Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Have you misplaced your passion?

I purchased a book randomly off Amazon called The Passion Driven Classroom  by Angela Mierers. It's based around the concept of a "Clubhouse" classroom, which, so far, sounds very much like a 'workshop' approach. (Lots of student-lead exploration). At any rate, I'm really enjoying it! Not for the clubhouse idea presented, but for the interesting, driven philosophy that a teacher MUST have passion in her/his teaching in order for her students to have passion about their learning. I will have to say, most days, I'm passionate. A lot of days... I'm tired! But, on those passionate days, I feel so blessed..needed... purposeful...EXCITED!! You have to block the negativity out and focus on what you believe is good teaching. It's HARD! But, by doing it everyday, your students will benefit.

Okay, so what does it mean by "Passion"? From what I gather, so far, it means that you believe so deeply about your subject, or personal teaching strategy, that the students can't help but be engaged. They LOVE listening to you and can't take their eyes off you in anticipation of what you might do or say next. The BEST part of teaching this way, is when you KNOW you've reached that point! You can feel the excitement of your students, see the smiles on their faces...hands are going up everywhere and you're not sure who to call on because you know they all have great ideas! Love, love LOVE that feeling!

I'm reading this book and thinking, " I can't lose this feeling...". I believe I'm passionate about teaching. Don't get me wrong, I do have my bad days, but my good days out number them. Tomorrow, we are digging deeper into persuasive writing...How "passionate" can I be? I hope more than I realize, because these kiddos are depending on me to teach them something they have no clue about. If I want it to be embedded into their lives forever, I have no choice but to be PASSIONATE!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Adjective Word Study

Today we were word hunters! I got this idea from Dinah Zike's book Foldables, Notebooks for Spelling...K-3. I can spend just about all day looking through her books and getting ideas for future lessons! Anyway, we divided our page into 3 columns and labled them 'adjectives, comparative adjectives and superlative adjectives'. We then found any of the three types of adjectives in magazines, cut them out and sorted them into the appropriate category. The students were able to get as creative as they like when cutting and adding words together. If they couldn't find the comparative or superlative form, they could hand write it in.

The kids loved this activity! I must say though, you need a good 30 minutes to work with, and a little extra patience!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Class Will Be...

I'm reading the book The Passion Driven Classroom. There are many things I like so far about the book, but the first chapter really caught my attention. "...96% of teachers reported that creativity should be promoted in the classroom. However, when asked which students they actually preferred to teach, teachers chose the students who were most compliant. These studies confirm what we suspect: What we claim to want and what we actually reward in practice are two very different things." (p.5)

"We need students to be adpative, flexible, creative, innovative, leaders, and cross-cultural."(p.6)

I loved this thought so much that I decided to make a poster for our classroom and talk about the kind learning that should be taking place this year as we learn together.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Higher-Order Thinking Questions for Literature Circles

I've always had "Reflection Cards" for literature response time, or flexible groups, but I felt the need to upgrade them a bit with the new STAAR test. Our district uses CSCOPE curriculum, which is supposed to be directly aligned with STAAR, and its Exemplary Lessons promote higher-order thinking to its upmost level. So, I spent a nice evening at home combing through the entire L/A Reading 4th grade CSCOPE and typed up every questions I could find. I then enlarged them, printed and glued them onto construction paper. They were then laminated and cut apart. I sorted them into 10 different categories: Text to Self, Text to Text, Text to World, Expository Text, Story Elements, Bio/Autobiography, Drama/poetry, Author's Purpose/Theme, Research Writing, Word Study and Writing, and made the notebook below to store them in. Now I can grab my notebook when I call a flexible group, or literature circle, and pull questions that align with the text they're reading, etc.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crazy about Idioms!!

I love doing this project with my students! The original idea came from a fellow 5th grade Reading teacher. The kids love it! Other classes are encouraged to come down our hallway and try to "solve" our idioms.
Here are just a few of them:

The answers are under the flap. Scroll down to see the answer to the first one!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Analyzing Poetry

This week my student teacher was being observed by her professor, so we developed a lesson around poetry (since it's the big push this year with the new STAAR test and all-yippee). We started off by asking students what they liked and disliked about poetry. Students wrote their responses on post-its and stuck them on the pre-made classroom T-Chart. This was a 5 minute "Engage". We then briefly discussed the results (like I said, 5 minutes top!) and then reviewed what we already knew about poetry using the previously made anchor charts.

The students discussed with the teacher 4 main types of poetry using the SmartBoard, and then iwere nstructed to go to their tables to "Explore" the type of poetry in their table baskets. As a group, the students created a poster that described the different characteristics of their poetry. (15 minutes).

Students then presented their posters to the class. ("Explanation"). The teacher led a discussion on the likes and differences of the types of poetry presented and elaborated on understanding poetry is a life-long skill. (Elaboration).  After the discussion, students were "Evaluated" using a teacher made activity sheet.

My student teacher did an awesome job! Here are a few snap-shots: