Friday, October 21, 2016

Meeting with Small Groups in Reading

I recently posted here about how I set up my small group rotations.  As an upper grade teacher, our district provides very little training on the HOW to do small groups.  They are very generous in telling us we SHOULD be doing them...


I do them...

I basically teach the same lesson 4 different times.  The catch is that I HAVE to get every group in, every day.  If not, it gets off.  This sounds like a HUGE deal and MASSIVE amounts of planning, but I have a secret

I actually spend less time planning than anyone else on my team.  This is because the lesson I plan IS WHAT WE DO IN SMALL GROUPS.  I don't plan a separate whole group lesson and then plan additional work for practice and small groups.

So I begin with a lesson.

 As you can see, I use mark the areas that I will focus on with each group.  Pink is for everyone. Then I differentiate for each group.  In this example, the yellow was an example of using specific context to understand what is happening in this drama.  This was very concrete and explicit, so I used it with my lower learners.  To the right, in blue, was some additional and more challenging information that I only wanted to introduce to my higher learners.

In this same lesson on elements of drama, we used different colored flags to identify elements of drama.  We were able to quickly use these all week in several different dramas.  (I used the same color flag on our definition anchor chart...should have pictured that!)

   Now, in this lesson, we used highlighters to highlight the information you find in the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  It is a mystery to me why they think it is so awesome to trade highlighter colors, but talk about engaged!  They were so pumped that they got to use 3 colors of highlighters!

Let's talk supplies.  Highlighters, pencils, flags, OH MY!  Every minute of your time in small group is precious, so I keep all supplies handy in small baskets.
As you can see, each seat has their own supply basket.  Inside every basket you can find a sharpened pencil, highlighter, flag, think/talk button, self assess rubric, and a googley eye.  A few of these need some explanation.

  • Googley Eye - my lower group uses to track text.  "Get your eyes on the text"
  • Think/Talk button - math counter that I've labeled with think on one side and talk on the other.  I use these with my groups that want to blurt out answers without thinking.  Only I can turn the button over.  If it says think, you need to be thinking.  Then I turn one over for that person to talk.  
  • Self Assess Rubric - at the end of each lesson, I go back over the objective and they rate themselves on how they did today.  They slide the bead on the pipe cleaner to show where they are performing.  You can find it FREE here in  my TPT Store.  
Comment below with questions!  I need some ideas for my next post in this series.  

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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ok, It's been awhile

So, the circus got the best of the ringmaster, but I'm back and better than ever.  I thought I'd begin with a post of how I never seem to be able to  try to stay organized.

Organization is one of those things that is SO AWESOME when it is working...and so TERRIBLE when it is not working.  My number one rule is clean off your desk at the end of the day.
because this is NOT what I want to walk 
into in the morning.

Now, this is a little extreme.  It was the end of the grading period and everything was needing to be graded all at once, but we all have these days!  

What is your number one rule to stay organized?  Can't wait to get back into blogging and hopefully sharing some great resources and ideas with all you fabulous teachers out there :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lunch Box Linky Party

I'm so excited to rejoin the blogging world with this awesome Linky Party!
Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics is hosting...I love linky parties because that is how I find new blogs to follow...yay!

Ok's my lunch box and lunch

I usually take a whole container of something (hummus and carrots and pita chips) and eat on it all week.  That really cuts down on the things I need to remember as I walk out the door in the morning.  I love my insulated cup to drink water at work...I find that when I teach all day, I get really dehydrated.  So this allows me to keep ice and water on hand with out the cup sweating all over my desk! Plus, my managers love being the one who gets me ice...I know, right?  They also really like washing my dishes...

So...I am part of a Team that does EVERYTHING my class eats lunch at 11:38, but my teammate takes them down so my lunch starts right then...I pick up both our classes at 12:08 and start the bathroom routine so that she can take a few more minutes at the end.  This works so well for us because we all get a few more minutes to eat!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Award

The Versatile Blogger Award rules:
1.  Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to them.  
Emily over at Circus of Learning passed this award on to me...thanks!  I'm honored.

2.  Tell 7 things about yourself.
  •  I've lived in a 5 mile radius my whole life...including college
  • I married my high school sweet heart
  • I work on the most fabulous, hardworking 4th grade team EVER!!
  • I'm a DIY diva
  • My favorite way to waste time is pinterest
  • I get joy out of organizing things into boxes and files
  • I love tv that has no point whatsoever
3.  Pass this award on to 12 other newly discovered blogs and let them know they received an award...
I'm not quite ready to pass on my award...I'm new to blogging and everyone I follow has a TON of followers.  This has made me realize I need to venture further out into the blog world.