Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Life Changes

I haven't been visiting my blog very often, or keeping up with the questions and comments. I am going into my second year as a Stay at Home Mom, so teaching hasn't been on my mind for a while! I will not be updating anything, as I no longer have a classroom, but I will try to stay on top of any questions from now on.
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Daily 5 in 2nd Grade

This is my 5th year using The Daily 5 in my classroom. Launching The Daily 5 is what I look forward to the most each fall. In this post I am going to explain how I manage The Daily 5 in my 2nd grade classroom. (The I-Chart templates are from Mrs. Jones' Creation Station.)

1. Read to Self
Read to Self is the first activity I introduce to my students. I purchased my book bins from Really Good Stuff. They aren't the cheapest option, but they are well worth the money. I allow my students to have 7 books in their book bins, one of which can be a chapter book. They can do book shopping in the morning before the bell rings, or for a few minutes at recess. I used to have scheduled book shopping time for students each week, but allowing them all to do it right away in the morning is just so much easier for everyone! (Read more about my classroom library in this post.)

I do not have my students complete any tasks during Read to Self, other than READING! I want their eyes on a book, reading the entire time-no writing or responding to reading. Once my students have reached 10 minutes of stamina for Read to Self, I begin to launch Work on Writing.

2. Work on Writing
Many students begin the year as very reluctant writers, but soon love to write during Work on Writing time. I do have a separate writer's workshop time. The difference between writer's workshop and Work on Writing is that workshop time begins with a mini-lesson, is guided, I hold conferences, and we are usually working on a piece over a period of several weeks. During Daily 5 time, students are writing independently, without any help from me. I sometimes allow them to work on their workshop pieces during Daily 5, but this is usually only when a piece reaches the publishing stage.

During writer's workshop time at the beginning of the year, students are setting up their writing folders. I prefer folders over notebooks, because this allows me to use 3-lined paper. The line spacing is more appropriate for 2nd-graders, and I want them to be able to hand pieces in without handing in their whole notebook. There folders look like this:

The left side is where they place their "tools," such as their Quick Word, and heart map. The middle of their folder is their ponder pocket, which contains index cards with writing ideas (the ponder pocket lesson came from Getting to the Core of Writing). The right side of the folder contains pieces of writing they are currently working on. While launching Work on Writing, students are simply using their ponder pocket, heart map, and other brainstorming tools to free write. As the year progresses, I introduce other writing choices. Here are some of my favorites:

3. Word Work
The next Daily 5 that I launch is Word Work. Prior to launching word work, I introduce students to the materials that they will be using during a separate spelling block. I stress using the materials the correct way, but I allow students to explore the materials. Then, when we're ready to start Word Work, they are already familiar with the materials, and have had some time to "play" with them. Some of the materials I use for launching word work include:

As the year progresses, I rotate materials and add other choices. Students can practice spelling words and/or sight words during Word Work time. I will also add games and materials for other skills that we are practicing, such as commas and apostrophes. Here are some of my Teachers Pay Teachers Word Work favorites:

4. Listen to Reading
By the time students are ready to launch Listen to Reading, they have a very good grasp on the routines and expectations of The Daily 5. Because of this, I only spend a few days discussing the expectations, and having students model. Most of the discussion is centered around how to use the devices correctly. I then choose some students to practice Listen to Reading while the rest of the class is building stamina for the other 3 areas of The Daily 5. My students can do Listen to Reading at the CD player, or on the laptops. Perhaps the most difficult part of launching Listen to Reading is helping students realize that I cannot help them if the technology isn't working. It also takes a lot of work to teach them that they should only spend a few minutes trying to get something to work. If it still isn't working, they should pick up and do Read to Self or Work on writing.

For the first few months, I allow students to explore the Listen to Reading sites. Then I start to require them to complete a graphic organizer that is related to the comprehension strategy we are working on as a class. (Read more about my laptop organization in this post.)

5. Read to Someone
I do not do Read to Someone during our Daily 5 block. Instead, I have a separate "Buddy Reading" time once per week.

