Friday, August 23, 2013

Daily5/CAFE - Handling Student Choice

Have I told you how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Daily 5! After 18 years of teaching I am always pleasantly surprised when I come across something 'new' that just makes my teaching that much better/satisfying.

As I'm getting ready to head into school next week...yup! I'm one of, what seems are, only a handful of bloggers that are still on summer break...I'm reviewing the structure that's in place for Daily 5 in the class and seeing if anything needs 'tweaking'.  Know what?....there isn't much.  My teaching partner and I always reflect, in amazement, at how WELL this structure worked in our class last year! Uh-mazing!!

The biggest change that will happen with Daily 5 is actually the assessment part (CAFE), as we are moving towards using the online CC Pensieve that the Sister's have created.  My partner and I already use the online Jupiter Gradebook.  When you share a classroom, having access to your student data becomes crucial...especially during report card time.  It just made sense for us to move from a paper pensieve to an online pensieve.  We both have iPads, which we will use when conferring with students.

Last year, our biggest challenge was how to handle student choice during each round of Daily 5.  It took a bit to come up with a system that was equitable (to the students) and didn't take a chunk of time.  Here's what we did and plan to continue to do in Year 2:

  • Students gather at the carpet for each round of Daily 5 (we do three each day)
  • After a short mini lesson (Reading Comprehension, Reading Strategy, or Writing) I would pick a name using student popsicle sticks)
  • Students would then declare what their choice was (read to self, read to someone, word work, or writing) and where they would sit (and with what special: ie. director's chair, cube, MacGilla Gorilla, pillows...)
  • As students made their choice, they would quietly go and start whichever activity they had chosen while I recorded their choice on the Daily 5 Check In Sheet
  • Read to Someone's (limit of 6 students each round) stayed behind and chose a card with a symbol on it...they would read with whoever had their matching symbol.  We implemented this as a way to ensure that students weren't always reading with a BFF!
This system worked pretty well and it will be interesting to see how it will work with our new group of kids (although we have half of last year's kids returning).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

B2S Goals 2013-2014 Linky Party

I am linking up with Jess, of I {heart} Recess for her Back to School Goals linky.  

 Personal I commute about 55km (that's about 34 miles) to school.  I'm usually at school at least an hour before school starts and don't leave until usually 5 pm, which wouldn't be so bad if I lived closer.  But ...commuting makes for a long I don't arrive home until 6 ish.  So my goal is to leave school by 4pm.  Ironically, my husband and I commuted for a few months last year and it forced me to be ready when he picked me up at 4pm.  so I know, I can do it! :)

Organization  My classroom closet starts out decently organized at the beginning of the year, but inevitably becomes a dumping ground for stuff I'm not sure where to put or I'm too lazy rushed to put away properly.  I need help in this dept!

Planning  My province has Prescribed Learning Outcomes which I'm pretty sure are the equivalent of US Common Core Standards.  Last year, I felt that my writing lessons were a bit 'scattered' (I tried to fit them into Daily 5 mini lesson time) so I'm currently working on a more defined scope and sequence for those mini-lessons.

Professional  I've had my SmartBoard now for a year and LOVE it, but feel I could use it much more and would like to focus on developing my own SB lessons for the subjects/activities we do in the classroom.

Students  Reading is my passion, so I want my students to leave my classroom with that same passion.  I spend a lot of time ensuring that my classroom library is diverse enough that there are books that will appeal even to the most reluctant readers.  

Motto  Perseverance seems to be going the way of the dinosaur it seems?...especially in this immediate gratification society we live in today.  I find students just don't/can't persevere, so I'm going to try and infuse this motto throughout everything I/we do this year in class. :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday Made It!...finally!

I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!

Yes, I'm aware that this isn't anything 'new', but I am so, so proud of the fact, that I have finally made my own Teacher Toolkit! (It's only taken me about a year since it first graced Pinterest to actually make my own. . . LOL) I was debating on whether to paint it or not, but knowing my lousy spray painting ability my inexperience with spray paint, I opted to keep the blue (which WILL fit in with my decor), plus it's my teaching partner's fav colour.  I'm lovin' it so much that I think I might want to make one for my study at home! :)

Labels courtesy of Teaching With a Mountain View

I also finished making labels for my classroom library book baskets.  At the end of June, I had started reorganizing some of the book baskets and had to relabel them, but didn't get to the Non-Fiction or Author section,, I finished them and now I can scratch that off my to-do list! Yeah!

