Saturday, October 11, 2014

My 2014 Updated Classroom

I finally remembered to take pictures before the kids came in this morning.  I love coming into my classroom every morning!  Everything is all quiet and settled.  I can really think in this space!

Here is the view from the door looking straight into the room.

Here is the view from the door looking to the right.

This is the wall on your left as you enter through the door.  It has my Super Kid poster, jobs, calendar, daily schedule, lunch sign up, and mailboxes.  This is a high functioning area.

If you walk straight across the front of the room you'll be in my corner.  I taped a big center rectangle on my desk with washi tape.  I'm not allowed to put any of my stacks of work in it.  That way I always have a place to work.  The little table is for my laptop and doc cam.  I had magnetic bookshelves on the front of my desk, but I kept knocking them over.  So now it's just bare.  I should find a good poster to put there, right?  Maybe something to help them remember to sit still and raise their hands? Sounds like a plan!

To the right when you enter is the wall with my cupboards.  I'm using them for my word wall this year.  So far so good!  I'm using glue stick when the washi tape begins to curl.  I store many items on top in tubs and boxes, and I store all of our donated tissue boxes in crates under the sink.

Next to my desk, under the windows, I have my guided reading/math table.  Really wish it had a bigger cut out.  I feel so far away from the kids.  But, still loving the black stools from Ikea!  In fact, I just ordered four more!  

The class library is my favorite spot!  We light our tree and browse and read.  The kids would spend all day here if I let them.  I took the bottom half of the table legs off, put tennis balls on, and now the kids can sit or kneel to look at books.  The tennis balls keep the sharp edges of the leg openings from cutting into the carpet.

I added curtains to the short shelves that store our Fountas & Pennell leveled books.  We call them our shopping books.  During partner read each day, about four kids come back and flip up the curtains (on a tension rod).  Then they all shop from their just right and easy level tubs.  They put back their old books and choose 10 new books.  Then the curtains flip down, and we're done!  The blue numbered tubs are new from Really Good Stuff.  They have two dividers each.  These are my unleveled, unorganized picture books.  I have other author and subject tubs in the tall bookcases, but these are just random good books.  The numbers don't mean anything, just an organizational tool. I love these new tubs because it helps the kids to put the short books in front, medium in middle, and tall books in the back.
I used to have six smaller tubs, but I culled them this summer and consolidated what I kept into these four new ones.  I also have two of them on a tall bookshelf with three characters in each.  Love those dividers!

My writing board and shelves.  Actually, the caddies on the bottom hold math materials for each table.  My new system this year for passing out folders includes a magazine holder for each table.  One person gets the holder and brings it to the table.  I have a system for that, so no arguing!

Here you see my math board, game drawers labeled with blue tape/sharpie (very professional), and supply tubs.  The rainbow/clouds underneath are some students'  hopes and dreams for the year.  

This is my last picture for you.  It shows a freestanding cubby/bookcase that I use for storage and to show our science work. (The G above the garbage stands for.... Garbage! Just trying to keep the garbage out of the paper recycler, which has a P above it.)

I've gotten tons of ideas from other bloggers, so if you see something you inspired, let me say a great big "thank you!"

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stop the Insanity!

Do you remember the diet/exercise guru who had the ad campaign "Stop the Insanity!"  I do, and I thought of her a several times this first month of school as I'd pause to watch my students.  Yes, I've read Teeny's letter to herself about how every September the kids are this noisy and in need of constant redirection.  There were times when I would begin to give directions and then just stop.  And look around.  At the kids.  Who were all talking and playing as if I wasn't even in the room.  And this was happening a LOT.  Another issue: I'd give directions, say, "Off you go!" and they'd go off to their desks and NOT GET STARTED!  Everything was taking forever!

Until last Monday, when I started using this on-line timer.  As part of my school's PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) plan, each class is focusing on improving a specific behavior. I told my class we needed to work on transitions, including getting started on our work right away. We were going nowhere fast, until the timer.  Thank you, thank you, online timer!  I give my class 60 seconds to make their transitions, and I show the timer on the SmartBoard.  I leave the Chrome tab to this website open all day, so I can use it in a flash.  It has made a world of difference!  Funny how turning it into a game makes it more fun. Hmm, how Mary Poppins of me.

