30 June 2014

July Currently

I'm linking up with the fabulous Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for July Currently!
Listening - my sweet fur babies playing. Ugh - I just love these pups! Certainly these pictures are not of them playing, but they run so crazily, that it'd be nothing but a blur!

Loving - SUMMER! Can I get an "amen?" I've been staying up until well past midnight, and sleeping in way late. I've declared about every other day "pajama day," and have pretty much just been doing as I please! It's be wonderful!

Thinking - Seriously? There cannot only be a month of this left!?! My phone so kindly reminded me I have a month before I go back to school! Time.needs.to.slooowwww.down.

Wanting - Sweets! We've been clean eating for about 2 weeks now, and I haven't really had any cravings until now. I didn't even leave the house today because my willpower wouldn't have been willpower anymore!

Needing - I have a list of summer projects about a mile long, and I'm not really sure that I've done any of them! Haha! I've managed to get lots of other stuff done, but nothing on "the list!" I guess it's time to get busy!

4th Plans - The past 4 years, my husband has had to work late on the 4th (sort of un-American, right?), anyway, he's not this year, but now we have to figure out what we're doing!!! Time to figure out what kind of celebrations are near us!

I'd love to know what your "July Currently" is! You can link up by clicking the link below!


Daily 5 Book Study - When to Launch the Next Daily 5

I can't believe we only have 2 chapters to go! What?!? Anywho, this chapter is an important one, because it really is what gets the ball rolling with Daily 5! Without this chapter, we really just have read to self...and well, that defeats the whole point on D5, right?
So, how in the world are you supposed to know when to launch the next D5? Unfortunately, there isn't an exact answer to this, but there are a few things you can think about when trying to decide:

  • The age of your students - The 2 Sisters suggests making sure your students have built sufficient stamina in read to self before moving on to work on writing 
  • Your students in general - would they benefit from having a few days with just read to self? Do they need more modeling correct, incorrect, and correct behaviors?
  • What day of the week is it? I'm sure this sounds silly, but I am not about to introduce something new on the Friday of the first week of school! I'm also not going to introduce a new D5 on the Monday of the second week of school. Call me crazy, but it's just how I roll! Ha! Friday, just because I don't introduce new things on Fridays, and not Monday because this Monday in particular is filled with LOTS of reviewing expectations, procedures, and routines from the first week of school
So those things being considered, there is no exact time frame or answer. If all things are running along smoothly, I usually introduce the next D5, the second week of school, on Tuesday or Wednesday, as long as my students have about 15 minutes of stamina built. This is a bit longer than The 2 Sisters suggest, but my students tend to lose just a little bit of read to self stamina when I introduce the next D5. I'm not sure why, but it's happened every year. They gain it back quickly, but it does happen. 

This seems like the appropriate time to mention that in the first edition of D5, Read to Someone was introduced second, however, The 2 Sisters decided that introducing Work on Writing should follow Read to Self, and I think this change is brilliant! It's logical, and I like it. After Read to Self, however, you can technically introduce in whatever makes the most sense with regard to the needs of your students.

Launching Work on Writing
Work on Writing does not take the place of Writer's Workshop in my class. It's just an addition opportunity to practice writing. I love this because, we're all writers. But we're not necessarily writers who write for the purposes that we teach our students to write (in second grade it's narratives, informational, and opinion). Most of what we write, are just day-to-day things: emails, posts on social media, blogging, notes, to-do lists, shopping lists, text messages, etc...work on writing provides a time for students to write in any and all of these areas. 

Last year, my students could continue writing they were working on during Writer's Workshop, write in one of our class journals, or do some sort of other writing in their writer's notebooks. This year, I want to have more options for my writers. Things that encompass the list I shared above. 

How does one launch Work on Writing? Well, if you're new to this study, this would be a great time for you to read the other posts I've written as part of this book study. They'll get you up to speed. You can find them here.

Work on Writing is launched in the same way your launched Read to Self, and while we're talking about it, so will the other D5 parts. When sharing the options my students have, I start small. Like usually, they start with their Writer's Notebooks. The next day, I might introduce the class writing journals. Then, I usually wait until their stamina is built in Work on Writing before sharing the other options they have. Too much all at once, tends to not go so well. And typically, time is wasted in trying to choose what to do, rather than actually building stamina.
I do have a writing center in my classroom. It's not so much a writing center, as it is a place where our writing materials are stored and organized. I wish I had a picture, but I forgot to take one before I left my classroom for the summer. You'll be able to see it when I do my Classroom Reveal in a month. Part of the launching process is to show students how the writing center is set up and organized. I usually do this as part of a writer's workshop lesson, and not a D5 lesson.

