Here are a few pictures for you…
Friday, October 21, 2011
Here’s a little re-cap of my week:
My 4th grade group has been working with a program called Read Naturally to help improve their fluency and comprehension. I’ve gone to the ends of the earth and back to try to organize and implement this program so that every student is being challenged at their level and meeting with success (this has made up many of my late nights at school - I’ll tell you more about this in a later post). We’ve been working with this program for a couple weeks now and I’m seeing some great improvement in my students’ accuracy and rate. However, I’m noticing that quite a few of my students are too heavily focused on trying to increase their words read per minute and completely forget how they sound when they read. So, this week, I decided to take a break from Read Naturally and take things on a different route. We were going to be doing Reader’s Theatre!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Reader’s Theatre, you find a script that is at your students’ independent reading level, read through it and discuss it as a class, assign parts, practice, and perform. The main focus is on reading with expression (or “making your words lively” as one of my students put it – love it!). I came across this wonderful script titled “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch (the words were taken from his book and made into a play). I wasn’t sure what my kids would think of it, but they absolutely positively LOVED it! J
My class knows me all too well… they predicted that I would write a poem about my childhood dog, Brandy. Since my class all knew about Brandy from the stories I’ve shared and the pictures they’ve seen of her, I decided that this would be a great opportunity for some guided practice. I started by brainstorming a list of Brandy’s traits that I wanted to describe (much like in the poem “Delilah” that we had read). I wrote adjectives to describe each of her listed traits (eg. nose = cold and wet, eyes = beautiful and brown, tail = white-tip, ears = floppy, bark = happy, etc.). Then, we re-visited “Delilah” to look at the author’s use of similes. At this moment, I could see the light bulbs turning on!
We went through the list of Brandy’s traits and adjectives that I had brainstormed and turned them into similes. I had the students think/pair/share with others at their table group to come up with similes. The class did an amazing job with this task! This was our final product:
We are going to turn our poems into a class book for everyone to read! Hooray!
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I woke up to a cold, rainy morning – a perfect day to stay inside and relax. Exactly what I needed! Looking out the window this afternoon – the rain turned to snow!!! Cah-ray-zee!!! I wore capris everyday this week because it was in the 80s and to wake up to this – you can imagine the shock I’m feeling! Time to break out the pants and long-sleeved shirts and sweaters!
The weather is the perfect analogy to my week – mostly sunny and warm everyday with a few bouts of clouds and rain. Whenever clouds try to make their way in, it’s always the kiddos that bring back the sunshine… Here’s what I mean:
Exhibit A: They Say Exactly What Is On Their Mind!
Student: “I really like the button on your pants!”
Me: “Well thank you!”
Student: “It’s sparkly and looks like it has a diamond in it. But I bet the diamond is fake.”
Me: “Ya, it is.” At this point, I turn around to write something on the whiteboard.
Student: “Hey, look!!! There’s more buttons that have fake diamonds in them!”
I turn around and the entire class is staring at my backside. Haha!
Exhibit B: They Pay Attention to Detail (and have Endless Imaginations!)
Even though the above example would fit under this category as well, I feel like this is a story that deserves its own category…
The Curious Adventures of Mr. Fly:
In our anthologies this week, we read a science article about insects. During the time we were discussing the 3 parts of an insect (head, thorax, and abdomen) a fly conveniently flew into our room. One of the kiddos shouted, “Look, an insect!!!!” and got the entire class up in arms trying to identify the three body parts, its wings, and its six legs. I must say, even though this was a moment of pure distraction, I was pretty proud that my kiddos were applying what they were reading to the “real-world.”
In an effort to try to regain focus, I told the class that the insect that they were trying to capture and identify was in fact a good friend of mine… He goes by the name of Mr. Fly! Mr. Fly flies around the school in an effort to watch kids become better readers and learners. Even though you may not see him flying around all the time, he hangs out on walls and watches everyone. At this point, about half of the class was able to regain focus so they could impress Mr. Fly.
Still trying to regain full focus, I told the class that Mr. Fly will give me reports on students he sees doing a good job. The plan didn’t go quite as well as I hoped – by telling students this, they were all curious how Mr. Fly and I communicated with each other – Could Mr. Fly talk? Do I speak fly? When do I talk to Mr. Fly? Etc. Such imaginative questions! I quickly reached for my first grade thinking cap and came up with this answer: “Mr. Fly writes me messages that I can read.” This prompted even more questions… How does Mr. Fly write when he is so small? Does he write with pencil, pen, marker, or crayon? Does he leave messages in the Chatter Box? Etc. My response: “I guess you will just have to wait and see. Mr. Fly only likes to leave messages when he sees students doing a good job.” I guess I should’ve said those magic words from the very beginning because my little firsties were back on track in seconds.
