Monday, August 10, 2015

Spaces & Places - Planning Your Space

I think I mentioned before that I'm a member of this online community of First Grade teachers... Well, they've all been busy working in the classrooms and posting pictures of their progress.  Maybe they start school sooner than I do?  Or maybe I'm just a slacker.  Who can really be sure? ;)

Anyway.  Some of their classrooms are amazing!  Some of their rooms have so much stuff in them!  Some of their rooms are huge!  Some of their rooms... well, I'll be honest.  I'm jealous that I've got virtually no creative bone in my body.  There.  I said it.

So I decided to get up off my lazy butt at about 2:00 today and go to the bank then to my classroom.  (I hate going to the bank!  Huge waste of my time.)  I picked up my school keys, had a meeting with my principal about class size confidential stuff, then went out for food and drinks with a few friends from work.  Super productive, right? Ha!

Well, I did go back after dinner.  This is what my room looked like upon walking in:

(It's a panoramic picture.  My room isn't really that big.  Honest.)

The custodians were in there cleaning all of my furniture.  That's a first!  I don't think my building's custodians (in any building I've ever taught in) have ever cleaned my furniture!  I have always had to do it myself!  But there it is.  All of my furniture in a giant mess in the center of my carpet.  I had no clue what I was going to do with it.  And then I remembered..

Ta da!!! I own this book!

This is another one that I've had for a few years now.  I have read the introduction several times.  Each time I read it, it's the beginning of the summer (yes, I did it this summer, too) then I put it down because I know I will forget everything when it comes time to set up my classroom.  Well, I remembered to pull it back out this year.  Check me out!  Making progress!

So I got started with planning my classroom, which was the focus of the first chapter.  Let me say first that I love books with lots of pretty color photos as examples.  I especially love that this book includes all of the "before" photos.  It makes me not feel so bad because someone's room was once worse off than mine!

I think the biggest Ah-ha! moment that I had today was written on the second page of Chapter 1.  "Begin with the end in mind."  Is that not what we do when planning instruction?  We begin with what we want the children to know, then we plan backwards.  Why didn't I ever think to do this with room arrangement???  (And that would be why Debbie Diller is making the big bucks on this topic.)

So I began by thinking about the spaces that I know I need in my classroom.  A whole-group teaching area, a small-group teaching space, a classroom library, a word wall, computers, the math area, a safe place, a place for book boxes, a place for students' supplies and materials, and space for the students to complete their work independently.  As I was working through this list, other ideas popped into my head.  Things like a writing station... and where on Earth am I going to put my chart stand?  And what about student materials?  Where will those go?  As something came to mind, I wrote it on a Post-It note.  I also wrote all of the pieces of furniture that I have on separate Post-It notes.

Finally, I went and got a giant piece of construction paper and drew my classroom.  Everything that was permanently attached to the room got written on the construction paper in marker.  Everything else was on the Post-Its.  Before moving any furniture, I spent about 30 minutes rearranging my "furniture" on sticky notes.  Huge time saver!! And definitely easier on my sore muscles.  Leg day is no joke!

Some of my Post-Its made it off the page outside the door... That's the furniture that I want to find a new home for.  Perhaps there is another teacher that doesn't have a kidney table... Or maybe some desks.  We'll see.  We aren't allowed to yard sale our furniture until next week, though.  Over the last few years, I've gotten rid of several pieces of furniture.  I no longer have a teacher's desk.  I only have enough student desks for 22 students.  (That means I can't have more than 22 this year, right?  Ha!  Wishful thinking.)  I have two kidney tables, but that's because I had like five adults in my room at any given time last year with the TAs, tutors, interventionists, and whoever else.  I plan to get rid of one of them because I won't have that this year - I hope.  I also plan to get rid of maybe five or six more student desks.

So, I'm only sort of sorry for this poor-quality photo.  I did want to show you, though, that this book provides some great ideas!  Debbie Diller has gone beyond simply narrating how to organize your space... She has taken it a step farther by giving you suggestions for what to organize in each of your spaces!  Give her a gold star!  

