New Teacher Questions...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NewTeacher12345, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 Rookie

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    Aug 12, 2019

    Hi there, I have just recently graduated college and am starting a job as a first grade teacher this September. I have a few random questions that I hope you can answer! I will be meeting with my Principal later this week and will ask her any questions as well, but I wanted to get some answers from you all as well!

    1. Has anyone ever used EnvisionsMath or ReadyGen? These are the math and reading curriculums that my school uses. We also will be doing Daily 5 for reading. I have flipped through the book a bit but would like your opinions/explanation of a typical day using this curriculum. Also, are there student workbooks that come with this curriculum?

    2. How do you all organize your classroom library? I went in today and the teacher that retired left me TONS of books, most organized by number or category. We use the DRA reading system but her numbers go up way higher than most first graders read at, yet the books in the bins are for first grade level. Just a little confused and overwhelmed. Should books be organized by level? Also, first grade teachers: Do you explicitly tell your students what level they are in reading?

    3. We also will be using the Second Step Curriculum. I don't know much about it, just wondering if anyone else does!

    Thank you all so much!!!
     
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  3. Moonshine123

    Moonshine123 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2019

    Hi so I have worked with ReadyGen and it is a pretty good program. They provide you with varying lessons and as well as graphic organizers for each lesson. The stories are pretty good that come with the curriculum. The kids seem to enjoy them as well. If you don't mind my asking what state are you teaching in using these curriculums?
     
  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Aug 14, 2019

    1. I'm unfamiliar with these curricula, but I do find that graphic organizers, as long as they're age appropriate, assist in prepping the student for the lesson.

    2. For student choices in reading, I prefer not to restrict the students to specific reading levels. If a student is consistently exploring books that seem non-productive, then I might also recommend some more level appropriate material along with what the student is choosing, but frankly, I don't recall ever needing to do that. OK, no, I do recall a 5th grade parent who was upset that her child was only reading "Dr. Seuss" books; I monitored his choices, and found that was not the case at all. He was choosing some easier to read books, but they were within his interest range and more than appropriate for a 5th grader. Students have a keen sense of what they are interested in exploring and are usually eager to learn to read. I recommend to parents that books that a student wishes to read that are too advanced, those are the books for reading aloud to the student. In fact, I encourage parents to daily read aloud to their children, an extraordinarily beneficial activity.

    I do have a problem with restricting students free reading time to specific reading levels. Students naturally learn by exploration and this includes exploring more difficult material (with surprising results--the brain is plastic, constantly and invisibly developing). Students also enjoy or are interested in material at a lower reading level. This is still excellent reading practice; brain circuits become further insulated and the reading process becomes more automatic. Most importantly, free reading helps build habitual reading. Students who read become readers.
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Aug 16, 2019

    I used EnVision math with third graders and fifth graders. I can honestly say that I myself never once used the actual book, except as sub plan fodder, but there are some terrific supplementary resources. Formative assessments, multiple versions of summative assessments, differentiated follow-ups, and center activities.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 17, 2019

    I used Envisions Math with second graders about five years ago. I really liked it then, but I've more recently heard many do not like it. I'm not sure if they've updated it so that people don't like the newer edition or if I was just in the minority who liked the program.

    Although I've been teaching for awhile, I just finished my first week in first grade. So I'm still learning about working with first graders, too. My own philosophy is never to tell kids their reading level or limit them to books at their level, no matter what their grade. In grades 2 and up, I would not have a leveled library. I've been told that I need to have one in first grade, so I just have the one that the teacher who was in the room before me left behind. I will use it, but I will not make a big deal out of levels. I don't like the idea of limiting what kids read. In addition to the leveled library, I also have my own library of fiction and nonfiction picture books. Those aren't leveled and never will be. I will allow kids to choose freely from those books. Even if they can't read the words, they can read the pictures.

