin Bever! Much better!! I think I'll let the class write (or tweet) who they think we should follow before picking anymore to follow.

I was able to post at least 1 tweet at the end of each day. So far, 47 tweets sent!

Now I want to research how other teachers use twitter.

Here's a video I found:

I like how he says that twitter is "a paperless way to share your thoughts".

This link: lists 60 ways to use twitter in the classroom:
  1. Silencing blurters: For students who have trouble with disruptive blurting, allow them to instantly tweet their blurts silently instead of out loud. (maybe this would be something to try for students like Matt!!)
  2. Parent communication: Parents can sign up to receive tweets from teachers, learning about activities, tests, projects, and more. (Doing this!!)
  3. Twitter recaps: At the end of the day, teachers can summarize what has been learned in the classroom, encouraging reflection and discussion between students. (Doing this but want to eventually have this be student-created and written)
  4. Classroom connections: Classrooms around the world can collaborate using Twitter as a communication tool. (Not sure about "around the world" but would like to connect with Nick's room and maybe friends at Westgate or Stenwood!)
  5. Collating classroom views: Students can share their opinions on issues or any open questions, and they can be organized using Twitter. (would like to do this related to books we are reading, stories we are writing and our math thinking.)
  6. Following historical figures: There are many Twitter accounts set up that share the lives and personalities of historical figures, and students can follow them for fun and learning. (I wonder if their are any that relate to VA History??)
  7. School trip tracking: Whether it’s a field trip or a long journey, students can log and track their progress on a school trip using Twitter. (I will have to do this when we go to Jamestown and our other trips!)
  8. Reading assignment summaries: Students can build 140-character summaries based on reading assignments, forcing a focus on quality. (Maybe I can assign this after they read the online SS textbook??)
This link has a cool Bloom's chart showing ways to use twitter to match Bloom's Taxonomy!
I think twitter will be a useful addition to my teaching resources!!

Week 1 Reflection

I would say I am off to a fair start! We ended Friday spending the last hour and a half making paper people to hold our I AM Poem to be on display for Back to School Night this coming Tuesday. This messy, loud activity was fun, gave the kids a chance to be creative, and got published writing up.

But now as I start to plan for week 2, I wonder why I did not have time for a Morning Meeting?
T - did an icebreaker game and then had FLES
W - wasted the morning trying to get kids logged into their computer and set up their password
Th - Did the reading assessment
F - did the math assessment
This coming week will be better as the assessments will be over. I do think after announcements, we can have a 15 minute MM and then go into SS/S. I do want to teach according to the schedule and I want each day to have RW and WW! It will happen...

I spent time practicing names. I think I have first names...
Avery, Henry, Salma, Daniel, Maria Grazia, Selina, Will H, Katherine, Ryan and Ivy
Jonathan, Hugh, Lotta, Quint, Will B, Mia, Travis
Matt, Noella, Mohamed, Abby, Amr, Richard, Lela, Samuel, Abian, Yuan Ju

I got all 27!!

Now I have to look at the assessments and USE THE INFO TO INFORM INSTRUCTION:
On-demand writing - read, score, and use to plan my personal narrative teaching points.
Reading Jots using Train to Somewhere - read and decide on progressions
Spelling Inventory - score and think about word study??

I also want to go to library to get some books. They have LOVED reading Mo Willems!!
I want to get some chapter books and high interest picture books and plan to book talk them.
I got to get reading logs and book volume going!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 3

It feels like I have been teaching this group of 27 kids for many more days than just 3!
And in 3 days, it has been a series of many ups and downs.

Down....wasting an hour yesterday trying to have all the kids change their passwords so they can start using their laptop computer and then still not all were set after the hour and an unplanned firedrill so I spent another 2 hours after school to remedy the situation. I hate spending time, valueable time, doing stupid tasks...

Up...doing the on-demand writing and now having the raw data to decide what to teach during the small moment personal narrative unit. Lots of strengths seen but still things I get to teach!!

Down...only bringing in 26 out of 27 from recess but bought a whistle after school today (love Arlington's Westover Ayer's Variety Store!) and told all the kids that they need to pick a buddy and make sure that buddy is in line. You would think I could count to 27!!

Up...created and administered a read-aloud comprehension assessment using Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting. Now I have seven stop and jots based on different comprehension strategies to analyze this weekend. Again, the raw data to guide my teacing points andh small group instruction.

Down...haven't done one Morning Meeting or feel that I really know each child by name. 27 is lots but that needs to be my goal for tomorrow. I need to be able to call them all by name without hesitation.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day! Kids come to school tomorrow!

I've enjoyed the long weekend with 2 days at the beach; took time to read 4 kid books, and plan a reading assessment using stop and jots for my team. I'm excited about tomorrow. I just hope there is time to do all that I want to do.

On Friday, we met as a team and listed, day by day, stuff to do...on-demand writing, ice-breakers, organize supplies, set grade-level rules, watch county videos related to the rules, spelling inventory, reading assessment, read-alouds...

I left the meeting feeling like this was all just stuff to do...assignments. I want to teach using the structure of Reading Workshop and Wiritng Workshop. I went back to my room to make Tuesday's daily schedule and USED the cards labeled Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop and vowed that EVERY day this will be what I do. I am not babysitting and providing stuff to do. I am allowing readers and writers to work, and in turn, get better at being readers and writers.

So much will become clear once I have the kids in front of me all day long!
I better rest up today!!