Friday, October 21, 2011

Ready, Break!

After what seemed to be a really long week (even though it was only 3 days long), I’m happy to say it’s break time!  J  I have a nice four day weekend filled with lots of rest and relaxation – and let me tell you, it is much needed!  Life has been a little crazy lately (all testing had to be completed and entered, report cards were due, lots of professional development/trainings, students anxious for the long weekend, technology issues, and two days worth of sub plans to be written from scratch (more details on that later)).  Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time at school recently.  I’ve even set new records for the earliest I’ve arrived and the latest I’ve stayed so far this year (and even went in on one of my days off)!  I was asked by a student if I lived at the school – I can’t help but feel that way at times!  Haha. 

Even with all the extra stress and added chaos this week, I’m still in love with my job!  Every day is a new day that brings new challenges and opportunities for growth.  On my way to work this week, there was a sign posted on a church building that read, “Is there a difficulty in every opportunity or an opportunity in every difficulty?”  I couldn’t help but think about this statement…  There is always an opportunity in every difficulty you face – you just have to look at the bright side of things!  As a first year teacher, I’ve faced many challenges, but in every single one of them, I’ve found an opportunity to improve and overcome those difficulties.  I am always learning and growing, trying to become the best teacher that I can be.  If I keep discovering those opportunities, I can’t help but improve my practices.  It’s all about reflection and moving forward (all while keeping a positive attitude, of course)!  J

Here’s a little re-cap of my week:
4th grade
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 

This week I introduced the script, we then read it as a class discussing unknown vocabulary words, figured out the meaning, and formed groups and picked parts (just a warning – the dragon and the narrator were the most sought after parts, as anyone who chose the prince or princess were thought to be “in love” – haha.  Only in 4th grade!  Lol).   I went over the rules and expectations with them on what it should look like and sound like to practice and work together in a group (they will be doing this when the sub is there on Monday and Tuesday – I get to go to a reading conference for those two days!!!).  They will be performing their plays on Wednesday when I get back.  I will be sure to let you know how they turn out!

1st grade
My 1st graders have been working so hard to earn their class goal of 20 points (part of my behavior management system).  They earn points by coming into the classroom quietly, being on-task and engaged in the lesson, working hard, transitioning quickly, lining up quickly and quietly, etc.  Once they reach their goal of 20 points, they get to have some sort of celebration (I give them choices and they vote and pick the best choice).  The class was really struggling to earn their last and final point (the last point is always the hardest!!!!).  Mr. Fly decided to come in and leave a note for some much needed inspiration.  Here’s what he wrote:

The kids were so excited that Mr. Fly had decided to drop by.  They pulled it together and worked really hard, earning their final point.  Once I picked up the marker to give them their last point, all you could hear were screams and cheers – I bet the whole school could hear us at that moment!  I’m so proud of my kids for working together as a team!  Voting time came… and it was decided that we were going to have an ice cream party!  Hooray (and it went perfectly with the story we were reading in our anthology – how cool is that?!?)!  What a fun-filled day!

2nd grade
In my 2nd grade group, we’ve been working on a small poetry unit.  We’ve been reading a variety of poems, analyzing the author’s word choice, and trying to figure out their meanings.  Many of these poems contain similes, which has been our main focus.  One of the first poems we read was titled “Delilah.” 

We read this poem, focusing on the author’s use of similes.  Even though the author never stated what she was describing, we were able to figure out that Delilah was some sort of animal like a cat or dog (or a cow – which is what one of my students thought, but supported his claim really well!  Proud teacher moment!  J).  We then worked on drawing conclusions and supporting our conclusions with details/evidence from the text.  Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, we answered other questions about the text, then applied what we learned by writing our own poems about an animal that we love (focusing on the use of similes). 
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:

I wanted the students to have a chance to apply this skill to their own writing, which is exactly what they did.  I was so proud of the poems that they had written!  Here are a few examples:

We are going to turn our poems into a class book for everyone to read!  Hooray!

Reflecting back on my “rough” week, I’ve found so many things to be proud of and thankful for!  Each of these scenarios illustrates the exact reasons why I teach and keeps my inspiration flowing!  Teaching is the most rewarding profession there is!  Seeing that spark ignite and what that spark turns into is amazing beyond belief!  Even though there are many challenges that we face, there is always an opportunity in every difficulty and a way to make a difference!


No comments:

Post a Comment