Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 - Week 6: teach for 3 days...then snow

I guess I can post my weekly update now, on a Thursday, as I am pretty sure my work week is done. I went to bed knowing that school was cancelled for Thursday and since at least a foot of snow fell over night, I am pretty sure, it will be announced soon that school is canceled for Friday, too.

Three Pluses for this 3-day week:
1. Daily we had Morning Meeting and we are all having fun! It does take up some time but time I am willing to use and I'll just figure out a way to teach Social Studies quicker.

2. I knew snow was coming so Tuesday from 1-3pm, I told the class that I would NOT be doing any mini-lessons. Instead, they needed to work on their: Reading Biography Project  - reading at least 8 picutre book biographies, logging them, charting the Somebody-Wanted-But-So info for each book and then to make a persuasive Poster of one biography to encourage others to read that biography  Writing Realistic Fiction Story - using google apps, they were to type each scene as a draft. Then go back, reread to revise for setting, diologue, inner feeling and action. At about the midway point, all were getting antsy so I had them talk to a partner about what they had accomplished so far. Then we got back to work. I was able to conference with ALL students to push them further in their reading and writing. And now, on my snow days, I can view their work on my google drive. Tuesday afternoon was very productive for all of us.

3. I had a BIG ah-ha with one student - I needed to document behaviors I observe with one student as his parents recommended him to enter our district's Advanced Academics Program for the Gifted and Talented. I was given a list of possible stems to use to help with my documentation. One was "Outside of school, the student...." So I asked  and this student responded by saying, "I started playing in a weekly Chess Club in 1st grade." When I asked how good he is, he said, "I'm in the Top 20% " and I noted that our school club includes grades 1st-6th). I was impressed! He also does Marital Arts on Tue, Wed, Thur, Sat and Sun and two months ago earned his brown belt. He's also done this since 1st grade and has moved from no sash to brown and now is aiming for red, then black. I was impressed again! This four minute conversation with this student showed me the importance of just talking with a student. I know this is SO important, not just to recommend him for a program but to understand him as a whole student in my classroom. Now I can be a bit more understanding when Friday homework isn't finished - he had Martial Arts and Chess after school. And I can be proud of all he does, inside and outside of the classroom.

My ah-ha is reflecting on why I hadn't asked him and all the students in my class what they do outside of school? We started sharing some in September, finding out what their whole life is like. Duh - I know it is important to know my students...yet, it is February 13th and just yesterday, I finally took time (because of a form I had to fill out for my AAP meeting) to know this boy. I pledge NOW to have this four minute conversation with ALL my students in Feb (once the snow melts and I can teach again!) and then next year in September. I know this but then life gets in the way and it didn't happen this year. I will make it happen. I am these kids ONLY teacher this year. The least I can do is talk to them and get to know them completely.

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