Monday, May 30, 2011

Daily 5-- Part 7- Writing

I want to start by saying I have a separate writer's workshop block, so my students can do anything writing related during Daily 5. If they're writing, I'm happy. The most popular activity is writing letters to each other. I have lots of fancy paper from the dollar store and envelopes. The rule is only 1 piece of fancy paper and envelope per day though. My students are also not allowed to give their letters to their friends during Daily 5. They put it in their mailboxes to avoid distraction. I store all my paper in this mailbox to keep it organized and easily accessible. 

My students also have writing journals that they keep in their book bin if they just want to free write. I also offer many different prompts to assist them. I keep a ring of laminated picture prompts. The kids can just grab the ring and choose a picture to write about. I love reading stories that go along with the pictures. They can get so creative. 

Each month I offer different writing task cards. The majority of mine came from Ms Winston's website. I print, laminate, and put them on a binder ring. 

I post monthly journal prompts in clear sleeves from the Busy Teacher Cafe

I own a long arm stapler so another popular choice is making books. My students will grab a piece of construction paper and a few sheets of white paper and I staple it into a book. My students know when it's appropriate to ask me to staple their book and when it's not (ex: when I'm working with a group or conferencing) 

Lately my kids have been making joke books. They're so silly!

There are SO many different writing options in my classroom that there is something for everyone. Writing is actually a popular choice. 

Around the holidays I make donated stationery available (Valentine cards, Christmas cards, etc.) This is a big hit too and the same rules apply; only 1 per day. 

It's very easy to switch out my writing options each month. Last summer I printed, laminated, and prepared the options for each month. Now all I do is swap it out :)

Any questions? 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Daily 5--Part 6- Word Work

On Mondays I teach 3 word study groups. I use Bear's Words Their Way and each group has a different spelling list based on what Words Their Way Pattern they fall into. I introduce the spelling words for the week then they do a pattern sort. Throughout the week they can choose word work to practice their spelling words; they must do it at least once a week prior to the spelling test. On Fridays I require all my students to do Read to Self in the first round and I pull each group back to take their spelling test. This only takes about 20 minutes total. This is such an easy way to differentiate. It really is! My organization is simple too. I just keep 3 different folders which contain spelling lists and the current week's sort. 

I have my kids do spelling homework every Thursday and they choose an activity from the Speller's choice of the month. I also put a copy in each Word Work bin to offer options. 

I keep my sorts in envelopes (each sort is paper clipped with the sort number on the front). WW stands for within word. 

I have 3 Word Work bins that have the exact same contents. This way there is no arguing and 3 students can choose Word Work in the same round (I would suggest more bins for a larger class). The kids just grab a bin and go to work :) As I previously mentioned, my students keep a folder in their book bins. The left side is for writing and the right side is word work. I have them turn in their folders and journals biweekly. 

Here are the contents of the bins: 
- dry erase crayons (eh, wouldn't recommend them)
- dry erase markers
- markers
- colored pencils
- magnetic letters (homemade: print, laminate, stick magnets on the back)*
- stamps (Target dollar spot)
- clothespin letters (the stick is a paint stirrer)* 
- chalk (my clear library book bins came with dark blue lids so I use them as chalk boards)

*- Each bin contains different colored letters so that I know which bag they belong to if I find letters on the floor. 

My students grab a cookie sheet if they are doing magnetic letters and a white board if they are using dry erase markers or crayons since they obviously can't fit in the bin.

close up of how the clothespins are used.

I tell my students that I want them to at least practice their words for 10 minutes and then if they want to place a Word Work game they can (they're really good about this). I have many different games and activities. Many of them are homemade and are in my TpT store as single purchases or within a unit. I store them in a bin under my easel. We do a lot of modeling in the beginning of the year and I haven't had a single issue regarding clean up or misusing my materials. 

Let me know if you have any questions and I will be glad to answer them :) I'm proud of my Word Work system. It's so perfectly organized and I haven't had a single issue all year. Modest aren't I? ;)

Stay tuned... I have 2 more blog entries about Daily 5 to go! 


