With the beautiful weather around here, I always look forward to days of open windows, doors, and natural lighting. During writing and reading workshop, students are free to read/write in or out of the classroom (I station myself at the door to see both areas clearly). I was not surprised to see all of my boys head outdoors. The outdoors, along with other things, can become your venue to reading, writing, loving boys.
I hope I am not being too radical and out-of-the box saying this, but I think assessment just gets in the way of teaching sometimes. It just seems like we pull out that seed so much now, wondering why it hasn't grown, don't we? And with all the assessment options in the world, what is an "85%" reader anyway? Actually, the whole grading system boggles me. Who made up the scale we use in the first place? (ex- 8 point range for a "B" and 5 point range for a "D", 69 point range for an "F"). So many thoughts come to mind...how do you assess that written piece that deals with grandma's death when it is plagued with conventional errors? And that child that is reading on a first grade level in the fourth grade...but is making steady gains. How do we assess such an internal process as reading anyhow? All these questions on a Saturday morning deserve some answers. I'd like to share what seems to work in my classroom.
I had a former student make his way to my classroom Friday afternoon. He quietly said, "Mrs. Bunyi, how are you? I am going to the Grand Canyon soon, and I was wondering if you had a book I could borrow before I go." I knew exactly where to go and sent him on his way within a matter of seconds. Honestly, it felt great to be able to place that book in his hands. It also felt wonderful to have a system that made it easy to find the requested books.
“What would you do if you were not afraid?” I love this line from Dr. Johnson’s, Who Moved My Cheese? Maybe that's why I have moved around so much. Tenure-smenure. And then there's the simple title of Rafe Esquith's book, There Are No Shortcuts. I have to remind myself of that one sometimes. And Smart Answers to Tough Questions. I could go on. I can't imagine who I would be without a few key authors along the way. Here are ten books/authors that will refresh and revitalize what you are doing in the classroom...great for a nice holiday read.
Revisiting the Reader's Notebook
My class takes some time each week to reflect on their reading and growth as a reader. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these letters each week. Recently, however, the writing quality has started to deteriorate for a few students. I knew it was time to stop, reflect, and model what meaningful reflections look like with my kids. And although I have posted on the use of a reader's notebook in our classroom, I thought it might be helpful to share how I got our writing "back on track" with a little modeling and review time.
I will be honest. I still remember how overwhelmed I was when I had the task of getting familiar with all the site has to offer last summer. There is a lot! So, while I have searched high and low with the plethora of information offered on Scholastic, I'd like to share my top 5 favorite resources on Scholastic...
I am always looking for new ideas to teach and support reading strategies to my class. I usually have a pile of four professional books that get browsed while making my lesson plans during the weekend. Sometimes I wish these resources were all combined into one book, as I use them all frequently. Here are some of the charts and bulletin boards I have used from Debbie Miller, Tanny McGregor, and Stephanie Harvey to teach inferring, questioning, metacognition, and nonfiction text features.