Saturday, May 31, 2014

100 Minutes Book Study - Chapter 3 Reading Around the Literacy Block Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Thinking of Teaching

I am late for my chapter post - I am so sorry!  But last night was Palmer's graduation.
Photo: Congrats Palmer!

I obviously knew this ahead of time and planned on pre-scheduling my post but this happened...

Photo: Cody sporting his new cast.  He's rocking the pink!  He says pink is the new black.

and we had to have an unexpected surgery and follow up appointment.  He fell off some playground equipment during one of Tyler's baseball games :(
He is handling it well, but needless to say, I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off since this was our last week of school!

I hope you forgive me, but I have a giveaway to make it up to you!

Now, onto my chapter of 100 Minutes -Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block.

 If you haven't bought the book yet, you still can - it will be a great summer read! Keep reading to see how you can win a $25 Amazon gift card to help you purchase the book : D

 You can read my previous posts below:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

My thoughts on Chapter 3:

Lisa Donohue opened this chapter with a blog post she had written about the magic of the read aloud.  I also have fond memories of read alouds with my own teachers during my childhood.  Like Lisa, there are STILL days when I say that I want to move to Australia when I have a bad day because of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Read alouds are also a sacred time in my classroom today.  If we have to let go of anything during the day due to special occurrences (assemblies, fire drills, etc.) I will NOT give up my read aloud.

This year I experimented with using whole group novels for some of our read alouds.  I still was the one reading, but each student had a copy of the text to follow along with as I read and to look back through when answering questions to refer to text references.  Many teachers I talked to disagreed with the use of a whole class novel, especially because of differentiation needs.  I love that Lisa Donohue addressed that you could still use whole group instruction, but still provide for varying needs.

Whole group lessons are a time to model reading strategies.  She notes that the purpose of reading strategies is not to give students a checklist of activities to accomplish, but rather is to provide them with a tool kit of strategies to use as they work to comprehend a given text.

It is also important for students to have an opportunity to talk through texts.  I have often heard it said that we do not allow students enough opportunity to talk in class, but instead as teachers do most of the talking.  I always try to keep in mind, that the person doing the work is the one who is learning.  If I am talking, i am learning - if the students are talking - they are learning.  Donohue recommends several ways to develop a talk-centered classroom with sample talk partner success criteria, and sample questions to ask students to encourage deep thought.

I also love that she provided web site resources and sample questions to use with these resources.  Our students are growing up in a digital world, and they need to be able to navigate these resources  as well.

I think one of the most valuable portions of this chapter are the suggested questions.  I love how just a small modification can result in such deeper thinking.  For example, she says:

"instead of asking... How did the main character feel at the end of the book?"
"try asking: How do you know that the main character learned an important lesson through the book?"

I am going to really think about the questions I will ask during read alouds next year.  

If you are reading along with this book, feel free to join in the discussion by linking up below.  I am looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts and reflections!  

Next up- Chapter 4: Reading Around the Literacy Block

Be sure to visit Jen from teaching, life, and everything in between on June 4th to continue this learning journey with us. She is hosting chapter 4.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

100 Minutes Book Study - Chapter 2 - The Building Blocks

Thinking of Teaching

I have bought some professional development books that are ok and I have bought others that I come back to time and again that get so beat up and used because they are just that good.  Each time I read them I find a new nugget I missed before.  I think this book is definitely going to be the latter and I am only through chapter 2!  I have had so many thoughts and ideas and am so glad that I decided to join this book study. If you haven't bought the book yet, you still can - it will be a great summer read!  You can read my thoughts on chapter 1 here if you missed it.

I am linking up with Kelly Anne at AppleSlices for Chapter 2.

My thoughts on Chapter 2:

As I read through the first two chapters I was really struck by how similar to Daily 5 many of the components are.  A lot of the research behind both methods is the same.

The author states that the 100 minute literacy block model was based on "the fundamental belief that students need time for explicit teaching, time for guided practice, and time for independent work." (p.14).

Chapter 2 fleshes out the key components or building blocks of the model.  Essentially the time is divided into two different chunks of whole group instruction (one for reading and one for writing) wrapped around a time for independent and small group work.