I also usually have some fun creative writing prompts that are a little lighter than the content we discuss in writer's workshop. The really great thing about these is that they very sneakily still have students practicing narrative, informational, opinion, and persuasive writing! It's kind of like sneaking in vegetables by chopping them up and hiding them in the meatloaf! Ha! Take a look below...you might find some of them useful. You can find them here.
Introducing Choice and Releasing Students into Daily 5
Students will continue to build their stamina in both read to self and work on writing, and up until this point, the entire class is doing the same thing at the same time. But, now's the time to introduce choice. It's scary, I'm not going to lie. Usually because it's about this point, that everything is really starting to run along nicely. 

The beauty of introducing choice now, though, is that it's small. They're choosing one or the other. It's a nice scaffold for when they're choosing between 5 different options. The 2 Sisters use a check-in form, however, I don't. Instead, my sweet friend Chandra from Teaching with Crayons and Curls introduced me to using some inexpensive pans from Dollar Tree, and each student's name on a small piece of card stock with a magnet on the back. Students move their name to the choice they are choosing. Easy. Plus, I like that I can send a few students at a time. It tends to go more quickly than calling each student one at a time.

On my pans, I have the number of students who can participate in each D5 at a time. For example, only 2 students can do Listen to Reading at a time. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

I do think it's a good idea to set up some sort of schedule of who you'll be working with so students know to go to your small group meeting area instead of making a choice. This works well for small groups/guided reading groups. For conferences, I travel to students as they are in the midst of D5, so I want those students to make their choice.

Read to Someone
As I've mentioned before, Read to Someone is a fan favorite! Because of this, I limit the number of students who are able to choose this D5. Depending on the number of students I have, this is usually 6 or 8 students, which means 3 to 4 pairs. More than that, and I find it just doesn't work so well.

When I launch Read to Someone, all students practice it for the first couple of days. It's important they practice how to find a partner, and get started quickly. Plus, I want students to practice the different ways in which to read with a partner. The resources below can be found in the Daily 5 Resources pack in my TpT store. Or by clicking on any of the pictures below.
Listen to Reading
I've already shared much of what I do with Listen to Reading. But I'm not sure that I shared that I do have "Tech Support" jobs in the classroom. These are part of the rotation for all of my classroom jobs, however, I do pay close attention to those that are pretty proficient in the technology we have in the classroom, and make sure that those students are assigned to one of the tech support positions. These are students designated to help if there is an issue with technology. This way, I'm not being interrupted while working with other students. Often, it's just the case of caps lock being pressed, or mistyping a password. Easy fixes that can be handled by more proficient students.

Word Work
My students really like Word Work (is there a D5 choice I've mentioned they don't love, ha)! I have stamps, markers, letter tiles, and magnetic letters available for my students. Things were either really cheap, or were given to me. I don't spend a lot of money of the materials here. It's easy to get carried away, but I keep it small. Plus, I only let 4 students choose word work at a time, otherwise it get really crazy.

Have I mentioned that I can't believe we only have 2 chapters left? Because, seriously, I can't! I'm really, really excited about the next chapter because it's new to this edition, and I'm totally using it in my classroom! The Math Daily 3 is up next! In the meantime, check out these other bloggers (seriously, they're amazing!).
Happy Reading!


28 June 2014

Literacy Block Organization & a Freebie!

Hey Friends! I've been "Digging into Next Year" (ummm, I only have 1 month before I go back to school - yikes!!!), and have "dug into" these topics (if you missed them, just click on the topic you're interested in, and you'll go straight to that post):
organize my literacy block.

I have my literacy block split into two different components: writer's workshop and reader's workshop. I shared my 2013-2014 class schedule in my post about the math workshop, but it definitely helps paint a picture of my day so here it is again.
Writer's Workshop is the very first content area we conquer each morning. I plan on keeping it this way. In the past, I've had writer's workshop later in the day, and, well...it's ain't pretty, friends. Having it first thing was great! My kids always had stories from vacations, weekends, sports' practices, etc. and it provided lots of great writing topics to talk and write about.

