Thursday, February 23, 2012

A little sharing time...

Well, I have really become a Pinterest fanatic!  I love some of the wonderful anchor chart ideas I've seen.  I am now a firm believer in these charts, especially for ESL students.  When we were first introduced to them, I was skeptical.  However, the more I used them, the more tailored they became to each class.  I have two rotations for Language Arts, a morning group and an afternoon group.  While we study exactly the same material, their anchor charts usually end up different.  It is essential that students help you create your charts.  While I use the Pinterest ideas, I absolutely tailor my chart to what my classes discuss.  Students take ownership of their learning when they participate in it and, in some way, help to create it.  I usually have my students copy the chart into their Reading Response Journals before they move on to their independent reading activity. 

I usually hang my charts here and rotate them in and out as I teach and reteach certain skills.  Two of these charts are recycled from earlier in the year.  The inferencing one on the far right is a new one we tried this week.  We are reviewing literacy skills in preparation for the new STAAR test, so that's the reason for the recycle/update kind of charts.

Another thing that I am passionate about is my word wall.  Coming from a primary background, I know the importance of a visual vocabulary reminder.  However, 4th graders don't need to know how to spell their sight words.  Even my ESL students have that down.  So I created a Parts-of-Speech word wall!  I absolutely love it and so do my students.  Here is a picture of it:

In the beginning of the year, I would write words on sentence strips and staple them to the chart.  Then I realized how much easier it is to just write new words on the butcher paper!  Duh!  (I'm not known for my common sense!)  I choose words that students ask about or that we see in authentic texts.  My students use this wall in writing as well.  I did use pictures with the idioms at the beginning of the year to support my ELLs.  By the way, Parts, More Parts, and Even More Parts, all by Tedd Arnold are FANTASTIC stories to read aloud when teaching idioms!  My ELLs especially benefitted from the texts.

I really love and trust my students, so today was a disappointing day for me.  I have a huge collection of books that I have bought over the years. I have everything from simple texts to hardback novels.  I always spend at least $100 at our school bookfair.  I also buy new books that I find interesting or that I want to read.  I put the books in my classroom library, unless I am saving them for a lesson.

 My students come from low income families who may not have access to new books or transportation to go to the library.  They are allowed to check out three books from our school library, but there are limited times that students can visit the library.  So, after reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I decided that if I wanted to create readers, I needed to be willing to allow students to use my books as needed.  I allow my students to check out books from me, take them home, and return them when they are done.  Last year, my students handled this very well and treated my books like treasures.  This year, not so much.  However, I've soldiered on.  I also allow students from other classrooms, who come to me for focused instruction during small group time, check out my books.  Well, today I caught one of those students with one of my paperback books.  She was on the carpet, kneeling on my book while it was open, and moving her knees back and forth.  Essentially, she was tearing up my book.  I could not believe it!!  She is no longer allowed to use any books from my library and I let her know that I was disappointed.  I was almost in tears! 
My books are my specials things that I share with them.  I didn't yell at her or stomp around.  In my calmest voice, I told her what my books meant to me and how she let me down.  She started to cry so I knew there was remorse there.  But I feel betrayed and let down.  I don't know...maybe I took destruction of my treasures too personally.

Well...tomorrow is Friday.  That means our weekly assessments!  I can only hope thier scores improve!  15 more days until the Writing STAAR!

Have a Fantabulous Friday!



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