Each time a teacher observes the desired behavior by her class, she puts a "kibble" in her classroom dog dish.  Yeah, we're the Huskies.  Our mascot is known as "Top Dog," which works out really well for me, being such a dog person.  Anyway, When my class gets 35 "kibbles" (brown pompoms) we will take our "class bone" (made of construction paper) to the office.  The next morning our principal will tell the whole school about our Top Dog class on the announcements.  Then he will bring one of our adorable husky puppets to our room and tell us how proud he is of our hard work.  The husky will get to spend the day, and I'll get to wear a blue cape with a capital T (for Top Dog) on the back whenever I walk in the halls.  Or in my classroom.  Or to lunch, or to the copier, or to the grocery store on my way home from work.  Okay, maybe not.

Anyway, it's going to be so exciting!  My students have heard many classes announced already and seen several teachers in the halls wearing their special cape.  It's very motivating.  They like everything to have a "game" feel to it, so the timer really pumps them up.  It won't be long now.  As soon as every class has made it, our whole school will get an extra recess.  Another motivator!  Yes!

Such a simple thing has made our class much more productive.  We're wasting less time and enjoying our day so much more.  We've even had time to play a game before dismissal.  It feels to good to end on a positive note.

How do you keep your class motivated and on task during transitions?  Do you use a timer too?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I'm Trying Math Workshop! Are you?

I went to a class led by teachers in my district who teach math using a workshop method.  At first I thought, why? Well, it works a lot like reading workshop.  You teach a mini lesson to the whole class, and then break into groups.This allows you to differentiate for different kids.  I'm doing three groups.  Here is the wheel I created for us to keep track of who goes where.
The blue part is stapled to the wall.  The yellow part is attached to the blue part with a brad, so the yellow part spins.  I laminated both pieces.  The yellow wheel had the three pics on it, and the blue wheel was plain.  I only laminated the blue part so that I could rearrange student names when I need to .  They are attached with blue poster putty, which works great on laminated poster board.

After the mini lesson, the first group comes to me.  I can zero in on what they need help with, add manipulatives, and basically cater to their math needs.  Meanwhile, another group is playing math games I selected for the day (usually practicing/reviewing skills I'm teaching) with partners, and the third group is completing their independent work, usually in our workbook.  After the first round, I ring my bell and say, "Clean up, stand up!" Then I check on them as I walk over to the wheel and spin the yellow section clockwise.  Now the kids who were with me are doing their independent work. The kids who played games are now with me, and the independent kids are playing the games.

The teachers who led my class recommend having advanced students start with independent work, move to the game, and finish with the teacher.  I've been able to show them more advanced skills when we meet.  They also recommend having the kids that struggle with math meet with the teacher first.  That way they get the mini lesson and the small group instruction before trying to do the independent work.  I found it to be good advice.

Of course there are many other considerations in a successful math workshop.  Where will kids meet with the teacher, do independent work, and play the games?  So far I've been meeting with my groups at our kidney table and having kids do independent work at their own desks.  Game partners spread out in the classroom library or the meeting area.

I've done five math lessons so far, three of them workshop style.  I'm not sure which way I prefer to teach math.  Sometimes it's just easier to do things as a whole group.  I have a feeling that once we get up and running with math routines, I'll just pick and choose which style best fits the lesson and the needs of the children. Then I'll announce if we're doing whole group or workshop.  I have a feeling they might groan when it's NOT workshop.  I'll let you know.

If you're trying math workshop, how do you organize your groups? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Loves "Big Joe?" I do!

Last school year I had a student with autism, who liked to be held.  When we sat on the floor for morning meeting or for instruction, he wanted to sit on my lap or the lap of his full-time paraprofessional.  It got to be a bit much.  He was chronologically a year ahead of the rest of the class, and a tall boy, too.  So, I decided he needed a special chair to sit in that would hug him.  (He loved hugs.  He'd say, "Squeeze, please" when he wanted a hug!)

