Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Every school has at least one, the grade level that has been notorious since they first arrived. Stories are whispered (or louder as frustration levels grow) amongst teachers. Everyone watches that group as they moved up. You hold your breath as they approach your grade level (or even switch grade levels to avoid them).
That group has something about its chemistry, something about the combination of individuals that seem to make learning and cooperating a challenge for all.
That group is in fifth grade this year at my school.
One advantage about being in the middle grades is that you know they are coming. We knew they were coming. We were ready. Even during “Move Up Day” last June we sent a clear message, as a grade level, that we have high standards and expect those standards to be met.
(During “Move Up Day” I let two different students visit the hall, due to sheer lack of respect for others, myself included, until they could join the group appropriately.)
School started with a clean slate for all. Expectations were revealed, modeled, discussed, role played, and continue to be reviewed and practiced. We are in the second week of school and they aren’t there yet. At times I wonder if there will ever be a time that ‘one voice at a time’ is heard this year. At other times I catch them going seven, or twelve minutes, meeting the expectations – and we celebrate.
Today we sat on the carpet at the end of the day and I asked them what is and isn’t working for them.
I started with what isn’t working. (I wanted to end with the positive.) They only had three things; two behaviorally and one about the size of the carpet in our room.
I then asked them what is working. I was blown away with the list they came up with! I forget that there are things I do that aren’t done by other teachers. These things are part of the way my room has always run. These students have fresh eyes and things like “no line order”, “we get to choose where we sit”, and “lots of books” were shared. The what IS working list took up the entire side of the board.
We admired how much longer the what IS working list is than what is NOT working.
Then we set about looking for solutions for the three things on the shorter list.
This was a refreshing way to end the day, for all of us.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
A bathroom nearby is a good thing
And my students start school tomorrow
I am a very strong supporter of the “24 hour, fever free” before you are in the classroom - for students and teachers alike. It keeps our schools healthier overall. That being said, how do you have elementary students start without their homeroom teacher? I will go in to set the tone and get some routines established and then head back to bed.
Monday, September 1, 2014
“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Textsadded an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.
Books marked with an '*' I would put in my classroom library.
Books marked with a '#' would be in an middle or high school library.
# The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
A boy named Raj lives in a village with his family with an idyllic lifestyle until a life changing event. The move changes his lifestyle and serendipitously has him meet a new friend, David. David is Jewish refugee interned on this remote island, but Raj has no idea what is happening in the wider world for this to matter.
* Not A Box by Antoinette Portis
Maker Movement inspiration!
# Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
I really enjoyed following Callie as her life went from living with a single parent mom to being in a household. This book is about loyalty and finding one’s true self.
Somewhere, Home by Nada Awar Jarrar
Set in Lebanon following a few families, with life in the mountain village being primary.
Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons
Girls sharing antidotes about their experiences as bully and bullied.
* The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
Hot off the press! An adventure of friendship and family with famous scientists acting as inspiration.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
You have to be in a certain mood and have a particular sense of humor for this book as it is very quirky. If you like quirky this is a book for you. It starts with a vacuum cleaner turning a squirrel into a possible super hero.
The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhiell
Another fantasy book with talking animals and magic throughout the adventure.