I'm not to this point in my own classroom yet because all of my stuff is still in the cabinets.  I have only addressed the issue of the furniture so far because that was all out and in my way.  (The fabric and borders on the bulletin boards have been up for the last two years.)  

By the time I started just walking around aimlessly in my classroom (meaning it's time to go home), I only finished putting the furniture where I needed it to be according to my Post-It map.  I have to admit, I'm not hating it.  Of course, I probably will hate it once I realize that I still need to figure out what to do with those student desks... and I'm crossing my fingers that someone needs a kidney table. Otherwise, I'm stuck with it again this year!

One more thing that I love about this book:

Just about all situations were considered!  In Chapter 1, Debbie has suggestions for the special items you'd find in a pre-K or Kindergarten classroom.  She includes what to do with a dual-language classroom and planning for students with special needs (wheelchairs, etc.).  She makes suggestions for open classrooms with no walls (I used to have one of those - it was hard!) and portable buildings. She also discusses technology, teacher's desks, and using color in your classroom.  (Did you know that red and orange evoke excitement and stimulate hunger?)

The next chapter in the book is "Arranging Your Room."  I may have inadvertently jumped ahead.  I may try to read that chapter tonight to see if I'm finished with it.  I'm sure I still need to pull all of my crap teaching materials out of the cabinets and put things where they go for my room to be considered "arranged." We'll see.

How is your room coming along?  Or have you already begun school and are therefore finished?  I'd love to see some of your pictures and hear about your progress!  Leave me a link to your blog!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Foundation Lessons - A Daily 5 Book Study

Guys.  I am so far behind with everything I'm doing lately!  I have been home from the Katmai for a week now.  The first day out was spent in Seward.  It's a cute little town worthy of a visit if you're ever up this way.  Mile 0 of the Iditarod race.  The next two days were spent cleaning up and drying out all of our camping supplies.  Then two days were spent getting the boyfriend ready to go to sheep camp.  He left yesterday morning, and I just slept.  All day.  It was nice.  Haha!

Then there's today.  I've got to get into my classroom before Thursday.  I can go pick up my keys tomorrow afternoon, so I decided to take care of all of my last-day-of-summer plans (i.e., cleaning my apartment for the last time until winter break) today.

Also on today's to do list...
Catching up on this blog!

I told myself when I started it again this summer that I was going to be better.  I was doing so well there for a while, then July happened!  Hopefully I do actually keep it up throughout the year.

I want to talk to you today about the foundation lessons that The Sisters mention.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I love the updates to this edition of the book!  The critical foundation lessons are outlined for your in this chapter.  Brilliant!  For those questioning which lessons you should start with, The Sisters have already laid it out.  In my classroom, I have found that I need more to implement a successful workshop, so I have about three full weeks' worth of "foundation" lessons. (You can see what I mean [here].)  I will share those lessons once I finish writing the plans.  However, The Sisters have provided a great place to start!

Read to Self

By this time, you've already taught Three Ways to Read a Book and I PICK Good-Fit Books.  The last foundation lesson for Read to Self is Choose a Successful Spot.

Some teachers spend the first few days placing students around the room (like The Sisters), while others allow students to choose their own spots right away.  Personally, I prefer placing the students around the room first.  Rather than placing them one-at-a-time, I call groups of four or five students to sit in an area.  This way, I can show them rather than tell them where the appropriate places to sit might be.  After a few rounds of this (sometimes after two or three days), we are ready to talk about how they can choose their own successful working areas.

Work on Writing

You have already taught what to do when we don't know how to spell a word.  From there, the foundation lessons include setting up the notebook and choosing what to write about.

This is where I often find myself digressing from The Sisters' book.  I use a writer's workshop model in my classroom so, where I do allow my students to choose Work on Writing during our D5 rotations, I have a separate series of lessons for writing instruction that I do at a different time during the day.  I'll have to write about that one of these days.  There are TONS of resources out there for how to begin a writer's workshop and how to teach writing.  As much as I do appreciate the work The Sisters put into describing their adapted workshop model, I personally prefer some of those other professionals' opinions on writing instruction and how to get started.  Do your own reading and form your own opinions, though.  The Daily 5 book is a good starting place if you haven't ironed out your own research and plans yet.