I started searching online for beanbag chairs that had arms.  This is what I decided to check out at Target:
When I got there, I took it off the bottom shelf and noticed that it was kind of floppy.  The sides didn't really come up to "hug" the user, which was my main reason for buying a chair in the first place.  While I was looking it over, a mom and young daughter came into the aisle where I was standing and studying it.  I am rarely shy, so in full teacher/mom mode, I said, "Hi, I'm thinking of getting this chair for a special student in my class who likes to be cozy.  Would your daughter be kind enough to try it out for me?"  Moms are so sweet!  She agreed, and her little girl had a seat.  Yeah, the arms didn't hug her at all. "Thank you," I said. "I really need one with better arms.  My little guy needs to feel hugged." AND THEN THE MOM SAID, "Oh, you need a Big Joe." Then she explained how WalMart had these great beanbag chairs for back to school for the college crowd.  So, you know what I did?  I got in my van and drove across the street to the WalMart, but they were all sold out.  So sad.
All the college kids got them before I even knew they existed.

That night I did my research and found them online.  They were VERY expensive!  What was $40 in the store was $80 online in late September. Not to be defeated, I called every WalMart in my area until I found a store that had them in stock.  I bought mine the very next day after school.  Tah-dah!

Purchased at WalMart for $40!  So cozy!  So snuggly!  My student with autism LOVED his chair.  He was always willing to join the group on the floor since he got to sit in this awesome chair!  Eventually, he took his chair to his specials classes too.  He was able to spend much longer times in the room with the class because of his chair.  Just so you know, I actually planned on buying two of them.  One for my special guy, and one for my "student of the week."  However, the learning strategist ( spec ed teacher) thought it would be a good thing if the chair could move grades with him.  So I bought one for my class, and she bought one for him with her budget allotment.  Win - win!

Big Joe was loved by ALL the kids, I have to say.  The "Super Kid," (student of the week) got to sit in the Big Joe for Read to Self and all learning and instruction that took place in the meeting area.  Doesn't it look cozy?
We love you, Big Joe chair!

What special seats do you have in your classroom?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Five Minutes Later... An Update

Ok, I'm admitting that this is crazy, but as soon as I looked at my post to see if the links worked, I realized that I liked the chevron on the calendar better than the blue bandanna scrapbook paper. Sooooo, I did what I had to do.  Changed up the insert, and tah-dah! Brighter, happier.  I love it.

New Calendar & My TPT cart!

One of my favorite things about each new school year is getting a new monthly calendar.  A few years ago I volunteered to order some for our entire staff from Amsterdam Printing.  We got great red vinyl covers with an image of a husky (our mascot) and they were refillable!  Only problem... I put the year on the cover, so no one, myself included, wanted to use them the following year.  It's been three years since I ordered, but Amsterdam continues to send me calendars and pens in the mail every year.  EVERY YEAR.  Sounds good, but without the cover, I'm not very excited to use them.
It's a great little calendar, but I'm pretty tough on mine.  I like to have a protective cover, and I like it to be a bit bigger so that I can find it easily if it gets covered with work on my desk.

Last year, I found this polkadotty calendar at Target for under $10.  I was just beginning my "Top Dog" theme, so I added an insert to identify it as my own.  Loved it!  Couldn't wait for Target to get them in this year!  I've been school shopping since the sales started right after July 4th, but I couldn't find them.  

It was so hard to wait.  I checked for them EVERY time I went to Target without luck.  UNTIL TODAY!  Those sneaky Target people put them in the aisle with the collegiate items, like hangars and laundry baskets.  I never thought to look there before, and honestly, had finally chosen a different one from another spot.  What a relief to see them, and there weren't many left, either.  The one I didn't choose had bold yellow horizontal stripes.  When I printed out a new insert for the cover (had to change the year), I had a slight problem.

I solved it quite simply by cutting a small piece from the inside "title" page, if you will. Used it to cover up that blue date banner.  Go me!  Here is why I love this calendar:
Another thing I love about this calendar is that it is three hole punched, so I can keep it in a binder.  Awwww yeah!

Stopped in to my classroom to drop off all the supplies I've been buying, and NOTHING has been cleaned since summer school ended one week ago.  I am very envious of teachers who can set their room up waaaaay before they actually HAVE to go back to work.  All that setting up takes time, and I need to work on lesson plans and collaboration with my team when we go back.  I wish I could get the decorating done sooner.  Oh, well. 