    My guess regarding the numbers in the library are that the numbers were simply an organizational tool. It's how I've organized my classroom libraries for the past several years. It's an easy way for students to know where to return the books. For example, any book that fits into the "math" category has a number 1 sticker on it. The basket they belong in also has a number 1 sticker. The number 1 has nothing to do with their level, but it allows the students to know that the number 1 books go in the number 1 basket. Maybe that's the system that the teacher before you used?
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  7. ninamricci

    ninamricci New Member

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    Aug 18, 2019

    Massachusetts!
     
  8. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Aug 30, 2019

    YES on Daily 5! What are your questions?
    My advice is model, model, model and be patient. The students WILL follow the book if YOU follow the book but it takes time.
     
  9. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Aug 30, 2019

    I've used Second Step at the Pre-K & Kinder level.
    It's great social-emotional learning for the little ones. I've never used/seen it for the older grades so I don't know how good it is for them!
     
  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Sep 5, 2019

    I would agree that you should not attempt to restrict students to reading certain levels. This is especially true if you are using the DRA assessment (which I think is nearly worthless). The key on student-chosen reading books is that the child is actually reading. If you see page flipping or other behaviors that indicate a child isn't reading, it's time for you to intervene and get the child a more appropriate book.

    I only let advanced readers choose non-fiction books, since a low reader can get meaning from just looking at the pictures and avoid the words.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I don’t think I agree with this. Is it not still valuable for them to read the pictures? Isn’t making meaning the point of reading whether it’s reading words, pictures, or both? What if you have a reader who is highly motivated or interested in non-fiction topics? Why would you withhold those books from them?
     
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  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I encourage students to check out books for home reading from anything that interests them. In class, kids need to read - not flip pages. It's ok if you don't agree with this, but my students (4th grade this year) read 3,000 to 6,000 words each day in my class.
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Sep 5, 2019

    I think both you and Bella have some excellent points that I think should be combined. Tyler, I so agree with your encouragement of home reading from anything that interests them. I personally have seen how this motivates students to read so much on their own. It is one of my favorite parts of teaching is to see them get excited about so many different types of books.

    I do think Bella makes an excellent point about non-fiction. I can understand your concern about the students only looking at pictures, but a total ban on non-fiction? That seems rather extreme. As Bella so well stated "What if you have a reader who is highly motivated or interested in non-fiction topics? Why would you withhold those books from them?" I know as a 3rd grade teacher, I have added more non-fiction to my classroom library, and I have seen the benefits.

    Thank you to both of you for reminding me of some key things about literature--wish there were more posts about one of my favorite topics.
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I completely agree that kids need to read, not flip pages, but I don’t equate reading the pictures to flipping pages. I think there is a lot of value in reading the pictures and making meaning from them, whereas just flipping pages without paying any attention to the content on those pages has little to no value. I don’t disagree that reading words is important, but I would hate to further discourage an already struggling reader by limiting what they were allowed to read in class. One of my lowest readers last year loved nonfiction, and the only way I could get him to write a reading response was to provide him with books he was interested in enough to write about. It was much better than the page flipping he would have done with a fiction book that didn’t interest him.
     
  15. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Sep 6, 2019

    Sounds like you are doing everything right. We need to get our kids' noses into books, and that's what you are doing.

    In my 4th grade class, a book about horses might have 50 - 100 words on a page and a weak reader need not read any words to get entertainment from "reading" that book. A Beverly Cleary novel might have 350 - 500 words on a page. When one of my students reads 10 pages, that's serious reading practice. Fourth graders need to have tons of practice to move forward, and the non-fiction books don't offer that.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2019

    Well, I guess we agree on the end result, just not the way to get there.

    Just curious... I see you mention the number of words on a page or the number your students read fairly often. How do you know the number of words? Do you actually take the time to count them, or are you getting that information from a resource somewhere? No book or resource that I’ve ever come across has listed the number of words per page or book (other than the books being used for reading inventory assessments), so I’m just curious how you get or determine this information. I’m also curious why you place so much value on the number of words rather than the number, quality, or variety of books. I don’t agree or disagree with what you’re doing. I’m truly just wanting to understand more about it.
     

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