Read to Someone

This is where I sometimes get a little overwhelmed.  There is a lot to address here for Read to Someone to run successfully.  So far, you've taught none of these things, and it's a lengthy list.  EEKK is quite possibly my second favorite lesson to teach (the I PICK lesson being my favorite).  Then you'll address voice levels (which I've already done in my classroom because it's a school expectation to do that on the first day of school), check for understanding (a CAFE lesson), how partners read (and I have a book for that.. I'll have to dig it out), how to get started, coaching or time, and how to choose a partner.  See?  A long list!  It's overwhelming just thinking about it!  However, it'll be fine once you get started.

Listening to Reading

Your lessons here will depend greatly on your available resources for this choice.  I have two CD players, three computers, and four iPads in my classroom.  You may have more, fewer, or different resources.  You will need to teach the expectations for using those resources.  Foundation lessons include setting up and cleaning up the technology, listening and following along, and managing fairness and equitable use given the limited number of devices.

That last one isn't usually a problem for my students since they are obligated to make each choice twice during the week.  If they have already chosen Listening to Reading on Monday and Tuesday, they must give other students a chance to have a turn.  Again, your procedures and expectations will greatly depend on your resources.

Word Work

Foundation lessons for Word Work include setting up and cleaning up materials, choosing materials and words to use, and choosing a successful spot.  I am still working on this area of D5 myself.  I made lots of notes while reading, and I have lots of ideas.  I just need to get into my classroom to see about making it happen.

After reading this chapter, I did find myself wondering about The Sisters' viewpoints on using reader's notebooks.  They cite Aimee Buckner in the use of writer's notebooks (you can read my blog about that [here]).  Aimee Buckner also wrote a book that I haven't read about reader's notebooks.  I'll get around to reading it soon.  Keeping a notebook is a little more challenging in First Grade, but I think they can do it!  I'll have to think a little harder about it and see how I can make it work.  I'm hesitant about merging the two, but perhaps they could write about their reading in their writer's notebooks too?  I don't know.  We'll see.

The school year is starting for me soon.  If you've already begun, I hope you had a great first day/week!  If you're starting soon, I wish you well on your first day!  Let me know how it goes!

A few photos from our camping trip:

my boyfriend and me in the plane flying over the Inlet on our way to the Katmai Preserve
He takes me to the best places!

the crew and our ride

Upon returning from the Katmai, I had a photo book made with Shutterfly.  I'm sort of excited about it, but it's not scheduled to arrive until next week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It

Hey, Carrie... What did you make this time?

Just a giant mess in my living room.  That's all. ;)

Hey, guys.  I'm linking up again with Fourth Grade Frolics for today's Monday Made It.  I also have big plans of actually updating my blog today.  As well as cleaning up my apartment.  My living room seriously looks like Michael's threw up all over it.

I got this frame from one of those garage sale Facebook groups.  The lady gave me several because she learned that I was a teacher and I was looking for frames to make a few things for my classroom. Well, she gave me a few 11x14" frames and this giant one!  Sorry, I don't know the dimensions.  I'm sicking with giant!

So, I painted it green.  I went to Michael's to pick up some letters.  Those are painted sort of a sky blue, but it doesn't really look that way in the glare of the sun.  Anyway.  I then just hot glued it all together.  Thanks to a comment from another first grade teacher, I might pop that "1st" star off and reattach it with Velcro.  That way, I can make another star for "100th" and another for other days during the year so I can use the same frame.  That was a genius idea, and I wish it was mine.  Sadly, it was not.  

The colors in my classroom are various hues of greens and blues.  This works out well.  I want to add more yellow in my classroom library, but the accents of the stars here go along with the yellow accents in my classroom.  It is what it is for now.

So then there's this little gem - that has absolutely nothing to do with school.  Parents' Day is, I believe, July 26?  Whatever that Sunday is.  When Leila and Dylan were younger, I would take them for several days before Mother's day, and we would knock out a Mother's Day and a Father's Day gift.  Well, I don't live close anymore, so that doesn't happen.  So a Parents' Day gift happened instead.  (My sister doesn't read my blog, so I'm fairly certain this is safe.  Unless the kids already told her what it is.  They stink at secrets. Ha!)

