Monday, January 16, 2012

Celebrating Dr. King

I'm sure like all of you, I was required to take a speech class in college.  On the first day, after reviewing the syllabus, our professor showed us a video of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.  I had heard this speech before, and knew what Martin Luther King stood for, and knew a little about his life, but I had no idea the magnitude of this speech.  There was just something about watching the clip of that speech that resonated with me.  It was so powerful.  And so well written.  And so eloquently spoken.  By the end of the speech, I was fighting back tears.  As a white woman living in a suburban town in the midwest, I see so much of Dr. King's dream coming true.  I'm sure there are African Americans who disagree with me, as they see racist and prejudice in their daily lives that I do not.  But there is no doubt that America is in a better place than it was 50 years ago.  

My students, like me in college, do not understand the powerful message Dr. King fought for.  They will not understand, I believe, until they are much older.  It is unfathomable to them that black boys and girls had to go to different schools, drink from different water fountains, and swim in different pools.  I wanted to find a book to at least try to get them to understand.  

I found My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold.  First of all, the illustrations in this book are amazing.  I was not familiar with author/illustrator Faith Ringgold before.  After reading this book a few times, I instantly wanted to run out and buy every single book she has written and illustrated.  This book walks you through the story of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement through the narrator's dream.  It starts off and ends with people trading in bags of racism, prejudice, and ignorance for bags of tolerance and hope.  This is a great picture book for middle grades, because not only do you get a great story with great illustrations, but it is also a great book to teach about symbolism.  

If this book does not exist in your classroom library, type your way over to Amazon as fast as you can!  

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Day in My Shoes-Linky Party!

I'm linking up with Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher on her first linky party!  
This is a fun one!

Here is what a general day in my shoes is like:

6:00-6:30-Wake up.  Depending on how cold it is outside, whether or not I showered the night before or need to do it in the morning, or just the day determines the time!

6:30-7:15-Get dressed, hair, makeup, breakfast, pack lunch, check e-mail and Facebook (which is how I get the news!)

7:15-7:30-Wake up the boy, get him out of his diaper (He's potty trained except when he's sleeping-yay!), maybe get him dressed, maybe not, fix him his milk and pack his bag.  I always forget his shoes.  Always.  Good thing the sitter keeps a pair that fits him in case they go outside.  

7:45-Drop the boy off at the sitters.  He's been going there since he was 6 weeks old and they're pretty much a second family to him, so drop off time is quite easy.  Actually, most days he wakes up yelling "IwannagotoCari'shouse"  

7:45-8:00-Drive to school.  Listen to The Morning Zoo on the way in.  That's how I get my celebrity news.  

8:00-8:45-Sharpen pencils (if I have a sharpener that is working, otherwise I wait on my co-teacher to do it with hers!), get the morning message ready, get caught up on grading, copy papers if necessary, fill out discipline referrals and/or quiet room forms if needed, etc.  On Thursdays, I plan with my co-teachers and on Fridays I'm in a book study for Teach Like a Champion.  

8:50-9:15-Welcome my lovelies into the room.  I used to do check-in at my desk, it's worked wonderfully for 4 years, but my group cannot handle it this year.  At about 9:10 or so I started walking around to the students to check-in their homework and it has worked out so much better!  While I'm doing check-in, the students are working on their Daily Language, getting new books, or reading.  

9:20-10:00-Specials for the students.  My planning time.  I've always had a morning planning and I love it.  Twice a month we have Teacher Based Team (TBT) meetings.  

10:00-12:00-Reading & Language Arts with my homeroom class.  This is an inclusion class and my awesome teaching buddy is my co-teacher.  She and I have pushed to do inclusion together for about 4 years and this is the first year that schedules have worked out.  We both love it.  And all the students are thriving.  We went to a PD, which I posted about here in May, which was excellent, but there was definitely a learning curve and it will be even more successful next year!