We start with a 5 - 10 minute mini-lesson, or at least, that's how long I want it to be. The reality is that my writing mini-lessons were usually more like 15 - 20 minutes (don't judge). Then we had "work time" - this is when my students were writing, and I was conferencing and holding small group meetings. We usually wrapped up with a quick closing time before we rushed out the door to specials.
Reader's Workshop is after math, and is pretty late in our day, considering we've already had specials and lunch, however, we combat the normal afternoon haze by using the Daily 5 structure. I started using D5 3 years ago, and I've never looked back. 

So 11:45 - 1:00 is our Reader's Workshop time. During this time we have a mini-lesson, work time, and a closing, just like writer's workshop and math workshop. It's in the "work time" that my students are actively doing Daily 5. We usually have 3 rounds of Daily 5 each day, each round lasting 15 - 20 minutes. We end with a short closing.
Depending on what time we have specials and lunch, my schedule will look very similar to the way it does now. I still plan on starting the day with writing, and having reading in the afternoon. I will continue to use a workshop model (mini-lesson, work time, and closing), and will absolutely continue to use Daily 5. (You can read all about the Daily 5, Second Edition here). 
My district uses Words Their Way as a spelling/phonics program, and to be honest, it's something we do if we have a few minutes here or there. Certainly not anything I can say I do consistently. As I mentioned before, my mini-lessons aren't so "mini" and I really need to get them under 10 minutes. 

So in a dream world, here is a schedule for Reader's Workshop.
I usually only have one focus lesson per day in reading, however, in the second edition (and the first for that matter) of The Daily 5, The 2 Sisters always have more than one focus lesson each day. I'm torn here, because I see the benefit of having more than one focus lesson, but I also see a HUGE benefit in having longer rounds of D5. Longer rounds means I have more time with small groups and conferencing, both of which allow for more individualized instruction. 

Clearly, I'm not sure what I'm doing yet. Ha! I'm thinking that for the first few weeks of school, while we're still building stamina, and learning routines and procedures, I could easily get in 3 focus lessons. After that, I could scale back to just 1 or even 2 focus lessons, and be able to get each D5 round to almost 20 minutes!

The real change that needs to occur, is for me to get mini-lessons/focus lessons quick and to the point, and no more than 10 minutes.
Writing Prompts - I created some creative writing prompts that are perfect for use in your writing center or during work on writing. You can see them below in action - I use them for morning work. Each set has 50 different prompts that cover a variety of genres. 
You can get ALL THREE packs for a big discount by grabbing the bundle (Top Secret - when I add more sets, you get to re-download without paying a higher price!)
I mentioned in the title of this post that there is a freebie, and so there is! I've been participating in The Daily 5 {second edition} book study (is haven't been following along, you can check it out here)! As we've been going through the book, I've been creating some great resources to go along with Daily 5. The resources are free, and will forever be free :) You can find them here! I hope you find them useful! They've definitely been a labor of love!
Don't forget to check out these other awesome bloggers who are "Diggin into Next Year" too! You can find them by clicking on the picture below!
Curious about what topics are in store for the rest of the "Diggin' in" series? Check out the calendars below! 


26 June 2014

Daily 5 {Second Edition} Book Study Chapter 6 - Foundation Lessons

Hey Friends! I love chapter 6 of The Daily 5, and I have lots of great resources for you! If you're just joining, and are interested in Chapters 1-5, you can find them here. Also, if you haven't picked up your copy of the book, you still have plenty of time! The picture below will take you directly to Amazon.
Chapter 6 is all about the other foundation lessons that you'll need to teach in order to launch D5 effectively. Perhaps my favorite line in the entire book is this, "In essence, we are building the airplane as we are flying it." And that's exactly what it feels like. Before this second edition, I couldn't ever quite explain how it was that I was teaching at the same time we were practicing and doing it, but the 2 Sisters explained it perfectly.

For Chapter 6, I'm going to share ideas, and resources for each foundation lesson listed, just as it's listed in the book. Remember that this section is for reference, and not necessarily taught in the sequence listed in this chapter. In fact, I don't recommend teaching it in this sequence, and The 2 Sisters don't recommend it either. They say, as always, to let the group of students you have help you decide what to teach when, and what to introduce next.