Monday, May 23, 2011

Daily 5--Part 5- Read to Someone

I found that read to someone is the choice that my students need the most modeling for. We practice, practice, practice sitting EEKK (elbow to elbow, knee to knee) and practice our whisper voices. My students are really good about the noise level. I'm finding that my students get so into what they are reading that when it's their partner's turn they keep trying to read their book. I've tried to eliminate this problem by making my students put a bookmark in their book and sit on it. 
In the beginning of the year I demonstrated the two different ways to read with someone. The first way is reading the same book together but it has to be a "just right" book for both students. This way is seldom used in my classroom. Most of my students each read their own book and take turns.
I also have a small class so it drives me nuts because the same kids read together all the time, but there really isn't anything I can do about that this year. 
One thing I want to work on next year is modeling more "do you need coaching or time?" strategies. They were really good about it when I first taught it. I think next year I will make a bookmark that has strategies written on it so that when their buddy does need coaching they can give them a strategy to use. 
I must say.. even though read to someone drives me crazy sometimes, I hear so much great discussion!! 
Are there any questions about read to someone? I feel like there wasn't much to say about this choice. 


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Daily 5- Part 4- Read to Self

I forgot to mention modeling in part 3. The first month is almost all modeling and anchor charts. The original anchor charts are on large chart paper, but I only keep them up for about a week. I type what is written and we turn it into a contract. I store them in a folder with prongs and they all have to sign the front. The sticker on the front is from the Daily 5 book and says: 
1. Get started right away
2. Stay in one place
3. Work quietly
4. Read the whole time
5. Increase stamina
6. Select and read good fit books

When students have trouble during the year I have them review our anchor charts during read to self to remind themselves of the contract they signed. 

As I stated in Part 1.. my students must choose read to self every day. It's 20 minutes of uninterrupted reading time! 

The first couple of weeks of school I put good fit books into my students' book bins until they are able to appropriately choose their own. My book bins were 2.50 at Target and I have them decorate an index card on the first day and I velcro it on to reuse for next year. None broke this year and they were pretty rough with them! Inside their book bins they are allowed 6 books (no more than 2 chapter books), a writing journal, a folder for word work and writing pieces (left side is labeled word work, right side is labeled writing) an IPICK book mark, and a check for understanding. 

Anyways, the most crucial part of read to self is the students being able to choose their own books. I spend about a week modeling and working with students one on one to choose good fit books. To practice we sing the IPICK song and they receive IPICK bookmarks. I can't share them because of copyright issues, but basically I just created it in Word with the IPICK acronym 
I choose my books
Know most of the words 

We also go over the "5 finger rule." If a student chooses a chapter book they must be able to randomly open the book and read a page without struggling with more than 5 words. I tell them if it's a picture book it's a "3 finger rule" since most of them have a lot less words than a page in a chapter book. 

I don't know what else to say about read to self. It's wonderful and my students LOVE reading. My favorite part is seeing them smile or laugh as they read. There is nothing more rewarding than watching your students enjoy learning. If you think of any questions, feel free to ask them in a comment or email. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

Countdown: 24 more days of school!

Don't forget you can follow me on Facebook and now you can even receive email notifications (on the right hand side) when I update my blog. Thanks Ladybug for yet another thing I didn't know! 


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Daily 5-- Part 3 Accountability

So I'm not going to lie... accountability is tough for me. I'm all into it at the beginning of the year but by November I'm tired of recording information. I know my kids inside and out. BUT next year I'm going to have 18 students so I know I'm going to need to get better with recording data.

Here is my lovely reading bag. I got it for $5 last summer at Michaels!! (40% off coupon). This is where I keep my pensieve, guided reading books, white board, sentence strips, etc.

Here is my pensieve from Zazzle

Inside I keep my weekly lesson overview. This is where I fill in my mini lessons for the week, the guided reading groups I'm working with, and when I'm meeting with individual students. My example is very bare, but I'm making an effort to be more detailed next year. 

Then after my weekly overview I have a tab for guided reading groups where I keep my small group lesson plans. This is pretty straight forwards.. I write down the book title, my plans for the week, who is in the group, and what I observe. 

Next in my pensieve are tabs for each student. Inside the tab I keep track of our one on one conferences using this form. I write down the book they're reading, check what strategy they're working on, record my observations, then record what I would like them to work on. 

And this is my Daily 5 assessment that I fill out each quarter and include with report cards. 

Hopefully this post was helpful. I'm not going to lie... I went through about 4 different conference templates this year until I created the one that worked best and was easiest to use.. now all I need to do is use it ;)


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Daily 5 Part 2- mini lessons

Yesterday I posted an overview about how I run Daily 5 in my classroom. I also forgot to say yesterday that Daily 5 is the most amazing thing ever. I've never seen students so engaged and quiet. It's my favorite part of the day and theirs too! Today I will talk more about what I do during my mini lesson portion. 
After the students check in we immediately do our Daily Language Review. I keep a checklist of who has read and who has responded that way I can ensure everyone is getting the practice. 

