What new "thing" did you add this year that is really working?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by heavens54, Mar 23, 2010.

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  1. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Apr 6, 2010

    What are you referring to when you say "mentor texts?"
     
  2. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Apr 7, 2010

    1. Mentor books like "Owl Moon", which shows how well similes work to create mood.
    2. The terrific beginning to "Charlotte's Web", and how it hooks the reader with just the right amount of dialogue and suspense.
    3. "Hello, Harvest Moon" by Ralph Fletcher uses personification to create a beautiful scene.
    4. I can't remember the name of the book--it's at school-- but it's one where the author uses specific place names to describe a boy's bicycle ride to his grandmother's house. I read it first without the names of the streets, the people, the filling station, and it's flat. Then I read it again to show how details such as that add to the story.

    I'm going to fill out a Donor's Choose form and see if I can't get more, or get my own copies of these books.
     
  3. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Apr 7, 2010

    Interesting, I have never heard of this strategy. How did you learn about it? And what books to reference as examples?
     
  4. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Apr 8, 2010

    Hey lemon, this might be a really good idea for me to try next year. I should have about 8 students. What do you do if someone is absent and can't do their job? Silly question but I'd like to get your take.
     
  5. goopp

    goopp Devotee

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    Apr 8, 2010

    One of my jobs is "substitute", they do the job of anyone absent.
     
  6. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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  7. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Apr 9, 2010

    Thanks. I will check these sites out later. I appreciate the links.
     
  8. teach4eva

    teach4eva New Member

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    May 22, 2010

    I started a 100% differentiated classroom this year. In the past, I would always have students that work so much faster than others so I always had to come up with "anchor activities" to enhance their learning while I reteach the students that do not master the concepts. Then, all the students are assessed at the same time. I had students last year that were doing so many anchor activities that I had to do something different. So, I started giving every student their own learning contract and let them choose their own activities based on their learning style and multiple intelligences, and allowed them to work at their own pace. Students that work faster can move on while I work with students that may need extra help. Students now take assessments when they are ready for them and then move on to their next contract. Students can choose to work in groups or individually. Students have to choose products that they want to do, so the products have been great! I can tier the activities also, so students are able to do the work a little above their level to challenge them. I have now become a facilitator in the classroom, which I love.

    Since this was my first year, I have already thought of ways to differentiate a little better and can't wait to implement it next year.
     
  9. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    May 24, 2010

    Shouldbeasleep, the last book is Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack. Great book!!

    We also use Enemy Pie as a mentor text, there are tons of uses for it.

    I love all of these ideas! I'd love to hear more about the paragraph of the week.
     
  10. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    May 24, 2010

    teach4eva, I am attending a workshop on differentiated learning this summer. I will also have to present in the fall. What are some of the most difficult things about getting a DI classroom underway? How did you overcome them? My biggest consern would be making sure the students were getting all the information they needed and covering all standards with each child adequately. Can you tell me more?
     
  11. teach4eva

    teach4eva New Member

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    May 25, 2010

    Those were the same concerns I had when I started. I just got so frustrated that I sat there for 15 hours straight trying to come up with a way that I could reach ALL students because teaching whole class was not working. I've tried flexible grouping and other strategies but nothing worked for every student.

    So, the first thing you really have to do when setting up your classroom like this is to know your students. I did several inventories and surveys (learning styles, interest, multiple intelligences) so I could get to know the students. Then, I always would teach the first 2 units as a whole group with flexible grouping and other activities so I can see how the students work best and really get to know them. Then, once I feel like they are ready, I start the learning contracts. Students choose their own activities and work at their own pace. I differentiate process, content, product, and learning environment for each student. For example, if we are learning about the Silk Road and students need to gather information first, I might have selections from the textbook, a video, primary sources, maps, picture books, etc on the topic. Students learn how they learn best. Then, I allow students to work individually or with partners or groups of three. They can also choose to sit on the floor, go to the library, work in the hallway, move their desk or wherever they feel they get their work done the best. Each learning contract has formative assessments and activities along the way so that I can monitor progress. They also have an exit ticket everyday so I can keep track of their learning and answer any questions they may have. Some students and I have been journaling back and forth through these exit tickets. It really helps to continue to get to know your students. Then, at the end of the contract, students will have a product of their choice with a rubric and guidelines. I've had so many different products this year, such as, puppet shows, television commercials, board games, computer games, animations, interviews, scripts for television shows, card game, charts/graphs, debates, etc. Finally, students are given assessments, like open responses and multiple choice tests to determine profiiency in the content. If they do not get at least an 80% on the content standards, I have to reteach what they are missing. That way I know all students are learning the content.