In Appendix I, there are lesson plans for launching D5. Because I'm such a visual person, I needed sort of cheat sheet, that would list exactly what's suggested to teach each day of the launch. It's included in the D5 Freebies resource file in my TpT store. You can grab it here or the picture below.
Read to Self - Three Ways to Read a Book
I shared about this in the last post all about Chapter 5.

Read to Self - I-PICK
The 2 Sisters talk about this in Chapter 5, but I didn't have my recourses ready to share when I posted...so I'll share them now. I-PICK is so powerful, because again, there's the element of choice. Such a simple concept, and yet it's so motivating.

In my district, students start arriving to the classroom at 7:15, but the instructional day doesn't begin until 7:50. What was I to do with random students, and never my whole class for 35 minutes? Well, we do morning work, and BOOK SHOPPING!

I set up a book shopping schedule. Students get to book shop once per week (although absences and such happen, so it's flexible). But the idea behind this was that if all 22 of my students tried book shopping at the same time it would be a hot mess. Heck, sometimes 4 - 5 kids book shopping is a hot mess. Anyway, I just divide my kids up (pretty randomly, although I try to separate any behaviors that might prevent students from staying focused on the task at hand). I post this near the classroom library, and we refer to it throughout the year.
After we do the I-PICK lesson, each student will get a bookmark to help them remember what they should be doing while book shopping.
Read to Self - Choose a Successful Spot
This lesson is sort of embedded throughout the entire launching process. Up until a point, you will be choosing spots for students. Each day students should reflect on how the different locations feel, allow them to work and build their stamina. You'll find that certain students will gravitate to the same spot each day because they know that's where they work best. I had a few students who sat at their desks the entire year. They would occasionally venture out to different spot, but usually found it was just too distracting for them, so they would move back to their desks. 

We have an anchor chart that hangs in the classroom dedicated to choosing a successful spot. We reflect each day, and will add to the anchor chart. I also like to have my students brainstorm what will helps them choose a successful spot. The kids love it, and it helps in the community building process. 
Work on Writing - Underline Words
This is actually a lesson I teach during Writer's Workshop as well. It warrants being taught a few times. There are the perfectionists (I'm totally one of them) who just can't seem to get past the idea of it not being perfect. It's through modeling many, many times that students are convinced this is ok. 

We actually circle the word, and put "sp?" above the word so it stands out a bit more. This helps call attention to it, so that when I'm conferencing with a student, or when students are working together, we can all help each other out on spelling.

Throughout Writer's Workshop, we learn strategies for spelling words we're not sure of, and add those strategies to our writer's notebooks. Things like circle and put "sp?", say the word slowly, stretch out the word, and write the sounds you hear, use a dictionary, and so on.
Work on Writing - Set Up a Notebook
For the past few years, I've used composition notebooks for writer's notebooks. Actually, we use composition notebooks for everything requiring a notebook. I have nothing against spiral notebooks, I've just found that the composition notebooks tells to fair a little better. 

My students decorate their writers' notebooks with all sorts of things. Namely anything that could help them get an idea for what to write about. I decorate my notebook as well, and I share my writer's notebooks from years prior. My students are always in awe of how full those things are, and I explain that by the end of the year, theirs will be full of writing too!

Decorating them is a fun task for the beginning of the year. Depending on your class you can send home a letter asking students to bring in stickers, letters, old magazines, pictures, etc...that can be glued onto the notebooks. Or you can send notebooks home, and students decorate them as part of a homework assignment. 

This past year, I was fortunate enough to work in a school where parents bring in piles of school supplies, but this wasn't always the case for me in past schools. I was buying school supplies for my entire class! There are great back-to-school deals...watch the ads in newspapers weekly ads. Each store has great deals on different items each week. Usually a handful are on sale for some ridiculously low price (even a penny in some cases - although don't get me started on the new rules for penny deals). 

Work on Writing - Choose What to Write About
As a writer, which all are in some capacity, usually the hardest this is actually deciding on what to write about. For kids, I think this is the hardest aspect. Much of the launch in writer's workshop, is about generating ideas, and just writing. Getting the words on.the.paper. 

Perhaps the trickiest part (and this happens to me all.the.time) is that ideas pop into my head at different times. I might be in the car, and I see something that reminds me of something I'd like to blog about. By the time I get home, I can't remember what it was I thought of.

