Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Book Whisperer

I just finished the Book Whisperer and am thinking about adding some of the goals in the book to my classroom. I think that the books thoughts go hand in hand with Daily 5. In the book, the author describes her book challenge of every student reading 40 books (middle school class). I love the idea of challenging my class to read X amount of books. I am thinking 100 hundred books by the end of school. I like 100 because it sounds really BIG. It is something that they could really brag about and it is still very doable. What are your thoughts? Anyone have a book challenge in their class?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is the WHY of the book. The authors explain why they use Daily 5 and the keystones to make sure it works in your classroom. The Sisters suggest the following keystone to ensure success:
trusting students
providing choice
nurturing community
creating a sense of urgency
building stamina
staying out of students' way
These ideas are the basic practices if you want students to be independent and successful.
I have to trust my student to do what they are supposed to do. As a teacher, this is hard for me to let go. I am the person in charge and I am the one that has to make things happen. Right? Well, truth is I am not the one to do those things. Learning or the want to learn has to be intrinsically motivating.  Students have to be trusted to do it themselves.   
Motivation comes from choice.  With all the structure that is in my classroom, it is nice to hand over a little of the choices to my students.  They know what they are most prepared to work on for the day.  They should be the ones to make that choice.  The Sisters suggest that choice is given in the order the Daily 5 are complete each day and choice in their individual learning goals.  I found the first easier to implement than the latter.  My students needed lots of help discovering which learning goals would help them the most.  This was a year long process and it is something I am going to work on this coming year.  My students loved having the choice of location and with whom they worked.  This did take several days of modeling.  I started choice be just letting it be.  BUT a pattern of some of my students arose.  I only have time for 3 choices a day.  So students could not choose to go to a Daily all week, given the way our days were set up.  So I had to implement some restrictions.  First, I said that Work on Writing had to be done at least once a week.  (This seemed to be the least favorite in my class)  Then I had to move on to size restrictions on Read to Someone (only 6 people could choose this a round).  By the end of the year, the Dailies were moving a little smoother with a good mix.  I have worked on this and have a freebie for you on what I am going to try next year. I found this online (sorry don't remember where) and then created one of my own.

Community is important in any classroom.  A teacher wants their students to work well together, to get along, and to take control of their learning.  Some years this is easier than others.  Some of the things that I used this year and loved are the clip chart for behavior.  This allows me to recognize the well behaved children.  It is also fluid (meaning students can clip up or down).  This helps students that clip down recognize that the right behavior can allow them to clip up. 

 I also had bucket fillers in the room.  This is a way for kindness to be recognized.  Students were in charge of this complete after I introduced it.  It is one of the things that I let them be in control of.  This year I am working on Morning Meetings.  When I taught Primary grades, I always did this with calendar.  But I don’t teach calendar skills in third grade.  I found this great video on You Tube of what I am striving for in a morning meeting.  I hope these things can help build a tight classroom community.

 “Purpose + Choice = Motivation”
Students have to know why they are learning something.  Setting the urgency and tell students why a task is important can help motivate them to do the activity.  I had really never thought about this before.  I know I feel this way when asked to do something without the knowledge of why I need to do it, I don’t try as hard at the task.  After setting urgency, we have to work with our bodies and minds to be prepared to complete the task.  We can’t begin at the end.  We have to work slowly to get there.  I must say this was the most frustrating part of Daily 5.  I wanted to get to the lovely picture in my mind quickly and that just didn’t happen.  Day in and day out of reviewing the I-charts and building stamina was brutal. (about 2 ½ months)  BUT the end result was wonderful and lasted all year. 
This was easy for me, honestly.  I sat at the teacher table and prepared for the next mini lesson.  I would slyly monitor the class to notice when to call us back together.  This is brilliant in its simplicity.  I don’t want students to be dependent on me to correct their behaviors.  And walking around the room does this.  By allow the students’ time to learn the correct way and then practice it on their own without my interference is helpful. 

Be sure to stop by Teaching With Style!  She has a great stamina freebie.  See ya next week for chapter 3.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study - Chapter 1

Last summer, after stalking teaching blogs, I downloaded the Daily 5 book on my Kindle. (I had to get the paper book later because not everything is in the Kindle version) I was moving grades and looking for a way to change up my literacy block.  I had been doing a creation of my own using the four blocks of reading (reading, writing, word work, and oral reading (i.e. teacher time)).  I was looking for something that had research to back it up and that made sense to me.  DAILY 5!!  I have never liked to grade papers.  I don't think that tons of worksheets is a way to spark the interest of a student to want to learn.  I wanted a way to teach students lifelong skills that increased the love of reading.  After one year, I love it.  My class was a handful but during the 2 hours of reading everything ran smoothly.  So much so, I have convinced other teachers in my building to try Daily 5 this coming year. 

Teaching With Style!  and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations are hosting a book study on the Daily 5.  Below are the framing questions from chapter 1.  I am rereading the book this summer and tweaking my process a little.  I hope the study will give me some insight on what worked for others.

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?
I have worked hard this year on letting go.  I want the students to be independent in their learning.  I am still not there completely.  I still check in on my "high flyers" to often.  Maybe I need to work on procedures a little more this year to make sure everyone has the process down. 

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?

In the past, I have had my students doing lots of worksheets and file folder like games.  I was frustrated with the process because I couldn't check the work quickly to make sure the practice was correct practice.  Pieces of the games would be lost making the whole thing useless.  Plus the added feature of someone coming to tell me that a piece was missing and interrupting my small group :).  Now I know what the students are doing is meaningful real reading and writing, during share time and conferences I get to hear their progress, and my small groups run much smoother.

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
Moving to Daily 5 from my previous structure was smooth.  I was already using centers with a direct teaching element.  What changed?  I broke my direct teaching into smaller pieces.  Instead of a 40 minute lecture, I now do 10 minute mini lessons 4 times.  I model the behaviors over and over instead of just once.  I give students a choice in their activities, before I made that decision.