The frame was seriously discounted at Michael's.  This was great because I'm pretty parsimonious.  I found the one gold frame that had a blemish on it (bottom is scratched), and made sure there were no other frames like it in the store.  Got a $40 frame for $16! The paint was done directly on the back of the glass, the letters are stickers stuck directly to the front of the glass.  The photo was glued on to the back of the glass after the paint dried.  (Lesson learned from this one:  Mod Podge is good for a lot of projects.  This is not one of them.)  And finally, the glass was hot glued into the frame so I could trash the cardboard backing.

So now, back to school.  Jaymee Laymance posted a cute gift tag for bubbles.  (You can get it from her TPT Store.)  Well, I originally planned to pick up several bottles of bubbles from the Dollar Tree while I was in the Lower 48.  I did not.  Fail for me.  But, I got a better deal in the party favors aisle at Target!  Twenty-four mini bottles for like $4!  Yes, please.  I'll take it.

But then I had a dilemma.  The tags in Jaymee's store are larger than the mini-bubbles.  They are more appropriately sized for standard-sized bottles.  No big deal.  I decided to shrink the .pdf and print 24 tags on the page!

I planned to use some fancy ribbon and tie those tags to the bottles.  But, look.  By the time I cut all of them out, I didn't want to look at them anymore!  Seriously!  So, I remembered I had these glue dots in with my scrapbooking stuff!  

And voila!  "I'm bubbling with excitement that you're in my class this year!"  And all but one fit back in the little box they came in.  I'll pass these out as I meet my students at the back-to-school block party the night before school begins.

Just some simple felt pieces cut into 3x3" squares.  This way, the kids can keep their "whiteboard eraser" in their pencil boxes with the marker.  Listening to them argue over the whiteboard erasers that I only have about 10 of is enough to make you want to rip out your hair!  I thought about hot glueing these to thick pieces of foam or maybe even some 1/4" plywood for durability, but I think this is fine.

I'm hoping that my sister-in-law doesn't read my blog because that would ruin this since I haven't mailed it yet.  She isn't a teacher, so she might not.  However, she read it last Monday.  Hmm... I don't know.  I won't post the link.  Then she won't know where to find this.  #winning  I already know my brother won't read it. Ha!

I finally finished my nephew's scrapbook.  (He was born in January.  Haha!)  I won't can't show you much of it because my SIL might see this post even after my attempts to avoid that.

Here are just a couple of examples of what this book includes:

I have to admit, this isn't my best work.  Living in this teeny, tiny apartment is definitely taking it's toll on my creative bursts.  All of my scrapbooking and craft stuff was in storage.  I went to pick up a few things to get these projects done, but I didn't have full use of my materials.  I miss the house that I paid a mortgage for when I lived in Louisiana.  I had a craft room there, so I could do these types of things all of the time!  And everything had it's place!  That craft room is definitely on my list of must-haves for the house I buy here in Alaska!

The other issue making this task a little difficult was that I wasn't able to take my own photos.  My brother is in the Air Force, and he is currently stationed in Guam.  That's not exactly an easy trip to take, especially when this girl has to go to work.

Well, there you have it.  I won't be doing anything else until August.  I'll hopefully get back into my classroom at the start of the month and have some time to get my room set up.  But next week, I'll be out in the middle of nowhere (i.e., the Katmai, my boyfriend's concession land) with a raft and a tent.  [Click this link] to see a live video feed of part of the Katmai!  I'm not sure if I'm nervous or excited, but I certainly do love living in Alaska!

Don't forget to link up with Tara and check out what everyone's been up to!  Leave me your link in the comments so I can come see what you've been making!

Side note:  My brother, his wife, and my nephew, Liam:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Inside September

About a month ago, I introduced you to my storage solution for my classroom.  (You can see that post [here] if you missed it.)  The underbed storage bins.  Guys, they are great!  If you pack them just right, they hold everything!

