Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ugh, my classroom!

So today I sent the kiddos to daycare just to get some things done around the house! I was so motivated I headed over to my classroom to do some work. And I left hating my classroom! So much work when you move rooms. I found myself laying on the floor gazing at facebook because I was avoiding tasks. Here is what my classroom looks like right now...

YUCK! I had other pictures but for some reason they didn't upload... you should see the other corner it's a mess! Anyway it's a work in progress, but I still have plenty of time left to get in there and get some things cleaned up and organized. 
For now I am headed to South Dakota, where hopefully it is cooler :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

D5: Chapter 3

Daily 5: Chapter 3

I am so anxious to just finish this book in one sitting! However, this book study is good for me... it forces me to slow down and think about what I need to do!

  1. What "rings true for you" in this chapter?
The Gathering Place... this to me is so important. After reading Debbie Miller's Teaching with Intention I realize planning out your room is key. Typically, in my building the "gathering" place is right up front because that is where the projector shows, but there is often so many distractions there. The door for one is right there by the board and it is often a big, awkward space. I am creating my gathering place in the back corner, that way if a guest walks in the students will be less distracted. It also allows us to be more cozy and less spread out like we would be in the front. I am hoping the projector being across the room does not pose too much of a problem. I "think" with first graders we will be doing a lot of anchor charts, white board, and hands on with books (all of which will be available in my cozy corner). 

2. How are your students progressing with picking appropriate books?

This questions does not really apply as I am coming from fourth and where I did not  teach Daily 5. In fact, I will be honest I think I taught one or two lessons about choosing the right book at the beginning of the year and never touched on it again. Let's just say I have had a lot of shoppers in the past. 
This will be an area of focus for me this year and I think with Daily 5 it will be no problem. I have the shoe example and I also came across this example for choosing right books.

3. What (if anything) could help improve the processes from this chapter in your classroom?

Well since this will be my first year in a new grade level and the first year doing Daily 5, there really is no "improving." It will all be starting new for me! So instead I have some questions and maybe some of you will happen to click on ME and be able to answer these...

The chimes, is this a must? I feel like my list of things to buy grows every day! I understand it is a soft sound, but any other ideas? I may just buckle down and get it if you all think it's definitely worth it.

Anchor charts for Daily 5... there are so many cute pre-made posters that I love. However, isn't the point to create these posters with the kids? What do you suggest?


Okay so I just found this tool through The Techy Teacher and I love it! I've always had problems with inappropriate ads/ other videos showing up around the youtube video I am showing. And while yes, you usually make it full screen it's the before and after that kids catch sight of stuff. Comments is another issue. This tool takes it all away, resulting in watching your youtube video standing alone!

Now this does require a little bit of planning ahead. But all you do is go to and drag the button to the tab that has your youtube video open and BAM! It looks like this...

That is amazing in my opinion, so much that I jumped on my blog to share it with you! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rocking Chair complete!

Since I became a teacher I have wanted a rocking chair in my room. I love reading picture books aloud to kids, even 4th graders! I had looked on craigslist and at garage sales and saw rocking chairs here and there... just never committed. Well, now that I am headed to 1st grade I decided it was a must!
I got on craigslist and BAM! There was a perfectly good little rocking chair for $20.

After sitting in the garage a few weeks, it finally made it's way down to the basement yesterday. I began sanding and prepping for paint. I was still trying to imagine how I wanted it to look in the end. I put spray paint primer on because my sanding job was pretty sad. However, the primer made my whole house REEK of paint fumes....ooops! I am sure I killed a few hundred brain cells in each of my kids, but hopefully it didn't affect them as much as it did me. 

So then  headed outside, no more fumes in the house! I used trash bags, newspaper, and painters tape to block off the sections I was not painting black. It took 4 cans of spray paint and 2 layers for the parts I had sectioned off! 

Today I painted the red, which took 2 coats. I used acrylic paint for that part and planned to use white acrylic for the spindles. I really probably should have used A) softer brush and B) a 3rd coat, but at this point I was thinking "This is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated." Some of you may be asking where in the world are your children during this? SLEEPING! I have some good nappers... I also must do a good job wearing them out while they are awake! 1 1/2 hr nap in the morning and 2 hour nap in the afternoon followed by a 7:30 bedtime.

The rest of it was adding all the cutesy! The J for Jankord and then gotta have polka dots! For the J I printed it out on the computer and traced. The top part I just looked at the printed version and free handed it. The D stands out more than the other letters but again at this point, I decided I didn't care! I love, love my new rocking chair!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

D5: Chapter 2

Just got done putting together a presentation for a workshop I am leading at my school this afternoon. The workshop is supposed to focus on ways to integrate technology into ELA. My main site that I enjoy using is Edmodo. Here are the sites I am sharing with them...

My dad came up to watch my kiddos today so I had time to prepare and present. And since I had a little extra time I squeezed in reading Chapter 2 of the Daily 5. Right now I am still feeling like this book is about some magical land, but am hoping I can soon start invisioning it for real in my own classroom.