12:00-12:45-Lunch/Duty.  My 30 minute lunch time depends on the week.  If I have lunch duty, it is from 12:00-12:15 and I eat after that.  If I have recess duty, I eat first, then have duty from 12:30-12:45.  If I have no duties (every third week), I get an entire 45 minutes for lunch!  We used to have hour lunch every third week, but we gave that up about midway through last year.  Yes, it was OUR idea!  Our students had a 30 minute lunch and 30 minute recess and we just felt like it was too much!  45 minutes is plenty.  They can stay in the cafeteria for 30 minutes if they want to, but they have to have 15 minutes for recess.  If they get done eating within the first 15 minutes of lunch, they can have 30 minutes for recess.  It's great.  

12:45-1:15-My homeroom class comes back to me and we usually do a read aloud, get our things ready for Math & Science or Social Studies, and take a restroom break.  

1:15-Switch classes.  

1:15-3:20-Reading with my afternoon class.  I usually do the same thing in the afternoon as I do in the morning.  I also have a co-teacher in the afternoon who we are calling a Reading Intervention teacher, but she works with the "bubble" kids.  You all know what I mean. Not special education, but not on grade level either.  We are so lucky to be the only building in our district to have this program.  She works with the other fourth grade class in the morning.  

3:20-3:40-Switch back.  Students fill out and I sign agendas.  I also give out stickers to students who didn't get any behavior checkmarks for the day.  I blogged about our behavior plan here.  Bussers begin getting dismissed around 3:30 and walkers are dismissed at 3:40.  

3:40-4:15-Clean up.  My desk is a crazy mess of papers by the end of the day.  Then, I usually waste a lot of time talking with my teacher-friends.  I'm outta there by 4:15 most days unless I have journals to grade that I don't want to take home.  

4:15-4:30-Drive home.  

4:30-Pick up the boy if my hubby's not home.  Get ready for dinner.  If he's home, he cooks.  If he's traveling, I do. Only out of necessity.  


6:00-7:15-play!!! I instituted a no TV on weeknight rule for myself and the boy and we almost always follow it.  We play a lot instead.  Superheroes.  Dinosaurs.  Superheroes & Dinosaurs.  If I'm lucky, we get to play play-dough.  

7:15-8:00-Bath time, story time, bed time for the boy.  What books do we read?  Books about Superheroes.  Or Dinosaurs.  Or books about Superheroes & Dinosaurs.  Yes, there is a book called "T-Rex Trouble" where the Superfriends save Metropolis from a T-Rex, Pteranodon, and Triceratops.  The boy can read it.  (I know, I know, he just memorized the words, but isn't that what "My Baby Can Read Is"?  It's much cooler to say my baby can READ this book!)  

8:00-9:30-Clean up, get on the computer, maybe break the TV rule, read, etc.  Workout if I feel like it.  Shower.  Crash.  

My days seem to go a lot quicker than the length of this post.  I'm sure I've completely bored all of you.  I guess a day in my shoes is really not all that exciting.  But, the linky party is a fun one, so link up!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Currently I Am...& Linky Party

Farley's blog has reached over 1000 followers and she's giving away two awesome pencil sharpeners!  The only thing you have to do is join her linky party!  Isn't that awesome?  You don't have to follow this, follow that, jump through hoops, give blood, etc.  
Just join her 'Currently' linky party!
Here's mine...

Link up at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to get your shot at the prize!  

Word Work Freebie!

After re-launching the Daily 5 and word work last week, I realized I needed to come up with more word work activities for my students to do.  They don't get that many choices in a week, but I want to make sure I keep things fresh for them.  Today I came up with a Valentine's Day Prefix-Suffix-Root match game.  I'm posting it for sale on my Teacher's Notebook shop, but I wanted to offer part of it up as a freebie to my faithful followers!  

click image to download freebie

In the freebie, there are 12 broken hearts, six prefixes & roots and six suffixes & roots and a sheet for students to record their answers.    The teacher (or a volunteer if you're one of the lucky ones!) would cut apart the broken hearts and the students are to match the prefix or suffix to the correct root word.  If you like the freebie, please consider making my shop one of your "favorites"!  

The full version, which is only $2.50, offers 48 broken hearts, 24 prefixes & roots and 24 suffixes & roots.  


Friday, January 6, 2012

New Item at Teacher's Notebook!

