Be sure to visit us on our new blog! Teacher's Open House!
Showing posts with label classroom organization best practices best practices for teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label classroom organization best practices best practices for teaching. Show all posts

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Continuum of Literacy for Prek-8th grade

The Continuum of Literacy for Prek-8th grade
 One goal I have is to share the resources I have found over the years that have helped me bring best practices into my classroom.  I have bought hundreds of dollars worth of books over the years <don’t tell my husband>.  Most of them are now sitting on the shelf, collecting dust.  However, there are a few that are among my most prized ‘teaching possessions’.  This book is one of them.

     The authors, Fountas and Pinnell, are among the forefront of education, and have been for the last 15 years at least.  They are among the movers and shakers that caused the education world to leave whole language and really begin to understand how to differentiate reading groups….thus, guided reading was born!

     I bought my copy of the book about 7 years ago.  My copy is worn, tattered, has notes stuck all through it, and looks very used!  This year, my school system ordered every teacher a copy of the newest version <there is not that much difference> and we are conducting professional development with it.   So, now, I leave my broken down copy at home for a quick reference when needed, and leave my new copy at school to use in meetings or conferences with parents! 

     The book has several sections of the book such as:  writing products using the 6 traits and writing about reading, reading aloud, shared reading, communication and technology, word work, and guided reading.

I highly recommend this book, also, because it tells you what expectations you should have for each level in guided reading, correlates necessary comprehensions skills as well as reading strategies, and even has a skill-based curriculum map to show how the skills correlate across the grade levels starting in Pre-Kindergarten and ending in 8th grade.

     There is much to be learned from this book as it categorizes teaching literacy into skills, products for students to create, lessons for ‘Within the Text’, ‘Beyond the Text, and ‘About the text’.  This has helped me rise to a much higher level of teaching in order to challenge my students thinking about literacy.  In fact, I planned my 3rd quarter literacy focus calendar using these categories and linked them to my state’s standards. 

Here is a snippet below:

Within the Text:  Self-correction of intonation, phrasing, and pausing while reading aloud
Beyond the Text:  Infer a character’s feelings or motivations as preparation for reading in the character’s voice
About the Text:  Recognize when texts are realistic, fantasy, or true informational texts and read them differently as appropriate
Comprehension:  Story Elements Map
Identify base words and suffixes (re, un)
Reading Strategy:  Model reading with intonation, phrasing, and pauses
Word Work:  Review Syllables (Center), short 3, long e (ee, ea)  <see Sort 27>

      If you live in a state that has moved to the ‘drop in evaluations’, this book is indispensible.  As long as you are using these categories and areas to plan and reflect on your teaching, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t do well.   So, as my students say in school, “We give this book a 2 thumbs up and 5 out of 5 stars!" 

     If you decide to order a book, or you already have one, leave a comment below and let me know what you think about it and how you use it! 

You may also want to take a look at these books by the same authors:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Organized Disorganization--Is that you, too?

OK....this is a secret.  Don't call my administrator.  Don't email her.  Don't schedule an appointment.  PULEEZE!  You see...evaluations and the conversations and actions that take place afterwards are supposed to be a secret.  But anyway.....this is my life and I have already decided to share it with you, my wonderful bloggy reader!  So...I guess I am in need of some therapy and need to talk this out.  So...since I can't call you up and I probably don't have your email address, I decided to just write you.  I like to write anyway. goes....<taking a cleansing breath>....I will probably have to go lay down in a dark room after this.  But, first, I have to tell you that his little jewel has saved my life and has been a great asset for organizing student work!

Say hi to my friend Wanda who agreed to pose with the
pocket chart for this very cute picture.
Isn't she a doll?  She's pretty quiet, too!

