Saturday, March 16, 2013

Common Core Research

With the beginning of Common Core in our district there was a huge change in the writing curriculum. I LOVE the differences! GASP, but I am so glad to get away from the small moment-personal narrative that I was stuck in. Of course, at the beginning I felt like I was transformed into the Wizard of Oz. Just click my heels and away I went.

This quarter of our writing samples that go in each child's Reading folders was the research section. We seem to have worked on this for several weeks. The kids LOVE it! We always knew that when they pick up an information book about an animal they just can't wait to share--with you or a friend--just can't wait to share an amazing fact!

We began by doing a whole class theme on Owls. We used this as a tool to review the non-fictional text features. Following that we moved to choosing an animal to work with a small group (with support from others part of the Common Core standard).

I placed seven stations around the room with the animal choices (sharks, snakes, dogs, cats, apes, rabbits, bats). I let them browse the room and then called them back to the floor. Using our tub of student number sticks, I pulled a number and that child took a sticky note and placed their name on their choice. I limited each group to four students. 

Then began the fun part--reading, reading, and talking, sharing. 

Pebblego has also been a fantastic source.

We've been writing. I purchased a set from TPT.

 I hope to get them finished and published next week. The All About Book--A Research Based Informative Writing Project has given us the structure for this Common Core Standard.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Basal toss!

My district has always had a basal in my lifetime as a first grade teacher. This is reading adoption year for the state of Tennessee. I am serving on the adoption committee. We listened to the sales pitches of several companies. They fed hundreds of teachers a buffet light dinner, gave their "my company is the one company that is truly Common Core". The state allows the companies to send out a small sample of certain grade levels--no more letting us see every grade's materials. Throughout the process, I became more and more confused. I became convinced of my choice. It was another basal--but one that I felt had the closest ties to meeting Common Core standards.

Then...the committee met to hear the last sales pitches. Each of the top three companies (these were narrowed down in a previous meeting) were allowed to present their final --you need this--- presentations. We asked a few questions. Then..we talked. We viewed our positives and negatives. And...we went with a non-basal company--Benchmark Literacy. It is a very different type of reading program.

The positive is that we will be not tied to a basal in our district. We will use Reader's and Writer's Workshop. Due to this I feel FREE! Free to go back to using RW and WW. 

I jumped in this week. I took an idea from a blog: I put four questions on poster paper and let the kids travel to all four--answering questions about what we have talked about in our shortened RW meetings.

These questions have become my teaching points this week. I also kicked this change in MY teaching by beginning a chapter read-aloud of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. The first day I told the kids that reading is such a marvelous journey and read the first chapter. They listened. But not much of an eye opening for them.

Day 2--I pulled out their chart of "where do you read"? We have talked about this back in August. They had some good thoughts and a variety of places. Then I read Chapter 2 of Edward Tulane. This time they were "into" it. So much so that they groaned when I finished it. I knew I had made a step into taking this journey. 

I have gotten help and inspiration from this blog: Once Upon a Reader's Workshop on Teachers Pay Teachers. "Bookmuncher" has since retired from teaching. But I refer to her posts when I need a push!

I have about 12 weeks of school left. I am determined that these kids will leave with an idea of how wonderful books can be. After all--MY blog is Booky4first!