Since then, I've added a few things to my August bin, but it's all Conscious Discipline stuff, and it's all going into a separate bin labeled "Safe Place" when I pack up my room at the end of the upcoming school year.  I'll post about that stuff later.  I need to actually figure out what I'm doing with it first.

Did you know that Scholastic Reading Club flyers have these nifty little boxed sets that focus on sight words and specific phonics skills?  Of course you did.  You're a teacher!  You look at the flyers before you even pass them out.  Silly me.  (In the off chance that you're a new teacher - or a seasoned teacher that has just never used it - and you want to use Scholastic Reading Club flyers with your students, hit me up for some bonus points!  I will have 1,000 bonus points to give away next month, but only if you're a first-timer at the whole book clubs idea.  Sorry, veterans.)

Anyway.  Scholastic.  Boxed sets.  Definitely worth it!  It makes the phonics and sight word practice more meaningful to the students than those silly blackline master decodable books that come with our reading series.  (Yes, I use those, too.)

As for the other things in my September bin...

Pardon my dog.  She likes to get in the way and does not like when she isn't the one getting the attention.

Three ways to read a book goes up on the wall once we talk about it.  I used to write an anchor chart, but a giant three is better... Well, it was last year.  I don't know how I feel about it now.  I'll decide later if I want to use it or something else. 

"What to do when I'm through" is for writing.  There are three things my students may do when they 'finish' their writing.  They may add details to the picture, add details to the words, or start a new piece.  I ordered No More "I'm Done!" by Jennifer Jacobson, and I should get it this week.  We'll see what she says about those tiny friends that say they are finished.

"I can write a sentence that" has always been something that goes up in pieces.  The first one says "uses spaces between the words."  Then it goes on to include capital letters, end marks, spelling, etc.  Each piece goes up as we talk about it.  This takes time to get everything up.

The pink cards are high-frequency words from my basal series.  I also have a different color for Fry's sight words and Dolch words.  Math words, student choice words (interesting words found in reading), science words, etc. all have different colors.  They will go on the word wall as we learn them.

The rest of it is games and books.  Classroom library books as well as read alouds.  (My brilliant idea of the summer:  Skip-Bo at the start of the school year as math buddy games!  They have to put the numbers in sequential order... That's number recognition and rote counting to 12.  Review = check!)

The theme for the books in September's bin is "Books about School."  There are other books in the library already when the kids walk in the door, but these are books that I put out specifically in September and take them back out of the library at the end of the month.  They include:

The Librarian from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler

Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie! by Judy Cox

Flat Stanley:  Show-and-Tell Flat Stanley! by Lori Haskins Houran

Miss Mingo and the Fire Drill by Jamie Harper

Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen

There was an Old Lady who Swallowed Some Books! by Lucille Colandro

What I Saw in the Teacher's Lounge by Jerry Pallotta

My New Teacher and Me by Al Yankovic

Clifford:  Time for School by Gail Herman

Our Cool School by Judy Katschke

Biscuit Goes to School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Annabelle Swift, Kindergartener by Amy Schwartz

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish

Skippyjon Jones Class Action by Judy Schachner

Mittens at School Lola M. Schafer

David Goes to School. by David Shannon

Splat and the Cool School Trip by Rob Scotton

And because September begins moose season here in Alaska and we need to talk about moose safety...

Moose! by Robert Munsch

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff

And because we are beginning to talk about nouns and verbs as critical parts of sentences...

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink:  What is a Noun? by Brian P. Cleary

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute:  What is a Verb? by Brain P. Cleary (sorry, no link)

Slide and Slurp, Scratch and Burp:  More about Verbs by Brian P. Cleary

When I put these books out at the end of August, I try to talk them up.  Give some incomplete summaries of a few of the books; tell them which books are my favorite.  It helps with the book selection.  I'll even choose read alouds from this stack if I need a time-filler.