When it was time to line up to go to recess, quite a few of the kiddos were asking questions about Mr. Fly and other insects. I told them to go to recess and see if they could find any insects. If they found an insect, they could report back to the class, but they would have to tell us why they thought it was (or wasn’t) an insect. They were so excited to go out to recess to look for bugs! When they came back in, most of them were beaming from ear to ear and could hardly contain themselves because they had new findings in their bug research that they had to share with the class! I allowed for some share time, and sure enough, the kiddos were excellent scientists – collecting data, analyzing their data, and reporting their findings. They all had an in-depth understanding of what an insect was thanks to my good friend, Mr. Fly! J
Still curious about Mr. Fly, many of the kiddos asked me if I had received any new notes in my Chatter Box. Unfortunately, the can was empty, so it must mean that he was busy watching other students learn. Maybe tomorrow…
I had a pretty chaotic afternoon trying to accomplish and check off things on my to-do list (I set a new record for how late I stayed at school – 9pm!). Completely forgetting about our encounter with Mr. Fly the following day, I went to pick up the kids… every single one of them were curious if Mr. Fly had left us a note and were sad to find out that he had not as they had worked really hard (oops!). Once the kiddos got settled, I told them that Mr. Fly was a busy guy and had lots of places that he needed to be. Even though Mr. Fly didn’t leave us a note, I knew that he wanted us to do our best on our unit test. Within seconds of me saying those words and passing out the tests, guess who decided to make an appearance?!? Mr. Fly!!!! I must say, he has impeccable timing! J
After enduring a full 1 hour and 20 minutes of testing (the tests are district mandated), my kiddos were spent! They stretched their brains as far as they could go and did an excellent job of staying in their seats for the entire duration of the test (minus the quick stretch break I gave them). They were in dire need of recess to get all of their wiggles out! While they were at recess, I had a nice little chat with Mr. Fly – here’s the message that he left for the class:
Attached to the message was a bag full of Smarties. When I shared that Mr. Fly had left us a note, you should’ve seen the look on the kids' faces! They were all kinds of excited!!!! I split the Smarties amongst the class and we spent the remainder of our time together playing some fun games to practice our sight words.
After reflecting on my fun few days with my firsties, I know 100% that teaching is the right choice for me! I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession where you get to experience the magic and wonderment that kids bring into the classroom. Teaching is a profession where you get to experience endless days of sunshine! J
Have a sunny day, friends!
Sunday, October 2, 2011
This week has been one of those weeks where I’ve stayed at school until almost 8pm every night, so when I came upon this wonderful first-year teaching graph, it just made me burst out laughing. I truly hope that I don’t hit the disillusionment stage. Even feeling like I’m in “survival” mode, I still feel pretty positive about life. I’m in love with my kids and couldn’t love my job more! Not to say that there aren’t stressful times (because I’ve definitely had my share of those lately), but by looking at things sunny-side up, I know exciting things will occur. I am so hopeful for a wonderful rest of the year. I know I will face many challenges, but I am sure of one thing – I will persevere!
2. A Girl with Many Names:
I always greet students with a friendly hello as I pass by, but being a new teacher in a big building, many students do not yet know my name. So far, this is what I have been referred to by students (keeping in mind that I’m 5’10” with blonde hair): Mrs. Pretty Lady, Tall Pretty Lady, Big Giant Girl, Huge Teacher, Miss Nice Teacher, Mommy, Mom, and Mr. Smarty Brain (I’d have to say that last one is one of my favorites… said by a kindie of course J ).
Recently I was walking down the hallway to my office when a 4th grader whispered to her friend, “That girl looks like a real-life Barbie.” It definitely made me giggle. A few days after that, I was conversing with a colleague when a first grade student passed and said “Hi Barbie Girl!” Haha. I couldn’t contain myself at that point. I didn’t know what to say, other than just laugh. Apparently I look like a Barbie… I’m just going to take it as a compliment. J
3. The Wolf:
This adorable stuffed wolf has been passed around to different staff members in our building. It is given to a staff member to recognize their efforts for making our school a great place for kids to grow and learn. I was recently given this wolf to acknowledge the positivity I bring to the school and for the new ideas I share and the effort I put into the work that I do with kids. J I was really excited as a new staff member to be recognized! Thank you to my wonderful staff for appreciating my efforts! I couldn’t do it without you!!!!
4. Chatter Box:
And this last one is from a student who has been giving me a particularly difficult time in class. I wanted to cry when I read it…
Such a simple statement, yet so powerful!
|This is the students' favorite thing - looking at the bird inside the box when they leave a message :-)|