    The good thing is that students work at their own pace and take the assessments when they are ready for them. The bad thing is that I have 120 students and they are all in different places! :dizzy:

    Once you get the learning contracts done, you have to organize your classroom to meet the needs of a differentiated classroom. I have to keep all materials, papers, worksheets out pretty much all year. I used to have all papers clipped on the board, but know they are all in file folders in a box, which is much easier. This is a work in progress as I am always changing and coming up with new ways to do something!

    The absolute worst part about this is the grading!:help: This is still a nightmare, but it's getting better. This kind of classroom does not work well for putting grades into a report card because it is so subjective. I have to grade kids on where I think they should be and not necesarily on where they actually are in terms of their progress and pacing. Next year I plan to keep anecdotal records for each student with the concepts and standards so my record keeping should be much better. I will also have a parent meeting at the beginning of the year to explain how this type of classroom works. That has been a struggle this year because they do not understand what I am trying to do.

    I hope this helps. This was my first full year teaching this way and I see a ton of reasons to continue this way, but still have some issues to resolve. Let me know if you find out anything good at your workshop!
     
  12. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    May 25, 2010

    Teach4eva, your post and ideas are very helpful and inspiring. I have learned all of these concepts, but to hear how to implement them helps me to visualize what it should look like...
     
  13. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    May 25, 2010

    THANK YOU for posting these! I stumbled across the idea of using mentor texts as I was looking for end of year writing ideas and used the following:
    1) Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day: the kids changed the name in the title to their own and wrote about a Terrible Horrible...Picture Day.
    2) I Wanna Iguana: The kids wrote a persuasive letter to their parents asking for a unique pet.
    3) Quick as a Cricket: The kids created 4 pages like the ones in the book and we put all the pieces together to create a class Book of Similes.
    4) Duck on a Bike: We worked together to create a similar book, but with a different main character and a different mode of transportation.
    5) What Am I?: The kids created a page of clues about an animal of their choice and drew only a part of the animal. For example: "Here is my mouth" (with a drawing of a crocodile's mouth)...I have sharp teeth...I like the water...I have a long tail.../ Then on the back of the page, they drew the entire animal and wrote: "I am a crocodile!" This one was a lot fun. I projected the front pages on the document camera and the whole class got to guess each animal.

    I'm looking for more of these mentor text ideas!
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    May 25, 2010

    The way I motivated Writer's Workshop in the beginning and treated it like a reward and a gift, made my kids really want it, even the lowest performers.

    I also love my "Ponder This!" picture prompts I get from the EdHelper website. I use them to expand their language building skills and for all kinds of other interesting connections we make along the way.
     
  15. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    May 25, 2010

    CutNglue, can you explain a little more about how you motivated your students to want your Writers Workshop? I would love to know how you set this up...
     
  16. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    May 25, 2010

    Earlier in the year we had an author's study on Eric Carle. During part of that I showed the students his studio, his picture, and talked about how an author is a real person just like we are. We had been practicing journaling for a while. Then just before Christmas I had gone to another school and observed another teacher. When I came back to my classroom I told my students about the awesome writer's workshop I saw in the other K class and how I going to do the same thing with them. I explained that teachers like to share ideas and help each other and we learn from each other just like they like to help each other as friends and learn from each other. I briefly told them that all writers must have tools and that I would be giving them their own tools just like the other teacher gave her class special tools for writing as well. Then I told them I would wait until after the holiday break to give it to them because they were already getting so many wonderful gifts and I wanted them to have another gift when they returned from the holidays.

    We came back from the holidays. I waited a few days until they got back into the swing of things and then I told them I was ready to give them their special writer's workshop tools. Then we brainstormed as a class what writer's might need (reflecting on some things we saw in Eric Carle's writing studio). They had some great ideas (yes, writer's need light!). Then I showed them their own boxes which were clear and had a nice folder, their supply box (which we had not used yet), special pencils (anything but a yellow pencil), pencil grips, erasers, and colored pencils). Everything else is community supplies so it was a special treat for them to have their own of something and we reserve our use of it until writer's workshop time. Then we spent a lesson on how to take care of it. I really built this up. THEN I told them they have their own special tray (different color) that has their writer's workshop paper and another tray where they turn in it in. The writer's workshop paper wasn't anything special but I told them it was from the other classroom and that made it special.

    I told them they were getting good at becoming readers and now we were going to become better writers too but every writer must practice a lot, even Eric Carle and even me. That's part of the writing process. It's okay if we aren't too great the first time or even the second time. We will get better and better. Every writer who practices improves over time. I was excited every time we had writer's workshop and I treated it like it was formal. I called it our formal writer's workshop time.

    Then sometimes (planning it ahead but not telling them that), I would tell them they were so great today that I think they deserve Writer's Workshop. I would give it as one of the 2 choices at times when we had "free choice" and so forth. I treated it like a treat and they bought it hook, line and sinker.

