Saturday, June 30, 2012

Evergreen Library

Well, I decided to play with some blog designs. I think I like this one for now. Since this will be a blog for my parents, students and my blog followers when school starts, I will probably be changing my design each month to go with the holiday. I LOVE holidays.

Onto my post for today! At the end of the school year, we had our librarian from Evergreen Library come to our school to tell the students about the Reading Program and activities for over the summer.  The students were so excited about all the gifts and prizes that they would receive if they completed the program that it got me to thinking about how I could help. I really wanted the students to continue reading over the summer. They were making such great gains and were being very successful with the Daily 5. SO I talked it up with the students before the end of the year about meeting up at the library for some activities during the summer. They were so excited!  I wrote a letter to the students and placed 5 dates down which ended up to be 5 Fridays. I mailed them out and this last Friday was the first Friday to meet.  I was not sure how it would go or how many students would show up but if one student did come, it was well worth my time.

This was the one studentwho decided to come and she made some huge gains this year with the Daily 5. (She was a wonderful student to have in class. She had so much energy and was always happy.) She really learned how to read this year and she was reading everything she could get her hands on. She was so excited to see me. We picked out books together and she read some of her books to me.  It was a lot of fun!! (Her mom was all smiles, too.) She checked out 10 books and is going to meet me again next Friday.  

Here is another bit of information about this student that will make you SMILE. She decided this summer that she was going to write me a note and send it in the mail. Here is the picture of how she addressed it. I think the postmaster had a heart that day because they let it go through the mail system to get to me. (I paid for the postage when it got here.) She used a stamp that had already gone through the mail.

What a kick I got out of this letter!! I so enjoy being a teacher!
Until Next Time,
        Happy Blogging

Friday, June 29, 2012

My First Blog Award

I am so honored to receive my first
Blog Award!

I am learning so much from so many of you but TAMMY from First Grade at Storybook Cafe has been wonderful. Thanks for helping me learn how to link my blog to my comments. :) AND giving me this award. You are an inspiration.
So here are the rules:
1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you - Thank you Tammy!!!
2.  Include a link to their site - Check!
3.  Include the award image in your post - Yep!
4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself - fine :)
5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6.  When nominating, include a link to their site - Check!
7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated Okie Doke
Seven Random Facts about this Tammy.
1. Each of my family members were born in different states: Husband~Kansas, Myself~New York, Daughter~Texas and Son~Nebraska.
2.  I am the odd ball in my family when it comes to birthdays: Son~7-17, Daughter~8-18, Husband~9-19 and Myself~1-5. What do you do...
3.  I am a "do"er.  I don't like to sit for very long.  Always thinking of things to do.
4. I swam competitively for New Mexico State University for four years. Go AGGIES!!
5. I have a daughter that is going to be a freshman in college this coming year.  (I'm doing really good so far.)
6. I am addicted to TEACHING!!! Anytime I try to do something else, my brain always brings it back to the classroom.
7. I love working in my yard. Right now, I am working on putting a patio in with pavers. Much harder than I thought it would be.
Here’s who I am passing the award on to. Check out their wonderful blogs.
Well, that is all I have for this award. Thanks to all of you for making my first two weeks of blogging such a successful one. YOU ROCK!!!

Until Next Time,
                                Happy Blogging

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Storybook Cafe Giveaway

I just happened to find First Grade at Storybook Cafe. She is having a giveaway with a goal that she would like to reach.  Hopefully some of you that are coming to my blog for Primary Graffiti's Book Study on the Daily 5 will help her out.  Here are the details:

Her goal is to reach 200 blogs by July 4th and have 300 followers.  If this happens, she is going to treat herself to a Erin Condren Life Planner and also one lucky follower.

I had never heard of these planners before but after watching the videos and looking through the website, I sure would love to have one.

Until next time,
          Happy Blogging

Monday, June 25, 2012

The DAILY 5 ~ Chapter 1

Well, I have decided to be part of the blogging world.  This is my first post and I hope that I am doing it correctly.  I love reading all of your wonderful blogs out there and you all have such great ideas for your classrooms that I thought it was about time that I shared also.  This blog will mainly be for my parents and students when school starts but until then I am excited to be part of Lory's Book Study on the DAILY 5 and CAFE.

