Sunday, August 28, 2011

I forget every year...

just how tiring the first weeks are! It's like I must black it out in my memory. I know to expect super long hours, endless repetition of setting routines and procedures, and sore feet from standing all day as opposed to lounging on my couch, but I'm always amazed at how worn out my body is. I seriously napped and lied around ALL day yesterday. I never even put on real clothes, sad I know. I'm also fighting some kind of infection, thought it was strep but thank goodness it wasn't (yes I've already been to the dr. for shots and antibiotics and we're only 12 days into this year).

I've been too busy or too tired to post anything and to be honest nothing we've done yet has been very worthy of sharing. But here's a super cute 1st day of school picture that I took of each kiddo. The kids were so funny, when I explained how I wanted them to hold the speech bubble to look like it was coming out of their mouths a few of the boys exclaimed, "It's like we're in a comic book!".

Which leads me to another idea... If your kids are doing any kind of book extensions or writing their own stories they could make themselves into the characters, write speech bubbles for themselves(using a dry erase surface would be easy), take photos, and put them together comic book style. That's a lot of work but it integrates technology and would be so much fun (especially if you have older kids who are more independent with tech. stuff). So that's my spur of the moment teaching idea.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thinking About Writing

My mind's been stuck on math most of the summer, but for good reason. I'm excited to be switching classes for 2 hours a day with another teacher to teach math and science to her class as she teaches mine reading. So I get to teach math and science twice a day. I think I'm going to love it! I've been able to focus more on math and science planning and I don't have to worry about figuring out where my literacy stations will go and I've been able to make more room for math stations. Yay!

But on to my post title... I've been thinking about and planning for writing recently. I am certainly not the strongest writing teacher nor was I a great writer as a student. I love doing shared writing activities with the kids and making class books with them but I always start the year off strong and then it seems like writing time gets shorter and shorter as other subjects spill into that time. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading a great book, Your Child's Writing Life by Pam Allyn, that reiterated the importance of writing everyday.
Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age
It was a great reminder that the best way to improve writing is to do it everyday. Just as I use the Daily 5 to help my kids build reading stamina I need to help them build their writing stamina too. I know writing is a part of the Daily 5, but at my school we are not allowed to use the writing component during our reading block, so it often gets left out if we can't find another time during the day to get to it. After looking at my schedule for this year I am vowing to give my kids an uninterrupted writing time everyday! I've got about a 40 minute language block so I'm thinking 10 minutes to do a writing mini lesson (and incorporate the grammar skill of the week), then 20 minutes of free writing (we'll start with 3 minutes and build up), and then 5 to 10 minutes of sharing.

I got to participate in observational rounds at another school last year and I saw an awesome way for kids to share their writing. Have any of you ever heard of "star, star, wish"? It was precious! In a kindergarten class the kids wrote in their journals for about 5 minutes (they were given a specific task) and then shared with their neighbor. Their neighbor gave them two stars (things they did well) and one wish (something they wish they'd done). So it went like this- Johnny says, "Molly, I give you a star for starting with a capital letter and a star for a great illustration. I wish your spaces were a little bigger". It was so wonderful to see 5 year olds pointing out things their friends had done well. I'll definitely be using that this year. Here's a sign I made to hang on the board for the star, star, wish (the teacher I observed had one on her board too- I did not come up with this idea!)
Well tomorrow's our last teacher workday and then the kids come Thursday. I feel like there's still so much to do and so little time to do it! Good luck to everyone who is starting school soon. I hope we all have fantastic first days and get the year off to a great start!