    Another thing I did was show and share. Once about every 2 weeks, I showcased their writing on the smartboard. The students would stand up and read and explain their writing. Other students (and myself) would give them compliments. I was specific with my praise, telling them what I wanted to see. Then after a little while, I started giving them 1-2 hints for feedback. I would do this right before a writer's workshop and before you knew it, they were applying things I said about different people's writing in their own writing. They wanted my specific praise. They wanted that recognition. Even my lowest performer has a terrific strength. His strength was every single time we wrote, he had a brand new idea. Writer's have many ideas and his was the best example of this. It didn't matter that he only wrote 1-2 words and had no concept of a sentence. I still played up his strength and gave him a simple differentiated suggestion. Once they were comfortable with being accepted, they looked forward to show and share times.
     
  17. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    May 26, 2010

    How much time did you devote to writer's workshop each day? I would love to try something like this with my 5th graders next year.
     
  18. teach4eva

    teach4eva New Member

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    May 28, 2010

    Thanks heavens54! I have been to sooo many conferences and PD's about differentiation and how that is the best way to teach, but NONE of them ever really explained how to get started or how to make it work. I guess I was frustrated with that and decided to jump right in. I felt the same as you....I need to SEE that way of teaching in action! Now people come watch me teach so they can visualize it, which is pretty cool. Now if someone can just help me with the grading portion of differentiation....:confused:
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    May 28, 2010

    Honestly, I just fit it in when I could. I did it on average twice a week. I spent about 15 minutes each time for the actual writing part but I also did show and share which takes a while and I would often do at least some kind of short writing lesson prior to them doing the writer's workshop. I imagine in 5th grade it would look very different.

    Keep in mind that it is okay if they don't finish a piece. They can do multiple pieces. They do whatever they can in the time allowed. I do go behind them and check to make sure they are giving me sufficient work but like I said, my students were motivated so it wasn't an issue. I set an online timer and they would just go. I went around the room and helped as needed. (In the beginning I only spent 10 minutes on it but eventually they wanted more time so I provided more time. Sometimes we went longer).

    This was just one type of writing we did but it was the one that provided the most motivation and where I saw them try to apply skills we learned in class. We have also published a class book, done a mini-research project and kept a math and science journal. Recently they were doing a sequence poster for a book and they were making props representing things that happened in the story. At one point the mouse reads a book. We could have made a fake book, etc. Nope. They wanted to take the project home for the weekend and make a real book. It was optional for the students to do it over the weekend but even the ones that didn't do it at home, were very motivated to complete theirs (during class) so they could share their work as well. It all started with motivating them in just the right way with writer's workshop. Like I said, none of it was magical and the point behind the whole thing was that providing a hook can have lasting effects.
     
  20. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    May 28, 2010

    My favorite: objective quizes. These are done on powerpoint. Each slide is timed to be displayed for 45 seconds (it runs automatically after I start it!). Each slide has music. The kids answer questions on a half sheet of paper and when the quiz is over they peer grade the quiz. The quiz only has five questions.

    I usually ask after the quiz for a show of hands for those who earned a 4 or 5 on the quiz. This gives me a good idea on how well they know the material. I love the music as it gives the kids a head up when the question changes. Plus, I add pictures that are fun. Since doing this I've seen an increase in student understanding.

    I've also started Lines of Learning (LOL). Kids have to write a paragraph at the end of the day about what they learned. At the end of the week they type it up and hand it in.
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    May 28, 2010

    I saw something this year that I would like to try in a grade older than K....

    This teacher did something called "Name Its." At the beginning of each class, the students had to grab a piece of scrap paper. She read the question (or they read it, depending on the class) and then started a timer. They were assigned to partners for the week. They worked together for about 3 minutes to write down as many answers as they could think of. A sample Name It question might be: "Name things that melt." She differentiated the questions based on the class. One class was having difficulty with naming words within categories. Another class she used questions that had connections to their reading. Basically she was having them think deeper about a variety of different topics. She said she got the idea from a real game (cards) that she saw one time. At the end of each 3 min round, she went around the room and had them name it. She validated each answer (ie, showed that she liked their thinking) but awarded points for the right answers. At the end she might ask them for clarification (if they learned something based on the right answers). Then she quickly totaled and told the class which team won for that day (she totaled their answers for the week for the final winning team). The final winning team got to draw a prize (free homework pass or something else...I forgot). They changed teams often so there was no "winning team" overall. I liked the name it challenge. I tried it with my K students and while they could do it, they couldn't write fast enough to make it worth it.
     
  22. happypreteach

    happypreteach Rookie

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    May 29, 2010

    I have three's and four's and my biggest hit was giving each child a "job" each day - it has made the transition into the classroom much easier for them knowing they had something important to do each day.
     
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