Once all areas of the Daily 5 have been introduced, and students have at least 20 minutes of stamina in each area, I introduce choice. I always make a very big deal out of the fact that students are in control of their own learning, and can choose what they would like to do. Here is how I manage my Daily 5 choice time:
  • We do 3 rounds of Daily 5 every day.
  • All students have to do Read to Self and Work on Writing every day. Their 3rd choice can be Word Work or Listen to Reading. I keep track of what they chose, so that they can choose the opposite 3rd choice the next time.
  • If I meet with a group during a round, those students will only do 2 independent rounds of Daily 5, which will be Work on Writing and Read to Self.
  • I have a visual up on my smartboard that contains student names in alphabetical order, as well as a visual of the choices.
  • I have a clipboard that contains a list of student names on the left, and the Daily 5 choices across the top. 
  • As students tell me what they would like to do, I mark a "1" in that column for round 1.
  • After round 1 is over, students gather back at the carpet. They then choose what they would like to do for round 2, and I mark a "2" in that column.

My best advice for anyone who wants to launch The Daily 5 in the classroom is to read the book. It is a very easy read, and it will help you understand the Ten Steps to Independence. There have been many updates since the first book was published. For example, the authors do not suggest students do all 5 activities every day, which is why I do 3 rounds.

Also, some people have asked if I do mini-lessons in-between my rounds of Daily 5. I used to, but I have not run my Daily 5 block this way for a few years now. My main reason was that it was difficult to fit everything in. Instead, I do phonics lessons in the morning, and writing lessons during writer's workshop. I do start my Daily 5 time with a read aloud and mini-lesson.

I'm sure I forgot something, so please let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Alternative Seating: How Things are Going!

My 2nd graders are getting used to using alternative seating, and I am loving it!

We spent the first day back from winter break going over expectations. We discussed which seating options would be best for the various activities we do throughout the day. We talked about choosing a seat that would help them be successful learners. And guess what? They're doing it! I think I've only had to move 1 child in 3 days. I've even seen children move on their own, because a friend was talking to them while they were working.

The only "problem" I ran in to was that the pillows were very popular last week. At one point, there was a big group of kids running to grab pillows at the same time. So they all put them back, and we didn't use pillows for that round of Daily 5. Problem solved! They seem to be over the pillows this week already. :)

They love standing at the bookcases.

Some kids enjoy the low tables, some prefer the high, and some switch off between the two.

I choose 2 students each day to sit on the stability balls, bean bags, and saucer chairs.

I have heard that some teachers who use alternative seating have students choose their spots for the day. I allow my students to choose different spots for the different activities that we do. For example, during math we may be using manipulatives that can be used at a table or on the floor. Then we may switch to using our workbooks, where students may want to sit at a table. We also do a lot of partner and small-group activities. One spot may not "fit" everything that child is doing throughout the day, so they have the freedom to move around, as-needed.

I'm definitely happy with my decision to move to alternative seating thus far. I don't know if my students are necessarily more engaged, but they are definitely more comfortable!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mid-year Update: Alternative Seating

It's hard to believe that the school year is almost half-way over!

I spent some time over winter break re-arranging my classroom. Ever since the school year began, I have been toying with the idea of alternative seating. I first heard about the concept about 5 years ago after seeing The Sisters at a workshop. They mentioned that they do not have a desk or seat for every student. As an adult, how often do you sit at a table or desk to read, scrapbook, plan lessons, etc.? (Personally, I love to lie on the floor with a pillow under my stomach.) Our students may feel more comfortable, have longer stamina, and focus better when sitting at some place other than a table or desk.

In November I began allowing my students leave their table spots, and work on the floor. I allowed them to sit anywhere for Daily 5, so I began to expand this option to math, writer's workshop, spelling, etc. They could just grab a clipboard and sit or lie on the floor. I noticed immediately that they were more focused and quiet. I'm not sure if this was because they were spread out around the room, or because they were allowed to choose their own spots. Either way, it was working!

I began looking at other seating options. At one point I was considering doing a Donor's Choose project for a classroom set of stability balls. There is a lot of research supporting the use of stability balls to help children focus. However, after experimenting with them a bit, I have realized that they are not a good fit for all children, and I would hate to ask for (and store!) a bunch of stability balls that weren't being used.

So I began to look at other alternative seating options. Here is what I came up with.

Looking straight into the room:

View from the door looking left:

View from the door looking right:

2 saucer chairs from Walmart:

2 bean bag chairs (I have been using these all year):

Our PSA purchased stability balls for teachers to share. I checked out 2 for students to try:

My students have shown a lot of interest in the low table that holds our mailboxes, so I lowered 2 of my regular-sized tables.

