Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the real teacher

I got observed today.

If you knew me in real life, or if you can imagine how year two as a teacher would be for me based on how teacher licensure goes in your state, you might think I meant by an official evaluator. Or someone from administration. Or from the state department. Or whatever.


Today, I had a student observing. A student. From our friendly local SEC member university. (Have I outed my location yet?) It kind of blew me away, especially considering they asked me in particular.

Being on my own in a classroom last year as the "real teacher" was weird enough, but it was surreal to be the one being watched. (And not as the "what not to do" example!) The girl that observed was very complimentary and said she couldn't believe it was only my second year.

Yes, I'm bragging. Sorry.

Monday, September 3, 2012

best laid plans

I had these great ideas about how my literacy block would go. Different mini-lessons, many times to pull individuals for extra help, a well-oiled machine of daily-5-ness.

I took one look at our master schedule, which lays out what subject each grade is doing when, and threw that idea out the window. I don't have a literacy block. It's more like . . . literacy slivers. It's all broken up. And, if you recall, I have K-3 this year (because the universe hates me.) This is requiring a ton of juggling.

Still, we are trudging on. We've launched Read to Self and Read to Someone. I had planned to introduce Listen to Reading next week, but some supply chain issues (aka the closest branch of our public library has unexpectedly closed) may make Work on Words our next choice.

We're up to fifteen minutes of Read to Self with my first and second graders, and ten with my third graders. My first and second graders can also do Read to Someone for fifteen minutes. My third graders won't try it, because they refuse to work with each other. (This may be for the best, so I haven't pushed it.)

While we introduced/reviewed Read to Self, I showed off my new library labels. They aren't very fancy, and are kind of in version 1.0 state, but so far they have kept our books organized. Yay!!!

I can't share them with you, because they're from boardmaker, but all I did was use the 1 inch and 2 inch templates. And, yes, I have a whole basket in my room dedicated to following the rules. Welcome to ED resource.

If you look behind my chair in our group area, you can see some of the anchor charts we've done so far. My huge question to you is this: how do you write so neatly on your charts while still keeping up the pace of instruction? I feel like my handwriting is pretty nice, but it goes to crap as I try to keep moving and keep my kids engaged when making charts or doing interactive writing. It's kind of embarrassing. I ended up printing out parts of one chart, which worked alright, but isn't always going to be feasible. I might re-write them later, after we're done introducing Daily 5, but for now I want the originals up.

We're also off and running on CAFE, too. I feel like some of my kids are totally space out during small group, while others are completely on it. We've reviewed listening skills, amd my spaced out kids can look like they're listening, but they are so not with us. I need to keep working on that. Here's our CAFE board, although we've added more strategies now.


For my kids who are "with it" during group, they are so much more with it since I've incorporated some Whole Brain teaching tricks into our lessons. So far, we're mostly just using class/yes, gestures, and the occasional scoreboard. I've also tried to be more conscious about giving more frequent opportunities to respond.

One thing I haven't done yet is the WBT rules. I think I am most nervous about those, because we are a PBIS school. While the WBT rules jive with our expectations matrix, I don't want to be a hypocrite because I'm one of those ones who gets annoyed with people who aren't supportive of our transition to PBIS. Even if you don't like it (which I have research on why you should, but anyway,) it's kind of like the Common Core: our district is adopting it, like it or not. So, I have my expectations matrix posted. I may wait on class rules. Maybe.

As far as posting expectations, I've also decided to post our learning objectives in our room where everyone can see. I'm not sure how much this will help my younger/lower students, since I haven't put any pictures with it, but it will help remind me what we're doing (especially once we get farther into the year and I have three sets of group lessons per subject) without referencing my lesson plans and will also let observers (this year is my evaluation year) know what we're doing. Here's how I've done it so far:

Finally, look at this cool piece of construction that's sprung up in our yard: