Monday, July 31, 2017

Teacher Birthday Box

Birthdays! Birthdays! Birthdays!

How do you celebrate birthdays in your classroom?

Need a simple idea for organizing birthday goodies?

The Birthday Box!
birthday box
What's in my Birthday Box, you ask?
I have birthday certificates, no homework passes, gift tags, birthday card from the class, stickers, pencils, Play-Doh, and cookies. I think that's it.
You could also put in sunglasses, bubbles, candy, bookmarks, plastic bracelets, or party favors. 
birthday at school
These colorful gift bags (found at Michael's) with gift tags (attached with Washi tape) are a fun way to celebrate students' birthdays.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reciprocal Teaching for Beginning Readers

When I first learned of reciprocal teaching, that was the last.

Why? It just seemed too complicated.

That was before I looked into it again and realized it didn't have to be too complicated. Not only is it not too complicated, it can be made E-A-S-Y.

I spent the last school year simplifying reciprocal teaching for teachers, but challenging students. Challenging students to collaborate with others. Challenging students to think about their reading using reading strategies.
According to Reading Rockets, reciprocal teaching is an "instructional strategy in which students become the teacher in small group reading sessions."

Most reciprocal teaching models include summarizing, clarifying, questioning, and predicting. The reciprocal teaching I am most familiar with includes picture walks, predicting, setting the purpose, clarifying, questioning, visualizing, and retelling/summarizing.
visual literacy
Picture walks and visual literacy includes having students look closely at illustrations and understand that illustrations give us clues. You can begin with showing your students a wordless movie and have them discuss what is going on based on the illustrations. The following is a great video to practice.

reciprocal teaching
Good readers make predictions. They make predictions before they begin reading and as they continue to read. The second step of reciprocal teaching in making predictions. Pretty simple, right? So far so good.
reciprocal teaching
Setting the purpose is to state why a person is going to read a certain story. For example, I am going to read the story to find out where the wild things live. This, like the other reading strategies used in reciprocal teaching, just takes practice. But it can be done. And it's another strategies good readers use.
reciprocal teaching
Monitoring and clarifying is a pretty important skill. Reminding our students that we need to pay attention is a skill they must be taught. I love this short video which show students how to do this.

reading strategies
Good readers ask themselves questions as they read. Therefore, students must be explicitly taught this strategy.
reading strategies
Visualization is a strategy that comes naturally to some. It comes naturally while one is reading or completing math problems. For others, visualization does not come as easy. A great way to practice this strategy is to have students draw pictures while the teacher is reading chapter books.
The final step of reciprocal teaching is retelling or summarizing. Retelling requires students to tell about the characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, problem, and solution. In other words, it is LONG. Summarizing is quick. Students in the lower grades might be more comfortable retelling. Eventually, students will be ready to summarize stories.

Do you have to invest time in teaching these strategies? Yes.

Can it be made easy? Yes.

The lessons I wrote for Reciprocal Teaching for Beginning Readers were written to be practiced during read alouds. If you love read alouds like I do, you can easily begin reciprocal teaching in your classroom. Once students have mastered the strategies, you can begin having students working collaboratively using these strategies.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Goal Setting

Making goals is important. What successful person hasn't made goals? As a teacher you've made goals. I make tons of goals. And the teacher in me always needs some sort of visual otherwise I'm 10x more likely not to complete it.

But, do we have our students make goals? If you think about it, goals setting must be taught. Goals need to be encouraged. Students don't just set goals on their own unless they've been taught.

Student goal setting is an important part of every classroom. Each teacher goes about it in different ways. I have to admit,  I have not done a great job at this.

My goal: make goal setting a priority in my classroom.

Each time I start something new in my classroom, I have to ask myself: Will you be able to keep up with this?

I tend to abandon things if it's not convenient. I know myself.

So. . . with goals in mind, I wanted to create something that would encourage students to make goals and something I could keep up with.

I have been thinking about this for years. I mean years. I've thought of using binders or folders. Charts and banners. None of this was me. None of this was something I would be consistent with. I know myself.

So. . . here is what I came up with. It's not an everyday thing. It's not an every week thing. It's a monthly to quarterly thing.
progress passport
This binder keeps me organized and accountable.

So. . . what are some goals I want my students to have?

I want them to improve their reading fluency. I want them to add and subtract fluently. I want them to be kind. . . I want them to grow!
progress passport
And this is where the Progress Passport comes in.

The kids are responsible for taking care of it. The teacher is responsible for meeting with his/her kids and talking about goals.

The goals I have set for my students include:
  • reading fluency
  • math fact fluency
  • reading
  • homework
  • helping others
  • attendance
  • handwriting
  • personal goals 
progress passport
With each goal met, the students get to put a passport stamp into their passports. 

progress passport
And that's that! 

Goal setting comes naturally to successful people. But why? We must have been taught at some point. It only makes sense to teach goal setting in the classroom. The Progress Passport is a great way to keep our students and ourselves on the right path. Find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

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