Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday's Teaching Tip - Re-focusing Amidst Spring Fever

Has Spring Fever hit your students?  Are they tuning out more often than you'd like?  Not paying attention?   How about you?  Has your attention...and energy level...wandered off? Has the gray and rainy...or white and snowy...weather got everyone down at your school? It happens every year in every school across our country.  Sometimes it even starts as early as February!  It has hit our school particularly hard this year....including the staff! You know how it goes...just when things really heat up....test prep.....testing... progress reports....conferences....Professional Development...and on and on. Wham-o!  It hits and hits hard.  Well today's Teaching Tip is more of a reminder of an oldie but goodie, and is giving you permission to take a refocusing break as often as you need to.  This week we are telling you to "take a hike!"  Literally! 



Go ahead!  Get out with your students and go for a 10 minute walk around your school to refocus.  (If you read our blog regularly, you know we say that for a lot of things. But there's a reason we were all sent outside by our mothers to play! It's GOOD for you in oh-so-many ways!) 

Don't just walk though....tell students to PAY ATTENTION to as many things as they can outside. What did you hear, see and feel?  Then, when you come back in, have them write down (or draw, for the youngers) as many things as they can that they noticed outside.  Count 'em up and have them write down the number of things that they noticed. Then, next time you all need to refocus, (like tomorrow :-), do it again.  Were they able to pay better attention and list more things this time?  Did they "beat their own score?" Each subsequent time that you go for a hike around school, have them check their own score and see how they did.  This is so great for rebuilding their stamina for paying attention to things.  And if you might be thinking this is only for the littles....nope!  The olders LOVE the challenge and actually need it just as much or more than the littles.  After all, they have state testing in the spring to boot! 

Trust me!  Going for a "hike" works to re-develop everyone's attention skills long term, AND the fresh air and movement will help them to be far more productive in the short term. And for you?  Well....it's a great break for you, too!  After all...teachers need a break this time of year just as often as the students, right?  Truth!

So even though it is easy to say..."I don't have time for that!"  As Nike says...Just Do IT!  It will make you and your students pay better attention to the tasks at hand, and make you all more productive than trying to slog through with fuzzy, inattentive brains.  Not to mention it will alleviate some of that springtime stress.  Good luck with Spring Fever this year!

Smiles,

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Five for Friday


Hey there and hello teacher friends!  It is Fri-Yay!  How about some Five For Friday action?  Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching, for hosting this fun linky party each week!  Here's what's been going on in our little corner of the world.
I'm a reading specialist.  We have a teacher shortage.  That translates to a sub shortage.  And that's where we specialists come in. We often get pulled at THE. LAST. MOMENT! to sub for a sick teacher.  While I'm not a fan of the very last moment call...I do like being able to see my students in their own classrooms.  It's always fun to ask them to get their very favorite book to read to me during independent reading.  In my teacher dreamland, I imagine that they will bring me some high quality literature and we will spend some great time reading and deeply discussing said high quality literature. NOPE! Wrongo bongo! Lovely mental image shattered!  THIS is what third grade boys like to read to me. Then they giggle. This book seems to be in EVERY intermediate classroom.  It's everywhere, I tell ya! Do you know how many times that this has been their choice?  Ack!  Well, maybe some day my "high quality literature" dream will come true.




In my first grade groups, we have been working on those pesky d's and b's.  Those crazy letters are always tricky, and they seem to love to get mixed up in the littles' brains.  What do I use?  I LOVE this d and b set from An Adventure in Literacy.  It's so cute and the best thing I've come across for helping with those pesky reversals.  It has b/d sorts, and lots of other activities so that when you have finished with them, the students are well on their way to reading without b/d reversals!  You can check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers.




Don't you love it when the Amazon box arrives?  This week it brought this new book.  I'm an idea junky and am always looking for new things to use to get those all important breakthroughs happening for my intervention group students.  I can't wait to dive into this one.  It is from Tim Rasinski so it has to be good.  Have you read it?




Lookie!  Lookie!  This week, my sweet daughter surprised me with my very first Rae Dunn pottery. Isn't it cool?  I love the message, too!  It's a great reminder. Have you got on the Rae Dunn bandwagon yet?  I'm hooked now!