Our school is doing a wild west theme this year.  I'm going to put bandannas and dolly straw hats on my stuffed husky, Clifford, and Little Critter (at Kohl's NOW $5).  If you have any simple ideas for a first grade wild west classroom, let me know!  I'm planning to get a few things from TPT tomorrow.  Woo hoo for a big sale!  Click each pic to see the product on TPT.  (Hope I did the links correctly).

WESTERN/COWBOY Theme EDITABLE Classroom Essentials-34 PrinWestern Cowboy Roll & Graph ActivityWestern/Cowboy Themed Bookmarks - 4 Designs
Wild West - Western Themed Classroom Newsletter TemplateMemory Book - Western  Theme! - End of the YearWestern Theme Signs, Binder Covers, Labels and Nameplates
Interactive Calendar Notebook {making the most out of caleWANTED Posters (Western/Cowboy Theme)
Click each pic to see item on TPT!

What's in your TPT cart?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't Bring Napkins...Bring Something Awesome!

Lucy Calkins gave the keynote address/welcome on our first day at CTC Summer Institute for Reading Workshop.  She made an awesome analogy about book clubs/partner reading time, for adults AND kids.  She told us about a time when she was invited to a potluck picnic.

She'd been very busy all week and hadn't had time to make any type of dish to pass at the picnic.  So, on the way there, she bought napkins and other paper products she thought might be needed.  Well, she got to the picnic and saw all the delicious food that had been brought to share, and she overheard people saying, "Who made this?  It's amazing!" and asking each other, "What did you bring?"  She hoped with all her heart that no one would ask her what she brought.  She would have been so embarrassed!

Then she related this experience to book clubs and partner reading time.  We need to encourage our students to read the book carefully, slowly, and thoughtfully.  Then we need to help them learn to stop 'n jot, or code their thinking on a post-it.  In essence, PREPARE for the sharing and discussion and be ready to join in the conversation, like these two boys from my class last year.

Kids who show up to book clubs without having read, or without done any thinking or preparation for what they will contribute to the conversation, are just like Lucy bringing the napkins to the potluck.

This analogy hit home with me.  I always worry about what to bring to potlucks and whether or not others will enjoy it.  What I needed was to come up with an analogy that firsties would understand.  I decided  birthday parties would be perfect.  What first grader isn't invited to birthday parties?  They all have vast amounts of experience with birthday fun, even if just their own special day.  So I'm thinking about telling my class about a time when I was a first grader.  I was invited to my friend Andrea's birthday party. I told my mom that Andrea LOVED Care Bears. (Yes, they were popular back when I was kid, too).  "Just get anything with Care Bears," I told my mom.  Well, my mom was a very busy teacher and mom of three kids, and she completely forgot to get Andrea a present. So, on the morning of the party, my mom informed me she hadn't had time to pick anything up.  Then she said, "I think I can find something," went into her bedroom, and brought out a brand new package of sport socks.  Yes, sport socks.

She wrapped them up and handed them to me. I took them to the birthday party and presented them to Andrea, who, like most seven-year-olds, was greatly disappointed, but said "Thanks" and moved on to more exciting gifts. I was so embarrassed!  I desperately hoped that at sharing time on Monday, no one would ask me what I brought to the birthday party I attended over the weekend!

The Lesson:  Don't bring socks!  Bring something awesome!

I think that kids will be able to imagine the feelings I had as the giver of socks as a birthday present, and if they have a family like mine, they'll know how it feels to receive them too. I think I'll be able to tie this feeling to partner reading time in the fall and to book clubs in the spring.  What do you think?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Columbia Teacher College Reading and Writing Project

Guess where I've been?  That's right!  New York City!  Four teachers from my school spent a week in NYC to attend Columbia Teacher College's Reading Workshop Summer Institute! Our school has been following Lucy Calkin's writing curriculum for almost a decade, and the CTC reading workshop model for almost five years.  Each summer our school sends a handful of teachers to NYC to refine their teaching, and this summer, I got to go!  It was a crazy week; one like I've never experienced!

Day One: Saturday, June 28th
Arrive at LaGuardia airport 10 am, taxi to hotel, drop luggage, walk along the west side of Central Park, bus tour, stop to see September 11th Memorial pools, back on the bus, more touring, mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, out to dinner, back to hotel to collapse.

