Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's March!

March got off to a slow start...another short week dur to weather. No school Monday and Tuesday and then Wed was a 2-hr delay. Despite the limited time in my classroom, I have many successes to highlight!

Wed's Close Read of Stray by Cynthia Rylant
The Reading Teacher came in to lead us in an argument discussion of this story. The debate would be: Doris should keep the dog VS Doris should not keep the dog. She paused after reading the first two paragraphs and asked the kids to jot down what they were thinking. Both her and I shared a think-aloud. Then a hand was raised and waving at us and I called on this student.

"I have a comment. The line that reads "its ears tucked, its tail between its legs, shivering." I think the author is showing us that the dog is scared."

WOW! This child just made a HUGE transfer from what we were learning while writing realistic ficiton in Writing Workshop to now reading a story. I smiled and thought to myself, "Yes, these kids are getting it!!"

27 Students -  27 Realistic Fiction Stories, 27 Social Studies Guess Who Posters, 27 Biography Posters, 27 Nonficition eBooks
During January and February, 2014, we've had MANY snow days, as well as, student absences due to sickness. That, compounded with the fact that all students work at different paces and all have different abilities, trying to guide a group of 27 can be challenging. Invites were already sent out and parents were coming in to see our work on Friday. So when we FINALLY got to school Wednesday, MUCH needed to be completed!! We spent Wed afternoon making it happen. Pages were printed; Final scenes were typed. Work was hung. One student helped another who had been absent. I helped scribe for the student having trouble getting all the ideas on the page. Thursday afternoon, we worked nonstop again. We were on a deadline. It was my goal that ALL 27 students would have 4 products to share on Friday morning. And at 3pm on Thursday, because of class teamwork, we were ready for our visitors!!

Breakfast Browsing
The cinnomon buns were on the plate, my mom arrived to be a "mom" for any students who didn't have a family member to share with, computers were fired up. The classroom was ready. At 8am, the students started to stroll in with a mom, some with both mom and dad, a few grandmas and one big sister. Only four had no guest but my mom, the principal and the reading teacher filled in. The students' job was to share our work and the visitors' job was to learn LOTS from us. I even gave them a handout so they could jot down all that they learned. We shared a video we made explaining HOW we used our laptop to research a topic we wanted to be an expert on. Our fiction story was printed out on our desk. The back wall had Guess Who Posters related to VA History facts on it with Lift the Flaps to reveal the answer. Our Biography Persuasive Posters hung in the hallway. Until 9:10am browsing occurrred!! I stood and smiled and thought that this is truly the job of a teacher - to empower her students to teach others! This was happening today!! I am SO glad we held a Browsing Breakfast on the Friday morning of another short week of school. Despite the crazy winter, we have learned LOTS in Room 121 and today our guests were learning from us!!

Fan Mail
I asked the visitors, if time permitted, would they write to us and tell us what they learned. I told them it would be like "Fan Mail" and it would motivate us to keep reading and writing. Within 2 hours of our event on Friday, we had received one card and 3 emails. Just now I looked and 2 more emails have arrived. This is such great feedback for the kids. It is also feedback for me.

As spring begins, I am motivated to keep up all this hard work. I have the rest of March and then 3 more months (only). I need to make the most of it!! I will!!

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