Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'm on Spring Break!!

Last Sunday I blogged:
This week we will change seats, clean the room well, set goals for the 4th quarter, enjoy poetry, and finish our Civil War unit in Social Studies!  I can successfully say that THIS all got done and we enjoyed 2 school assemblies, too!

I am AMAZED at my poets!! On Sunday, I looked at my shared google files and 2 boys, Ryan and Will, had shared poems they wrote with me. Ryan's was a Baseball List poem inspired by Douglas Florian's What I Love About Winter. 
steal the base
hit the ball
run around and do it all
home run
no matter what
you're having fun

The other was a poem about our trip to the White House by Will.
White House
I walk into the big white house
thinking what I’ll see
the oval office?
maybe but probably not
many rooms from the past years
Will I get to see the president's room?
no siree.
maybe even bo the dog?
I don't think so
but so very close.
maybe tall, Mrs.Obama?
no but so so very close.
Will I get to see the man, Mr.Obama
you got it right
I don’t know about you
but that is White House Luck
Both boys looked closely and felt deeply about their topic. They used precise words and line breaks. As I read these poems, I was energized to plan out my Monday poetry lesson!! These 2 poems would be my mentor text, along with Shape Poems by J. Patrick Lewis. On Sunday, I went to Staples and got poster board to make my anchor charts. I looked through my notes and remembered that the Chartchum ladies had a blog posting about poetry anchor charts which I reread and created my anchor charts modeled on their great advise -

I'll admit that I haven't been keeping up with having strong anchor charts because I don't have any teammate peer-pressure to do it. Sadly, I am starting to become what I am around - teammates who are good teachers but just not good teachers of reading and writing workshop.

I then found ALL the poetry links I used to share with teachers when I was their Reading Teacher. I added all the links to our class blackboard site. The ReadWriteThink shape poem creator and Diamonte creator and links to Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Mary Ann Hoberman, and J. Patrick Lewis. I made an anchor chart listing our poetry agenda:  read and log poems read, type a poem using google apps or use an online link to create a poem. The windowsill was filled with poetry books and I was refilled with my excitement to teach poetry during workshop this week!!

I needed Ryan and Will to show me that we are poets. If these two boys could write these poems, I believed ALL could write amazing poems if only I take the time to plan out my mini-lessons well and have anchor charts up as reminders to build their independence. Even if my teammates aren't pushing me to do workshop work, I am grateful that I am pausing to listen to my students and I'm letting them be my "peer-pressure"!

Monday was AMAZING!!!  During the minilesson, I taught that Poets use precise words - specific nouns, vivid verbs, and descriptive adjectives - when writing poems (a lesson from Lucy's Units of Study for Teaching Writing). I demonstrated this by sharing Ryan and WIll's poems and J. Patrick Lewis' baseball shape poems. Then I showed them the ReadWriteThink website which makes it easy to make a shape poem. Then I sent them off to read and write poetry. Ryan and Will placed their poems on our classroom window. I told the class that I hoped we could all add at least one poem to the window, too. We quickly reached that goal as you can see here. I took this photo at the end of the day on Monday!

On Thursday, I shared a poem written by Georgia Heard called Recipe for Writing an Autumn Poem. Following her recipe format, we co-wrote this poem together:
Recipe for Writing a Reading Workshop Poem
by Room 121; Inspired by Georgia Heard
One teaspoon of words we read and write
One tablespoon of reading logs
One cup of mini-lessons
One pint of books we hold and read online
One quart of quiet
One gallon of creativity and imagination
Then yesterday, the Friday before Spring Break, Katherine wrote this poem herself:
A Recipe for Spring Break
One teaspoon of no homework
One tablespoon of road trips
One cup of friends
One pint of sleepovers
One quart of food
One gallon of fun!

I will admit, I was becoming a lazy workshop teacher but my students kicked me into gear again! For this I am grateful. I will enjoy my Spring Break week but I know I will be spending time thinking about how to make the most of the final quarter of 4th grade. I need to stay strong in my planning of lessons. I need to make the steps visible through anchor charts so my students can see what they can do. I need to keep conferring, keep encouraging, keep teaching. I need to keep listening. There is still LOTS to teach!!

Final Reflection: Friday was such a peaceful day! Maybe we all knew we were getting a break. Maybe it was easier because 5 kids were absent and with only 22 in the room, it is naturally more peaceful. I still taught and we took time to clean and get new seats and we did have a 30 minute playtime at the end of the day. But I was calm all day. No shouting to get over the noise. I do think I am more confident in my teaching ability. I do think I have helped many to make good choices so less shouting is required. I do think we are a more helpful community. I loved feeling relaxed all day.

I do want to remain a classroom teacher. I do want to keep learning how to get better at it. Maybe I can get to the calm-state next year before the end of 3rd quarter!!

Now I plan to have a "Gallon of fun" for the week and will blog again the end of April!
Happy Spring Break!!


  1. I am catching up on your teaching journey. I love reading these posts and reflect along with you. Hope to see you at the institutes this summer. We will have to trade notes from the reunion (actually . . .your notes are posted, I will have to post mine soon - add to the To Do List). I really connected with that post about how much time teachers spend dedicated to their craft. It makes me feel less insane,

    1. Ryan,
      Great to hear from you from afar! Thanks for your kind feedback.
      I'll be at the July Reading Institute - June 29-July 3.
      How about you??