Day Two: Sunday, June 29th

Leave hotel at 6:30 am, breakfast at Starbucks, subway to Columbia, registration, keynote address/welcome by Lucy Calkins, morning class with Elizabeth Dunford Franco "Constructing Units of Study in Nonfiction Reading: The Methods and Content (K-2)" Advanced, lunch at a Appletree deli, afternoon class with Kathy Collins "Guided Reading and Beyond: Tap the Power of Small Group Instruction (K-2)" Advanced, Closing workshop with Lindsay Mann "Playful Reading: Using Drama, Choice Time, and Songs to Support Growing Readers," subway back to hotel, then touring the city, dinner out, and collapsing back at the hotel.

First Day at Columbia TC!

Day Three:  Monday, June 30th
Leave hotel at 7:30, Starbucks, subway, CTC, same morning and afternoon classes, but new keynote address by Mary Ehrenworth "Learning to Say More, Hear More, and Speak on Behalf of...Argument Protocols in Reading," and new closing workshop with Kelly Neault "Seven Read Alouds to Die For: Great Read Alouds to Live Off of All Year," subway, hotel, touring, dinner, collapse. (You'll notice a pattern, here).

Day Four: Tuesday, July 1st
See day three...
Keynote: Author Jacqueline Woodson "Someone Looked Closely and Saw the Light: An Average Girl's Journey to the Page"
Closing Workshop: Natalie Louis "When Kids Get Stuck: Watching and Thinking About Our Readers to Develop New Methods That Can Move Them Across Text Levels"
That night we saw Jersey Boys and LOVED IT! (And then collapsed).

Day Five:  Wednesday, July 2nd
See day three...
Keynote: David Booth "Why Is My iPad Sitting on a Pile of Books?"
Closing Workshop: Marjorie Martinelli "Growing Independence: A Reading Chart Course from A Chart Master"
Dinner: Rubirosa's in SoHo, walking in the rain, took different subway, got little lost, had a lot of fun!

Day Six: Thursday, July 3rd
Pack up, drop luggage at front desk, check out, Starbucks, subway.. etc., etc.
Closing Keynote:  Kathy Collins "Not-So-Random Musings on Butterflies, Thigh Gap, and Teaching"
Touring the city until about 4pm, then back to the hotel to grab luggage and a cab to LaGuardia.  This is when we found out that some flights were being delayed and canceled, so we checked our 8:25 pm flight, and sure enough, canceled due to threatening weather!  So we were lucky enough to check back in. Our tiny hotel rooms were better than a night in the airport!

Day Seven: Friday, July 4th
Sleep in, pack up again, shopping, saw Matt Bogart from Jersey Boys on the street, tour the American Museum of Natural History, walk in the rain, and then fly home at 8:25pm.  Got to see many fireworks from the plane, which was crazy!  We could see many different shows around Detroit, and the fireworks themselves seemed so tiny!  Arrival at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport was at 10pm.  So happy to see my family!  This was the longest I've ever been away from them!

My head is just swimming with all I learned during the week.  I'd like to break it down for you by class, keynote, and closing workshop, so check back now and then this summer to read  my thoughts and ideas on each topic listed above.  And if you ever have a chance to go to CTCRWP, don't pass it up... it was INCREDIBLE!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Reading Intervention Curriculum

I stopped into school today to get a picture of the curriculum we use for reading intervention.  Have a look...
These are usually open and available for immediate use.

Of course, all the books have been returned and boxed up for the summer, where they'll wait for some special kids next fall.  These are stored in the intervention room I showed in my last post.  When you take off the lid, you see it's full of hanging plastic files, which are numbered.  The curriculum is such that you begin at the level the student is currently reading independently.  Each file folder has four copies of a book.  The back of the book shows the guided reading label and the number of the lesson.  We recorded many items on the lesson planning pages we used (each teacher has her own set in a binder labeled with her intervention students' names).  Included would be the lesson number, the date, and then the lesson plan portion. 

