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Professional Reading

I did a lot of professional reading and thinking during the winter vacation. And, although I started writing this post before school started and am only publishing it now, it details some of my thoughts on this professional reading. This is a good exercise for me now that we're about to enter our third week back to school and I've actually tried out some of these ideas in my class. This post is preceded by one tomorrow in which I describe in a little more detail how I implemented these ideas and what happened as a result.

(1) I am going to teach my students a 3-minute meditation practice during transitions. This is a precursor to implementing the Goldie Hawn Foundation MindUp curriculum that teaches kids about the brain and how to manage their reactions to a variety of daily events. I will do these 3-minute meditations for a couple of weeks before launching into the curriculum itself. This is the first time I'm teaching this so I'm a little nervous.

(2) I am going to try out yet another note taking system during conferences for reading workshop as described by Jennifer Serravallo in her books Conferring with Readers and Teaching Reading in Small Groups. It's a very simple system, but I think it will quickly and easily capture valuable information when I confer with students. This particular form has two columns - "compliments I can give the reader" and "things I can teach the reader". I can use this sheet multiple times by drawing a line under the notes I take for a particular day. I am going to adopt Serravallo's coding system for keeping track of the compliment (C) and teaching point (TP) that I use with a child on any given day.

(3) I will be implementing many more games in math. I'm going to start by using some of the games in Marilyn Burns' book So You Have to Teach Math? I am also planning to have my students write a math autobiography in the same way I will be doing a mid-year interest inventory for reading. Even though these are great activities for the beginning of the school year, I think they can also provide valuable information in the middle and at the end of the year.

(4) I am rethinking my assessment system in general as I read Serravallo's book on how to teach reading in small groups. For example, Serravallo talks about asking the kids to keep a read aloud monthly log with space for kids to respond to a prompt that reveals their thinking. I have been looking for a way to engage my students in quick thinking events during read aloud and this may work out well.

(5) I am going to implement a daily Independent Reading Log (IDR) log so that students can keep track of their school and home reading. I suspect that some of my students are not reading at home. And, some of these same students tend to have low stamina for reading in school. I plan to address this issue during this month in a more coordinated and intense way. If I think it's important for kids to be engaged readers then I need to take concrete actions to change some of these less than productive reading behaviors now. I have two students in mind that would benefit from more targeted conferences that teach them how to monitor themselves when they are distracted during independent reading. These two happen to be two of my most challenging students as well. Not behaviorally challenging, but in terms of attitude towards reading and writing. I think they've become so used to making themselves unobtrusive that they've been lost in the shuffle. I need to redouble my efforts with these two students.

How did you recharge over the break? What professional reading did you do or are you doing that will be making a difference in your classroom over the next few months? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.
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I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!