I've been working on making some word ladders for my students to do during Daily 5-word work.  I've finally finished enough to make it a package!  I have posted my same vowel word families word ladder package on my Teacher's Notebook store.  This is designed for spelling and vocabulary growth for my letter name stage spellers.  I'm working on some more for my within word spellers.  

Here is a little preview:  

Hope everyone had a great Friday!  I was stuck in a technology meeting all day.  Believe it or not, I would've much rather been at school!  On the plus side, I got out a little early and was able to go over to Half Price Books.  I've been borrowing a friend's Harry Potter books and I just finished The Goblet of Fire.  I have become addicted and decided I needed my own copies!  I got all seven books in hard back and five other books on my Good Reads list for $60!  I felt like I got a steal!  Is anyone else obsessed with Good Reads like I am?  I've got 34 books on my To-Read shelf!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Daily 5 Choice Boards-Intermediate Style

In fourth grade, I do not do a choice board for Daily 5.  I really don't have the space or the time.  In the past, I have always just verbally asked students for their choices and recorded them on my clipboard.  It doesn't take too much time if they are quiet and prepared to give me their choice.  At this point in the year, if they can't tell me their choice when I call their name, they get skipped. If they don't get the choice they wanted, tough.  Yeah, I'm a hard a$$ like that.  Just kidding.  This year I have decided to introduce something new.  I'm calling it a choice board, but it's not really. I guess I just don't have another creative name for it.  

At the top, I have written 'Why?  To become better readers, writers, and spellers.'  If you've read the Daily 5 book, you will know this as our "sense of urgency."  This is really a motto in my classroom.  My school is an OIP school (Ohio Improvement Process-or something like that) and we have done Marzano training.  We have classroom walk-throughs in which data is collected on the Marzano strategies that are being used in the classroom.  One of the strategies is Setting Objectives.  During the classroom walk-throughs, the data collector is to ask a student if they know the goal of the lesson.  If a walk-through takes place during Daily 5, my students almost always answer "To become better readers, writers, and spellers."  It's not because I've told them what to say, they just know that is why we do Daily 5.  

On average, I usually only get to do two daily 5 choices each day.  My mini-lessons are not quite so mini, and my schedule really only allows for two choices.  You will see I have columns for two choices and two efforts.  Last year, I started recording students' efforts during Daily 5 (Another Marzano strategy!).  We created a rubric together (Marzano!) and I've used it ever since.  Well, my students this year think we created it together too, but it's really the same one.  Shh...don't tell!  My students are usually very good about being truthful with their effort.  It only takes a few times at the beginning of the year to call a student out on his/her true effort and they learn...yeah, that thing I said I was at the top.  I know.  On this new "choice board" or whatever fancy name you want to call it, I have also given the effort rubric.  So, each day, students are going to record their choices and their efforts.  At the bottom, I listed the choices and priorities.  I give my students a week to complete their weekly word work packet and some were still not turning it in.  It is now listed as a priority.  You must show me your completed packet before you can do anything fun.  I know...again.  My students must also do Read to Self at least once a day.  The only exception to this is if they are in guided reading group during one of the choices.  

Students will keep this in their literacy binders and turn in every Friday.  My hope is that they will be more aware of the choices they are making and the effort they are putting forth.  If you want a copy of this, just click the image and you can download it from Google Docs.  Oh, and now that it's driving me crazy, who has a fancy schmancy name for this choice board?  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Found Poetry

Have you heard of it?  

I hadn't until just a few weeks ago.  My teaching buddy/inclusion teacher is taking a master's course right now and had an assignment to create a found poem.  Her instructor is doing her entire doctoral thesis on it!  

A found poem is where you borrow, or "rent" an author's words from a song, poem, or book, and create your own poem. The awesome thing about found poetry is that there are no rules.  It doesn't have to rhyme.  It doesn't have to have a certain number of words per line or lines per stanza.  Your found poem can be anything you want it to be!  

We broke down found poetry into 3 easy steps:  
1.)  Read the book, song, or poem.  
2.)  Tune into interesting words or phrases that you find in your text.  
3.)  Rearrange, add, delete the words that you rented from the author and make your own found poem.  

We did our Found Poetry unit before break, but I am just now getting around to posting this.  You will notice our unit has a Christmas/Holiday theme, but we are planning on doing it again later in the year using different books without a theme.  