I am so excited that I found your blog Lory. I implemented the DAILY 5 and CAFE into my 2nd grade classroom last year. I found out about the two books when I was surfing the internet looking at other teachers websites.  I bought the two books and I completely fell in love with them. I am also a subscriber to Gail and Joan's website. I am such a visual learner and they provided great resources for me to learn by watching videos on how to implement these books into my classroom.  AND their Pensive is out of this world. If you haven't check it out, here is the link The Daily Cafe.

About my experience with Chapter 1 of the DAILY 5....I too had to laugh when I was rereading page 4.  I can so relate to what they said about running around redirecting students to do what they are suppose to be doing. I even felt a little bit of that this year when I implemented the DAILY 5 into my classroom.  I will say, though, that my reading block was ten times better than it ever has been before but I still have some "tweaking" to do.  For example, the headphones would not be working or the students could only hear on one side. (Some students would be okay with one side working and others it just bothered terribly).  The CD players battery life was dead. (Which happens often) The computer would not connect with the Internet or the student lost their password (even though it was attached to the computer last week).  My DAILY 5 choices for my students were:

Read to Someone
Word Work
Listen To Reading

My Read To Self was at a different time of day because of our districts requirements so all my students would Read To Self at the same time for about 30 minutes. The DAILY 5 that I did not do was Writing and this year I am going to add that to their choices. I'm not really sure why I decided not to place Writing into their choices.  Maybe I felt like it was too much for me to take on for the first year.

My advice to teachers that are going to start implementing this into their classrooms the first days of school is spend the full 20 days building community, defining and practicing behaviors, building your students stamina and assessing the needs of your students. (Fig 1-1 page 7) It is the explicit teaching and practicing of behaviors that set the DAILY 5 apart from other managment systems. I LOVED my reading block because I did take the time at the beginning of the year teaching my students how it was suppose to look and feel and we did it again, and again, and again. I can also say that my students cheered when it was DAILY 5 time.  They loved the structure that it provided for them and they all felt successful.

Thanks for letting me be apart of your Book Study and I hope to gain a greater understand of the DAILY 5 and especially the CAFE through this study.

Until Next Week,
        Happy Blogging

The Daily 5 ~ Chapter 2

What beliefs influence the decisions you, as a teacher, make in your classroom?
Each summer, I reflect back on how my year went with the group of students that I had and muddle over what I can do better for the next group coming to me in August. When I read Chapter 2 for the first time last summer, I had a few "ah-ha" moments with the six principles that Gail and Joan described.  Here are the six:

~ trusting students
~providing choice
~nurturing community
~creating a sense of urgency
~building stamina
~staying out of students' way once routines are established
Trusting students and having a nurturing community were the two principles that I felt I did well in.  I stress at the beginning of the year that we are a family and a community of learners. I feel the activities that I do in my classroom that first couple of weeks or months really bring my students closer together.  BUT even though I felt like I did a good job in these areas something was still missing that I didn't realize until this year when I implemented the DAILY 5. Usually at the end of the school year, my students are eager for summer break but for this group that I had this last year, that was not the case.  They did not want school to end.  They did not want to be away from the friends and family that they had become. I had never felt such a tug at my heart at the end of the school year as I did this year.  What a REFLECTION!!  Adding the other four principles to my classroom was a huge success for me last year.

I am going to go through each of the six principles and jot down sentences that I thought were important for me as I implemented this into my classroom last year.

1.  "Meaningful learning requires respect between the teacher and students as well as among the students themselves" ~ My students truly became a family last year.  They knew what the expectations were and what would happen if those expectations were not met.  They trusted each other and they trusted me.
2.  "Taking time to build trust and demonstrate caring is the foundation upon which all other elements of our literacy learning are built" ~ I talked a little bit about this in my last post - Don't panic that you are not getting into your focus groups or conferencing one-on-one the first month of school. Your main goal is to build that caring and trusting community so that the rest of the year runs smoothly.
3.  "When trust is combined with explicit instruction, our students acquire the skills necessary to become independent learners" ~ The "I-charts" for the DAILY 5 were amazing reminders to my students and myself on what their jobs were (and mine).  Be explicit when teaching these lessons for each of your D5 areas. I can't tell you how well it felt to be rocking and rolling in November and other teachers would be struggling because some of their students still did not participate in their centers like they were suppose too.  They started too soon and they didn't practice, pracitce and practice.