Well, that's my collection of random things that happen in September.  Part of me feels like there is a lot that I didn't pack up... like things are missing from this box...  It was probably the dogs! ;)

Always wanting to be in the middle of everything... ;)

I'm looking forward to hearing about your ideas for rolling out the new year!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Notebook Know-How

Have you read this book?  It's an old one.  I've had it for probably about six or so years..?  I'm only just getting around to reading it.  It's Notebook Know-How:  Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner.

Now, if you know me at all, you know how I hate to spend my time reading professional texts that have nothing to do with what I'm trying to do.  To be honest, this one was probably a giant waste of time for me as a First Grade teacher.  (I wish I would have read it six years ago when I was teaching fourth grade!)

But, guys!  There is so much great stuff in here!  I decided earlier this summer that I am going to have my Firsties keep a writer's notebook.  I just wasn't really sure how that would work being that they are so dependent young.  This book didn't really give me any ideas on that.  I'm still working on it.  But there is a lot of stuff in here that can be modified to work with younger kids.

I love that the chapters are organized in such a way that they correlate to the steps in the writing process.  Chapter 2, "Launching the Notebook," is all about teaching students how to gather ideas.  Then, Chapter 3 provides more information on gathering ideas through expanding topics and building collections of ideas.  Once this is done, students draft.  Chapter 4, "When Writers Read," discusses drafting in a way that includes using mentor texts. (Have you heard about The Writing Theif?  I read that one earlier this summer.  If you haven't, you should check it out, too.)  Aimee goes on to describe revising and editing strategies in chapters 5 and 6, respectively.  Chapter 7 she dedicates to assessing the notebook.

I want to use a writer's notebook with my Firsties because it will give them a place to keep all of their thinking.  Aimee writes, "A writer's notebook creates a place for students (and writers) to save their words - in the form of a memory, a reflection, a list, a rambling of thoughts, a sketch, or even a scrap of print taped to the page" (p. 4).  I am not sure exactly how this will look with such young students, but why can't they get started this early?  And why can't they carry it on year after year?  (I am going to be working with the teachers at my school over the next few years to implement a school-wide writing initiative.  I'm not sure what that will look like yet, but I feel like it should include writer's notebooks!)

"The purpose of a notebook is to provide a place for students to practice writing.  It's a place to generate texts, find ideas, and practice what they know about spelling and grammar" (p. 5).  I'm not sure what form the notebook will take in my classroom given that the students are so young.  I don't know if journaling is appropriate, but I don't always want the kids writing to a prompt.  That's completely opposite from what a writer's notebook should be!  I have some thinking to do about this...

"... [T]he most important aspect of a notebook is that it allows students the practice of simply writing..." (p. 7).  And isn't that, after all, what we want our students to be doing?  It's what I want my students to do.  The only way to get better at something is to practice doing it every day!  Without practice, we can't be our best.

How do you feel about using a notebook with your class?  Have you read (or heard of) this book?

Aimee Buckner also wrote Notebook Connections:  Strategies for the Reader's Notebook, which I also planned to read.  However, I'm a little apprehensive because, like I said, I don't like wasting my time on things that aren't useful to me.  Especially when there are so few precious days left of summer!  Maybe I'll put it off until the end of my reading list.  (It's a long one. Haha!)

Monday Made It

You guys... My boyfriend is so cute sometimes with the things he just doesn't understand... He's out commercial fishing right now, so I haven't seen him for a little over a month. No big deal. I get to talk to him sometimes, and he always asks me how my homework is going and how my school stuff is coming along.

This time, the conversation went like this:

Him: "What are you up to?"
Me: "I'm working on a new sign for my library area."
Him: "Why do you always give yourself new projects?" 
(I'm not finished with the other eleventy-billion things I started. Haha!)
Me: "Well, I saw a sign that I liked, I didn't want to spend the money to buy it, so I'm making it."
Him: "Oh. Good idea."

Guys!! "Good idea"? No questioning what I was thinking? (Maybe it's just because he doesn't see the current state of my dining room..?) Doesn't even matter; he's a keeper! ❤️ 

There has been talk about moving in together. I think he has forgotten just what stuff he helped me move into a storage unit only five short months ago. My crafting stuff doesn't have a home in my teeny, tiny apartment (along with my tools, garage-type stuff, etc.). If we found a house that we both like, I'd have a whole room dedicated to the mess that he doesn't see right now. Haha!!

