Monday, September 30, 2013

No More "I'm Done!"

Normally I do all of my reading over the summer but when my reading teacher showed me this book I just had to read it.  Because I am doing my National Boards this year I have been focusing a lot on writing in my classroom.  This book is great!! It goes through how you should set up your classroom to foster writing. It gives suggestions for tools that you can have available for students to use and best of all it gives you ideas for mini lessons that cover the entire year.

Here is what I have implemented so far from this book.

~I was always a writing journal type (it kept things more organized).  Now each student has their very own writing folder.  In my writing area I have different types of paper for students to choose from.

~Conference board.  When students are ready to show me their work they add their name to the conference board.  After we meet and talk they erase their name.

~After my mini lesson I give students 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to write.  It was hard in the beginning to not hoover and want to make suggestions, but I have found that they do their best writing during that time. After the 10 minutes I start to call students for conferences.  I also try to play classical music during those 10 minutes to keep their brains working.

I will keep you posted on what else I implement...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fish Eyes A Book You Can Count On!

I love it when I can tie literature into my math lessons!! I left this lesson for my sub to teach on Monday while I was out and the kids loved it.

They read Fish Eyes A book you can count on! by Lois Ehlert

I also love guided drawing.  In this lesson they learned how to draw a fish.

Then they created a class book!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lucy Calkins

Today I had the pleasure to see Lucy Calkins speak about her new writing units.  I can't tell you how amazing she is.  She is a wealth of knowledge.  I could not believe the stories she told from memory and the experiences she has to share. 

The big thing I walked away with was the Bill of Rights of Writing.  The basic concept is that you need to make writing a prior in your classroom.  If you don't make it a priority students will not excel in writing.  
Here is what Lucy considers Bill of Rights for Writing...

  1. Writing is a subject and taught as a subject. Everyone teaches math. It would not be ok for a teacher to say, "I don't teach math in such and such a grade." Writing has to be
  2.  During writing time the children actually write. During reading time the children actually read. They are not doing other things (workbooks, or other things).
  3. They are writing in genres.
  4. We are explicitly teaching them skills and strategies.
  5. We teach editing explicitly so our children use their editing skills and punctuation skills.
  6. Children will publish at least monthly.

It is not the same but here is a webinar that she gave on her Units of Study in Writing. 
Happy Writing :-)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Details, Details, and More Details!

My kiddos are doing a great job with thinking of stories and putting them on paper.  We have been working on adding details to our pictures these past couple of days. On Friday we read a House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.  We talked about how the hermit crab didn't like his plain shell so he added "details" to make his shell more interesting.  

After reading the story I drew a large rectangle on the easel. Then I invited each child to come up an add a detail to the rectangle to make it into a house.  They did such a great job coming with different things to add.

When we were done we wrote about our house.  I forgot to take a picture of what we wrote but we wrote "The dog is chasing the cat. They are running around the house."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Managing Behaviors

My first year teaching I had a tough class.  It felt like I had tried everything in the book and wasn't getting any where.  By the end of the year my kiddos were some what under control and my classroom was running smoothly.  Here are some of the things that I tried that year.

1. strike system
2. sticker charts
3. color system
4. think time
5. positive rewards
6. social stories
7. breaks

I also read this book searching for support.

Now 3 years later I have not had that tough of a class but I have changed many things that I do and have seen my kiddos grow into independent students that are eager to learn.  Here is what I use know to manage my classroom and behaviors.

1. Daily 5
Daily 5 completely changed the way in which I structure my classroom.  Before I had run a 3 group rotation with out success.  Now with Daily 5 my students are engaged for our entire literacy block.  I do not get 100 questions about what I'm supposed to do and everyone enjoys reading.  Above all students are INDEPENDENT.  When starting the Daily 5 process the sisters recommend taking your time introducing each component and stopping when even one student is not on task.  This way you can discourage unwanted behaviors for the beginning.  My students last year also loved that I would model the wrong way for doing each activity and they would have to model the correct way. I fell like Daily 5 holds my students to a higher standard and keeps them engaged.

2. Whole Brain Teaching
This is something new that I am starting this year.

3. Bucket Fillers
This idea is based on a book that our school guidance counselor read to my class.  Everyone has a personal bucket and different things we do and say fill or empty our bucket.  Basically these things make use feel good or make us feel bad.  In my classroom I bought one of those cheap plastic shoe holders and put a cup in each one.  Every student has a cup (aka their bucket) with there name on it.  Through out the day students earn pom poms to fill their buckets.  Not only do I give pom poms for things that I see but there friends can also give pom poms if someone helps them.  Once a student fills their bucket, about 20 pom poms, they get to pick a prize.

 I used to do a treasure box but it became too expensive and hard to keep up with.  So instead I bought these from teachers pay teachers.  I only put out about 8 choices at a time and change them when students start to get bored with them.

4. Color System
This is not my favorite thing to use but I needed something for consequences.  This is a basic traffic light with red, yellow and green. Every student begins each day on green.  If I have to remind a student about the classroom rules they move their clip to yellow.  If I have to remind them again they move their clip to red.  When they are on red they take some "think time" to reflect on what they did, why they did it, and how they could have solved their problem.  Because I teach kindergarten most students can not fill out the "think sheet" on their own so I will send them to "think time" normally a bean bag chair next to my desk to think.  Then I will go over and talk with the student about what happened and what they will do next time.  Together we complete the think sheet that gets sent home to parents and returned.  You can download my think sheet here, for free!!

5. Weekly Progress Reports
This was an idea a co worker gave me last year.  It takes a little time but in the end the results are great.  Each week I send this simple form home attached to my newsletter.  It gives parents a quick over view on their child's behavior for the week. It also has an area for comments.  Parents loved this and were able to stay on top of their students if there was a problem.  Because our expectations changed through out the year I would change the categories depending on our expectations.  You can download my weekly progress reports here for free!!

These are not all of the things that I use but some that I find most effective.