Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pieces of the Puzzle

I don't count the days of summer, but I am beginning to think I need to start putting some of the pieces of my puzzle together. I always feel like the first piece of the puzzle starts with my classroom especially after being in the same room for 15 years. I need a change something that stands out for the students.  This year I was struggling but through blogs (Franki @ A Year of Reading) and some pictures once again I have a new set up. My first priority is community space and next some nooks for students.  I created a large open area with the smart board and teaching chart along with 2 table (round and rectangle) and a reading corner.  Moving to puzzle piece 2: math. I will be teaching 80 mins of math daily.  I have been searching for a morning math warm up and have found some links to help me.  Here is one I found through #5thchat Mrs. White's Teaching Resources. When the students come in, I want them to be actively involved thinking about math so I am considering some math games, websites and focus # work This is one piece I need to continue to focus on and build some more strategies. Puzzle #3: increasing the wonder! For the past 2 years I have used Wonderopolis in every subject typically as a hook for a new subject, a follow up article for HW, and end the year with students choosing their own wonder research project. But this year, I want to build wonder- have students think about the why?  One idea I am floating around is changing the focus of the summer pictures my students bring into share. I am going to ask them about what they wondered over their vacation?  I think this might be challenging but if they have a picture of Niagara Falls from vacation, perhaps they wondered about how much water flows or how the falls developed? If they visited a beach, perhaps they wondered about sharks, jellyfish or sand castles? I will model this with my pictures from our summer vacation.  I just get excited by starting the year off with wonder/inquiry/questions.  Finally the last piece of the puzzle #4: stretching NF writing. I have been reading Jeff Anderson book 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know and Kelly Gallagher's book Write Like This. I want to go beyond our weekly Scholastic New articles although very good for conversations, but I need to have my students think deeper.  I am working on using my #cyber PD to help me with forming higher level questions.  I have learned the value of the word "yet." I also am working on the idea of choosing relevant articles from local newspaper and having students write from those (point of view, main idea/details, 5 Ws, opinions of article etc.) 

As you can see my puzzle is all over the floor right now or I should say floating in my brain, I am working on having all the pieces fit together nicely. Any suggestions I would love to have some comments to help my thinking. 


  1. I feel like my puzzle is still in the box!!

    I'll be starting on my classroom this week. You are so right that it all starts there, with the space, the commitment to community.

    Beyond that...well...I'm going to keep enjoying summer for a couple more weeks, then, when the calendar page turns to August, I'll work on the rest of it!!

  2. I love your puzzle analogy...that is exactly how I feel...some things here and there that need tweeked and reworked. Did you see this post by Mandy?

    Her post solved my math journal piece AND the best part...the math journals tasks are aligned to the Common Core and are ready to print on labels so they can stick them at the top and just start writing!

    Thanks for the post! Need to start putting my pieces together!

  3. Thank you for your comments. I am excited to begin working on our conversations Mary Lee. I am also thankful Tracy and yes I did see that link for math journals. I am excited to weave all the new learning together.