Anyway. I linked up with Fourth Grade Frolics for today's Monday Made It.

I've only been home from vacation for a day, so I only got one project finished.  Maybe I'll have a few more of those "eleventy-billion" projects done next week. ;)

My sign. I started with some letters from Walmart. I probably should have splurged for the letters from Michael's. These are great! 

I painted the backs and outer edges. Just some plain ol' acrylic craft paint. 

And I got some old books. (I wish I would have thought of this when I was going through the books in my library chucking recycling all of the books that were beyond repair.) A little (just kidding - a lot of) Mod Podge later, and I've got these letters to hang above my bookshelves!

I'm not sure exactly what my classroom layout will be this year, so we'll see if they go on a wall or mounted somewhere else.

What are you up to?  What have you made lately?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Launching Read to Self - Book Study

Welcome to Chapter 5, Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5!  I'm back with the book study led by Brenda over a Primary Inspired as we walk through The Daily 5.

First, let me tell you, I am so tired!  I spent the last week down in Louisiana for my niece's birthday.

My sister and me at Spirits on Bourbon & House (the bartender) and me

As soon as I got out of the airport, my sister, her husband, and I hit up Bourbon Street.  This place, Spirits on Bourbon, was on that show Bar Rescue.  I don't watch it, but I'm totally claiming to have been somewhere and met people who are famous! ;)  If you go there, the best drinks are the Resurrection and the Barber Beer.  I can say that because I tried them all! Haha!

My nephew, Dylan, my niece, Leila, and me at the Baton Rouge Zoo

The real reason for my trip was my Little Bit there in the middle.  Her birthday was last weekend.  I'll be headed back in the winter for the other one.  

So I spent the whole week going to sleep at about 2am (because that's only 11pm in Alaska) and waking up between 5:30 and 7:00 each morning (because I was, after all, there for the kids not the sleep).  I am surprised I lasted the week!  On top of that, it was so hot!  At least it wasn't raining.

Anyway.  Back to this book.

I have heard many teachers say that they got a little overwhelmed by the ideas presented in the launch.  "Do you really do all of that on the first day of school?"  "My literacy block isn't long enough to get all of those lessons in!"  "How do I do this with my basal series?"  There were several other questions, but I don't remember them and they didn't all have to do with the start-up.  I'll give my input, but keep in mind that I'm just a teacher, not an expert in D5 by any means.

The Sisters discuss what their first day of school looks like.  They give the students time to choose books to fill their book boxes, they teach the Three Ways to Read a Book lessons (both of them), they go through the 10 Steps to Teaching Independence, they teach the I PICK Good-Fit Books lesson, they teach the Underline Words You Can't Spell lesson (Work on Writing foundation lesson), the Check for Understanding lesson (Read to Someone foundation lesson from CAFE strategies), and the Set Up and Clean Up Materials lesson (foundation lessons from Listen to Reading and Work Work).

Holy mother of I-don't-have-time-for-that!!  The good news:  You don't have to do everything exactly like The Sisters.  We can't all be at that level of rock star status right away, and that's okay.  I personally, don't teach any of that on the first day of school.  Instead, I focus on a few other things required by my school, like the emergency drills (because we always have a fire drill and an earthquake drill on the second or third day) and setting the rules and expectations for class - not to mention a few fun "getting to know you" and community building activities as well as dealing with supplies and such.  I get started with D5 on the second day of school.