Lessons are planned in sets of two, twice a week (four days total).  So on the first day, the students are given a book two or three levels below their current level.  Hopefully, students have learned from their classroom teacher how to take a picture walk.  If not, this is the time to model it.  I have found so many students just looking at the pictures without thinking about the story, that this year I began to call it "walk and talk."  I model this a lot in my classroom.  Anyway, after walking through the book, the student reads it.  If I have two students together, we have a group conversation as we walk through the book, and then they wear headphones while reading.  I listen to each student, noting their strengths and struggles.  Hopefully, this being a lower level, they'll do a great job.  That gives me an opportunity for praise!

Next in the lesson will be some word work.  We might do this on chart paper, individual white boards, or with magnetic letters.  We also have orange sand on plastic trays, which they love to write on!  The teacher manual gives several suggestions for the word work.  We might be working on adding endings, word families, sight words, etc.  This usually sets us up for the second book, which will be a new book at their just right reading level.  The teacher provides the book introduction as we walk through the story together.  Then the children put their headphones on and read this book.  This is when I take most of my notes.  I can tell who is confusing "was" and "saw," who is ignoring punctuation, and who rereads after figuring out a tricky word.

This ends the lesson on the first day.  Students are given the first easy book from the lesson to read at home.  They all have special small book bags that snap shut.  A reading log is kept there too, so that parents can record when the children read.  Students who read and record on the log get a sticker the following day.

When the second day's lesson begins, students show their reading logs and get stickers to put on their empty 100 grid.  We had several first graders in intervention last year who reached 100!  After the exciting sticker portion, the kids reread the second book from yesterday, the one at their just right level.  This is a second read, and they've not taken it home for parent help.  During this read, I take a running record on one of the students.  The other student is reading the book again too, but I'm focusing on just one student right now.

After both students have finished reading, we move on to do some writing.  Each student has a magazine box for his/her books, along with a bound writing journal.  The LLI curriculum provides some written sentences for you to read to the children.  They use their best writing skills, especially yesterday's word work, to write the sentences about the story.  We work on capital letters, forming letters correctly, punctuation too... not just spelling.  Finally, the kids put the just right level book into the bags to take home.  The easy read book goes into their box.  

Let me sum up...

Day One:  Picture walk & talk on an easy book.  Read the book.  Do word work.  Teacher introduces a just right book.  Read the book.  Take home the easy book.

Day Two:  Stickers!  Reread the just right book, taking a running record on one student.  Journal writing. Take home the just right book.

Of course, you alternate which student you take a running record on, which allows you to get one per student each week.  I like that it's just four days each week, because it seems like there's always something getting in the way of intervention, like field trips, assemblies, etc.  I think most teachers at my school teach intervention Mondays through Thursdays, skipping Friday.  I preferred to skip Mondays.  Kids are so tired after busy weekends, and so am I!

Some other interesting notes:  The files are in numeric order, INCLUDING the easy read books.  You do not have to find your own books for instruction!  Also, if you are less than stellar at taking running records on blank pages (as I am) there are preprinted pages that you can copy and use.

Here is a link to learn more:  Leveled Literacy Intervention

Good luck with your own reading intervention next year!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Closing Up for Summer and Reading Intervention Room

Finally!  Happy summer to all my teaching friends!  I have been out of school since 7pm on June 11th.  It might seem silly to put the time, but that is how late I stayed to clean up and put everything away after the kids left at 12:40.  Some of my teammates had to go back the next day to finish the job, but I was determined to go home and STAY home!

My school is the main elementary building used for summer school (we have air conditioning), so we literally have to put EVERYTHING away.  That means we condense everything into our cupboards, drawers, and bookshelves, then cover all our bookcases with butcherpaper, put plastic bags over our Smartboards, lock everything that has a lock and key, put zip ties on our cabinet doors, and cover our bulletin boards (or take them ALL down).  It's a ton of work.  I mean a TON.  I got the most depressed feeling ever as I looked around before walking out the door.  You would never know that this room was a wonderful, dynamic place to learn and play for twenty-one kids and one teacher.  It looked barren.

Two days later the summer school team was scheduled to move in.  They bring all their own materials.  I never know who will be using my room for the summer, I just know that it's hard to get back in there in August, because none of our rooms have been cleaned for the fall yet.  I'd love to go back and start getting ready as soon as summer school is out at the end of July, but there's no point since the custodians have to move our things around to shampoo the carpets.  At least they put it back for us though!  We leave a little map on one of our bulletin boards for them, so they know where we want everything.  I've often wondered if slipping one of them a $20 would move my room to the top of the list.  Ha ha... NO.

