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Showing posts from September, 2014

55 minutes

I have approximately 55 minutes to teach language arts.
It's not enough time, of course. But then how much time is enough time?

As I work through this dilemma, I have decided that some routines are non-negotiable. Independent reading and read aloud need to happen every day, and my students need time to write and explore different writing techniques in a writer's notebook. So far, I've been able to stay the course even if we've had to skip read aloud on occasion.

In the meantime, here are some things I've noticed so far:

Most of my students come in at the beginning of class and settle in around the room with a book; they know that the first 10 - 15 minutes are for independent reading and they take this time seriously.

I have my work cut out with some students who don't like to read, or so they say. What they don't know, or at least don't think I'm serious when I tell them, is that my goal for this year is to make sure that everyone loves to read or, at…

Celebrations

We have a new principal at our school.
He has come to us with a mandate: to change the culture of our school.
He is a man on a mission and I like where he's going.

Every week our principal asks for celebrations.
We write up anything we notice during the course of the week that is cause to celebrate and send it to him via email. You can celebrate yourself, your colleagues or your students.

Source: https://bookweek-for-beginners.wikispaces.com/celebrations
Since school started a couple of weeks ago, we've done only one of these celebrations yet it has changed the playing field for me. So many positive noticings are contagious. It feels good to be acknowledged and it feels even better to recognize and appreciate others.

Our principal is committed to celebrating everyone as often as possible. I for one, look forward to these weekly celebrations. They're fun and uplifting. So much so, that I think I will
find small and big ways to celebrate my students AND get them to celebrate…

Reflections on a Rough Patch

OK. So, today I experienced a rough patch with one of my classes.
It made me realize how important it is to be patient and to make measured decisions, not just occasionally but every single time.

I'm not sure how things started to get out of hand or when I started to get impatient. I was giving instructions for a school-wide writing assessment, and I thought I was being crystal clear in my directions. I was taking pride in the fact, or so I thought, that I was being pro-active by anticipating all potential confusions. Then, the questions started coming and they didn't stop.

I watched myself getting more and more frustrated by a situation that was quickly getting out of control. And, I was left to wonder what had gone wrong.

So, here are my take-aways from today's experience.

I gave too many instructions in a short time. It would have been more effective if I had asked the kids do a think-pair-share after giving two or three instructions.I should have started the writing ass…

Beginnings

I had good intentions.
I was going to blog at the end of the summer.
And, then again after the first day of school.
And, finally, at the end of the first week.

But, none of that happened.

These last two weeks - one for teacher PD and working in classrooms, and the other, our first one with students - have been so incredibly busy that I've had precious little time for reading or writing. Despite the fact that this summer was somewhat unusual because I didn't do as much reading and writing as I normally do during the summer months, it was still much better than these past two weeks. In addition to the typical start-up load of going back to school, I now have a longer than normal, albeit temporary, commute. This means I have precious little time for much of anything that isn't essential.

Nevertheless, today is a new day. 
A fresh start. 
A second chance. 

As I look out the window of my bedroom I am greeted by brilliant blue skies, majestic mountains, and two volcanoes - Cotopaxi and A…