And last, but not least (and I'm not even sure this counts), I finished re-doing the look of my blog.  That was a bit of an ordeal, as I wasn't intending to do it until 'later' (which, of course, could mean any where from one day to one year, with me! LOL) but started messing around with it, totally screwed it up, so basically was forced to re-do it anyway! Ha, ha, ha....ya, I can laugh about it now!  I have to admit, I quite like it, though. :)

Well, that's it for my very FIRST Monday Made It...I know...strange but true

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Apologies...ReDecorating in Progress

Sometimes I wonder WHY I do the things I do WHEN I do them?!  Redoing my blog was not on my to-do list...AT ALL!  But here I am, messing changing things around when I could/should be doing a myriad of other (teacher or personal) stuff.  And boy, have I messed changed things around! So please accept my humblest apologies as I try to fix this mess create a new and improved blog!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Books, Books, & More Books!

We had a number of retirees at our school and due to that,  and some shifts in school boundaries and such we aren't filling one of the retiree positions...and that particular teacher left EVERYTHING to whoever wanted it, so...I scored a ton of lower level chapter books to fill out my class library! YEAH ME!!  I also scored a large rug to replace my absolutely old, gross, raggedy rug that I have been wanting to replace for the last 2 years.  DOUBLE SCORE!

So...I'm starting the first days of my summer holidays, processing those and the stack of books that were already waiting to be processed.  It takes some time, but it is so worth it.  The books are levelled, entered into a database that can filter according to genre, book location, OR reading level.  I'm thinking I'd like to try publishing my database online, so the kids can search for particular books to see if its in the class library...although I pretty much can tell them if it is, and where to find it (ie. which basket location).

I'll be going in next week to finish up 'tweaking' the book baskets.  I made new labels and reorganized some of the baskets to make it easier for kids to find some of the books.  Some colleagues at school shake their heads at the amount of time my teaching partner and I spend on our library, but I think it is so worth it when students can find books that are their 'just right' reading level by looking at the colour code at the front of all the baskets, or finding a particular series or genre the same way.  It helps us too, because students find it easier to put the books back in the correct spot so the next person can easily find it!

Where, Oh Where, Has This Little Blog Been??

Well, for all my good intentions, I totally fell off the Blog-Wagon sometime before Christmas and never managed to get back on it...until now.  I don't even really have a good excuse, like:  "I had a baby", or "I was working on my Master's and just couldn't find the time", or "I found out I was suffering from an incurable disease and was trying to deal with that"...oh...wait...I've been there, done I guess I can't use that one again!  Nope!...I have no good reason.  Part of me felt like I didn't really have anything blog-worthy to say...but that wouldn't really be true because I just finished an incredible first year using Daily 5/CAFE!  But with summer here, I'm planning to plunge into the world of blogging again, with a recap of my Daily 5 experience, my plans for next year, and who knows, what else?! So, stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SMARTboard...the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

WARNING...this post may turn into a rant. LOL

I'm starting with the Bad and the Ugly because those are what are prompting me to write this post and I need to get it off my chest!

I had a SMARTboard installed in my classroom at the end of the June this year. . . Spent a day in the summer learning about the software and how to create your own lessons. . . Spent the summer downloading potential SMARTboard lessons to use in the Fall.

Eat your heart out Red Green!
This is what the LCD projector connection to my laptop-that runs the SMARTboard software-that is supposed to make my lessons more interactive for the kids, currently looks like. . . actually, right now, the duct tape is not on my laptop because IT keeps coming undone! And even though the purple is pretty. . . it's just UGLY.

Now, you might be wondering why I would have to duct tape a brand new, freshly installed system?. . . well, it seems that the projector connection does not fit the connection on my laptop QUITE RIGHT. . . ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! How can you spend thousands of $$$$$ on a system and the connection doesn't fit?  And why, with all this wireless technology, couldn't they give me a wireless projector, so I could actually move my laptop (imagine that...moving a laptop...) around the classroom instead of having to keep it on my desk near the cord?!?! AARRGGHH!! . . . So, I emailed our techie guy, sending him the above photo, and explaining the situation.   Is there an adapter out there, that might fit the laptop, I ask???  The answer was, I needed a docking station (at $150) which, of course, no one was willing or able to pay. . . that is just BAD.

But despite these aggravating conditions, I LOVE using the SMARTboard.  Last week, I decided I was just going to deal with the plug falling out all the time (I rigged it a bit, so it's not AS bad).  Yesterday, I used my SMARTboard throughout the day and it was GREAT!  Words Sorts with my Word Study groups, an interactive lesson on Landforms, and because it was a rainy day (something that happens quite a bit on the 'Wet'coast), and we couldn't get outside for DPA (Daily Physical Activity) we did an aerobic session using my Fit Kids DVD. . . that is just GOOD.