Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

 "Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him." - Maya Angelou

This quote sparked a thought about "Good Books", and how we consider the best books to share with our students during our precious read aloud time.  I refer to this time as precious because I find it is great time to model behaviors that we want our young readers to pick up on.  I often use a bank of my favorite books to teach targeted skills and to promote rich discussion.  Today, I share with you a list of my favorite "Start of School" books to use on the first days of the year.  

My Favorit
“Start of School”
1. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
2. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
3. Pete the Cat (Any and All of them!) by James Dean 
4. If you Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff
5. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
6. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
7. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
8. No David by David Shannon
9. The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neil
10.  Lucy Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne Jones

Here are a few newbies that I'll be sharing lessons for as I develop them!
 *New* My New Friend is So Fun by Mo Williems 
*New* The Numberlys by WIlliam Joyce
*New*  The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli
*New*  First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First 30 Days of School

Thank you Bosland's Learning Plus for hosting the "First 30 Days of School" Workshop with Donna Whyte.  In July, a group of colleagues and I attended this workshop and were introduced to a number of great ideas.  Donna Whyte, at The Smartie Zone, shared some of the best practices she uses in teaching.  Below I've listed a few of the highlights from the workshop that I plan on implementing in my school day this year.

Are you doing the right thing?
Donna Whyte expressed a need for clear and consistent vocabulary within a school.  She brought up the point of classroom expectations.  Donna shared her experiences of success with students using one cue, "Are you doing the right thing?"  At the start of the school year she spent ample time sharing with students what that looks like, feels like, and even sounds like.  This allowed students to take ownership of their actions to "Do the right thing" each and every day.  I agree that consistent expectations in a school provide clarity and pave greater avenues for student's to take stock in not only their learning, but their attitude and behavior.

Partner Sticks
I LOVE THIS IDEA!  I often find myself looking for ways to stay organized in order to keep a positive and nurturing learning environment.  Last year, one of my goals during Read Alouds was to give students ample time to "Turn and Talk" about what they were noticing in a text.  I loved listening to the little one's chatter about what they thought and felt during a read aloud.  However, I found a pattern of those who were consistently more engaged than others.  I resorted to giving students spots on the carpet as to have more control over who was partner talking.  This allowed me to partner model students with those who needed the modeling.  What it didn't allow was student choice, further eliminating student ownership of the activity.
This year I plan on using "Partner Sticks".  Donna Whyte explains them as an easy way to let students choose their partner with guidance in making the best choice.  She explained that students would come into her room and partner up their stick with a friend they wanted to "Turn and Talk" with that day. Donna would monitor this choice and step in as needed.  This way of partner choice allowed student buy-in and teacher discretion.
Stay tuned for a picture of the "Partner Stick Station" in my classroom.

I could go on for days about the great ideas Donna Whyte shared.  These were just two of my favorites.  I encourage you to visit her site to get more ideas for your classroom!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My New Hobby

 As the beginning of the year approaches, I tend to replay year beginnings of the past in my mind.  Setting up my classroom, buying new supplies, and back to school workshops!  I know we've all attended a workshop that has started with the infamous icebreaker, "Share an interesting fact about yourself."  As soon as I hear these words my nerves build with anticipation as I  feel myself scrounging for something new to say. This year I already know what I'd like to say,
  "I've been inspired to blog!"  
  "Who inspired me?" you ask 
The hundreds of other elementary teachers who find small moments of time in their busy day to share their best ideas on a blog. I've admired these educators over the years and have made it a personal goal to join the community of educational bloggers.  A special thanks to Christina over at "School Daisies"  for pushing me to get started!  I invite you to follow me through my adventures as an educator as I add "chatter" to the world of educational blogs.