My instruction on the first day of school includes no lessons from D5.  Instead, my lessons pertain to the following:
  • Introduce the meeting place
  • Signal for coming to the meeting place
  • Meeting place behaviors
  • How to do a turn-and-talk
  • Book care
  • Handling a book box
All of that seems pretty common sense, right?  Well, I forget every year that my students coming to me are not the students that left me in May.  I get so upset because I feel hopeless.  These kids can't do anything that I'm asking, let alone do it quickly!  So I leave these lessons for the first day of school because I know they need them.  If I get a quick group, we can move on to some of the lessons that I had planned for day two, but I always start with those.  My second day includes:
  • Three ways to read a book (part 1)
  • Read to self iChart (this includes creating a rubric for guidelines for behavior)
  • Listening behavior
If we have time, I continue with:
  • Three ways to read a book (part 2)
  • Review meeting spot behaviors
  • Review iChart, add behaviors
  • Respectful manners and language
  • What readers read
  • Active listening
  • Patience and polite words
  • I PICK good-fit books
  • Practice turn-and-talk
  • Work with book boxes
  • Book box choices (review I PICK lesson)
  • ... 
I obviously don't have time for all of those lessons on the second day of school, but I do them over the course of the first week in that order.  Some classes move faster than others, but I find that all of my classes have needed all of the "common sense" lessons in order to be successful.  My reader's workshop launch usually happens over the course of the first three or four weeks of school because I also have to fit in the content lessons.  I have about 49 lessons in my launch.  Once I get my plans in a more user-friendly format, I'll share.  Right now, it barely makes sense to me.  (I feel like the kids when they are writing... I ask them to read their stories to me, and it's just a bunch of letters... "Umm... I don't actually know what I wrote.  I need more time." Haha!!)

As for the D5 book, I have been making notes on how to best accomplish some of the tasks.  For example, The Sisters have the kids choose some books on the first day.  For the first week in my district, K/1 students come one-at-a-time for Fall benchmark assessment appointments while grades 2+ have already begun class.  I think that, while I'm going over the results of the assessment with the parents at the end of the appointment, I'll have the kid choose books.  Then it'll be ready to go for the first day of school.

As for the book choice, I was wondering about leveling my books.  However, I'm not going to because my con list has always included the fact that books aren't leveled at the book store or public library.  After reading The Sisters' story about Pedro, it's settled.  No leveling the books!  (I teach a lot of ELL students, and I know this will be a concern for them in even our school library.)

For the record, I absolutely LOVE the I PICK lesson.  I do it every year.  It really drives the point home, especially when I have the kids put on each other's shoes!  Lyndsey over at A Year of Many Firsts has a cute "Make It a Good Fit" activity that I've never used because it seems time consuming, but it might be good for a station later or a reinforcement activity on another day.  I don't know.  I'll think about it.  The activity is in her The Daily Five {Free Classroom Resources} pack.

My only question is the K - know the words.  What do you do with the kid that thinks he knows the words?  You know the one... He invents words based on the first letter and just moves on without checking to make sure the word makes sense.  He's just calling words rather than reading for meaning.  He takes the book anyway.  How do you help him stop and pay attention to the whole word rather than making a best guess?

I have decided to make classroom library a choice for D5 stations, though.  Once they choose their book, they can transition to Read to Self.  I'll have to figure out how to make it work so everyone has the opportunity to go once a week.  Maybe two kids for each round?  I don't know.  Another thing to think about.

So back to those questions I mentioned before...

     "Do you really do all of that on the first day of school?"

Like I said before... I don't, but it's whatever you feel comfortable with.

     "My literacy block isn't long enough to get all those lessons in!"

Again, stick to what makes you comfortable.  The best part about teaching is that we are all learning as much as our students every day!  It will work out, honest!  Just follow the sequence as best you can; you don't have to try to cram everything in.

     "How do I do this with my basal series?"

This takes some practice - and probably your grade level team.  You go through the lessons in your basal to find the most important pieces.  Sift through all of the "cute" and the "fun" and the games and the activities, and ask yourself "What am I being expected to actually teach?  What do the students need to learn?"  Teach that in your focus lessons.  Once you get the workshop up and running, you will have plenty of time to teach content.

All that's left to say is that you need to make sure to watch out for the negativity:
This is taking too much of my instructional time!

It does take time... In the beginning!  Once your students are completely independent (which could take anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on your group), you will have so much time for instruction!!

(Haha!! It made me think of this...)

If you have a blog, leave me a comment with your link so I can find out what you think about this chapter.  If you don't, leave me a comment anyway!  I'm looking forward to learning from you!

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