So, on to the reading intervention room...

  Small group room used for reading intervention throughout the day

This is the view when standing in the doorway.  As I said in my last post, we meet every 5 or  6 weeks to determine intervention groups for our grade.  Because our school does not qualify for Title I funds, we do not have a budget for reading intervention teachers.  Each teacher on the team takes a turn teaching a round of intervention.  When it was my turn, back in February, I was slotted to work with two girls from other classrooms.  We have an intervention curriculum that is fairly scripted, so it was simple to plan our 30 minutes together (4 days a week).  I enjoyed my round, so when we met again, I volunteered to continue for another round with one of the same girls and a boy from another class.  After a few weeks it got to be too much, and I was looking forward to the end of the second round.  A teammate who taught back-to-back rounds the year before agreed that we shouldn't do double rounds.  It's too hard on our classrooms, because when we leave the room to teach reading intervention, a paraprofessional has to teach our students.  I was able to make it fairly simple, where the para led the morning meeting, calendar routine, shared reading, and brain break.  Then I'd return in time for the readers workshop mini-lesson.  I had a special lesson plan form I'd fill out for her each week.  Some teachers on my team would teach during recess.  Students who missed recess would get 20 minutes once a week in the gym with the PE teacher and ride around in the empty gym on those little square scooters.  They loved it!  Teachers who chose that option had less planning to do but also lost an hour of prep time each week.  

Coming Next... Reading intervention curriculum

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello again.... and reading intervention

It's a little embarrassing to write a post after NOT having written since school started, so I've told myself to just do it and get it over with.  Hi!  I hope you had a wonderful first semester at school!  Happy 2014!

I have a class of 21 students this year, and are they SUUUHHH - WEEEEEET!  I am so lucky.... really!  I'm still loving those fabric colored bulletin boards I put up before school started.  I did move my library from in front of the windows to the back corner where my reading table was.  I felt so crammed back there in the corner.  And I think my students felt it gave them permission to goof off during "read to self" time.  Umm, no, that's not OK!  Plus, I struggle in the winter with seasonal affective disorder (self-diagnosed).  So moving the reading table in front the of windows is perfect.  I need to be in the light during the winter.  I even set up a sofa table in front of the dining room window at home to work at on weekends, when I'm actually home while the sun is up.

Here's how I spruced up the back corner where I moved the class library:

 Christmas lights on my ficus tree make it cozy!

Here's how the reading table looks in front of the windows:

Did you notice that I'm no longer using the stools I fixed up this summer?  That's because the kids rocked on them constantly, and I was afraid they would break.  Some of my colleagues didn't like to sit on them at meetings in my room, either.  So, I did what any other teacher would do... I gave them to Goodwill and ordered the cute black ones from IKEA.  At first I wanted the aqua ones, but they're available only at the store, and I needed mine shipped.  The nice thing about the black is how they kind of disappear when you look into the room, which means my room looks neater than it is!  Bonus!

We've had four days this month with wind-chills too low to have school.  I don't think we've EVER had four days off in a year.  And all in January!  On cold days when we're at school and the windchill is just below zero, we have indoor recess.  I take the curtains down then, to let in more light.  They're only purpose is to keep my class from watching other kids on the playground,  so if no one is going to be out there for the day, we enjoy the view.

This week begins my turn to work with students in a reading intervention program.  At our school, we meet as a grade level with our reading specialist, principal, and learning strategists every six weeks to determine which students require more reading intervention than can be provided in the classroom.  The four teachers take turns teaching a round of intervention to a small group, and our reading specialist does two or three groups as well as one or two kiddos who need one-on-one help.  So I will begin meeting with two cutie pie girls from my colleagues' rooms on Tuesday through Fridays from 9:00 to 9:30.  I chose this time because my daily literacy aide will be in the classroom to lead the class through the morning greeting, calendar routine, shared reading, and brain break.  Then I'll be back to present the reading mini-lesson and carry on with reading workshop.  This is going to be my first time EVER leading an intervention group, and I'm really excited!

Next time I'll show you the little room where we meet and tell you about the work we do there.  How do your students receive reading intervention?