1.  "Children love structure and routine" ~ This statement is soooo true.  In my classroom, structure and routine is very important.  I try very hard to be as consistent as I can for my students.  Of course, I do need to be flexible at times when things come up that are unexpected. (We all know how that goes.) BUT structure and routine are the main keys for the D5.

With my experience with Choice last year, I began the year giving the students an opportunity to choose what D5 they wanted to go to. I did this for about one month, keeping track of which D5 they were going to with "the sisters" check list and then I changed back to scheduling their D5 for the day. I was having a hard time working the CAFE into the D5 with the focus lessons. I think it was just too overwhelming for me.  Even though I changed my procedure, I really didn't see much difference in attitude with my students.  For some of the students, it seemed like a relief that they didn't have to choose anymore.  For me, it just seemed to take too long for them to choose or they would choose the same thing every day.  It just wasn't working for me.  I will have to say that I too have been on Pinterest and pinning ideas for Daily 5 time.  One of the pins that I found was from Ms. Christina Bainbridge blog. 

The students are to check off which D5 they have gone to so they can keep track of where they have been.  I like this because some of my students couldn't even remember what they did the day before so they didn't know what they should pick. 

I saw another Pinterest idea and this one was using a pocket chart and some D5 cards.  In the mornings the students would come in, make their choices and place their choice in their pocket row for each of the D5 for that day. If I were to do this system, I would probably record their choices later in the day to make sure that they are not continually going to the same D5 each day.

(I am trying to find which blog I got these from but I can't seem to find them so if you recognize these pictures please let me know so that I can give them credit and give a link to their blog.)

You will be amazed at how well the students help each other throughout the day. They truly believe that they are a family and they work together to make that happen.  I'm not saying that we don't have our issues sometimes, we do, but we work them out together and I teach the students how to work things out without the teacher being present.

This is when you teach the students "WHY" they are doing what they are doing.  We start with explicitly explaining:
  • you read to yourself
  • you read to someone
  • you listen to reading
  • you write
  • you do word work
Last year, I decided not do the writing piece and I did computers instead.  (I had a separate time for writing.) This year, I am going to add that writing time to the D5 time with a focus lesson.  I will continue to have computers as part of my D5 time because I don't have any other time to do computers and the students will be working on the Lexia program which is phonics based.  My "Read to Self" time will be done separately from the D5 because my district has a reading and conferencing time in our schedule (30 minutes) so all my students will be "reading to self" at the same time.  It worked out wonderfully last year.  I really liked looking out and seeing ALL OF MY STUDENTS reading books at their "good-fit" level.  It was amazing and my principal and literacy coach were even amazed at the engagement of the students.

We have a courtyard right across from our classroom. We loved reading outside.

What can I say about Stamina? STAMINA was a huge wake up call for myself and the staff in our building.  My principal would show up in my classroom while I was teaching Stamina and she was so impressed with what was happening that she wanted me to share with the staff.  Of course, I shared at the next in-service. :)  We never thought about teaching the students how to sit and read, especially the older students.  We just assumed that they knew how to do this.  We were sooooo wrong.  What a difference it made!! Our intermediate teachers were so pleased.  Even our State Testing went fabulous because the students had the stamina to sit there and read and answer questions.  (It even helped with math also.) They didn't give up and just start clicking answers.  They had built their stamina and knew what to do. 

This one was easy to do for me.  The first day that we tried Read to Self, I moved everyone around the room to a spot and sat down at my kidney table.  I picked up my book to start reading, trying very hard not to look around at the students and began reading.  It only took one minute before I heard someone talking to another student.  I rang the bell (that is what I use in my classroom) and the students gathered back at the classroom library and we reviewed our I-chart. It wasn't hard for me to stay out of the way because I really didn't have time to get in their way. As the days and weeks progressed, the students read longer and longer and I would read at my kidney table. It was pretty cool.

I LOVE the D5 and the structure that it provides my classroom. My hope for next year is to improve the D5 in my classroom and really dive into the CAFE.  As I am reading these chapters again in this book, I am also reading The CAFE book trying to make things match up and make more sense of the process.  Thanks for reading my chapter 2 advice and I hope that it helps someone along the way in their classroom.

Unitl next week,  
         Happy Blogging