The end of the chapter paints a picture of the routine modeled by a class who has been using the routine.  As I read more, it is a picture I would like to see in my classroom, and one I am excited to continue to learn how to build.

As I read more and more, I am seeing how having less sessions and less switching during my literacy period will be a richer and more productive environment for my students.  Often I feel like I am interrupting them as they are really making a break through (finally settled into a book, or scribbling feverishly as they tell a new story) just to squeeze in a mini-lesson that isn't always what they need, but sometimes feels like I am just trying to fit SOMETHING in that chunk of time.

I am going through the standards for third grade (since I taught 4th this year) and am thinking about how I can create lessons around these new parameters.  I am both excited and nervous at the same time!

If you are reading along with this book, feel free to join in the discussion by linking up below.  I am looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts and reflections!  

Next up- Chapter 3: Reading Around the Literacy Block

Be sure to come back here on May 30th to continue this learning journey with us. I am hosting chapter 3 and will have a giveaway and a freebie!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Top Ten Things I Want To Do This Summer

I am linking up with Deanna Jump for her Top Ten Things I Want to do this Summer linky. I love making to do lists to keep me on track throughout the year, but I think my summer to do list has got to be my favorite to do list each year!

Hanging with these boys!  

It seems like I spend so much time with my students during the year, I don't get quite enough time to spend with my own boys. Although that should change a bit next year (I will have Luke in my classroom!). I am looking forward to lots of quality time with my little men! 

 Especially this one since he leaves for college in August!

VEGAS!  I am super excited to be spending time and getting to meet many of my blogging besties in real life at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in July.

One of my co-workers talked me into signing up for a STEM training this summer.  Before working at my current school I worked at a Middle School that was a STEM Academy with a major focus on STEM.  My current school is not a STEM school per se, but I know that my students loved any science and math activities we did this year, so I am looking forward to learning some new ways to introduce STEM to my younger students.

Thinking of Teaching
Summer is my time to get my read on!  I am excited to be participating in a few book studies this summer, but I will also be squeezing in a few non- PD related reads as well.

I hope to be spending more time here doing this:

I love Body Pump classes but we get so busy during the school year (especially during baseball seasons) that I often have to miss out.  I see a lot of 10 AM sessions in my summertime future.

Every summer Tyler goes to baseball camp at the University I attended.  This year Luke will be joining him as well.

Balanced Literacy.jpg

Our school district is switching to a Balanced Literacy program based on Lucy Calkin's work.  I will be attending training at the end of summer.

Re-decorating my classroom! I love matchy matchy things ( I know that is not a word, but I like it anyway).  I want to match my classroom to my blog with an apple theme.  I have done the apple theme in the past, but this year I will change up colors a bit. I've already bought the fabric for my boards and a few pieces from Target.  I can't wait to show you when it's done!

We are going to take a mini-vacation to Monterey.  The aquarium will be one of the spots we visit for sure.

I have never ever been into Ikea.  I have driven by numerous times, but this summer I am going in! LOL!

4 more days and summer is here for me!  Woo hoo!  I can't wait to cross things off my list.  What are your plans for the summer?  Link up and share!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

100 Minutes Book Study - Chapter 1 - 100 Minutes to Balance Literacy

Thinking of Teaching

One of my favorite things about summer is that I really get a chance to dig into some professional development books.  I have a chance to read, annotate, and reflect about how to change and constantly improve my teaching practice.  I am really excited to start the summer with this book study on 100 Minutes - Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block by Lisa Donohue.

The author opens the book with a confession of how she originally spent the first 100 minutes of Language Arts.  She talks about the feeling of it initially being an immense chunk of time.  I had to chuckle, because I remember feeling exactly the same way when I started teaching (now it seems there is never ENOUGH time!). She filled the hours with reading activities, worksheets, independent writing, and spelling units.  She also describes her struggle with the line of students that formed needing help as they edited their rough drafts.  Many of the struggles she describes ring familiar with me, and I look forward to digging deeper in the book to find her solutions.