I teach my students that we jot down those ideas in a special place so we can refer back to them when we can't think of anything else to write about. There are many graphic organizers to help with this, and below you'll see mine. I don't always use a graphic organizer for jotting down ideas. Usually, we just use the first few pages of our writer's notebook like The 2 Sisters suggest. But for some students, this helps get the ideas going.
Read to Someone - EEKK
Love, love, love the story The 2 Sisters tell to illustrate this point. I tell a similar version, except the person who screams "EEKK" is the one and only True Life I'm Married to a Teacher (any other Mr.'s  in need of a support group??). 

Side note: At the end of the year, I have my students write a letter to a new second grader telling them all about me, and second grade. One of my sweet seconds, mentioned the story I tell about Mr. getting scared and screaming "EEKK!" Not only did I find it humorous, I was amazed that some 180 days later, this sweet baby remembered that exact story. Moral? These mini-lessons are powerful!!!

Anyway, read to someone is a favorite for many of my students, however, it's also what causes the most discord among students, and the breaking of stamina. Once choice is established, I help by limiting the number of students who can choose read to someone at a given time. Usually 6-8 students or 3-4 pairs are as many as what our classroom can handle.

We also recite, many, many times this cute poem
Read to Someone - Voice Level
Voice levels are something we work on the entire year, and not just in D5. Last year we came up with different voice levels, but there were like 6 or 7 of them, and it was just too many. I scaled it back for this year, and there are only 4. Silent Solo, Spy Talk, Group Talk, and Loud Crowd. At the beginning of the year, I'll have my students brainstorm when they think each level is appropriate. Then, I'll post the chart with a clothespin. My teacher's assistant (classroom job) will move the clip to the appropriate level after directions are given.
The 2 Sisters share that the loudest voice in the room regulates the noise level, which is why they always try to speak softly - not only does it encourage students to listen carefully, it also helps maintain the voice level. Don't believe me? Do an experiment in your class. Give directions softly, and dismiss students softly. Then during a different part of the day, just use your normal speaking voice, and see if there are any changes in the noise level. 

Read to Someone - Check for Understanding
I love this strategy! It's actually a strategy from The Cafe Book. But it goes along beautifully with teaching students to monitor their inner voice or metacognition while they read. 

In both the first D5 book, and this one, The 2 Sisters share that they have a tangible Check Mark they use for Check for Understanding. I never have, however, as the days creep by during the school year, my students become more and more lax about this. I'm hoping having a tangible check mark will help keep them on track.

My plan is to print these on colorful card stock, laminate, and have each student keep one in his/her book box. Nothing fancy, just something concrete.
Read to Someone - How Partners Read, Who Goes First, Reading Coach, and Finding a Partner
I like to introduce each of the ways listed in the book one at a time, and have all students practice the same way until all of the options are taught. I've found that if I teach them all at once, it gets messy. Like my kiddos can't keep it straight, and it gets confusing for them.

Once their all introduced, I'll have my students glue this reminder into their reading notebooks as a reference. Most of, if not all, of the resources shared are made with my kiddos as anchor charts, but hopefully these will serve as good references for you.
Listen to Reading
A fan favorite! My kiddos love this, however, there are a limited number of devices available. I have to limit the number of students who can do this each round. Any easy way to manage this is to have a list of each student in your class posted near where you keep your listening devices. Laminate it, and students can check off their name after their turn.

The biggest part of listen to reading (and word work) are setting up and cleaning up the materials involved. I suggest taking pictures of the the materials should look, and including those on your anchor chart. This way, students have a visual reference in which to compare.
Word Work
As I mentioned before, the biggest component to this is setting up and cleaning up. Taking pictures of how the space should look is a great way to help reinforce the independent behaviors.
Another component to this is choosing what words students will use. We use Words Their Way, and so I have the sorts copied and stored in the word work area to that students can grab a sort, and be on their way. 

Another option is that students can use words from the word wall, or their personal word collector. I like to have them using the words their way sorts because it reinforces that specific pattern. On shorter weeks, I'll have them use the word wall words.
Wowza. That's a lot of information! Hopefully you found some helpful tips, ideas, or resources that you'll be able to use in your classroom this year! 

Chapter 7 is When to Launch the Next Daily 5. Can't wait to share! In the meantime, check out these other magnificent bloggers and their ideas!

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