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Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Bible (In the Classroom)

I just got home from a workshop where I was presenting workstations to use for second graders. In talking with some of the teachers I realized that many reading teachers are not teaching kids how to read.

I was one of them up until this year.

Unfortunately it's an epidemic stemming from the theory of Whole Language.

Don't get me wrong, I went to a predominantly Whole Language elementary school. Hoo boy I loved it. I thrived. But does every child? Absolutely not. Neither can every child thrive on a purely Phonics based program.

What you need is a happy medium.

What you need is this bible:

Small-Group Reading Instruction by Beverly Tyner is the tool you need for your classroom if you understand the comprehension aspect of Guided Reading but are confused or stumped about the phonics aspect of it.

It breaks the Phonics (or Word Study) down for you starting with Letter Sounds, moving onto Initial Sounds, Blends and Digraphs, Short Vowel Sounds and Vowel Patterns.

I. Love. It.

It goes along with the premise that every Guided Reading group is different. It was like somebody hit me with the Duh! stick when I read this. No wonder my Guided Reading instruction wasn't super effective. I was trying to do one size fits all. It definitely didn't fit.

It breaks readers up into 5 stages based on their Guided Reading Level/Lexile Level. Since I teach Second Grade I have really only dealt with the Fledgling Level (GR E-G) to the Independent Reader (J-P).

I have seen a tremendous difference in my readers this year. I'm able to give my students the ability to break down words by identifying vowel patterns. What a difference! I also am seeing a huge improvement in their spelling (No more I lick to play ball! Hallelujah!) The students are not just memorizing words-they are actually learning the how's and why's which helps them read ANY word.

In short. Go buy this book. Now. It will change your (teaching) life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Change of plans...

I had full intentions of going to school and working on my classroom library this morning but this little guy had other plans... My mom sent me this link yesterday and I have been hooked ever since!! I can't wait to show my kiddos on Monday.

It's a live camera of a bald eagles nest in Decorah, Iowa. Mom laid 3 eggs in late February/early March. The first egg hatched early this morning and the second egg hatch is IMMINENT!

The video above is a 24 hour collage of the first pip up to the hatch and the first sightings of the little guy. So amazing!

Unfortunately the site is down now because of a server crash but hopefully they won't miss the second eaglet's birthday!

What an awesome real life classroom experience!! My brain is buzzing with all the different ways I can use this in my classroom next week. There is a chat room feature with experts from the Raptor Resource Project where you can ask questions and discuss the goings on. (Perfect for Media Literacy week...)

**Caution to teachers of younger kiddos-there are some graphic images that might appear since the video is live (i.e. when the birds bring back their meals) but there are a ton of saved videos that are more appropriate to show the younger crowd.**

Since I didn't get a chance to work on my library-it gives me a chance to pose this question.

How do you organize your classroom library? What rules and procedures do you use to keep it running efficiently?

Friday, April 1, 2011

You know you teach second when...

1. Your whole body smiles as a kid who read 11 wpm at the beginning of the year reads 70 wpm for you on a fluency probe.

2. Your heart breaks when the attendance clerk pops her head in to tell you that said student is withdrawing.

4. You want to skip up and down the halls and shout from the rooftops that a kid that was two years behind grade level is now on grade level.

5. You want to pull your hair out when your kids in April decide they forgot the morning routine and just sit at their desks silently. DO SOMETHING PLEASE :)

6. Half of your classroom stories make your friends and family die laughing. The other half they just don't get.

7. You are so jazzed in August about school starting... then school starts and you remember you have beginning of the year second graders... (they grow so much and you forget so easily...)

8. You spend some of your free time catching up on kids pop culture so you can make culturally relevant spelling sentences for the kids. (Hannah Montana USED to be cool! Duh!)

9. At the end of a crazy day you still tell all your kids you love them and give them a hug on their way out the door.

Classroom Library

I have books coming out the wazoo in my classroom right now. Everywhere I look there are random piles of books waiting to be sorted and labeled so they are ready to be read. Everything looked so perfect at the beginning of the year... Sadly I can't even blame the kiddos... the problem is me.

My name is Morgan and I have been addicted to book buying since I was in the first grade.

I love books. I love quality books. I even sort of like the books that aren't so high quality only because I know (or I convince myself...) that if at least one kid's interest is piqued in the book the purchase is worth it.

I get my supply at Goodwill and other fabulous second hand stores. How can anyone resist a book that is $0.50?! (Unless you get 50 of them...)

I have bags of books everywhere. My kitchen counter is full of Guided Reading Sets I bought on eBay. The floor of my car holds a bag I snagged at Goodwill. The black hole that is the space under my desk has random bags of books from various expeditions.

My system is so beautiful and perfect. Minus the fact that I didn't allow for new books in my shelf space allotment.


Guess I will be spending a beautiful morning at school reorganizing my hot mess of books