Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello again friends!
I hope you are all enjoying your break and relaxing as much as you can.  We need this time to recharge and refresh.  I have been on a hiatus from all things school related and I'm just now cracking open my laptop for the first time since school let out.  I have been enjoying my time with my little monkeys, making memories and snuggling every chance we get!  We tried something new this year and went to a gingerbread house decorating workshop. It was so much fun (and I didn't have to clean it all up)!  My kiddos were so proud of their creations and probably ate as much candy as they put on their houses.

So, my brain decided to wake up last night as I was trying to fall asleep and I started thinking about the changes I want to make in my classroom this semester.  The biggest thing I want to focus on is my ELA block.  I need to really prioritize my guided reading time and make sure my kiddos are engaged in meaningful activities while I'm working with groups.

In the fall I had my students rotating through stations, inspired by the Daily 5 model.  I didn't follow the Daily 5 completely, my kids chose between Read to Self, Writing, Working with Words, and Listening to Reading.  It was effective, but I felt like we were wasting time transitioning and I want my little learners to start showing more independence and ownership over their learning.

This is what I plan to implement when we go back for the spring semester:

My plan is to let my kids "manage" their learning, but, you know...on a first grade level.  They have three tasks they must complete, and then they can choose from the list of "May Do" activities.  I wrote a grant this summer and was extremely blessed to receive a class set of Chromebooks as a result, so I am able to incorporate a lot of technology into our day.  For the reading "must do" my kids will read a leveled reader on RAZ Kids and take the comprehension quiz.  If you don't have experience with Reading A-Z and RAZ kids, check them out.  Our PTA bought us a subscription and I LOVE it.  My kids are eating it up y'all.  They love choosing their books and earning their stars, and I love that I can monitor their comprehension on the quizzes.  Win-win!

For the Spelling "must do" I will be putting spelling activities in dry erase pouches for practice.  I am using activities from this pack: Spelling Practice in a Snap.

For Writing my kids work on writing prompts from The Moffat Girls.  They love these because they are seasonal and I love them because they provide support with labeled picture cues and a writing checklist for them to use.

If they finish with these tasks, my kiddos can choose from the "May Do" list.  They can read from their book boxes in a comfy spot, use their Chromebook to go to other literacy sites, or do vocabulary and grammar activities in a pocket chart.

I love the idea of my students moving about the room, taking care of business without my interference.  I will be able to monitor from my table as I do my reading groups, and check their progress on RAZ Kids from my computer when I need to. It's going to take some training, but I figure after Christmas break is the perfect time for it, seeing as we are going to be reviewing rules and routines anyway!  Are you making any big changes in your classroom when you go back?

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