I have a rug right in front of the SmartBoard in my classroom that we use as our gathering place. I believe I under-utilized it this year. Because I have such a small number of students in my room at once, I sometimes was tempted to do our gathering at the kidney table. Since a lot of our work is done at the table (even when other locations around the room are offered,) this didn't become a Brain and Body Break. I want to make sure we do our whole-group lessons on the rug this year.
Picking Appropriate Books
At the beginning of the year last year, I did some lessons on Good Fit books. As a new teacher I didn't have very many books in my classroom, and those I had were not at an appropriate independent level for my students. (I later was introduced to our literacy library with the leveled books, a month or two into the year.) We mostly focused on "reading the pictures," "retelling the story," and finding books we were interested in. I am planning on using the "I PICK" method and the shoes lessons that were detailed in the book this year.
Setting Up Book Boxes
We have these book bins from Really Good Stuff in our room. You can see the neon ones above in ou leveled library. The children each have a blue one for their notebooks, and they have a second one for their book boxes (if they come to me during literacy block.) I am. . . not crazy about them. Really Good Stuff has been great about customer service, but several have broken in my room even with normal use (ex. no one threw or kicked them.) The second set I ordered even arrived with many broken in the box during transport. They've sent replacements and a gift certificate; the RGS people have been super-nice but I wouldn't get that particular product. I've heard the ones without the wings are more sturdy.
As far as the actual books in the boxes, I'm lucky to already know my children's reading levels and have some idea of what they may be interested in reading. I want to get to know the interests of my littles this year, and have them discover interests of their own. I used the public library a lot at the beginning of the year to bring cool, new books into our room, but slacked off after I built up our classroom library. I want to make sure I continue bringing in library books throughout the year this year.
This is something that I want to start making with the class again. At the beginning of the year when we did more whole-group work, we made anchor charts to display our learning. As we did more individual academic work and less whole-group, we made fewer anchor charts. I've said that I want to do more whole-group mini-lessons this year in addition to our individual instruction, so we will return to making these.
Short Intervals of Repeated Practice
I already do this a lot in my room. I totally agree that practicing the wrong way will not help students learn the target behavior.
Alright, I am incredibly bad about transition signals. I got a chime last year as a new-teacher gift . . . and promptly put it out of reach, swearing to take it back out in a few weeks when things were more calm. I know, I know . . . that sounds ridiculous (but you were also not in my class on day 1, so don't judge.) I am considering using the chime from Day 1 this year (because I know it will be much better this year.) Or. . . . I'm also thinking about Whole Brain Teaching's Class/Okay. ((I may just use this part of WBT, but I do have some questions about using WBT in a resource class and how to mesh it with PBIS.))
I like the check-in signals suggested in the book. I think I want to use more visual signals and gestures this year, both as signals/responses and in my instruction in general.
Correct Model/Incorrect Model
Okay, this is one area where my behavior instruction education conflicted with the book. I always use the correct model side, with students and myself demonstrating the correct behavior for the class. I've also used nonexamples, or the incorrect model. I've never let a student do the incorrect model, because I've always felt it is like letting them practice the wrong way. My professors would cringe. Following this up with demonstrating the correct behavior, though . . . I'm still considering this.
This chapter talks about needing to "move slow so we can eventually move fast." I think that, similar to other classroom procedures, more time at the beginning of the year will save time in the end.
My one concern is new littles that miss this time. I had five students in my literacy block at the beginning of the year and six at the end with many in between . . . and only one of the first five was in the last six. Because my students are young, they are usually being initially identified for services. Some respond quickly to intervention and need to reduce service minutes. . . or add when there's insufficient response. Some need to switch their service time as tolerance for different activities becomes apparent. Some need to be served in a more intensive environment and are transferred to me from their home-school. Some need even more intensive services and go on to another program. Others are found to actually need services from a different type of program, like academic resource. While keeping students in the Least Restrictive Environment is the best thing for them, it can mean some changes while the most appropriate setting is determined.
If you have a class that has a lot of student changes (maybe a transient population?) how do you handle this? I've been thinking of many ideas on my own, but I'd love to hear from someone who has experienced this and has any tricks.