This week we had a rally for education at a local high school.  Our state has been sued for not fully funding education, which is the highest mandate in our state constitution.  So it's been a battle as you can imagine, and it has been going on for ten years now.  It is all coming to the end though, so our rally was held to keep the pressure on the legislature to do the right thing.  They sometimes try to sidestep the issue.  I know...you are probably not surprised at all  shocked to hear that.  We brought these two cuties, (my grandbabies) to help sway the legislators that attended.  They really got into waving their signs!  I'm sure their cuteness alone swayed those legislators our way. Don't you agree?




That's what's been happening in our little world.  I'm going to go check out some more Five For Friday posts now to see what everyone else has been up to.  Happy weekend everybody!

Smiles,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday's Teaching Tip - 5 Minute Vocabulary


Would you like an idea for teaching vocabulary in 5 minutes and practicing in less than 1 minute?  We've got it for you today.  On Tuesday’s Teaching Tips, we’ve been sharing ideas for teaching vocabulary for the past few weeks.  We shared an easy way to teach vocabulary through your readaloud, here, and some ideas for learning vocabulary through Naming Walks, here.  Both ideas were from Patricia Cunningham’s book What Really Works for Vocabulary

Today we are sharing a strategy that our school uses.  It is considered to be a G.L.A.D. language strategy, but it has been around for a long time under various names.  The strategy is called “The Signal Word” strategy and you can use it to teach vocabulary in 5 minutes, and to practice in 1 minute.  




Here’s how it works:

1. Choose the word you want your students to know.

2. Teach students the word and what it means. Then teach them an action for it that represents the word's meaning.  Students do the action while saying the word and its meaning. The first time you teach the word, have students say the word and do the action, several times.  (We also post the words that are currently being taught in class.) 
Here are examples of two words we use:

Main Idea – “The big idea of a text.”  Action:  Open hands to show big, then point to brain for idea, then point to left open palm for text.

Evidence – “Proof from the text.”   Action:  Show open book with two open, flat palms.  Then use right index finger and thumb to “pull out” the evidence from the center of the left palm.



3. Throughout the day, randomly say the word in "call and response" fashion.  Students respond by saying its meaning and doing the action for it.  You can also flip it by saying the meaning to them, and they respond by saying the word. It is called “The Signal Word” because we also use this as a signal word to set students off to do something.  For example, “On the signal word, line up.”  Then you say the meaning and the students say the word while doing the action.  As soon as they are done saying it, they move to line up.  Using the new word as a signal word throughout the day is a great way to get it to stick in students’ minds, and using previously taught words is a great way to review.  Quick and easy! 


Our school has compiled a list of Key Literacy Vocabulary to be taught by each grade level.  It has the action listed for each word so that teachers of all grades can teach/review the word the same way.  



There you go!  Another easy, and research proven strategy to really teach and get vocabulary to stick....all in 5 minutes!

Happy Teaching!  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday friends! Can you believe it's March already? This year is flying by and before we know it the year will be over! Let's kick this weekend off with a little Five for Friday thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching



  


We were so lucky to have our Donor's Choose project funded! We got these amazing coding mice. The kiddos can build a maze and then they have to program the mouse to get through the maze to get to the cheese. They love it! It's so awesome to see them working together to get the mouse through. They are talking with each other and giving suggestions on how they can program it. It's awesome!



We've been working on double digit subtraction. This is one of my favorite lessons to do! The kiddos get to make their own bookstore. Then, they have to go to each others bookstores and "buy" books. Finally, they have to figure out how much change they should get. These second graders LOVE to play store!


One thing that stinks about working in a different district than your kiddos is your breaks don't match up. We only had one day during our mid-winter break this year. We made the most of it by heading to the Seattle Aquarium! They LOVE to look at the fish and it's a great thing to do on a rainy Seattle day!


My daughter has a class read-in this week for Dr. Seuss day. Here she is trying to pick out the books she would like to take. Boy, it's a tough choice! Can you tell what her favorite kind of book is???


 
            Click here for :  A - I       J - M                                   Click here for: A - I     J - M

We are so excited to share two of these great resources that we just finished! We have made extension passages for St. Patrick's Day and Life Cycles! Now your kiddos can read the same information at THEIR independent reading level, levels A all the way through M! These are great for guided reading, partner reading and whole group.

Here are my kiddos working on some passages together. No matter what level they are, they can still work through the text dependent questions together because the content is ALL THE SAME! Only the levels change!


We hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!!!