Tuesday, June 10, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 3

Thanks to An Apple for the Teacher for hosting this week! I am really enjoying this book, as well as then being able to participate in an online study!

My thoughts on chapter 3...

I feel like the past couple of years I have gotten away from reading aloud every single day. This has not been done intentionally, but simply has been a negative impact from things being piled (and piled and piled) onto our plates. When I began teaching it was something I loved doing each day, and while way back then, it wasn't always intentional, I knew the value in time spent sharing read alouds with my young students. I think that sometimes I get so caught up in ensuring that my lessons are 'mini' that I often felt that there wasn't time to dive into a read aloud along with each one. Reading this chapter has reaffirmed my belief in reading quality, carefully thought out, books to my students on a daily basis, and I will renew my goal of doing this every day.

I loved the section titled Does Whole-Class Mean Undifferentiated. I feel like this is sort of one of those pendulum swings that so often happen in education. Teaching used to be entirely while group instruction, and then there was a major swing away from whole-class teaching... almost making it a taboo thing! One of my favorite quote from the chapter was:
"Differentiated instruction means that each students strengths and needs are taken into consideration when the teacher is planning learning experiences, to ensure that each child is challenged and supported in that learning."
So true!

In addition, I really enjoyed Lisa's discussion about "accountable talk." I have long done 'turn and talk' and 'Think-Pair-Share' kinds of talk in my classroom. But this section reaffirmed the importance of these intentional, rich conversations.

Finally, I really liked the websites that Lisa shared. They seem like some really good suggestions! I have often toyed with the idea of having a class blog (or Facebook page, or Twitter, etc.) but have never taken the plunge... I may have to reconsider that this year!

Off to Chapter 4 I go!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 2

I just love summer vacation for so many reasons. This week I spent Monday and Tuesday with my little love bug. We went to our first tumbling class, visited the library, played outside, and met daddy for lunch! Such wonderful things that we normally don't get to do. The rest of this week I am doing an independent study at school. Basically I'm earning credit for stuff I have to do anyway! It is fabulous!

Anyway, I spent a little bit of time today reading the next chapter in "100 Minutes: Making Every minute Count in the Literacy Block," and am now linking up for this great book study!

So this chapter was all about the Building Blocks. A lot in this chapter reminded me of the Daily 5, and what I am already doing. The main difference in Lisa's suggested literacy block is that reading and writing are intertwined throughout the 100 minutes. I do my best to integrate the two, because really you can't have one without the other... we obviously write during reading time, and read during writing time. However, I typically have a Reader's Workshop time, and a Writer's Workshop time and they each have their own focus. They tend to be separate workshop times in my schedule and I love the idea of intertwining them! Also, the intentionally sequenced tasks make perfect sense!

Finally, the section on choice really spoke to me. I know that research (both by the 'experts', and my own real life research) tells me that choice is imperative. This is something that I love about Daily 5. However, I often felt like students were choosing activities that had nothing to do with the mini-lesson I just taught, or the guided reading lesson they just participated in. I was never really sure how to remedy this. My favorite quote from the whole chapter was on page 23 where Lisa said, "the teacher chooses what the student is learning and the students choose how they are learning it." It helped me see that I can still incorporate choice, but that the students will "partner with the teacher" to make choices. 

While I love the idea of sandwiching the two whole group lessons around independent work time. I find it somewhat odd to have a writing lesson, and then just end the literacy block. Are the kids going to remember what I taught them the next day it they don't have time to immediately practice a taught skill?

I'm sure more will be explained as I continue on. After all, this is only chapter 2!

Head over to AppleSlices to read some more thoughts! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 1

Pardon me for a moment while I blow the dust off this old blog here!
Apparently I am just not going to be one of those regular bloggers. Especially during the school year! Last year I had said that I really wanted to keep up on my blogging... this year, I'm not even going to make that promise! However, it does feel good to be back in here sharing my thoughts with other teachers!

Today I am linking up for a book study. Yes, it is my first official day of summer vacation and I am already thinking/planning/preparing for next school year. But that is just the way we teacher are, isn't that right?!

Not that long ago I came across this book:

I honestly don't even remember where I first saw the title, but I jotted it down, and looked it up on Amazon. It sounded good, so I added it to my Wish List. Amazon had no reviews of the book and so I was having a hard time deciding if it would be worthwhile. I Googled the title, and came across a blog post by Beth at Thinking of Teaching! She was hosting a book study on this very book. I ordered it on the spot and am now ready to link up with Chapter 1!

Chapter 1

Let me start by saying that I love how there is space in the margins of this book! I read books like this with a highlighter and pen in hand, so having a little space to jot down ideas was fabulous! 

So a little background: I LOVE Daily 5. I have been doing D5 in my classroom for about 7 years now. Reading the Daily 5 revolutionized my teaching. Before reading it, I felt a little like Lisa Donohue in her confessions at the beginning. I really didn't know what I was doing and wasn't sure how to fix it. Daily 5 gave me the framework to really fix my literacy block and do some serious differentiating. So I was a little hesitant to dive into a book that may change my Daily 5 views. However, I will admit that over the last 2 years I've started to feel like I could be doing more with my literacy block. Like Lisa discusses, there are so many new things piled onto our teaching plates all the time, finding ways to fit it all in can be challenging! Beth links to Linda Donohue's own blog where she has a post about Daily 5 and 100 Minutes... I will definitely be looking at that while I read this book! I'm excited for something new to complement what I'm already doing! 

I really liked how Lisa Donohue talks about adding dimension to familiar routines. This is where I feel Daily 5 can sometimes get us in a rut. I like the idea of having a structure, but adding layers to it in order to facilitate more and more learning! The way she breaks the literacy block into 3 chunks of time makes perfect sense to me, but also throws me a little because it seems that there is more whole group time than I have now. With my D5 structure, I typically teach 2 or 3 whole group mini-lessons and the majority of the block is spent in small group and independent activities. I'm curious to keep reading and see what this might look. 

In addition to the restructuring I mentioned above, I'm really curious to learn how the AWARD time functions. I wrote some questions in my margin about stamina building and accountability during this time. I'm hoping that she gets into the real 'nuts and bolts' of how to achieve what was described in the 100 Minutes in Action part. 

In short, I'm really intrigued and excited to keep reading and learning!