My thoughts on Chapter 1:

Lisa Donohue opens this chapter by sharing the core beliefs that the 100 minute model is based on.  These beliefs are that students need:
                                               *time for explicit teaching
                                               * time for guided practice
                                               * time for independent work

In addition, students need to have choice in their learning and the opportunity to have their individual voices to be heard.  Most importantly, she states, "students should see their learning as important, relevant, and authentic."

In defining the term balanced literacy, the author believes that we need to include not only the traditional fundamentals of reading writing, listening, and speaking, but also the models of instruction (modeled, shared, guided, and independent) alongside the vehicles through which we learn and communicate (print and on-line texts, digital tools, media texts,collaborative, learning, and critical thinking).

The 100 Minute Literacy Framework centers around three blocks of time:

                                                  1. Reading Time  (20-30 min)  Lesson
                                                  2. AWARD Time (about 40 min) Independent/Small group work time
                                                  3. Writing Time  (20 - 30 min) Lesson

I currently use the Daily 5 system in my classroom, but our district is switching over to Balanced Literacy.  In reading this first chapter i have a few a-ha moments.  I often struggled trying to keep up with 5 mini-lessons for my students, especially that effected the whole group.  My students have had very varied needs, and I found my small group lessons a lot more effective.  I could target my instruction to their needs rather than to a "lesson" to fill time. I like the idea of having only two main lessons - one reading and one writing, and I think this will be more manageable and effective.  I think the individual activities of Daily 5 (read to self, read to someone, work on writing, word work, and listening to reading) will work well with the AWARD time.  This may be that missing link or puzzle piece that we older elementary teachers have struggled with in implementing Daily 5.

What will I include in the reading and writing lessons to make them as effective as possible?
  How will I tie this into the Common Core Standards?

If you are reading along with this book, feel free to join in the discussion by linking up below.  I am looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts and reflections!  

Next up- Chapter 2: The Building Blocks

Be sure to visit Kelly Anne over at Appleslices on May 27th to continue this learning journey with us. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five For Friday May 23, 2014

This week has been so much better than last week!  I told you about the crazy week I had last week when I found out that my grade level was reducing one position and I would have to move grade levels again!  Originally I was supposed to move to first or second, but luckily one of my co-workers made a trade for me so that I will end up in third which is where I was last year, so I won't be starting completely new! YEAH!  There is a chance that I will roll up again with my class like I did with this current group.  I will also have Luke (my son) in my class as well.  I am excited and nervous about that!  And now, without further ado, time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

With all of the craziness of last week, I forgot to tell you the most crazy part of last week which happened on Friday, so I will share this week.  One of my students has a guinea pig who had 2 babies, and he wanted to bring them to class for show and tell.  I told his mom to let me know if she wanted to bring them in the morning or afternoon (assuming a 15 minute or so visit).  They ended up staying the whole day.  I had run to the copy room and when I got back to class the cage was sitting in my room and mom never came back (despite the 100 calls we made).

And while that may seem crazy enough... it wasn't.  Another student showed up that morning with a box of 5 rabbits!  Again, we couldn't get a parent to answer the phone, so my class was officially a petting zoo!

I got the opportunity to spend some time with a few of my students outside of school this weekend because I was invited to a baptism/communion for a family of students at my school.  They have a large extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. that all attend school together. I have one of the boys in my regular class and several of the girls are in my cross stitch club.

Do you ever attend your students' outside activities?

Wednesday was our end of the year trip to the swimming pool.  Our school is about 3 blocks away from the city pool, so we walk down there for our field trip.  About 20 minutes before we were set to leave, it started raining heavily.  Luckily it cleared up just in time for our trek to the pool and the sun was out and shining by the time our soaked kiddos left the pool.

Thursday was our county's Special Olympics.  A few of my students competed and our class was on hand for the opening ceremonies to cheer them on!  I also had a few students who helped out as volunteers.  It was a great time for all!

I am currently working on this book study for 100 Minutes to Balanced Literacy by Lisa Donohue hosted by Thinking of Teaching


 I am hosting chapter 3 on May 31, but you can read about chapter 1 here.  I will be posting my chapter 1 thoughts tomorrow.

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