Monday, February 11, 2013

100 Days Smarter!

We celebrated the 100th day of school on January 31st. This is always one of my favorite days of the school year. We make a whole day of it completing 100s day activities intertwined with our regular schedule. This year, I included a couple new things that I found on TpT. Every student made a crown to wear proclaiming, "I am 100 days smarter!" Here is a photo of everyone in their crowns:

See how happy it made them?? I snagged this from It's Always Sunny in SPED on TpT. I even made one myself:

Another cool thing I found was this activity called, "What can I do in 100 seconds?" created by Lauren Lunceford on TpT. The kids ABSOLUTELY loved this! I have the funniest video of them hopping up and down. Here is a photo of some of them fervently counting how many times they can write their names in 100 seconds:

Be prepared for a little whining from the kids with 8+ letters in their names!

One more thing I always do is the "100 of something"--kids bring in 100 of something and we share our collections. Everyone gets a little certificate for participating. Then the students vote on their favorite 100 collections. The winner brought in 100 crayons but I think his creative display of them won everyone over:

All in all, it was another successful celebration of the 100th day of school. It certainly feels like an achievement and makes us feel that much closer to summer vacation!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our pets.......

How have I forgotten to mention our classroom pets up until now??? They've been the underwater classmates since October--our 5 goldfish! We are "fish-sitting" for a friend of Harding until spring. They are some pretty cute goldfish and they really like to eat! Allow me to introduce:

Fish keeper has been added to our list of class jobs and has become the most sought after job at that. They are fun to watch and we loving having them!

Book Clubs, Part 2

Our first round of book clubs lasted a little over 2 weeks. We continued our station schedule as usual. The only difference was that we took a break from traditional guided reading and Read to Partner. During guided reading time, I met with the small groups to hear about the book club meetings, listen to some of their reading (trying to snag a few informal RRRs) and answer any questions they had and make sure everyone was keeping up with the "packet" (more on this in a minute). They also had a chance to share some opinions and thoughts about the book. I really made an effort to let the group members lead the discussions and decide what they felt they needed during that time. This was the part that made everyone nervous at first. Our GR lessons are pretty routine driven so this was a new experience. They got the hang of it eventually.

During Read to Partner time, they would meet with their groups to read a chapter or two of the book together and then they could work on the packets. What is the packet? The packet was a series of reponse sheets that the students used to keep track of how much and what they were reading. I have a subscription to (which I LOVE!) and they have so many reading reponse packets for many different chapter books. They had them for two of the books we were using which was very helpful! It helped guide everyone and keep them on a schedule to finish the book in the allotted 2 week time. I also used these packets for reading grades along the way. Here is the packet for Matilda:

There were not pre-made packets for Drita and Goosebumps so I turned to TpT, of course! I found a fantasic response packet for literature circles from Jessica Osika for {FREE}!! And they worked like a charm for these two groups:

And here are my kiddos working in their book clubs. They did great!

I'm proud to say our first trek with book clubs was a success! We've since completed a second round of books clubs that began after Christmas break. New books, new groups, new packets, but BETTER discussions! It's safe to say that this will become a permanent part of my literacy block.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Foray into Book Clubs

We have been doing some form of balanced literacy for my entire 10 years at Harding. When I first arrived in 2003, we were a Four Blocks/Big Blocks school. Some years later, we moved to the F&P framework of balanced literacy--big on differentiated instruction and flexible reading groups. I then got a copy of The Daily 5. This changed my classroom completely. Up until a few years ago, I thought "stations" were a primary thing (much like the anchor charts I mentioned before).

Including independent literacy stations has given me the opportunity to work more closely with my students! Does that sound odd? Well, think about it. When students are able to work independently in literacy stations, I am able to conduct small group, daily, guided reading lessons. I really get to know my students as readers--what are they able to do really well as a reader and where do they still need help?

Now that our school has been doing this for several years, students are coming into my 4th grade class as better readers overall. Therefore, I thought it time to add a new dimension to the fold. This year, I have been taking a 4 part workshop through a local literacy initiative that focuses in Book Clubs and Inquiry Circles. It has given me new ideas for my literacy block! During the month of December, we began our first true try with book clubs--I gave up complete control and let students form their own groups. I think the students were more nervous about it than me!

After presenting about 7 different book ideas to the class, the students gave me their top 2 choices. We ended up with these 4 our as our first book club books.
Quite a range but worked perfect for the varying reading levels in the class. I was impressed that many of them knew enough about themselves as readers to choose the book most close to their level (F&P GR level or SRI Lexile--we use both and they know both).
I will post more about this experience in a "to be continued" post.