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Friday, December 30, 2011

Regie Routman Saved My Life

Three and a half years ago I was lucky enough to attend a reading conference in Spokane, Washington where Regie Routman was the keynote speaker. She helped me become a better wife, mother and teacher with one phrase: "The best teachers live a life outside of school." She went on to explain that it is through that living we find our inspiration to teach. I am going to share this message with my students when we return to school on Monday and use it as a catalyst into our new reading, writing, math and science units. We'll launch each study with the same big question: How does what I am studying relate to the way I live outside of school?

Here are a few ways I live outside of school...

How do you live to inspire?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Reading Teacher-November

I am behind in my professional reading!  I am finally getting back to the November issue of The Reading Teacher.  I think I glanced at it briefly when I carried it in from the mailbox weeks ago.  The article Seven Rules of Engagement; What's Most Important to Know About Motivation to Read by Linda B. Gambrell (2011, pp. 172-177) is a great reminder of the power of motivation for young readers.  I am finding the "classroom tips" for each rule most helpful.  To be honest, it has been very tricky motivating the group of readers I have this year.  Here are a few of the tips I plan on incorporating in January:

1. Begin doing a weekly "teacher book-selling session."  Quick share 10-12 books to pique student interest.

2. For those little ones who continue to choose independent reading books that are to 4 or 5 books related to the students' interest and then have them choose 2-3 of those while conferring.

3. Don't label any books as "easy."  Label them as "hard," "harder," and "hardest."

Hopefully these small steps will help all the readers in my class BELIEVE that they are capable and competent!

Happy Holidays!

We made it to the break!  Yeah!  I had so much fun with my studnets on the last day of school.  We spent the morning caroling with almost half the elementary school and then spent the afternoon reading and playing board games.  We had a "Secret Santa Reader" gift exchange and to my amazement all 15 of my students (even those little guys that don't have a lot of stamina built up for reading) spent 25 solid minutes reading and sharing their new books with each other.  I am thinking I should wrap books up for "read-to-someone" time in the future!   I bought four new board games for our classroom and had each table group open one.  They were so excited and now we have more games for rainy/snowy days when we can't be outside.  Several students brought games as well.  Such a fun way to get to spend time together.  Here is an Animoto video I whipped out to share with the kids right before they went home for their much deserved winter break.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sight Word Phrases with Pictures

Class sizes are bulging across the country right now, but I am lucky to have only 15 students this year.  However, many of these little ones are reading and writing below grade level.  Because of this I have been studying like crazy to come up with strategies to help them.  I have been reading an excellent book called The Successful Inclusive Teacher: Proven Ways to Detect and Correct Special Needs, edited by Joyce S. Choate.  Many of my students need a lot of help with sight words (reading and spelling) and fluency.  One of the strategies in this book suggested making flash cards with pictures to help students make a visual connection with the word.  I decided to try this with the phrases and short sentences for repeated reading that Timothy Rasinski suggests using to help build reading fluency in his book The Fluent Reader, 2003. New York: Scholastic Professional Books. I am introducing ten phrases a week and then students will practice reading and writing them during our Daily 5 word work.  I am also sending the list of phrases home with students to practice reading and writing over the weekend.  Here are the first three Fluency Practice.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adjectives...and Letters We Flip For.

This is a chart I made to help students remember which letter's can have more than one sound.  There are few  more I will be adding....ow and gh to name a few.   I find this chart especially helpful for those kiddo's who struggle with accuracy.

These are some turkey's that we made during our adjectives unit.  After reading  A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Batemen and Jeff Shelly, and brainstorming a list of adjectives, students created a turkey using acrylic paint, construction paper and paper plates.  Students then wrote stories about their turkey's using adjectives.  The turkey's and stories were quite entertaining!