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

Creating independence will be my main focus... as a previous 4th grade teacher I could totally to relate to that last section. By 4th grade some students have still not become comfortable with independence. They are constantly raising their hand or bringing their work to us asking, "Is this okay? Am I doing this right? Do you like this?" With that constant worry on their mind there is no way they can focus! So my number 1 goal will be to NOT hover as my students build stamina.
My goal for building the foundation is really taking the time to explicitly teach the kiddos the expectations. I sometimes get lazy or bored with reviewing procedures and convince myself they have it. Or I may settle for "that's pretty good." So my goal is to stick with it, make sure we are really there! Support: I may need other teachers to come and observe during my daily 5 time and tell me from their perspective whether they thought the children were on task. Get some outside opinions. I could ask my old team members from 4th grade or even have my principal come in for awhile.

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter? 

Trust is one that stands out to me. Not only do I have to trust my students that they are capable of this independence, but they have to trust me. I need to be able to build that confidence in them that they can do this, and part of that is providing the whys and practice. The comments shared about students during the Daily 5 blow my mind. I cannot imagine a student being so focused that they are willing to stand up for what they believe in. Tugging on a large man's jacket and telling him that his voice is distracting while she reads seems unimaginable. And while it seems unimaginable, I hope that someday my classroom is like this!

3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

The most obvious alignment between these core values and my beliefs is the sense of community. Making every student feel comfortable with one another. This past year I felt like I really nailed the sense of community. The first few weeks were rocky, in fact some days were downright awful, but through practice and discussion we made it a great year. Building community will be the easiest for me, I think ;) Building stamina I think will come natural after awhile. Allowing choice is something I know is fabulous for kiddos, but I always struggle with. I tend to have this sense that I know what is best for them, so I will have to learn to let this go. And while I say let this go I know that teaching each individual how to discover what is best for them is what I truly will be doing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D5: Chapter One

As I mentioned before I am switching from 4th to 1st grade. I am coming from a team that did EVERYTHING together and we were all willing to be flexible (even if we didn't get our way). Now I am headed to a team that is all over the place. Very few things are done the same, and that leaves me making a HUGE jump in grade levels and no where to start! So I jumped on a bunch of first grade blogs and have fell in love. The Daily 5 is something as a district and building we have discussed implementing, however we just adopted Storytown and for many teachers in my building starting something new sounds exhausting!
I was so excited that there was a book study because I was having a really hard time getting away from the Hunger Games :) Just finished the first book (I know I am so behind, most people are probably done with the series). 

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?

In my 4th grade room I would say this last year I began to fall more in the middle. My first 2 years I just jumped on the bandwagon of my colleagues, but it was A LOT of work. All the grading! I am actually guilty of hiding some of the papers at the bottom of the recycle bin because I knew it did not accurately show me what they were capable of. The busy work was adding up and the kids did not enjoy it. So this last year I began allowing more independent read time and reading with partners. It saved a lot of trees and my time!
On the other hand I hadn't established what reading independently or with partners truly looked like so I often found students off task still. I made the rule you can't interrupt my groups unless your dying and so very rarely did I get interrupted, but it was if that meant I didn't exist. Often they would just carry on a conversation with a friend because they knew I didn't want to interrupt my group of readers.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 

Right now my students still have a lot of busy work. As I mentioned earlier I began working towards having more reading time, but often if I needed to meet with students it was back to the practice books or spelling books. Most of the time I didn't even have time to grade it all! With writing I have always made a point to conference with my students. I don't get to do it as often as I would like but I always felt that was key to helping them be successful writers. Once I figured out who were some of my strong writers/helpers I started teaming them up with struggling writers. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it was a flop, but it is also important that writers learn to critique others.

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

The Daily 5 has structure to their independent activities, it doesn't assume students already know how to behave. It requires more community building in the beginning, something I have made longer and longer each year I have taught. I have found the more time spent community building the better the year goes. The Daily 5 also allows for a LOT more reading time!

Is it really the middle of JUNE?

Okay, so definitely paint is off the list! It's the middle of June and I have not step foot in my classroom. I had read about this idea of mapping out the summer by week and deciding what I wanted to have done in my classroom and at home. I must need to print it out and glue it to my forehead because so far the list has been out of sight and therefore out of mind. Maybe once I get home I can settle down and get started on that list.

So now I am back to debating what theme I want to use for my classroom. I have always wanted a Dr.Seuss theme room, but to do it right I think it is going to take a LOT of work. My second favorite theme is the superhero theme. There are SO many resources out there right now for superheros so I think that is what I have decided. SOME DAY I will have a Dr. Seuss theme, when I have more time, HA!

I have been wanting to read Daily 5, and tried to get a colleague on board. Neither of us followed through so the book is still sitting in my "teacher" bag untouched. BUT I was so excited to see that a group of blogging gals that I recently started following are doing a Daily 5 book study! Fabulous! So here I am linking up to this blog hop!