For years I was overwhelmed with paperwork—or at the very least, it looked as if I was overwhelmed.  And for years, my administrator has marked my evaluations because of the disorganization that she finds.  The disorganization ranges from the ‘stack’ of papers that I needed to grade, or crooked desks, or pending projects that punctuated the room (but only 1 or 2).  It didn’t matter that the stack of work seen sitting on the surface of some piece of furniture was from that morning.  To my administrator, I wasn’t ‘current’ in my grading or upkeep of my room

One particular Monday I needed to use counters for a lesson.  My kids and I had spent the weekend organizing the kajillion many manipulatives that came with our new math program and I had carried them to school in a garbage bag.  That morning, I had gotten busy fixing my computer and printer so that I could print my lesson plans and hadn’t been able to put the manipulatives up.  So, I had planned to introduce the students to the manipulatives bag by bag and put them up as I explained what they would be used for.  My gut told me that Murphy’s Law would be enacted, and sure enough, my administrator popped in to evaluate me.  When she saw the open garbage bag of materials precariously perched on a small chair, she began writing.  I knew I was in trouble.

So, what did I do?  I developed coping systems.  I learned to keep a tub or box under my desk to put papers in that were yet to be graded or materials I needed to hide.  Then, as I got busy during the day I would set a stack of papers on my desk for later, planning to move them when I got a chance.  At that point, I was marked for my desk being too messy.  (Of course, the inside of my desk was a mess, too, because I only used it for storage and it didn’t help that during an evaluation that my administrator needed a pencil, went to my desk and opened the drawer, and was horrified because of the calendar cut-outs that were mish-mashed in the drawer.)  At that point, my boxes of papers were seen, and again, my room was labeled ‘junky’ and disorganized.

So, in order to meet requirements, I surrendered my desk.  It was a sad day.  I wore black, hummed TAPS, and off it went to the stage to be picked up by the school system.  And I had 3 new boxes to store somewhere.  I ‘hid’ them back behind the coat rack area.  I didn’t know where else to put them and wished I had a blanket or table cloth or SOMETHING to cover them with.

 So, this year, there were no boxes to hide papers in under a desk, and no desk to sit them on, so, in times when I was utilizing every spare second for teaching, papers would be put on the one, lonely, round table that was used for various work stations. One particular day, there were 3 bundles of papers from the previous 3 lessons we had done—one bundle was a graphic organizer we had used that morning, another bundle was a diagram that went along with a non-fiction shared reading that we had done, and the third bundle was a flip booklet we had worked on for some vocabulary that had been introduced.  And no, I am not the Queen of the Copier or the Princess of Paper—I just believe in practicing what I teach with my kids as I model or do a mini-lesson (even if it is just for 5 minutes).

The crux of the problem was that students were also using this table to do work stations.  Again, I was marked for disorganization.  That, and the tub of work station activities I planned to go through during my planning time that afternoon, and the stack of Scholastic books from the order I had received 2 days prior were sitting on a counter waiting to be leveled.  Apparently, it made it look like I did not have a handle on my room again. Again, I was marked down and told that I still had too much ‘stuff’ and I needed to get my room cleaned.    I was frustrated that I was doing what I was supposed to do as far as teaching,  but, that the organization of my room or lack thereof was not meeting the standards of my administrator.
At this point, I am ashamed to admit; I turned and walked out my door in the middle of our conference because I WAS DONE.  You could have stuck a fork in me.  I had tried not to take it personal which was almost impossible. 
That night, I felt defeated as I walked out the door to go home, carrying my tub of work station materials, my bag with the scholastic books in them, and of course, the papers from the days assignments and work stations.
That night, I did some soul searching and heavy thinking.  Maybe I need to be a secretary or go to McDonald’s.  Teaching was just not my thing anymore.  I was losing my touch because I couldn’t manage my materials anymore.  I had to come up with a solution for the ‘clutter’ that frustrated my administrator but apparently I was ok with because it was just part of the job.  As I searched the Internet for classroom organizational materials, I came across the pocket chart that you see above.  An idea was born.  I ordered the pocket chart

When I received it and took it to school, I put a different colored folder into each pocket.  That day as we did assignments, students labeled their papers with the color of the folder that their work was to be turned in to.  I labeled work stations with a colored dot so that work could be turned in, gathered, and graded more easily.  I found success!!  Well….at least as far as organizing work and getting it graded.  I’m still working on my room…and wondering how to build some sort of a shield with a padlock so that I can hide my ‘clutter’.  Anyway, I hope this idea will help you and keep you out of trouble!  Now….does anyone have any invisibility spray for my boxes?  =)

Remember....please follow my blog while you are here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover