Thursday, June 19, 2008

Professional Thinking

This summer I want to push my professional thinking by reading more! One book that I am currently reading through is Assessing Writers by Carl Anderson (Normally I would have underlined the book, but the Control U does not make it underline).

I am just a few chapters in, but already I have a page of notes. This year I tried something new. I began collecting randomly throughout a unit the students' writing. This allowed me to take notes of their strengths, weaknesses, and goals for each student as well as seeing who I could group together and teach a focus lesson. I was also able to see who was doing what, who wasn't doing anything, and future focus lessons for the class.

I feel that one area of weakness (and there are many) for me during writing workshop is finding the best focus for a student's conference. I want to make sure when assessing their writing, I know who they are writing to and for. Also, looking at the MEANING of their writing. What's important? What is the point they are trying to make? I think if I do this, my students will have a stronger purpose for writing and it will lend itself to having a stronger voice present.

I still have several chapters to go. This is just the beginning. Feel free to leave comments and share what you are reading this summer. Next on my list will be Lucy Calkins - The Art of Teaching Reading...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Looking Back

I truly adored my class this past year. I am anxious to see if because of our Reading and Writing Workshop mixed in with our Morning Meeting allowed my students to become the type of community they did. These kids brought in books all of the time for others, looked for books for others, shared ideas, learn to use their words instead of their hands when needing something, and truly cared for each other.

At the end of the year, I created a DVD for each child that highlighted the year with photos and pictures from my Photo Booth. For those of you who have's amazing what we can do with them! I plan on taking more photos next year and creating another project. It was a great way to end a great year!!!

Remembering the Good Times

I know it's been a while since I've blogged. Sometimes in the summer, I often find I have not much to say. I guess that goes to show how much of my life revolves around my teaching. Sad in a way, but yet, it shows that I'm dedicated to what I love. I have below some of the stories that occurred at the end of the year.

I did a unit at the end of the year with reading non-fiction. I explained and had the kids read several informational texts and pay attention to the pronouns. Did they know what the pronouns referred to as they read? I modeled and then had the kids practice it. One of my boys came up to me later and said, "The they (in one of our charts that we had written earlier in the year) refers to the writers...He got it! He took the skill and applied it to his own life and reading! Those are the times I wish I could record for others.

Another day my boys were talking with each other about if they would remember the conversations they had when they were in second grade. They were discussing being wrestlers when they are older. One of the boys said, "You'll recognize me, I'm keeping my red hair." - I don't think he could change his hair color if he was sweet to think that they will stay in touch when they are older.

We had the lovely caterpillar turning into a butterfly unit and the day that one of the butterflies emerged, my students were ecstatic! They were proclaiming that one of the boys was a daddy! Then they discussed what he was going to name his butterfly. Too cute! Although the daddy/mommy of the butterfly changed almost every hour as they tried to deduce whose chrysalis was empty.

A lesson on why schema is important. I was reading The Meanest Doll (a sequel to the Doll People) and the author used the word former. I wanted to make sure the students knew what former meant. I asked if they knew what it meant and one of my boys said, "Yeah, it means no longer." I was pleased as punch that he knew the meaning and then he continued,"Like the former WWE champion." I guess watching the WWE on TV isn't all that bad, huh?

I try to let the students be as independent as possible in my room. If they need a band-aid, they just go and get one from the drawer. Well, it's the end of the year and I'm out and apparently so is the nurse...and when my teacher's helper came back and informed the class, one of my girls (who is prepared for anything) said, "I have some in my bag." Now that is one prepared second-grader. I had to chuckle at the timing, and the willingness to mother her peers. :)

And one final conversation between my students that took place on the last day while we were eating snack in a circle. Two boys were talking with each other about who they wanted elected as the president. A third one chimed in.
Boy 1 - Who do you want, Hillary or Obama?
Boy 2 (interrupting) - John McCain
Boy 1 - I guess I don't really care. I just want the one who believes in the Bible more.
Boy 2 - Hillary doesn't believe in the Bible. She thinks it's good to kill babies.
I guess I should have had a unit on the primaries...And when I started to laugh and asked one of the boys to get my blogging notebook, he knew EXACTLY which notebook to grab. They've seen me write in it all Ruth, my notebook is getting some great writing in it!!!