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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The First Four Weeks

We made it guys. We are now four weeks into the school year. At the end of each week The Hubs always tells me how many weeks down, and how many to go. It's kinda cute.
So I wanted to focus today's post on what is working in my room, what is not, and what I am going to do about it. So first, let's start off with what IS NOT working.

What's NOT Working
My small groups. Last week I used these plans:
And while these may look super organized, I was not. I was fumbling through pages trying to remember what I was talking about. No good. So this week, I am going to color code post it the pages and try to be more organized that way. I also noticed that the guided reading activities for the red group were still too hard. So I need to find a different resource to use with those kiddos. I am going to give it one more week this week and see how it goes. I think they need something that repeats more.
What resources do you use for your small groups?

What's NOT Working
My writing station. It was garbage. I was using materials from another teacher, who is more experienced and must have modeled and prepped her students better than I did. She just gave them a blank piece of paper, half of it a rectangle for a picture and half of it lines. Her students were to just draw a picture and write about it. My kiddos were not ready for that. No way. Hello disaster town. Hello draw a really nice picture and then write nothing. NO GOOD! 
So to change this, I knew I needed to give my kiddos more direction and more modeling. So, I got out my BTS Question of the Day Packet.

This packet gave my kids SO much more direction. Specially with the graphic organizer at the top. I modeled how to fill out the graphic organizer, and then wrote my little story. I left my example in the writing center and will continue to do this for a few weeks, at least until we get into a routine and really know what the expectations are.

SO much more direction. SO much better!

What IS Working
My class last year was rather advanced. Most of my students came in knowing how to read low level books, and quickly moved into more complex texts. They also quickly picked up on math concepts, and had single digit addition mastered in a week. This class is not as advanced and I had to remind myself of that. I have to meet them where they are. So I did. We have done a TON of phonics stuff. Lots of word building, red word tapping, and letter sound fluency activities. I have used this pack at my phonics station:

This has been fantastic. Not only are the kids practicing their sound pattern for the week, but they are engaged with the words. They LOVE using the cubes to build the words and then showing off when they write it in a sentence. For serious. So impressed with these little ones. 

What IS Working
Sign Language. Everyday when we go through our sound cards we show the sign for the letter, then after I spell words in sign language and they have to figure out what word it is. They LOVE it. I love it. Everyone is happy. I hope to use this great pack that I bought last year with these kiddos later in the year. 

I love teaching the kiddos sign language. It is SO fun, useful, and totally NOT in our curriculum! :)

What IS Working
Computer lab time. We LOVE getting on these Chromebooks! My students have a certain amount of minutes they have to spend on IXL and RAZ Kids each week, so we have computer lab 3xs a week. The kiddos love it! Plus they get to practice finding all the keys and how to type their names to login. 

What IS Working
Brain Breaks! We LOVE GoNoodle! My kiddos specially love the Zumba videos. 

It makes me really sad that we have to have resources like this to help us get through the day, but at the same time I am so thankful we have a FREE resource like this to help us make it!

I am sure as time goes on, all of these things will change. Education is an ever changing beast that I love and hate at the same time. 
I would LOVE to hear about what is and isn't working in your classroom! I added an InLinkz for the first time EVER and would love to hear about what's going on in your classroom!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sundays are for Planning

Hi! Happy Labor Day Weekend! Who can't use an extra day of recovery from the first few weeks of school? I cannot believe we are already going into week FOUR! 
To help celebrate the three day weekend, and our country's workforce, everything in my TpT store is 20% off until Tuesday!

I am just putting the finishing touches on my lesson plans for the week. We are studying predicting this week, so there are quite a few read alouds featuring that skill. We are also focusing big time on those CVC patterns, and getting all of our sounds correct! I will spend a lot of time doing dictation pages (part of the Orton Gillingham Program that I have referred to numerous times), and reading for fluency. A lot of my kiddos have trouble tracking words, so we will be spending some time in Miss DeCarbo's No Prep Intervention Binder. Those dots are a LIFE SAVER! Tracking, here we come! 

We also start our intervention and enrichment block this week. If i was smart I would have pictures all ready to go to show you, but ya know. I suck at taking pictures. So I have 5 stations, with 4-5 kiddos at each. We will do two stations a day so everyone will go to each station twice. There is word work, red words, writing, interactive notebooks, and read with a partner. My students are grouped heterogeneously, and then are grouped homogeneously to meet with me for intervention or enrichment groups. 

The orange group is my urgent need group. These are the kiddos who don't know all of their letter sounds, don't quite understand how to blend, and lack tracking skills. I will using Miss DeCarbo's No Prep Intervention Binder I mentioned earlier with those kiddos. 

The Red group struggles with blending, but also word recognition and fluency skills. I will be using Guided Reading Made Easy from Kristen Smith. Her pack comes with everything you need to help these kiddos be successful!

The other two groups are my on level and above grade level kiddos who will be receiving enrichment. Leveled readers came with our reading program, so I plan on using those readers with them for now. That will change at some point. I know I need to get into a rhythm with the other two groups before I can really go through and figure out exactly what these kiddos would benefit from. 
So there they are friends. What's in your planner for the week? 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Currently September

I'm sorry. Wasn't it just August? I swear time travels faster when school is in session. It must. Here we are at the end of week 3 already and we are just a-truckin-along. Fer serious though. My class is so sweet this year. I cannot wait until we get into the thick of things and our lightbulbs start coming on. Those lightbulb moments are my favorite!
Anyways... I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently link up. I know. I am late to the party. Didn't I just say August snuck up? :)

Here is my Currently:

School is taking over my life right now, but I totally feel like it does every fall. Things are about to get way more hectic around here though! I am going to have to start the RESA process soon (the lovely Ohio process for becoming a professional teacher versus whatever I am now. WOMP!), and continue my 2 grad school classes, and work more than full time. Yay! ha!   I am excited about getting a classroom pet though! We are getting a turtle for our classroom. The kids don't know it yet, but we have been reading books about "the perfect pet" all week, so I hope they put some pieces together tomorrow! I am SO excited! I am going to get him (or her) tonight, and then setting up the tank at school on Monday while the kiddos aren't there {Thank you Labor Day!}. I might be more excited than the kids. haha. 
So here is to a hopefully calmer than I anticipate month!
Be sure to link up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade!