Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quest: Shift #1

Summer is my time to shift into longer leisurely mornings, more time on the dock to read or look at the clouds reflection in our pond, travel to places we've never visited and even back to some of our favorite locations.  But I am constantly on a quest to reflect and think about what shifts I am going to make in my classroom.  I think it's almost impossible to turn off my teacher brain in the summer.  Even in Key West, I was snapping photos that I will use this year in word work and science.  The clock is ticking two weeks left of my summer and we have one more excursion which I think will be the most fun. Spending next week taking our daughter back to Charleston and helping her set up her new classroom and "watch" her move to a new place will be a highlight of our summer.  I have to visualize where she is when we start again our daily phone calls after school.  It's never easy to say goodbye, but we are always connected.

FIRST SHIFT:  Student Ownership toward Independence
I've always thought I did pretty well with this concept. I typically allow long enough wait time. Students have constant choice in their writing and JR books.  Last year, I allowed for almost totally free open seating. I believed I had this idea under control.  However, through several opportunities this summer, I realized there are other opportunities for me to shift ownership.

  • Starting the fist day of school, I'm not making name tags, and I am not assigning seats. Students are going to choose where they want their home base to be for the year. This will not be where they are required to sit but where their supplies will live. The extra supplies will live in large gallon Ziploc baggies in a tub so if they need something they can go shopping in the storage cabinets.
  • I am going to have them create their own name tag which will be my first opportunity to learn about them.  I have crated my own with icons around it that tell a little bit about me.  My name tag will include books, flowers, map, stick figure 4 person family, OSU football, and a dictionary.  Nothing elaborate which will not only model for them but also send a message that we are all unique but similar.  I imagine playing the game if you have ---- then move to the north side of the room. 
  • Sending the message that we are all learners the first day of school will be an important message.  Sharing what we learned over the summer will introduce inquiry and curiosity. I envision a sentence strip with a new fact.  Same idea how are they similar & different. Could we compare or contrast our new learning.  
The first day/week is going to look very different for me. It won't be similar to the other 27 first days of school.  I'm excited about these shifts and there are more to come and I will be posting them.  Happy Sunday! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

DIY Literacy: Chapter 5 & 6

We are building a screen porch in our backyard this summer.  When I say we, there are three integral people.
  • our friend (the builder) who knows everything and is helping my husband learn about construction
  • my husband (the runner) helps with everything and is learning several new building skills
  • me (the supporter) cooking meals, filling drinks and helping when asked.  I am very good with the million trips to the lumber yards because I can follow a list extremely well. 

As I sit on our front porch writing this post, and I hear the saw cutting the cedar wood, measurements being told several times and the occasional, "I love it when a plan comes together."  That is how I am feeling as I finish the book.  I love it when my learning comes together.

Chapter 5 Just for You
  • ...during  the preparation, investing time in the right tools and collecting them p. 72
  • look across the lesson and make predictions - where might students need support? p. 80
  • with the correct tools students can differentiate themselves p. 72
  • Which strategy are you going to try today? p. 74  (opening of workshop)
  • How did yo push yourself as a writer today?  p. 74 (closing of workshop)
Chapter 6 Nuts and Bolts
  • As I am considering my classroom design, I am now considering where the most foot traffic will be in our class?  p. 88
  • How can I support my students when they need fuel to keep them going when plugging away on the hard stuff?  p. 88
  • Kid friendly language - less is more p. 91
  • If students are shrugging... it's time for them to roll up their sleeves and take more ownership of their work. p. 93
  • Think of our demonstration notebook as a library book - it should travel around the room. p. 95
Every statement above has stumped me in the past.  I've said them aloud to myself in a questioning voice or have asked colleagues. I always feel a little better when I read my "problems" in a book because it's not so lonely.  One of my biggest take away from both chapters is that I need to spend more time thinking about these issues and how I can begin to make minuscule shifts in my practice.  One thing I know about myself as a learner in the summer is that I want to do EVERYTHING and I know I can't.  Already as I have read other blog posts and twitter chats, I realize that we're a community of learners.  It's not an isolated experience and learning with 50+ is so much better than learning alone.  I am thankful for comment feeds and a huge thanks to everyone who made a video or shared their own work by taking photos.  It's been another amazing summer PD.  Here's to the last few weeks of summer.  Thank you for the journey of #cyberPD.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DIY Literacy: Chapters 3 & 4

The conversations from week one have been amazing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to connect with so many smart educators.  The idea of all of us reading one book and learning together is such a smart lesson that I am already thinking about as a teacher. Some times the best learners are not always in front of you.  Expanding students' voice is so important and as I think about Chapters 3 and 4, I am focused on how I can accomplish that goal when I return back to school. 

Chapter 3: I had an AMEN! moment as I read p. 37  about sitting on your couch with a pile of notebooks and a feeling of dejection. I wish I could say that feeling goes away but it doesn't even after teaching 28 years. When I reflect on the layers of learning my students do each day and how I weave in "brain breaks" and tried to diversify activities so they are constantly moving/talking/sharing. I am going to add the idea from p. 42 "During the end of class, ask students to talk...which strategy they used during class ..."  I am excited to change the closing few moments of each class. 

Chapter 4:  Rigor has almost became a new buzz word lately.  The definition seems to ebb and flow in my opinion.  As I read p. 55 "We create a learning climate where students see the steps needed to tackle the tasks in front of them...."  I am thinking about micro-progressions and how I want to work with my fifth graders to create them.  Thinking about the different levels of learning and allowing every student an entry point.  I am excited for my AMEN moments and having my students more actively involved in their learning.  

A huge thanks for all the comments and conversations.  I am always thankful for my PLN and the opportunity to learn side by side.  Thanks to 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

DIY Literacy

Summer PD is my favorite time for personal learning. It's like Christmas when the book is announced. I have to admit that I pride myself on having it already in my TBR pile and this summer I did. Our district Grades 3-5 chose it as our summer read, so I am thrilled that I will be learning with both groups.  

Confession:  I watched all the videos before I even opened the book.  Love everyone of them and when I started reading I heard Kate and Maggie reading the book to me personally.  As I read chapters 1,2 and the Bonus several key phrases grabbed me, and I stopped to write them in my notebook.

  • We must first identify what the obstacle to getting the job done is exactly. p. 2
  • We are able to SHIFT CURRENTS in our teaching when we step back, reflect upon the root issue. p. 3
  • We hope they need us less, not more.  p. 3
  • The tools inspire the kids to work as hard as we are. p. 8
  • Every journey includes the need to solve problems. p. 11
I have been reflecting on how to shift ownership in my classroom. Wondering how my students can take more ownership in their learning. The first three sections felt like a counseling session that I didn't have to pay too much for.  I could hear both of them telling me, "We've been there."  there is power in knowing that you're not the only one questioning your practice.  

My lightbulb moment was with the first bullet.  I always jump right into the solution. I could list all the reasons why I do that but as a teacher we all know those reasons.  I am learning to slow down and becoming more of a diagnostician. Listening, observing, listening, observing more. Asking questions in conferences have helped me to try and assess the learning concern.  Last summer,  I learned the importance of the word "yet" I try to remember that as I can't find the best tool for the job. Now I have four new tools in my toolbox and I am ready to shift the currents in my classroom in August.  

Thanks to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting this summer #cyberPD, I am excited to learn along with everyone.   

  • Week of July 3rd—Chapters 1- 2 & Bonus
  • Week of July 10th—Chapters 3-4
  • Week of July 17—Chapters 5-6
  • Week of July 24—Final Twitter Chat