I posted before Christmas about finding similes and metaphors in the Grinch song.  In keeping with the same theme, on day one, we started our found poetry lesson by using this song as well.  We passed out the words and played the song for the students once again.  We instructed them to really tune into any interesting words or phrases they heard or saw.  (A CAFE strategy, too!) Next, we listed the words on the Smart Board.  The final step is to rearrange the words or phrases into your own found poem.  The Smart Board is an awesome tool for this, because you can easily manipulate the words and move them around as you like.  

On day two, we used the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  Who doesn't LOVE this book?  
First, my awesome co-teacher read the book aloud to the students.  We also provided the students with printed copies of the text so they could underline words and phrases they found interesting.  

Next, we divided the class into groups of four to five.  The students then worked together to create their own found poem from the book.  
 We also talked about giving the poems a direction.  We debated back and forth about whether or not we wanted to do this.  We told them there was no right or wrong way and that we wanted them to be creative, so we kind of wanted to see where the poems were going before having this mini-lesson.  I think it worked out in the end, though some groups were certainly on their way without the lesson.  
 I thought I took more pictures of the students' group poems, but I can only find this one.  If you would like to see more examples of the student work, let me know and I will post some tomorrow.  This group named their poem "Pink Lion Express".  My class has four "teams" and this particular group's team name is the Pink Lions.  

One thing we found while students were working on their group poems was that they were wanting to create whole sentences instead of short phrases.  The next day, we decided to create our own found poems to not only demonstrate the format of the poems, but to also show how different our poems can be even when using the same book.  

On day three/four of the found poetry unit, the students created found poems from randomly selected Christmas/holiday books that we checked out from the library.  Most students did this in partners, though some chose to work on their own.  They did such a great job!  

Remember that phrase we learned in college, gradual release of responsibility?  Yeah, that was extremely necessary in this process, but totally worth it.  The students even asked if they could add that to their "Things to Write" poster that we created at the beginning of the year for Work on Writing.  

If I haven't bored you and you're still reading (because I know this was a super long post...), I hope that I've been able to tell you about something new that your students will love!  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year-Re-Launching Daily 5!

I hope 2011 has left everyone with great memories and 2012 will provide us with many more.  On this New Year's Day, I have sat down to do lesson plans.  Yes, reality has hit me that I do go back to school on Tuesday.  I have avoided anything that resembles school work like the plague since I left on the 20th.  Well, that's not true.  I have been reading.  A lot.  I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Unwanteds, started reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and am listening to a book called Ghetto Cowboy.  Reviews & recommendations on The Unwanteds and Ghetto Cowboy coming soon!  

Anyone who started Daily 5 at the beginning of the school year may have seen some of those awesome behaviors start to slack off right before winter break.  I certainly did.  Returning from a long break, it is extremely important to do a re-launch of Daily 5.  I am dedicating the entire week to it.  Just as it's important to take your time during the initial launch, it is soooo worth it in the long run to take your time when relaunching after a break.  

Here is what my re-launch will look like:  
Each day is dedicated to a different Daily 5 choice.  We don't do Listen to Reading.  

Day One-Review good fit books.  Do a mini-lesson using weights.  Give time to make book choices and checking that books are a good fit.  Review the Read to Self I-Chart, practice check for understanding and 3 ways to read a book.  Correct & incorrect model and practice building stamina for read to self.  

Day Two-Work on Writing.  The first mini-lesson will be a review of the weekly journals students are expected to turn in.  This is their first priority when working on writing.  Review Work on Writing I-Chart, Correct & Incorrect model, and practice building stamina.  The second mini-lesson we will review, modify, add to our ideas of things to write about.  Students will record the list and keep in their notebooks.  

Day Three-Read to Someone.  We will review the I-Chart, EEKK, Checking for Understanding, and How to Choose a Partner.  We will then correct & incorrect model, then practice building stamina.  

Day Four-Word Work.  Review the I-Chart and their word work packets, which is their first priority when they choose word work.  We will then review & discuss other word work activities and materials.  

How are other classrooms doing with Daily 5 this year?  I would love for you to comment!