Sep 5, 2014
And We're Off
Testing is done...well except for those Aimsweb tests that will be completed by a team of retired teachers. CHAMPs expectations and procedures have been taught and practiced. Switching classes has been implemented. And this was the first week of a normal schedule (minus fire drills, Labor Day, and a Puppy Den vertical meeting.) Okay...we will call it a normal-ish schedule. Our firsties did a great job switching classes for the first time and we had a lot of fun setting up some of the concepts that we want to hit hard this year.
Last year I mentioned that we had read "Smarter Charts" by Martinelli and Mraz. It played a role in how we presented our reading strategies, math strategies, rules, and other charts throughout the year. Reflecting back now, I can see the impact that it really did make on our students last year. They did not just refer to the reading strategy posters hanging up...they really took ownership over them. The math strategies...they knew them! I could really see the big difference that some of our small changes made.
So we did it again.
First of all, you must know, I have used the same reading strategy posters for many, many, many years. (This was before my discovery of TPT and all things pretty.) They looked like this:
They got the job done. The strategy was listed and there was a picture clue to help the kids out. I had these as small posters hanging up, sheets for them to keep in their desks, bookmarks were made for them to take home, and parent sheets were printed and sent home. They got the job done.
But (as I mentioned) Karen and I decided to change. We wanted the kids to own these strategies more. We wanted them to feel like THEY came up with them. So that is what we did.
I stood in front of those little firsties and told them that they WILL get stuck on words this year. I reassured them that our room is a safe place and that as learners, we have to get stuck. Because when we get stuck, we learn how to get unstuck. I explained that Karen and I get stuck on words all the time and our brains have strategies to solve the problem. But we needed their help to write these strategies down so that we can all use them.
And we're off...they are hooked and ready to help.
Karen sat at the document camera with her very loved Curious George book.
She read and we watched. We listened. When she got stuck, we were quiet and examined what she did to solve the problem. Once the problem was solved, our firsties helped to name that strategy. It took some encouraging but they got it. After the strategy had a name, we needed a picture. They came up with this too. Here is what the first one looked like:
We continued with this same routine for each strategy that we wanted to hit. It took about 2 1/2 sessions for all the strategies to be complete. But it was worth it! The kids were making connections between the strategies and talking about how some can be used at the same time.
Now what? Well...I have to make them look a tad bit prettier. That is my weekend job. I've started...
I hope we see the same type of results that we did last year.
How do you teach your reading strategies?