Thursday, September 24, 2015

A favorite activity with my 5th graders is to have them write an essay:"I read because..." You can do this as a stand alone activity or in conjunction with any unit. I actually got the idea from an essay of the same name by Richard Peck.

“I read because one life isn't enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life;
I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I'm just beginning myself, and I wouldn't mind a map;
I read because I have friends who don't, and young though they are, they're beginning to run out of material;
I read because every journey begins at the library, and it's time for me to start packing;
I read because one of these days I'm going to get out of this town, and I'm going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready.”

― Richard PeckAnonymously Yours

You can also read the essay "Why I am a Writer" by Pat Mora in the "Autobiographies" W and M unit. Then have them answer her by telling why they are readers.

I love to hang these in the hall around conference time as the parents LOVE seeing them and other teachers always comment on what the kids write.

I have also invited other teachers to include their essays.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Using Google Classroom, Doctopus, and Goobric

As promised I created some screencasts to hopefully serve as a guide to those of you who would like to use Google Classroom, Doctopus, and Goobric to organize and assess assignments.  As I created these.  I realized I was using resources that I had gotten from others and I thought you should have access to those as well and I should give credit to the people who made these amazing things.

Dana Lavesque and Randy Stall have great resources on there Instructional Technology Page.  Check it out for more info on getting started with Google Classroom Etc.

The amazing Nate Ubowski from Heritage High created this doc for a session at InnEdCo this summer.  I refer to it OFTEN for all things Doctopus and Goobric.  These tools are amazing but if you don't use them everyday you may forget things and this doc will remind you of what to.

Here are the links to the 3 screencasts I made to help you use these tools.
Getting Started with Classroom
Making a Rubric "Goobric" friendly
Using Doctopus and Goobric

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reading Response Rubric Follow Up

So I did a bit of research ... looking at several of your classroom websites as well as the general internet, and using what I found I created this DRAFT of a CCSS based rubric for written responses to reading.  I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your feedback/input.  Feel free to make changes or comments as my hope is this can be a useful tool for many of us.

P.S.  If you want, I can show you how to use a chrome extension called "Doctopus" to use this as way to efficiently grade responses kids turn in on Google docs ... but only if you help make this good! haha :-)

Reader's Response Rubric -- DRAFT

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reading Response Rubrics??

Does anyone have a rubric they use to grade written responses to reading? I've been using the same one forever and as I pulled it out again this year I realized it left a lot to be desired as far as being aligned to CCSS and giving useful feedback to my kids.  I'd love any and all examples of what you use!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

E is for Effort!

What does effort look like?
One of the things I do at the beginning of every year is to create a poster with my students of "What does effort look like in a 4th grade Gt classroom?" or a 3rd grade? or a 5th grade? or an advanced math class?

We have the best conversations and they have wonderful ideas to share. I add all their ideas to my poster and then put it up in the room. We often refer back to it for a "little reminder" or just a "great job!"
I am doing this activity this Friday, so I will post pictures!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Getting Started with Battle of the Books

I hope that everyone is have a magnificent start to the school year. Overwhelming, I know, but magnificent none the less. I’ve had a lot of students asking about Battle of the Books this year, and I’m excited to start! I think that we will start meeting after Labor Day. For those of you who are doing Battle of the Books (or BoB, as we fondly call it) for the first time, here is how I go about it. And whether it’s your first time or not, please share your thoughts and ideas!

On the flier that I send out to students (any fourth or fifth grade that is interested) I include the books, a request for a $10 donation, and a place for parents to sign that their students may read the books. Some of the Battle Books are not on our district’s approved list because they are newer titles. Therefore, it’s important that parents sign their consent for their student to read the books. The $10 donation is optional, and I really appreciate the help towards buying books. Last year, we had 50 students in BoB (so awesome!!) - obviously I was not going to buy 50 copies of each book. Instead, I buy as many as I can and students are reading different books at different times. I dedicate a bookshelf just for Battle Books and students can return and borrow anytime they need.

We met on Wednesdays every other week during the student's lunch time. (Some of them stayed for recess also, some of them just came during lunch.) For our first meeting, my amazing colleague put out 10 well known picture books. We circled around the books and asked questions that were like Battle questions, but the students could answer easily just looking at the picture books. (Think scaffold practicing.) So, we might pose a question like, “In which book does a girl have an adventure with her father?” (Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen) or “In which book does a boy have a special relationship with a tree?” (The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein)

After that, we did a lot of just verbally posing questions to each other. I encouraged students to practice writing questions as they were reading so they were making themselves aware of the details. (For our LPS Battle of the Books, we have a shared Google Spreadsheet where all students are writing questions for all the books. It’s a great resource and the students are doing all of the work!) We did one day where we did a matching game of the title and the author, because answering with the complete title and complete author is a requirement but something they are not used to. We also did a fun Kahoot about the Battle Books (here is the Kahoot from last year ; I’ll make another one and share it later on this fall)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Screencasting ... be there without being there

As most of you know, last year my position went from full time to half time.  Personally this was perfect for me as it allowed me precious time with Ruby, but professionally it presented some challenges.  One of the biggest challenges I faced was creating a schedule that allowed me to offer service to all grade levels.  To do this I really needed to be in the building full days (or at least 3/4 days) which seemed impossible at first as I was responsible for teaching 5th graders, 6th grade CMP.  It seemed like I would have to work 5 afternoons a week and due to our building schedule that meant I would only service 4th and 5th graders.

I struggled with this idea all summer, it seemed like a terrible injustice that my K-3 students would not get any time with me.  They deserved and needed my time as much as my 4th and 5th graders and I felt like I'd be abandoning them.  I started to brainstorm and work with my principal, classroom teachers, the district math coordinator, the director of elementary education, really anyone who could help me find a creative answer to the question "How can a 3 day-a-week teacher lead a 5-day-a-week math class?"

In the end, I came up with an idea by modifying the process of having a "Flipped" classroom.  I would work with my students for 90 minutes on my 3 work days (CMP3 suggests 55 min 5 days a week or 3 90 minute sessions) and they would work independently using SCREENCATS I made to guide their learning. My schedule now looks like this:

Last year, this process was successful and over the summer I began to think about all the other ways I could use screencasting to support my kids when I couldn't physically be with them.  I could make a screencast that guides a student as they explore a passion project, or read a novel or non-fiction book that far exceeds the ability of their classmates, I could use screencasting to set up an interactive "center" for kids who need a challenge, I could make a screencast instead of writing sub plans ... really the possibilities are staggering!

So in the spirit of "Show don't Tell," here's a link to a screencast I made to help explain how I make this model work for my students and I. Screencasting in the Classroom

I'd love to hear your ideas about screencasting ... how can we use this to benefit kids?