Friday, January 16, 2015

2nd week of 2015

It’s Friday, after a week of teaching information research, in preparation for my student to write an information piece related to teaching an aspect of American History.

I literally turned my classroom into a research library by checking out 145 books from the public library. (I love that Arlington County Library has unlimited checkout!) Then I began reading Chris Lehman’s book about research and made an anchor chart about how researchers need to choose the way to take notes – boxes and bullets, a web, a timeline, a t-chart..

Today I didn’t teach a mini-lesson. Instead, I told them to use the 50 minutes to read and take notes. I told them the room was the "research room in a library" so they needed to read, take notes and NO TALKING!

Back on Wednesday, I sent home a letter to parents encouraging them to help. We have a 3-day weekend and live just a Metro ride away from the National History and Technology Museum and the National Gallery of Art – 2 places to visit to help with our research. I plan to visit them both this weekend, too!! I want to see what topics the museum does have in to so next year I can do a better “drumroll”. I did a “write around” of 5 images related to 5 different times in history. But I think I can do better next year. Also, I want to get an idea of HOW a museum is set up. I keep telling the class that we are turning the classroom into a museum so the visit should be inspiring!!

I find the biggest challenge now is how to juggle 80 kids and about 40 topics. How do I  help get books the kids can read? How to help kids read and then know how to hold onto the information by taking notes? It all feels VERY messy! It is exhausting. But it is exciting to see those students that are getting it!

I also need to WRITE this weekend my research paper. I picked the history of Venice to go with my trip I just took. I hope to get mine drafted, revised and published so I have it to teach from.

I also get to read 80 personal moments and score them using the checklist.

I also get to write another letter of recommendation for a student who wants to go to private MS.

I also am helping to plan a parent presentation on Writing Workshop at my school and need to preview videos and choose a few to show a week from Thursday night during the presentation.

So much is happening.
So much to do.
Being a teacher...a never ending job.
But I do love being the 5th grade writing teacher at Janney...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First week of 2015!

I've been happy all week long.

I was well rested after a European Winter Break and very relieved that we made it to see Anne in France, made it to Venice, and made it home on Saturday, January 3rd after falling asleep at the Geneva airport at 11pm on Friday night and awaking at 5am to catch a 7am plane that got us to Dulles at 3pm EST. Boy, I couldn't wait to get out of that outfit and sleep in a bed.

Then I spent Sunday planning for the week. I realized that I wasn't ready to dive into the history informational writing unit. And I had stories to tell about my winter break. SO I decided the kids probably did, too and we would spend the week getting back into the routine of writing workshop and do personal narrative quick rights. Then by Wed I started introducing them to the idea of how to pick a history topic to write about next. I had fun having the kids do a write-around of a history primary source, something I learned from TCRWP.  (Next year I think I also want to have them do a history topic word sort to help give them more ideas of history topics). Then Friday we used the Bulldog story from Pathways to understand better the information checklist. In partnerships, they read the information piece and highlighted the skills of information writing. Monday they will set THEIR information writing goal and then start to read and take notes on their topic.

I was also happy to be back at Janney. I had Venice bookmarks I bought as presents for my teammates. I was excited to see my students and decided to give them more responsibility and in pairs, they would be in charge of morning meeting, homeroom, and closing circle. On Monday, we 
picked a partner, we planned with our partner and now, after 2 days of pairs running this time, I am more relaxed. The kids are getting on their classmates. The kids are planning really fun things to do. I am helping to facilitate. I'm more relaxed because as a community we are doing this work together. (Next year, I'll start this in October!)

I also am happy that Nancy, the instructional coach, is doing to work with me on how to better take notes during conferences. The Writing Committee is also going to share all about writing workshop at the PTA meeting on January 29 and I get to help and on Friday, I already started taking video clips of writing workshop. I love working with Mary and Scott. Our vertical planning meetings are so fun and useful and productive.

No wonder I have been happy all week.
I love my job as 2015 begins!!