Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 - Week 3: didn't teach much

Monday - no school; Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
Tuesday - not a flake had fallen (until 10am Tue) but due to the forecasted snow coming, Monday night school was canceled.
Wednesday - snow stopped Tue night around 11pm so Wed was needed to shovel and plow so Wed. night it was announced that no school on Thur.
Thursday - still so cold but roads were cleared; Announced Thur night that we'd have school but 2 hour delay.
Friday - 2 hr delay; my kids went to specials, lunch, Spanish, and a 2-3pm Assembly - I taught for 1 hour and 15 minutes...

1 hour and 15 minutes.... I made the most of it!!
READING WORKSHOP: Students shopped and independently read from the 95 picture book Biographies I checked out from the Public Library for 15 minutes (better than nothing and now books are on their desk for Monday morning RW)

WRITING ABOUT READING - I used Tumblebooks and the students listened to The Librarian of Basra. Using an organizer, they wrote in complete sentences (I modeled this strongly as I'm tired of reading sloppy written phrases) under the headings: Somebody - Wanted - But - So - In the End - Lesson Learned. Then I had them write longer about what kind of character Alia, the librarian was. Would they have acted as she did? Why? Why not? Did she change in the story? Why? Next week, they will be asked to do the same kind of writing about reading for homework with two more stories. My homework over this weekend is to read their classwork to see if anyone needs further modeling before I set them free to do it as homework.

SCIENCE: Students watched the brainpop video about why we have Seasons. Then we started to think about which side of the debate we'd be on: I want to live where there are 4 seasons vs I want to live near the equator vs I want to live near the poles. Monday we will prepare our argument and have a class debate. (I got this idea from following the Wed, Jan. 22nd twitter chat at #TCRWP led by Maggie.) My RT led my class before break in a debate using The Giving Tree: The tree is strong vs the tree is weak. But I love the idea of trying the debate with a science topic!! Looking forward to Monday!

When the kids left at 3:15pm, I got to work rearranging my classroom!!
My smart friend, Grace, visited exactly a week ago and this was my first chance back in the room. So from 3:30-6:00pm, I got busy. Now the desks are arranged in clusters of four and the rug is taped off and ready for assigned seating.

As Grace made these suggestions, she told me, "It is the little things that can really make a difference." I so agree. When the kids return Monday (barring no further disruptive weather), they will clean out their desks. I am collecting their Reading Notebooks and Writing Notebooks to store until RW and WW. I am collecting their SS notebook, too. Then inside their desk, they will have room for their computer. It will no longer just be on their desk as a distraction. I will no longer need to say/shout, "Shut the lid." It will come out when we are using it to produce our next project!

I am sure I have NOT solved all the classroom management issues for the year but I left Friday night feeling like I finally deeply understand the importance of management and how so much CAN be done so good teaching can happen.

I started the school year focusing on all the good teaching I would do. Then I met my 27 kids and was given a very large classroom to house them in and they came with all these supplies and a computer was placed on each desk and it was suggested to have groups of 6-8 desks clusters so all the cords could reach the extension cords (as the computer batteries don't hold a change well.) And I just jumped in and looking back, now realize that I was spending such energy reacting to the inadequate classroom environment I set up in August and then rearranged and now rearranged again.

Now I am seeing that the little things MUST be put into place: Having 4 kids in a group to converse works...groups of 5 and 6 and 8 don't as well. Having supplies stored and pulled out to use during the designated time works. It ensures precious notebooks are not getting lost and it signals that RW or WW is beginning. Having the table leader get their table's 4 notebooks from the storage bin while the other 3 meet me quickly on the rug at their assigned spot. When I say, "Now turn and talk to your partner", they are right there because I have assigned them to sit next to their partner. Maybe everything I learned, I really did learn in Kindergarten (as the poem says!) because even 4th graders need a place to sit on the rug. It may appear to look like a babyish K rug now but I know it WILL work. Kids, at all ages, need boundaries!

Looking Ahead: 
It's another week with limited time to teach - why?
Monday- the kids come to learn from 8:15-12:30pm
(On Monday we have early release time so teachers can plan/meet)
Tuesday - fieldtrip the the Air and Space Museum from 9:30-1:30.
Wed - just a regular full day of school (last time that's occurred since Jan 17th!)
Thur - no school; quarter ends and teachers have a day to complete report cards
Fri - no school; district Staff Development Day

So check back next Sat...I will have seen and can report on how my students act with their new room routines and arrangements. And I'll be celebrating being half-way through my year back in the classroom!!

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