Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What is...

What is the color of the bottom of my grading tub?????  BLUE!!!  

With only four more days of school...I found out the answer to this riddle!
Happy Summer to those who are done!  And to those who are not...may you find out the answer to this riddle soon! :)  Bring on the Sunday Nights!!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

My OLW for May: Summer Reading...Listening to what matters most

6 more days.  6 more days until the true test of all we have done this year will be challenged.  Students will leave, I will pack up and....who will continue reading this summer?   I feel the most important gift that we can give our students is a summer reading plan.  I am going to be spending the last 5 days of the school year (the 6th day is already jammed packed with events) listening to each one of my students.  The purpose of each conference will be reflection.  I will be "listening" to their thoughts about themselves as a reader, their feelings about our predictable structure, the books that have touched their hearts, and their goal for summer reading.  I am going to have the students write about their thinking before hand (using jots to adorn further conversations:).  I am excited to "listen" to their feelings, their thinking, and most of all to model how important reading is by needing to meet and to "listen" to each one of them during the end of the year chaos.

Here are the four questions for my "listening" conferences:
1.  What have you learned about yourself as a reader this year?
2.  Name a part of Reading Workshop (read aloud, book clubs, book partners, celebrations, jotting, Reader's Notebooks, reading graph, independent reading, mini-lesson) that impacted your reading this year.  Why was this component so special or important to you as a reader?
3.  Name a book that has impacted you as a reader this year.  Why was this book(s) so special?
4.  We need to make time for the things that are important.  Reading is important.  Think about your summer.  When do you think you will make time to read?  Where can you make time to read?  Set a summer reading goal for yourself!

 21 conferences...5 days.  I am putting this at the top of my list of important things to do this week.  At the end of each conference, I have selected a book for each individual student to place on the top of their "Summer Next Stack" list.  I can't wait to "listen" to their I know them the way I think I do?

Agenda this week:
1.  "Listening" conferences with each student.
2.  "Listening" to book trailers to support us in adding titles to our "Summer Next Stack" list.  Check out these two sites for booktrailers:  Book Trailers for Readers and Scholastic Book Trailers.  
3.  "Listening" to the blurbs on the back of books through conversations as we "re-explore" our classroom library and taking the time to write down titles that we never got to or had overlooked based on where our reading lives were at the time.

"Listening" in May is challenged by the fast pace of the end of the school year.  My wish is that every student leaves for the summer with a "Next Stack" of titles, a summer reading goal, and most of all knowing that their teacher truly "listened" to them and cares so very much!

Enjoy other OLW reflections at:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Authentic writing...with a variety of purpose!

ABC's of Fourth Grade...a How-To and explanation of Poetry
Writing about Wonderopolis

ABC List to keep track of used letters.
Through many different conversations with idea formed for Writing Workshop on Fridays this school year.  Since the very first week of school, Writing Workshop on Fridays have been devoted to our "ABC's of Fourth Grade" books.  Every Friday, I lead a mini-lesson on things I have noticed in their writing from that specific week...simple things from capitalizing proper nouns, comma usage, using swooping to stretch out an unknown word, or even how to write a topic sentence.  My plan was every Friday (it was more like 3 out of 4) the students would give me their "Top Ten" of the week.  The Top Ten was a list of content area topics, special events, titles of books, words, etc...that were important to that week's learning.  At the beginning of the year the list seemed to focus on things that were new to them...our Ohio-opoly Homework, Design Squad, Wonderopolis, new books, and more.  As the year moved on, the list started to become more content driven.  The best part...each week the students could select a topic that meant a lot to their personal learning.  Then, decide how they wanted to convey the information.  Was it a How-To writing to explain an experiment we did or a game we played?  Was it a haiku about haikus?  Or was it a paragraph about our state fossil...the trilobite that we read about in social studies?  Or was it a persuasive paragraph on if McDonalds should sell toys in their Happy Meals inspired by a Time for Kids article?  Whatever they chose...they wrote.  Now that it is the end of the year...we are seeing the fruits of their labor and also have seen how their writing has changed.  One writing sample a week...focused on their learning...self-selected...authentic.

