Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Reading Part 2 - Benchmark Literacy

Today has been a PRODUCTIVE day and it's not even lunchtime people. Can we just glory in the fact that I am not even still in my pajamas!?! I may need to sit down for a second.

So far I have managed to mow the lawn, vacuum, do 5 loads of laundry, shower, AND read the next book on my list. Never mind the fact that I only mowed the back yard because my lawn mower ran out of juice (its electric), I still have 30 more loads of laundry to do, the book is 50% appendix and charts, and I am sitting here blogging in my wet hair and bathrobe.

PRODUCTIVE I tell you.

So what did I read? The First 30 Days of School; Routines & Rituals (Grades 3-6).

I'm sorry I keep showing you these awful pictures of books on my bed. I turned the internet upside-down looking for digital images of this book so I could link to a place where you could purchase it if you so chose. No luck.

Which is sad because I think that a lot of newbie teachers could benefit from reading it no matter what literacy program you will be using. I wish I had it when I was just starting out. Would have made my life a lot easier.

The text is divided into 3 sections:

  1. Building a Community of Learners
  2. Launching Independent Reading
  3. Mini-Lessons for the First 30 Days

I'm going to focus mainly on sections 1 and 2. The mini-lessons are really nice and detail suggestions for introducing specific skills your students will need to get the Reading Workshop up and running smoothly. Many of the lessons are similar to Daily 5/CAFE lessons so I will be re-reading those books again closer to the start of school when I decide how I want to attack the first 30 days.

Anyway, there's not much else to be said about the mini-lessons, so here are my thoughts about Sections One and Two...

Section One: Building a Community of Learners
We all know this is important. Hopefully this part will be easy for me since 90% of my students will be the same as last year. Although, at the end of the year the P.E. teacher may or may not have said to me:

"Are you sure you want to loop with these kids? They aren't very nice to each other."

YIKES. I'm chalking it up to a case of end-of-the-school-year crazies and too many kids together who should have been separated to begin with. I think I worked out those kinks when we set up the classes for next year. Overall my class was very friendly and cooperative but I had about 4 "personalities" that could run the class into the ground at any given moment. 

So yes. Community building is very important. This text outlined a few "routines and rituals" that will help with building and maintaining classroom community. And miracle of miracles, I'm already doing many of them.
  1. Share Reading and Writing - Got the writing sharing down and I do a lot of sharing reading. The kids share a bit through occasional reader's theater performances and sometimes students ask to read to the class at dismissal time.
  2. Class Meetings - Check. Friday class meetings are mandatory at my school.
  3. Individual Conferences - I do this with writing but not with reading. But that was one of my goals for next year anyway so I'm right on track. The book talks about how holding conferences with your students helps to build trust between the teacher and student. Trust is a key ingredient of Community.
  4. Accountable Talk - We all have our little tricks to prevent/discourage off-task talking. Our students need to know that they are accountable for what they say while they are sharing in small groups, with partners, or during whole-group lessons. And just like everything else, Accountable Talk must be explicitly taught and modeled. I think this might be a good opportunity for anchor charts and maybe even some example/non-example action.
  5. Responding to Literature - As I mentioned yesterday, there's definitely room for improvement with this.
To wrap up section one, here's a quote I thought was appropriate:

"Cooperation, not competition, helps accomplish your goal of establishing a community of learners."

Section 2: Launching Independent Reading
Below I've listed the headings in this section. Some things I didn't think needed to be elaborated upon, or I might have fallen asleep while reading that paragraph....
  1. Student Roles and Teacher Roles
  2. Organizing for Independent Reading
  3. Classroom Libraries - I'm in the process of acquiring all new books. Most of my books started out used purchased from library book sales and I've had them for 8 years now. Plus my students have already read them! Keeping the same class means I need some new books. I've decided that I don't need to buy ANYTHING by way of room decor this summer. That will help a bit with the cost. I'm still buying used but I know more now about what kind of books my kids want, what will hold up, what I need and don't need, etc.
  4. Room Arrangement and Environment - I will have to consult the Meek Moose on this matter. I am moving to a room that is MUCH SMALLER than my current room. It will require some creative learning space arrangements. The book offers two suggestions for possible layouts. One has the desks in groups of 4 or 5 and the other shows the desks in rows. Ground-breaking stuff, really.
  5. Anchor Charts - Should be made together as a class AT THE TIME OF INSTRUCTION. Seriously. I see all these beautiful "anchor charts" on Pinterest and think there's no way that person did that sitting in front of 25 squirmy kids. If you can, then more power to you. If you want the kids to actually use the chart for reference later on then it should be the chart you did together, not one you created ahead of time or one you re-copied after school to make it pretty. This stuff is not actually in the text. Just me on my soap box.
  6. Instructional Framework for Independent Reading
  7. Mini-Lessons - Laser-focused lesson that teaches an objective your students need at that moment in time (often based on information gained from small group reading and individual conferences)
  8. Book Talks - Kind of like on Reading Rainbow when the kids would describe a story and recommend it to other readers. Students or teacher can lead a Book Talk.
  9. Reader Response - See previous notes on this matter...
  10. Conferring - I'm excited about this part. I think I will be able to re-purpose the binder I set up (with the best of intentions) for CAFE' conferring to keep track of my conferences with each student.
  11. Group Share and Evaluation - This is basically the "closing" of the lesson. The group meets at the end of the Workshop to share and evaluate their progress/discoveries/etc. in relation to the mini-lesson of the day.
And that's basically it. After section two were the mini-lessons and appendices. 

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to read next. Really what I want to do is start making a calendar or GASP rough drafts of my weekly lesson plans.

Seriously, I need help. I've been on summer break for 4 days and I'm already craving lesson plans. There's no help for me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I hear ya! I've been doing lesson plans too and I have only been on break for 6 days. You are not alone. This book sounds really interesting. I already have a long list of summer reading to do but I will have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Ms Richards's Musings