New Year resolutions · writing club

I feel a poem coming on…

I am trying to stick to all of my New Year resolutions.
It hasn’t been easy.

I read every day.
For school.
For work.
For fun.

I write every day.
Something important
And, sometimes, not so important.

I try to remember to stay in the moment.

I have finished two books.
98 to go.

I am not eating as healthy as I would like.

I have yet to start an exercise program.
At least, I have the schedule written down.
Now, I just have to start going.

Now, I am sitting in writing club.
The four girls in my class
are writing away.
Well, at least three of them are.
One is arranging her crayons in some kind of order.
She distracts herself and those around her.
Which is about everybody else since there are only
four girls in the class.

I try to ignore it.
10 minutes to go before the end of silent writing time.

I’m doing pretty well, I think.
Until one little girl approaches me
ready to ask me a question, I guess –
at least she’s whispering –
“Can I use my notebook to make a chapter book?”
“Of course”, I say.
She was the same one who whooped a cry of joy when
I announced silent writing time.
“Yeah,” she said.
“I love silent writing time.”

They’re giggling now.

So much for silent writing time.

5 minutes to go.

At least I wrote something today.
Ready to post.

Posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday

Daily 5 · I can statements · mini lessons · setting purpose · SWBAT · Upper Iowa University

Daily 5 Online Course

I am currently enrolled in the Daily 5 Online Course at the Upper Iowa Universtiy.  It is the only course approved by the Two Sisters, creators of the Daily 5 literacy block management system, so it comes with a special stamp of approval.

I have been implementing the Daily 5 in my classroom for the past 6 years, primarily in a self-contained, grade 2 Spanish bilingual classroom in Canada.  Now, I am one of two ESL teachers in grades 4 through 8 in an international school in South America.  I am mostly self-taught in the Daily 5 and even though I’ve been “doing” the Daily 5 for a long time now, I jumped at the chance of collaborating with other teachers on a common interest.  Thankfully, my school is paying for my course which is a great advantage.

We’re doing a lot of reading and responding on the online board set up by the university.  As usual, I am finding myself learning so much from the other participants.  In fact, I’ve started to keep careful notes on implementation ideas posted by my fellow classmates.

I am going to share just three of these simple but powerful ideas.

One of the challenges for teachers when implementing the Daily 5 is to plan and chunk several mini lessons every day.  One teacher posted a deceptively simple idea that she claims helps her plan better.  She uses a blank sheet with three columns for her daily planning, each column represents one mini lesson during the Daily 5 time.  On each column she writes out her mini lesson remembering to stick to one teaching point so that her lessons aren’t longer than her students’ age.  For example, a lesson for grade 2 should be approximately 8 minutes long.  That is quite a challenge for teachers who, admittedly or not, like to talk!  But, more importantly, we need to provide time for children to read and write and collaborate with their peers.  Of course, someone could design a fancy template, and I’m sure some will, but the simplicity of a piece of paper, three columns and space to think and write, is what appeals to me.

Another teacher commented that in order to set the purpose for a Daily 5 mini lesson, he uses SWBAT or students will be able to…as an attention getter, of sorts.  Although, I shy away from behaviour objectives, I do see the value in pointing out to children what you are trying to teach them.  It grabs their attention and sets the tone for the lesson.  I would use I can statements instead of SWBAT, and I would encourage students to set their own goals using I can statements as their personal purpose for the day.

Finally, I use 3-minute pauses in the classroom; I stop every so often and have the kids tell each other what they just heard.  This way it keeps their attention on the lesson and gets them talking to each other about what they’re learning.  Three-minute pauses allow children to summarize their learning which helps cement it for them later on.

That’s it! Just three simple ideas, that while not new, may help focus learning and teaching in the classroom.

Feel free to post your ideas for how to focus mini lessons and set purposes for learning.

Shared on the Slice of Life.

New Year's resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions Redux

I know.  I know.  A lot of bloggers have been writing about their New Year’s Resolutions.  Some even did it right before the new year and some right on the first of January.  This post might be a bit late in the stream.  A Johnny come lately, of sorts.

Nevertheless, by posting my resolutions and making them public, I intend to be accountable to myself. So, I am doing this for me.  By going public, I am making a commitment to myself to carry them through.

It always amazes me how easy it is to commit to something in the relative calm of a break from school.  Once I’m back in the classroom I start to fall behind.  But, I don’t want to use the excuse of being too busy as a reason for not following through on my resolve.

I want to build stamina so I know each resolution listed below won’t become a habit right away.  I will try not to beat myself over the head if I do fall behind, which is inevitable.  I will pick myself up and recommit to what I want to accomplish this year.

Elisa’s New Year’s Resolutions, not in order of priority:

#1 – Write every day.
#2 – Read and comment on a research article related to my doctoral study, every day.
#3 – Read 100 professional books and/or novels during the year.  (This is through GoodReads.)
#4 – Be an advocate for myself.  Decide what I want and go after it!
#5 – Get on an exercise schedule 2x/week.
#6 – Watch what I eat, including portions.
#7 – Post weekly on my blog(s).
#8 – Practice mindfulness in everything I do.

Not earth shattering.  In fact, some have been on my New Year’s resolutions list every year.  Sometimes I’ve made headway and sometimes I just lose the list, literally and figuratively, after the first couple of weeks in January.  I’m determined to do better this time around.  I’ll report out about how I’m doing as the year goes on to motivate myself and to keep me honest.

Feel free to comment about your own resolutions and don’t hesitate to give me feedback on mine!

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful year!

Posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of LIfe