Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Year of Many Changes

Every year brings change, some more than others.  This year at our school, to say that we've had a lot of changes would be a bit of an understatement.  Three weeks in, you would think I would be adjusted, but I'm still far from it.  We have added a school wide morning spiral time for English Language Arts and Math.  This is about 45 minutes if you include unpacking & morning announcements.  I love the idea, especially because it gives us an opportunity to drill some of the areas we didn't get to cover as well,  hit areas kids are still struggling on, and give an overall good review for ALL of our kids.  After that we have a 30 minute intervention time for our students reading below grade level.  In the past this has been something we do first thing when the kids arrive in the morning, however due to students being late we often times had the ones who needed it most missing out.  While we haven't yet started this time, I have started "training" all of my kids about what they are expected to do during this time if they are in the classroom (something else that is new).  Our goal is to have ALL kids reading & doing activities with their books during this 30 minute chunk of time.  Thus far, we have been using Reading A-Z and some of their comprehension & extending activities to go along with it.  So far so good, but it has been a lot of prep work, A LOT!

We have also started to lend ourselves (the entire school) to the guided math model.  If you haven't heard of it or are interested in learning more about, I suggest the book Guided Math in Action.
I started reading this book this summer and am really excited to get started with my small groups.  The hardest part for me is alloting enough time for my math block since so much of my day is already gone because of morning spiral and intervention time.   Basically, we will do a whole group lesson, small group or independent practice, and then move into math centers while I am pulling small groups to work with.  The small groups will vary when it comes to what I am working on each group with.  For my low babies, I will be working on basic number recognition and fluency.  For my higher ones we will be doing more problem solving.  With all of this though, they will be expected to share and talk about what they are thinking and how they got their answer/solution.  Getting students to explain their thinking is extremely difficult, hopefully through guided math students will feel more comfortable in explaining their thinking.

Is anyone else doing the guided math model in their classroom?  I would love to hear suggestions and how you make it all work! :) 

In addition to all this, I mentioned that I had some news to share in my last post.  You may or may not remember me saying that I had 24 babies in my class.  Yikes-e-wowa!  Since all of our classes were above the 22:1 ratio, we officially opened up a new section of 2nd grade.  This means that all 6 sections that we currently had, lost 1-4 kids to this new class.  Being that tomorrow starts week 4, it is a hard transition for teachers, students, but I think mostly for parents.  I have no doubt that gal we hired is going to be amazing!  She has reminded me of things I used to do and need to get back into the habit of!  I am excited for some fresh and new energy, especially since she is right next door to me & I will be mentoring her!  I am also kind of psyched about having a smaller class!   It is amazing the number of space that is added when 3 kids are moved!

Like I said, this is the year of many changes.  I'm crossing my fingers that things will settle down & start to smooth out SOON!  I am ready for some normalicy, again!  I really miss being able to create and with all of the things that have been going on, I haven't had the time or energy!  I have started an interactive book about maps & continents (2 different ones)... ehhh about 2 weeks ago!  I am excited to hopefully get them done this week so they are ready for me to use within the next 2 weeks! :)

Now that I'm done sharing that spiel, here is at my last week through anchor charts!  I loved when Lindsay from For the Love of First Grade shared hers this way, I had to do the same!  Especially since I never manage to have time or remember to take pictures during the day.  
 In writing, we began actually WRITING!!! We talked about how all stories need a beginning, middle, and end.  Day 1 I drew the pictures while telling my story, please don't judge my drawings, these were sitting sideways on the rocking chair, gotta get through the mini lesson quick drawings.  Day 2 I used my pictures to start writing my story, and day 3 I introduced the green editing crayon.  {Check out this post for more about editing crayons} When I wrote my story I purposely misspelled words, didn't capitalize, used incorrect verb tense, and missed punctuation.  I try to not reinvent the wheel for EVERY.SINGLE. lesson.  It works out great & the kids really seem to get it better!
Two weeks ago we began working on our STAMINA!  Initially our goal was 5 minutes, day 1-3 were tough, but on day 4 they rocked it with 10 minutes!  Some days are better than others, but I am super proud of how hard these kids have been working!  So last week I introduced buddy reading!

 They especially love using their questioning spinner they added to their reader's notebook that they use after reading their book to check each for understanding.  Of course, I didn't snap a picture of that, but it is from Deanna Jump's Interactive Reader's Notebook.  I strongly suggest this unit!
In social studies, we continued talking about being good citizens, specifically historical figures that were good citizens.  We studied Thurgood Marshall, Abigail Adams, and Sojourner Truth this week.  After we studied each person, students added interesting facts to their social studies notebook about each person. 

 This week, we have our parent orientation.  If you haven't checked out the Hey You! Parent Reminders from Teacher to the Core, you should!! I'm obsessed, I also love the Student Shout Outs she has available!!  I couldn't resist buying both! :)

I will leave you with this, advice I try to remind myself quite often, especially here lately!

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