Friday, March 2, 2012

drinking the kool-aid

Friday couldn't be soon enough this week. My assistant was out for 3 days this week, which only served to remind me: a) how awesome he is and b) how much I've delegated to him, even though he says I don't give him much to do. On the upside, I taught (essentially) solo for half of the year, so it wasn't too rough.

The week after Valentine's day was National Engineers Week. My littles engaged in a few engineering projects, although not as many as I had hoped for (I planned a TON that we didn't get to complete.) I think that's one of the things I'm going to plan out over the summer before next year. They had a blast creating things, but I think that next year I need to put more emphasis on genuine problem solving. Although, truthfully, the one activity that had the most components of our design process (aka problem solving model) caused the most stress/meltdowns among the little people.

Here's (some of) us with our hoop gliders:

We also did lots of other things that I have no pictures of.

Anyway, if you're wondering about the title of the post. . . 

I don't know how it is where you're from (and depending on if you're regular or special ed, YMMV) but around here direct instruction doesn't exactly mean Direct Instruction. And scripted, systematic, Direct Instruction is kind of a bad word. Kind of like basal reader, except somehow worse.

But, I was trained in DI. My college program lived/breathed/thought DI. And we learned how to test, place, adjust, remediate, supplement, modify, enrich . . . but most of that was done with a curriculum in mind. Every classroom I went in (13 observations, 2 internships, and one practicum = 15) used at least one scripted curriculum. (The school I did practicum in was school-wide DI! Regular ed kids used Reading Mastery.)

When I walked into my classroom in August, my first question was: "Where is my curriculum?" (Answer: "What do you mean?")

My school uses a Balanced Literacy approach. We have no core curriculum program for literacy. We use the workshop model. I have never seen it done, because it happens in regular ed classrooms. I could go observe now at my school . . . if I had time. We didn't really cover guided reading in college. I'd never seen anyone do conferring. It's foreign to me. So I read. Guided Reading, Literacy Workstations, The CAFE Book, Daily Five, everything I heard about. My literacy coach tried to help, but we come from very different training and I work with very different kids than she's used to. 

I think I'd love what they're doing . . . if I taught regular ed. But I don't. So I'm drinking the Kool-Aid, so to speak. I borrowed Reading Mastery 1 Classic from a colleague (because there's tons of RM stuff in our district's SpEd division) and I'm requesting that they buy my class Reading Mastery Signature Grade 1 (possibly other levels, too, as my kids come in/out.) I'm going to do Fast Cycle through Classic unless it seems like I need to slow down, and two of mine should be through it pretty quick (I started them at lesson 60 per the assessment guide, and they got through a lesson today super-fast and very easily) then continue on in the signature series (because we need the writing and language instruction, too!) 

So, if you know anyone who uses RM in their classroom that blogs, can you point me their way? I want to make sure my literacy block is still extremely interesting and engaging . . . but also efficient and systematic and effective. Yeah.

Also, two things I really love:
1) Engaged little people! (Bonus points for being engaged in good and not awesome evil!)

2) My enthusiasm for this one probably makes me a little weird, but . . .

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