Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tomorrow is the First Friday of the School Year!

THURSDAY THROWDOWN and So School Begins...

You know that tired feeling...the one after a few days of school???  Yep. I knew you did! Ha :)

Lots of nap taking going on around here including naps starting in the van after day care pick-up for our newly minted kindergartener!

So far this week, things are going pretty smoothly.  My colleagues and I decided to add in more time for vocabulary, so we are stretching our planning out a bit, which is just fine.

Our goal for the first month or so is to use a variety of texts to both revisit reading comprehension strategies and teach the routines the kids will be using this year.

The pieces we are using are:
"Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto

An article on earthquakes
"Names/Nombres" by Julia Alvarez

Related poems (to Names/Nombres) by Pat Mora (Two Worlds & Elena)
       and Yvette Alvarez (Invisible Boundaries)

Have You Been to the Beach Lately? by Ralph Fletcher
A related reading by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated: Saved by the Deep
"Salvador Late or Early" by Sandra Cisneros
A related article on babysitting siblings: Children Raising Children

For the culminating assignment of this unit, students will use picture books to demonstrate understanding of both skills reviewed and routines used.  Carly and I went through a ton of picture books at my house before school started and chose 19...10 to use for the first trimester, and 9 + one to find for the second trimester.  

Of the 10, three are lower level, four are average level, and three are advanced, so it will lend itself nicely to differentiation.  We looked through each and every book and decided on our own what skill(s) and routine(s) the book would go well with.  We know student choice is important, but students will get to self select small groups of 3-4 for this project and get to select one of the ten books.  We figure by identifying what skills and routines will work well, the students don't have to struggle with that part and can dig right in to the project.  The second trimester (if it goes well the first time!) we will have them identify what skills and routines would work well.  Gradual release...

So far, after explaining reading logs, giving a parent homework assignment, and giving a Reading Interest Survey on the first day, we have been focusing on Gary Soto's "Seventh Grade."  Yesterday, we did a quick pre-test on the vocab words from the story, went through a PPT I made with the word, the definition, and visuals, and kids wrote in the definition and sketched a brief representation for each of the ten chosen words. Then we made a Table of Contents in the notebooks and glued some cloze notes on making connections into the notebooks--a huge thanks to ERIN COBB of I'm Lovin' Lit for the inspiration.  The gluing went more smoothly than I could have ever anticipated. 

No snakes, no lakes, just dots!!!!  That's my husband's mantra.  He has an art k-12 license :)

Today, we talked through the Good Readers Make Connections notes and then read the short story, making a list of how Victor's school was similar and different to ours.  In some classes we did a quick vocabulary scramble where I handed out a printed version of the vocab PPT, and kids had to find their word groups which included one student with the word, one with the definition, and one with the visual.  It was quick and really got them up and moving!  Next post, I'll write more about how we are approaching vocabulary right now with this far there has been good feedback!

After linking to Erin Cobb above, I was reminded that it is the first Thursday of the month, which means it is her Thursday Throwdown, a chance to share interactive ideas for our classrooms.  

So, I'll share a lead that I have that I am currently looking into for making things more interactive.  Yesterday, I read one of my Mackin newsletters that was sitting in my inbox, one that had a list of current grants. Along with the grants, there is also an ad for National Flipped Classroom Day. I plodded through some links, watched some awesome videos, and then landed on one for EduCanon. I couldn't find the inferences vs observations video they talked about, but I did look around a bit and sign up on the site.  I got some emails from them today and am going to try hard to do at least one flipped lesson this trimester. 

I don't have a fabulous flipped lesson to share, but I wanted to share the site as a resource and opportunity for all of you.  What do you think? Have you flipped any lessons yet? How has it worked for you in the Language Arts classroom?  Any and all thoughts welcome!!!

Ok, time to make sure I'm ready for tomorrow and then hit the hay!!

Happy Friday tomorrow!



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