Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Wednesday Word Work: Celebrating Peter Reynolds

                              Word study this week was unplanned.  Shh our secret!

Rush out purchase this book!  I would have given a million dollars to have yesterday's mini lesson videotaped professionally.  First I shared the beautiful cover.  I passed it around the room.  Everyone touched it and felt the raised letters and could see the sparkle. Every learner was engaged in this book.  Every learner connected and shared their stories.  I now know where everyone hides their clothes when they don't want to clean their room.  But the power of the last two pages - folded it out. Just ask Where are you?  #priceless

I have loved every book by Peter Reynolds.  There is always a page that every learner can connect with and share their story.  But this one grabbed me and wouldn't let go!!  Let me share another special Peter Reynolds moment. 

Celebrating authors and their craft is the best word study lesson EVER!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wednesday Word Work Reflection

My first week of lessons plans for word study were blown out of the water the first day of school.  When I begin each workshop with inquiry,  I should know better. After 31 years of teaching, you would think I would no not to plan a week out. 

I found a new book (to me) this summer Word Builder  Once I read it, I knew it would be included in my Day 1 plans: sharing a great book and an open sort of vocabulary.  The power in an open word sort is that I learn along with my learners.  The conversations were huge!!  Actually so big I changed Thursday's plans.  We were already to discuss word observations once I lifted their thinking from the chart above.

I was so excited I sent an email to our staff sharing photos and the new book title.  So many times in education, we forget to thank the teachers below us.  I like to call it the Food Chain - growth of knowledge leading to the top level - fifth grade.  I was ecstatic when five other teachers borrowed the book and my lesson.  YES!  The power of collaboration.  We're off to an amazing start in Room 234.  Shifting their thinking already about words!!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Celebrating Choice in the New Year

I'm celebrating NOT spending days setting up my classroom.  I'm looking forward to school starting next Wednesday and meeting my new group of learners.
I am excited to share my reading life with my new readers. It's fun to xerox some of the covers of the books I read this summer. The minute my new students arrive they will know their teacher is a reader. I also include a few personal photos of my reading life and favorite places I like to read. 

For years, I spent hours getting my library ready. Not anymore last year's class organized this library. Mixing all of the books up leaving serval hints about how this new class could organize it.  One of my favorite conversations:

  •  "Do you have this book?"  
  • I reply, "I sure do in the library"
  • "Where in the library?"
  • I reply, "I don't know."
Conversations above lead us into a class discussion about how do you want to organize the library?  Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Word Work: August Lesson Thinking

It is a personal challenge to help my new wordsmiths flip their thinking about word work. I always ask how many of you enjoy ----- fill in the blank with different subjects. I record the data on the board, and we share observations about our new group of learners. I snapshot the data and keep it for future reference. Typically 5 out of 27 enjoy word study. I ask the hard question: Why? What does word study mean to you? How can I shift your perspective this year? I have several lessons already planned for the first few weeks of words study.

To encourage wordsmiths to think about vocabulary differently throughout our day I weave conversations about word learning into every subject.
  • Discussing expectations: What do you notice about the word expectations?
  • Sharing our #ClassroombBookaDay What words did you hear that you liked or were new to you?
  • Math: I notice the word operations have multiple meanings?
  • Science: What happens when you compare science to scientist?
  • Writing: Look at my summer writing, what do you notice about my word choice?
My goal is to create new expectations and shift their thinking about word study. I promise I will have more than five learners enjoying word work after the first month of school, and I will have the data to support it.

compliments of Google Images

Monday, July 16, 2018

Spotlight: You Never Know Unless You Try

Twitter is my summer PD! I learn so much from reading tweets and going down the rabbit holes of all the links. I want to spotlight Lindsay Barna (@litcoachmusings) for reminding me of my journey after reading her blog. I am the district lead for 3-5 Literacy team which means each building has one member that represents their school, and we meet several times a year. We focused on DIY Literacy, and I encouraged everyone to try one of the four new teaching tools.

  • teaching charts
  • demonstration notebooks
  • micro-progressions
  • bookmarks
As the lead, it is my role to model, in order to model you have to do the work. For some reason, I was hesitant to implement one of these tools. I was 110% committed to the book. Tweeted about it, heard Kate Roberts speak, talked to colleagues in my own building and even mentioned to my class in a meeting that we were going to try a new teaching tool. Time passed. Mentioned it again. Time passed. By now you see the pattern. Our third district meeting of the year was three weeks away, pressure was on for me to share my learning.

I mentioned it again in a Friday class meeting, HP said, "Mrs. Caplin when are we going to learn this new tool?" HP will be a future teacher. I replied, "Monday." I had 48 hours to choose the tool and decide how to implement it. As in all good teaching, when we allow our learners to be in charge, 90% of the time they hit a grand slam. Together we learned about the tool: demonstration notebooks.
  1. I asked my learners what do you want to learn about in reading? We brainstormed and we had a list of 21 ideas which became a list of 5.  Each learner chose their group from the 5.
  2. I set up a rotating schedule. Met with every group once a week.  4-6 learners per group. 
  3. I prepared the first week's lessons supporting their choice topic using my demonstration notebook model. Three columns labeled by them....I only set up the first column....they chose the criteria for the middle and last column. 
I learned several lessons from this hesitation in my teaching. First, it was a difficult experience to have to do something I wasn't comfortable with which is similar to what we ask our learners to do in our classrooms practically everyday.. Next, it was easier to be the cheerleader than the player on the field. Finally, there are always moments in life when you're unsure and you enter a task with the best intentions. It doesn't always work out well, but sometimes it does. You never know unless you try.

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's Monday Here's What I'm Reading: Newbery Edition

One of the three areas that I am committing to for my blog is sharing more of my reading life. This is so much easier in the summer when I read almost everyday and prepare for Newbery Club 2019 when school starts in August. It's quite the challenge to read as many possible winners and record my thinking in my reader's notebook.

The pile on the left is my completed and on the right is my TBR pile. I take days off to read picture books which I will share in another Monday post. You know that feeling when you're finished with a book and you rate it 5/5 stars on Goodreads and then you read the next one and it's 5/5 stars. That's the feeling I'm having this summer. I would have difficult time choosing my favorite of the summer. It's like ice cream they all have individual tastes but put them all together and you have a perfect summer reading list. Now I would suggest going to get a favorite scoop of ice cream and enjoy a great book. Let me know your favorite book of the summer or ice cream flavor.

Complements of Google Images

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Word Work: What's in a Name?

Their story that we need to unfold!
I want to embrace my new students'name and honor their history. I am constantly shocked when I inquire: what do you know about your first and last name? There is silence in the classroom....

I notice unique names and take photos throughout the summer to share at the beginning of the school year. What a fun way for my students to learn about me and instantly they know that I embrace vocabulary. I found the image above on Twitter, and it grabbed me. I loved the idea of summer ABC photos and started thinking about a new visual "Get to Know You" activity. What if each student made an acrostic poem with their name but instead of writing they chose pictures that show about their life? Photos could include: a vacation, favorite activity, their family or even a pet. Or it could be as simple as the letter S for a soccer ball. Learners could choose their presentation tool which would open conversations and probably questions especially with technology. Let's face it by the time they get to fifth grade, do they really want to create another "All About ME" poster?

If you haven't ever read this book, rush out to your library. It's the perfect introduction for this activity.