Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Whew!  It's been a while!  I have been checking in, just not writing on the blog.  I lost a few follwers, then gained a few more!  I'm just glad everyone hasn't jumped ship on me.  The first part of my blog entry is more of a personal journal to just catch people up on my professional life, if they are interested.  If you want to get to the classroom stuff, just skip down to the photos!

The first month of school has flown by and I am one tired teacher!!!  Re-acclimating to third grade has been a roller coaster ride!  It has made me realize how much of a first grade teacher I had really become.  It may not have been as natural to me, but I had the systems and curriculum down - mostly because I wrote most of it.  The other thing that has thrown me for a loop is that third graders as so much more different than they were 8 years ago!  They are so much more savvy and grown up!  On the other had, I find myself talking about a lot of the same things I talked about with kindergartners in terms of social skills and behaviors.

I am also in a new building, so all of the social connections are different.  Just the routines and general movement in the building is soooo different.  I am adjusting to a 4 hour morning!  by 12:45, I am so hungry!  I also have worked really hard to make sure my copies are ready and I have items ready to go to the office and library because they are like a quarter mile walk!  I am also taking a crash course in the curriculum.  It is a bit different at this grade level.  We had worked on creating grade level units in first grade and in third, everyone has the curriculum, but teaches units and topics in the order that works well for them. 

We are departmentalized for math and that makes things a bit tricky.  I don't really know the kids as well and the management, routines, and curriculum have been a bit of a struggle!

In the other part of my life, I have been in grad school for several weeks now.  I have class 1 night a week, but at least a hundred pages of technical reading every week.  The use of technology is a huge change for me - everything is responded to and maintained online.  Learning about research is very interesting, but my brain is just so full of new stuff that I am spinning and not feeling like I am giving my grad class enough attention.  We are currently working on developing a research project with a small group.  The idea is to teach us how to prepare our proposal for our doctoral dissertation.


On the other hand, we have been learning so much in our classroom! 

I have been implementing Daily 5 in my classroom.  I'm not feeling like I have been too successful at this point, but am trying to give myself some room to figure things out and see what works in my classroom this year. I started out by having choice in daily 5 and found it just wasn't working.  I had kids skipping centers or not really being as accountable as they should be.  I brought back my good old center board for the Promethean and things went SOOOO much better today!  I thought about having recording sheets, but don't want to waste the paper or have more papers to deal with!  Click on the chart to learn more about how I made and use this.

                                                        Looks Like / Sounds Like
1. Read to Self:
This is a work in progress.  Right now, my bookshelf is pretty unorganized and my kids are reading so quickly that I don't even know what to do.  Seriously, some of them are reading a chapter book every 2 days and taking books to lunch.  I actually have to tell them they cannot be reading while I am talking or giving directions.  We have book boxes that I bought from Target last year.  They are magazine files.  I don't think they will last more than a year, but they work for now. I had way more pink than boyish colors, so I spray painted a few of the boxes with yellow and blue spray paint that I had a home.  Luckily, the solution was a free one!  I haven't been monitoring their collections at this point.  Hopefully that will come.

2. Work on Writing
I have been using this time as more of a writing workshop.  The kids are writing up a storm and I am debating about providing them with more specific prompts, both to limit the unmanageable writing projects they are are creating themselves and to provide targeted practice for state testing.  I moved from having copied writing paper they kept in a folder to a spiral notebook.  The papers were driving me bonkers and the spiral notebooks allow them to stay organized, but still pull out pieces to edit and revise.  We also do Collins Writing at our school, so I am still trying to figure out a system that works for centers, writing workshop, and Collins.  Right now, all of our work is in binders.

3. Work on Words
Ahh!  My nemesis!  We are clinging to Words Their Way, even though few teachers actually use the program any more.  We also have a list of 80 words 3rd graders must know, along with mastering any 2nd grade words they have not learned yet.  We are also getting spelling books next month.  Hmmm...any ideas on how this all works?  Right now, I have 2 spelling groups, one with long vowel patterns and one working on rules for suffixes.  They are closely grouped to where they came out on the WTW assessment.  It has been a trick to explain to kids and families that the spelling words are not for the sake of memorizing (they're too easy), but for learning the rule.  Right now, they have 10 words from their sort and 2 of their 3rd grade constants. I finally got that all straightened out and then I find out that we have books coming.  To be continued...

For the center practice of words, I have made pockets that have white boards, Expo marker, fleece eraser, a paper key board and a bookmark with sign language letters on it. They students know they need to read, spell, and then read each of their words 3 times.

That's where I am right now.  I also have a little research center going to round out the centers.  We are learning about the oceans and continents, so for a non-fiction writing piece, we are researching and writing about ocean animals using non-fiction books I have a PebbleGo.  PebbleGo is a bit easy for third graders, but they are getting the facts quickly so our focus is on writing strong paragraphs.

That's a little about what I have been up to.  I will try to update more as I am able and take some more pictures to share.


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