Sunday, July 31, 2011

Daily 5: Word Work

I've been reflecting on the Daily 5 as the new school year approaches.  After doing some thinking and reading up on the sisters' website I've decided to make some changes to the "word work" choice in my classroom. 

I've decided to scale things down this year and remember the motto K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid!) when it comes to word work and work on writing.  Too many choices caused confusion for my students and the addition of irresistable "center-like" games and activities to word work took away from practice time for high frequency and spelling patterns.

This year I will follow the recommendations of the two sisters (authors of The Daily 5) more closely.

I plan to have students practice their assigned words for 10 minutes only once stamina is built.  They will take a timer with them and move into additional read-to-self time for the rest of the choice (10-15 minutes).  When just focusing on making words that will be plenty of time for focused practice.  I've also considered trying to combine some of our Words Their Way daily work (sorting, abc order, sentences, etc) into this time, but that would require all of my students to do word work each day and eliminate the element of choice. :(

Students who choose word work will have the following options for materials:

1. Whiteboards & CoLoReD Markers
-This will be the only time they get to use the "fancy" markers, so they'll LOVE it!

2. Magnetic Letters & Cookie Sheets

3. Salt Box
-I just discovered this idea online and I'm so excited about it - pour about 1/4" of salt in the bottom of a container. Students use their finger to spell the word in the salt, give it a little shake and it disappears!  I'll also have fancy unsharpened pencils available to use to spell the words.  Sometimes it's easier that way when the words are fairly long.

4. Alphabet Stamps
-I bought "smelly" stamp pads last year that the kids love to use for this activity.

5. Stone Spell
-The sisters suggest having students use tiny shells to form their words. They suggested dried beans as another option, which is what I was going to do...until I found these awesome "river rocks" at Family Dollar. I bought three bags at $1 each, which will be plenty for 2-3 students to do this activity at once.

This is what it looks like:

That's it!  Nice and simple. I'm hoping this will help my students be less worried about the materials and more focused on making the words. There will be a natural limit to how many students are at word work at once with only 2 of each option set up to grab off the word work shelf. I plan to stick with these five options for the entire school year. I fear they will get bored, but I'm going to take the sisters word for it and trust they won't!  I will introduce and model each activity at the beginning of the year - waiting till they show independence with one before starting another. Just thought I'd share my plan. 

How do YOU manage word work during the Daily 5?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Creating Cozy Spaces

Reflecting on last school year, one thing I noticed is there wasn't enough "comfy" spaces in my classroom for students to sit and read/write during the Daily 5.  I'm trying to think of some easy ways to give my classroom a boost with some alternative seating.

I do have a set of colorful cushions I bought with bonus points from Scholastic.  The kids seemed to like using those, but I want to have more options.  Our "meeting" rug has space for 2-3 kids sprawled out and I have four of those ever-popular "crate seats" I made last summer.

What does everyone else do to create cozy spaces for reading and writing in their classroom?

I just ordered these chairs... as my "I really don't need this but am going to buy it for my classroom anyway" purchase for the school year. I love them already!

Blue Kids Table and Chairs

I'd love to get this leaf canopy from Ikea, but you can't buy online and we don't have a store nearby. :(

I've also seen a few ideas on Pinterest that I want to try....

the A-frame tent tutorial

Any other great ideas out there??

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Intervention Block

Hi all!  I know I haven't blogged in FOREVER.  The end of the school year got crazy...everyone warned me it would, but I didn't realize how busy things would get.  Next year I'll know better!  The good news is I made it successfully through my first year as a teacher and I've been enjoying a wonderful summer off.  I love it. Although I haven't been *just* relaxing as I signed up to be on a couple of teams for some summer planning to improve our school. They have been motivating and it's nice to stay in touch with everyone from school over the break.

We are working on changing our schedule to allow time for Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) and also an Intervention Block for each grade level.  I'm hoping everyone embraces the changes, because this could be very good for the students. I'm excited that we will finally have a consistent schedule for specials, which will allow our second grade team to meet and plan together daily. 

We haven't had an intervention block before, so I'm hoping to get some ideas to take full advantage of that time...share what you do at your school in the comments: Do you have an intervention block at your school?  How do you run it?  How long is it?  Daily?  Do you provide enrichment opportunities for students who do not need intervention - how do you handle that?  Do you share students amongst your grade-level to make groups? Give me all the details!!