After the DLR we talk about our word of the week. On Mondays I introduce the word of the week and talk about the definition then Tuesday-Friday the students share how they've used the word. For example, this week our word of the week is "etiquette." Today a student shared how he used the word at the dinner table last night. This usually only takes about 3 minutes or so. 

The second mini lesson (after round 1) is almost always a comprehension lesson. Sometimes I model the strategy with our author of the month and other times a chapter book series we're reading. I use the CAFE book, NYS standards, and Mrs. Maiolo's website to gather my ideas for my mini lessons. I also base what I'm teaching off of what I'm observing and notice my students need the most reinforcement with. 

The last mini lesson (after round 2) is either an accuracy, fluency, or vocabulary lesson. Every Friday this mini lesson is "Fancy Nancy Friday" which my students LOVE. This is when I introduce a boring word and we come up with fancy words or synonyms to add to our Fancy Nancy Word Wall

I don't focus too much on whole group accuracy lessons. I save that for my differentiated guided reading groups. I do go over basic word families at the beginning of the year and some of the more difficult middle sounds mid year. 

Here is a picture of my CAFE menu. After we learn a new strategy I choose an "expert" to write the strategy on a sentence strip. If someone has a question about a specific strategy, I send them to the expert (who HOPEFULLY remembers how to use the strategy!) ;)

***Please note: The first month of school and introducing the Daily 5 is very critical. I created this launch plan (using many different resources) which guided me smoothly through this year. I didn't follow it to a T but I relied on it heavily. If you have not read the Daily 5 or CAFE the launch plans will be confusing. I used both books and smushed the 2 launches together. Eventually The Sisters are supposed to release a book on combining the two, until then, my launch plans worked out well for me this year. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Daily 5 Part 1

I've been asked to put together a Daily 5/Cafe handbook for new teachers. I have also received quite a few emails asking what I do for reading, so here it goes.I have so much to say about the Daily 5/CAFE so I decided to break it into 6 parts. Today I'll be describing an overview. 
For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about you have to read The Daily 5 and CAFE books by Gail Boushey and Joan Mosher.
This is what my schedule looks like: 

9:45-10:00- check in and Daily Language Review.  
10:00-10:20- Round 1
10:20-10:30- Mini lesson 
10:30-10:50- Round 2
10:50-11:00- Mini lesson
11:00-11:20- Round 3
11:20-11:25- Wrap up 

Rounds- On Mondays I teach 3 different word study groups and introduce spelling words for the week. Every other day I meet with guided reading groups 2 out of 3 rounds and use the 3rd round to have individual conferences.

Check in- this is what students see when they first come to the carpet. If they see "Ms. D" they know they are working with me that round. You can download a blank copy here on google documents (if it shows up weird, click file, download as word)

We gather on the carpet and the first thing the students do is make their choices for the day. Afterwards it looks like this: 

You'll notice I have a small dot next to Thalia's name. I do this to keep track of who I leave off on so I know whose turn it is to choose first the next day.

I do have a few rules to keep Daily 5 running smooth. Each student MUST choose read to self every day. Listening can only be done once a week. My original word work rule was that it couldn't be done on Monday or Friday since spelling words are introduced Monday and the test is first thing on Friday. I have since allowed my students to play word work games on Monday and Friday BUT they must also make sure they choose word work on either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to practice their spelling words. I will talk more about each choice in separate upcoming blog posts. You can download the rule sheet here

I also keep track of what my students choose each day because I do require they do everything at least once (except read to self that's every day). I tried several different recording sheets but ultimately this simple one ended up working the best for me because I can glance quickly and see what each student has and has not done. I just write their names in and each sheet lasts me 4 weeks. You can download the track sheet here. You can see that on Thursday I circle what they have not done yet so that I can remind the students before check in. I also intentionally didn't include read to self since they have to choose that everyday anyways. This was my first attempt. It's cuter and fancier but didn't serve the simplistic approach I was looking for.But maybe it will work for someone else! 

Tomorrow I will post about the mini lesson part of my schedule with an amazing resource that describes the first 27 days to a T (well almost!). This post will also include anchor charts and behavior modeling.  


Sunday, May 15, 2011


And how true. . . 

Expect a post soon about the Daily 5/CAFE. It's been a while! 


Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm getting married :)

Although this has nothing to do with teaching... Eric and I FINALLY set a date. August 11! Then a week later he is moving to DC for the year to attend Georgetown Law. I'm staying in NY and we'll reunite next May when he's finished and hopefully has a job :D
Feel free to leave any wedding advice (favors, dress, food, budget, etc.). I decided on pink, green, and brown as my theme colors. 

Anyways, like many of you I'll be throwing a sale on TpT tomorrow. You can also use the code: tad11 to save a total of 40%