Paragraph on Lake Plain Indians
Paragraph on Author Visit
Explaining what geometry is and a persuasive writing about McDonald's Happy Meals

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Surviving the end of the year...

I came across this "humorous" story and it is signed..."author unknown."  You may have seen it before, but it definitely makes you smile as we enter the home stretch to summer.

Have you heard about the next planned Survivor show?

    Author Unknown

  • Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an elementary school classroom for 6 weeks.
  • Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her school district's curriculum, and a class of 28 students.
(click on the link for the parts omitted...)
  • They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways. In addition, they will complete drills for fire, tornadoes, and shooting attacks.
  • They must attend workshops, (100 hours), faculty meetings, union meetings, and curriculum development meetings.
(click on the link for the parts omitted)
  • If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show. Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into the program. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times.
  • The business people will only have access to the golf course on the weekends, but on their new salary they will not be able to afford it anyway. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to 30 minutes.
  • On days when they do not have recess duty, the business people will be permitted to use the staff restroom as long as another survival candidate is supervising their class. They will be provided with two 40-minute planning periods per week while their students are at specials.
  • If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials at this time.
  • The business people must continually advance their education on their own time and pay for this advanced training themselves. This can be accomplished by moonlighting at a second job or marrying someone with money.
  • The winner will be allowed to return to his or her job.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Using "annotating" to liven book club discussions...

13 of my girls...wanting to end the year reading the same book.  How cool is that?  So we decided to end the year with boy and girl book clubs.  I met with each group and talked about the type of book that they would like to challenge them through the last few weeks together.  My girls determined that they wanted  to work through a "historical fiction" novel together.  They talked about how it was a genre that interested them, but felt that they needed support.   We decided to use An Elephant in the Garden.  To support the girls, I found newspaper articles that would build their background knowledge about this true event in history...see earlier post for articles.

I brought the book club together.  13 girls in a circle with chairs and clipboards.  I passed out the article and they annotated away!  Then, we used the annotations to talk with the peer next to us.  Then, like a ping-pong match, we discussed the article using our thinking to guide and liven the discussion.  One person would share and then another would comment using their jots and text to discuss.  No hands in the air...we call it turn taking with our eyes, authentic wonder, true vulnerability, and true confidence. :)  The conversation danced around determining the meaning of unknown words, to why public safety was a concern, to sharing the answers to questions that were wondered at the beginning of the article and were now answered at the end.  I got to sit back and watch, listen, encourage, and wonder along with them.  I jotted too as I read the article.  I shared with my partner next to me...the one student who had mentioned she was nervous about reading historical fiction.  I got to listen and was left with a treasure of thinking to guide tomorrow's group.  The annotations livened the discussion and the annotations left a trail of their thinking while reading.  Below are some samples of their amazing thinking that tells me how and when they entered into engagement with the text.

Since it was a newspaper article, lots of wonder about unknown words...evacuee, sanctuary, saviors... 
Questioning to understand historical context and wondering why it was kept a secret.

Monitoring comprehension on the right...

Pausing to think about what she has read...talked a lot about public safety and the role of the zoo in discussion.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Remembering the connection...

I came across this blog post today while following some fellow "virutal" friends on Twitter.  I CAN NOT WAIT to share this with my students on Monday!!!  The blog post is by Kate Messner back in 2010.  The blog post is titled, "Real Authors Don't Plan...Or Do They? An Open Letter to Tyler."   As I read her post, it reminded me of how similar a Reader's Notebook is to a Writer's Notebook.  Remembering to make that connection and to build that bridge is one of the most important pieces to a complete reading and writing connection.  The key is not to remember the connection but to take the time to support students in bringing it back to both of their notebooks.  By connecting the two, students will see how reading develops their writing, how their writing rehearses their spelling and how their spelling furthers their reading.  Connection!  I bet after examining her examples and kid-friendly students will want to read her new book, Capture the Flag, coming out in July 2012!