If you ask any teacher what are your top three areas of concern in your classroom? I know TIME would be in the top of three if not the #1 concern in the classroom. Not only the time to teach new content but also time to do mini lessons to help students who need reinforcements of skills. As a self contained teacher, I have to make decisions everyday on how to use time most effectively working in six different content areas. I am going to be starting a new read aloud when we return from Spring break, I have chosen a Dear America book: A Journey to the New World: Remember Patience Whipple. I chose this book for several reasons. First we will be starting our new SS unit on exploration. Next, during my reading conferences I noticed that many students need to expand their genre choice to historical fiction. Finally, I want to review the idea of "theme" with my class prior to the OAA reading test in May.
As far as time goes, I have decided to teach my mini lessons on the book including theme, focus on vocabulary using context clues and the historical facts of the story. I plan on having the students use their iPods evernote feature to record their thinking. When I used this with Wonderopolis it was extremely successful. The students like it because it was a quick way to respond as well as they were able to read their friends responses automatically. I love it because it is a quick way to assess if the students understood the mini lesson prior to reading the story. Also I am able to use strong student responses as mentor examples and that is very powerful. I also am able to pull students together if they need reinforcement on the focus skill and I will have their thinking right there. I am excited about starting our new read aloud Monday!