Literacy Workstations


I'm now officially on Winter Break!
In the past 4 weeks of school, I have been testing and tweaking my reading instruction.   As a school, we have moved towards literacy workstations.  I've tried literacy workstations in the past and it has always left me a bit nervous because there is less direct instruction and more responsiblity for learning on the shoulders of students.  The model we are using is based on Debbie Diller's "Practice with Purpose".
In my classroom, Mondays are designated for direct instruction of new skills and vocabulary with some guided practice.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there is a lot less direct instruction and a lot more guided and independent practice in our workstations.  I have 12 stations and students work in pairs.  Over the 3 days (and sometimes Fridays), the students spend 12-15 minutes at each station. 
Computer:  Students listen to the story selection of the week.
Reading Skill:  Students reread the selection and complete a graphic organizer for the week's comprehension skill.
Writing: Prompts or activities related to the skill of the week.
Theme:  Varies weekly depending on skill.  This could be a reading skill game, riddles, or any kind of extension of the week's theme.
Fluency:  Pairs read aloud together (usually Reader's Theater scripts based on the week's theme).
Spelling:  Students do word sorts and word meaning activities with their spelling words.
Comprehension:  Students practice the week's comprehension skill with a leveled reader and the same graphic organizer.
Grammar: Grammar games and/or Mountain Language
Word Work:  Activities to enhance vocabulary.  Lately, we've been focusing on Context Clues.
Vocabulary: Students complete a vocabulary map for new vocabulary words.
Dictionary Skills: Students practice looking up words, using guide words, finding part of speech, etc.
Independent Reading: Students read a book of their choice and complete a written response.

When students complete the station, they turn in any work to their folder. Students are also graded with a participation/activity rubric that I keep on a clipboard throughout the morning.
During station time, I usually circulate and monitor the first rotation.  For the remaining rotations of the day, I work with pairs for remediation, interventions and enrichment.  For some, I'll join them and work with them at the station.  For others, I pull them out of a station to work on intensive interventions.
I'm happy with the way the stations are working now and am grateful that I had a full-time intern to help train the students and create a system that works.
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Halloween!


Wow!  It's almost Halloween already!  We have a 4 day school week this week (with a teacher work-day on Friday).  In those 4 days we need to squeeze in a field trip, school pictures and a fall party!  Instead of working in our regular reading curriculum, this week we're working in Halloween-inspired literacy workstations to review skills.  The kids are going to have a blast playing with Spooky Synonyms, Pumpkin Prefixes, reading Stellaluna and comparing bats, birds & owls, a Frankenstein Fact & Opinion sort and all other types of fun!  What I love about workstations is that students think they are playing games but they're really practicing and applying important literacy skills. It helps make reading fun and I want kids to find reading FUN - because reading IS fun!  Happy Halloween!
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Teaching is fun!


Wow!  The start of school is crazy with a capital "C"!  It is so difficult but so fun to launch a new school year.  I'm loving my new class.  They are sweet and eager to learn.  We're starting week 4 - routines and procedures are nearly established and I like the classroom vibe.   Getting to know each of my students has been my priority.   What do they need - socially, emotionally and academically?  I want the best for every one of them.

My special moment today:  I was teaching math, 3-digit place value specifically, and at one point in the lesson I want them to see a pattern.  I become quite the actress - "Oh my gosh!  What is this?  Does anyone else see this?"  They are all wondering, searching, looking and I can feel the excitement building.  One sees it, then another, then they all begin to see it.  They found it!  They are giddy with joy!   And it was MATH that made them feel that way!  They will remember that lesson.  These are the little moments that make me LOVE my job.
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Classroom Tour - Part 1

Whew!  I usually spend at least 2 weeks preparing my room for the coming year.  This year, I decided to get it all done during pre-planning and enjoy my ENTIRE summer vacation for a change.  To top it all off - I MOVED classrooms too.  I had the opportunity to choose a new room and I moved to one that's more off the beaten path (my old room was right outside the front office and library - a very busy, noisy area!) at the end of the hallway and it even has a window (albeit a small one!).   It took some doing and lots of help but I love the way it turned out!  I'm thankful for my FANTASTIC full-time intern and my creative teenage daughter.  My theme this year is owl:  observe, wonder, learn.  I really wanted a soothing, earthy, color-scheme with little pops of color.  I also wanted a very uncluttered, almost minimalist space.  I sometimes think that classrooms are overdone - so many colors and so much going on - and that can be distracting for some kids and I just wanted to try something totally different.  Here's the tour and I'd love your feedback!

Entrance table.  Students will file their homework into a file folder each morning.



View from the door.  (Don't mind the trash can!)


Smartboard & projector table.  The classroom job chart is on the left
and daily essential questions will be posted on the right.


My director's chair!  This was my big splurge this year.  I've always wanted
one!  I hardly EVER sit down but I love to read-aloud to my students and this
 will be my special chair for that!




The bathrooms!  On the book rack are leveled readers.  To the right,
is my behavior clip chart.  Students will have a clothespin that starts on
green (Ready to Learn) and can move up (Role Model) or down.  This
is a blend of several systems I've used over the years. 



The computer area - I have 5 this year!!! Hanging above are my
Accelerated Reading ribbon "owls". The students will earn "buttons"
to attach to their ribbon as they reach point goals.



Reading Corner. I added camp chair this year (thank you Big Lots!)
with lots of fluffy pillows and big stuffed animals.  


Thanks for stopping by!  I'll post more photos soon!  :)















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First Day of School - Scavenger Hunt!

A fun, first day of school activity is a classroom scavenger hunt.  It's a great way to get the kiddos up and moving to explore their new surroundings. It's a fun way to break up the seemingly endless review of rules and procedures! The students choose a partner, grab a clipboard & pencil and explore!

Classroom Scavenger Hunt - Google Docs

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ReadWorks

www.readworks.org
In preparation for the coming year, I'm going through all of my resources to reorganize, plan and purge for the coming year. I came across a keeper with this:
I used this site quite a few times last year to supplement our reading curriculum.  ReadWorks has links to K-6 unit plans related to specific reading comprehension skills.  Last year, I would put my reading class into small groups based on needs and I would work with them on specific skills and strategies.  This site has A LOT of good nonfiction passages and recommended books.    There is a registration requirement to use this site but best of all it's FREE! 
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Hello!

I'm an avid fan of MANY teaching blogs and credit them with keeping me up to date on new strategies and fun, engaging ways to teach my students.  I've decided to jump in and add my two cents by sharing my reflections, techniques and ideas with the world. 

I am going into my second year of teaching 3rd grade.  I previously taught 4th grade for three years.  I have to say that last year was my BEST teaching year ever.  I think it was a combination of many things that made it so awesome but it really boiled down to finally having confidence in myself and learning how to let go and have fun.  That's not to say that we played every day.  Nooooo.  I have extremely high expectations of my students and we work HARD but I found ways to make my classroom engaging and fun.   We took the time to laugh, sing, play and dance along the way.

I officially go back to work next week - we have four days of planning leading up to "Meet the Teacher" on Friday, August 19th.  Next week will be a whirlwind of planning, copying, laminating, decorating, shopping and catching up with colleagues!  I can't wait!
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