Sunday, September 25, 2016

Reading Groups in the UPPER GRADES

I am an upper grade teacher.  4th Grade to be specific is where my heart resides.  I have some experience in 1st grade, and learned so much from my mentor.  Sometimes, I still have to draw from that experience to handle my 4th graders.  

I had a FABULOUS 4th grade internship (10years ago).  My mentor taught me to really THINK about the lessons.  Plan lessons the kids would be engaged in.  Think about what they would enjoy and use THAT to teach the curriculum.  

Then I got a job. 

and I got the run down of "what to do".  Here's the should do small groups with every student, every day.  And use the leveled readers that come with our reading series.  And embed Science and Social Studies during Reading time, too.  And extended writing, because the kids are going to have to master 3 modes of writing by February.  So teach all your grammar before then too.  Oh, and HANDWRITING IS STATE LAW NOW SO DO THAT TOO.  

Am I the only one on this island.  Even as I type that, I realize there are so many more ANDS to add to that list.  

BUT...yes, there's a BUT 

I figured it out and it isn't that bad.  or require that much more work.  and it makes the kids responsible.  and it gives time to write. and to teach grammar.  

So, the first problem to tackle was how do I not spend 10 of my 15 minutes reading text.  The answer is that students do their first read on their own.  I have these dry-erase pockets from the @Target dollar spot, and I slip directions down in them.  For my lower students, the qr codes are linked to a read aloud.  Some are iTunes files, some are other students in the class reading.  I thought this was going to be difficult, and IT WAS SO EASY!  

Then it is Teacher Time.  This is my typical small group table.  Plans laid out.  Water cup at the ready.  World's Best Pencil Sharpener ready to go. I will highlight my supply baskets in a later post.  This is where all the "I do, We do" goes on.  There is also a dry erase board close, so I can write up vocabulary.  The students discuss and provide each other feedback in this group.  I will also highlight grouping in a future post.

Then seat work.  Whatever we've learned in group, they practice on their own at their seats.  This is a large group picture, but there is usually only 5-6 people at their seats.

Lastly, the writing center was tricky to figure out.  How are they going to practice extended writing and grammar INDEPENDENTLY at a center?
Here's what we are trying.  
Day 1 - Read a prompt, highlight key words.  Read a text, highlight information they need to use from the text.  
Day 2 - Complete a graphic organizer answering the prompt question.
Day 3 - write a rough draft of their essay (focus on paragraph construction at the moment)
Day 4 - finish rough draft and provide feed back to a partner.  

Friday we take a short assessment on the week's reading skill and then spend the rest of the time editing and revising our writing.  So far, it is going really well.  The best part is, I feel like I actually engage with EVERY STUDENT, EVERY DAY!! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Small Group Self Assessment

I'm new to the land of small group instruction.  In my area, upper elementary teachers are not trained how to plan or manage the jungle that can be small group instruction.

Teach the leveled readers. Wait, have you READ those books?

You should meet with your low performing students EVERY DAY.  Um...I don't have time

The leveled readers incorporate Science and Social Studies.  UM...I also don't have time...

BUT NOW, I've taken the leap and I LOVE IT!  I can't wait to share some great resources for both reading and math small groups, but for now here is a little freebie I made.

Find in TPT store FREEBIE

At the end of each group, they remind me of the standard (BOOM, they know the learning objective), then they select their level of understanding.  They slide that little bead up and down the pipe cleaner to choose.  I'm in love.  It is a great way to end a group.

Friday, September 16, 2016

#BTS 2016

So...It's been a while....a really long I work at a new school while...

I love my new school and my new classroom.  I can't wait to show you around and get back into this blogging thing.  I'm so excited to be on a new adventure with a great group of kids and colleagues.

BUT...I've been planning all summer :)

Click here to find in my TPT store

I love using this long term planner to pace out my units of study.  It has one grading period per page, so it is super easy to pace long term projects.  Check out this FREEBIE in my TPT store.  It is editable so that you can customize it with your own dates and breaks.