Monday, March 4, 2013

March Currently :)

I've been out of the blogging world for a few months now so I thought I'd link up. Well here it link up head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade. Oh! Spring Break is in the near future. Only four more weeks!!!!! YAY!!!!

Close Reading

After reading several blogs and attending some professional development workshops, I have realized that we should be teaching students how to read the text closely a.k.a "Close Reading". For the first half of the year I primarily spent time during my focus lessons teaching grammar, comprehension strategies, and accuracy strategies. I use Fridays to work on fluency. I call this time "Fluency Friday". Students practice their reader's theater every week with guidance from me. Then the fourth Friday of the month they perform their play. But I eventually realized that even though we were collecting words on our word collector that it wasn't enough. I needed to choose mentor text to read and teach vocabulary words. I stumbled upon this blog called Hello Literacy. I read her post about Marzano's Vocabulary and decided to use this in my classroom. Free feel to hop on over and check it out on her blog.

Marzano's Six Steps to Vocabulary Instruction

Then I read some more and realized I could reach all of my reading needs by doing what is called "Close Reading" (which is what common core wants us to be doing). My co-team member and I decided that we would sit down and create our first close reading lesson.

We chose to complete this reading with the book "Molly Bannaky". First, we had students read the text by themselves(We made copies of the first few pages of the text so they could make notes. This is totally legal if you only copy 10% of the book). They underlined information they felt was important and circled any word they thought was interesting or they didn't know. Next, we scanned the first few pages onto the Smart Board and wrote text dependent questions and syntax that we thought would be difficult for students. Then we used the think, pair, and share strategy to go through the questions we asked. We had students check for understanding, make predictions/inferences, and form their own opinion about what was going on in the story.
All in all, I think our first try at close reading was a success.

One last note:
This book below is one we are currently reading as professional development with some of our other team members. So far it is great and they have lessons in the book that are ready to apply in your classroom. Apparently, there are six signposts in the book that students should notice then students will make notes about what they noticed in the text. The first lesson is called "Contrasts and Contradictions".  I plan on trying the first lesson out in the next couple of weeks. I'll post to let everyone know how it went!!! :)

Updated Safari Themed Classroom

 Here is my front wall with my new cafe board and anchor chart space!!

 Here is my word wall area and my teacher's corner!

 Here is my reading area. The bench is a pinterest inspired idea. I'm going to have my students write book reviews when they finish a book and post them on the wall.

This is my new behavior clip chart! So far it has been working wonders!

Daily Cafe

So it's been a while since I've posted. This first half of the year has been very busy(common core, daily five, CAFE, crazy kids, reading, RTI! etc.). I have absolutely loved implementing the Daily Cafe with my co-team member Mrs. Wyatt. I feel so connected to my students this year and they are becoming such amazing readers. They constantly come up to me and are like "Ms. Gibson I'm inferring this....." Or "look at this word I found, can we put it on our word collector?".  In addition to the Daily Cafe we have started book clubs in January. The clubs meet twice a week and when they are meeting, the students complete read to self with their books. Students select the book they want to read with their group. The children have gotten extremely good at summarizing, questioning, picking out parts from the text and analyzing them, and reflecting on their meetings.

With that being said here are positives about the Daily Cafe:

Students are becoming more fluent readers, more, accurate, and thinking critically.
Students love picking their own books to read.
They love the different rounds.
Their writing has become deep and thought provoking.
They are learning lots of new words.
The variety of genres being read have increased.
It has been amazing having flexible strategy groups and being able to confer one on one.
Students have grow close with their elbow buddy and most pairs work really well together.

Here are some of the negatives:
There isn't always time to fit in all the rounds.
Currently, I'm only doing three rounds a day for about 15-20 for a round.
Sometimes my mini lessons last longer than the 7-10 minutes the sisters usually do.

But obviously those who have started the Daily Cafe in their classroom can agree that the positives outweigh the negatives tremendously.

One last plus, our school just got 30 iPads!!!!!!!!!!!! So Mrs. Wyatt and I are slowly implementing them into our rounds. We have used the StoryKit app during Work on Writing time. They are creating stories with their elbow buddy.