I purchased 8 pillows from Gordman's. (I looked into making them, but it was pretty pricey!) I found a variety of sizes and shapes in my classroom colors. The only bad thing is that they are spot-clean only. I figured if they get really dirty, I can always make washable vinyl covers. They can sit on the pillows when sitting at a low table, or when lying on the ground. My one rule for lying on the ground is that they can only lie on their stomachs. I don't want them to put their heads on the pillows (lice!), and I don't want them to lie on their backs and fall asleep. :)

The bad thing about pillows is figuring out how to store them. They take up so much space! I think I'm going to put the yellow ones away for now, and store the others in these bins. Students can take them around the room and use them as-needed.

I used to have all of my mini laptops set up at this built-in counter, and it drove me crazy!!! Students were VERY chatty during Listen to Reading time. They would actually click on the exact same stories at the exact same time so that they were all listening together. (The things they come up with!) I also didn't like this setup because of the wasted counter space.

So I decided to put the minis in plastic drawers. I drilled a hole in the back of the drawer for the charger, and used a binder clip to keep it from slipping through the hole. It's a pretty tight fit in the drawer, so I'm hoping it works ok. Students will just take out a laptop, and use it anywhere in the room. The bins on top hold wireless mice. This also opens up the counter space for another student seating option. For some reason, they LOVE to sit at the pull-out shelving that is intended for computer keyboards.



Because of the way I moved my tables around, I had to figure out a new arrangement for my bookcases. I even considered other options for student supplies, but the bookcases really do work well. I decided to set them up in the back of the classroom. There is still plenty of room for me to open up my cupboards.

A few of my students love to stand, using the cop of a bookcase as their writing surface. They even choose to do so during independent reading time! With the bookcases set up this way, they can stand in the back of the room.

When we return from break I am going to spend a lot of time going over expectations with my students. We will be making charts that show the expectations for the different types of seating. I also plan on making a rotation schedule for the saucer chairs, stability balls, and bean bag chairs, because I know they will be the popular seats.

I'm a little nervous to try alternative seating, but I'm also excited to see how my students will do!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Classroom Reveal 2013-2014

Open House is over, I met my new kiddos, and my classroom is full of new supplies! Now that I have them all organized, I'm ready to show pictures of my finished classroom.

First, I would like to point out a few things. Although I started this blog to track how much time I spent setting up the physical environment for my students, I did not blog to point out how "unfair" it is that teachers are expected to do things outside of their contracted hours. However, I think the numbers are interesting, and I don't think the general public realizes how much time teachers put into preparing their classroom. With that being said, here are the stats:

-It took me 130 total hours this summer to move into, and set up, my new classroom. Only 3 hours of this work was completed during my contracted time.
-Teachers went back to school this past Tuesday. We attended many required meetings and in-services during this time. I had approximately 12 contracted hours to work in my classroom, most of which was spent planning. This means that the work I did in 130 hours (and actually more, if you count time spent planning) was actually supposed to get finished in 12 hours.
-I did not keep track of how much time was spent on planning, curriculum development, and reading professional texts this summer. Those hours definitely exceeded the hours spent working on my classroom.

A few details about classroom decorating restrictions in my district:
-We are not allowed to bring in anything that has to be plugged in (refrigerators, lamps, etc.).
-We are not allowed to paint.
-We are not allowed to have items made from fabric (couches, throw pillows, etc.) in our classrooms.
-We may only cover approximately 20% of our wall space.
-We may not hang anything from the ceiling.
-We may not hang anything on our doors.

If you have been following my blog, you may have seen many of these pictures, but I'm recapping everything here.

The hallway:

View to left when you walk in:

View to the right:

View to the left from the opposite corner:

View to the right.

Calendar/mailbox area. The basket is for finished work, and the little container to the left hold fish sticks for choosing students at random.

I'm keeping it simple with birthdays this year, and taking pictures like this to place on this chart.

CAFE menu (with 2 columns for comprehension), word work shelf, and document camera:

Class schedule:

Writing area: this will contain anchor charts, mentor texts, paper, and work on writing options. The binders below will store student assessments and tests throughout the year.

Alphabet line:

Social studies/science board, and student computer area.

I did away with my teacher desk this year, so this is my new "teacher desk area."

My listening center, complete with the Ikea spice rack idea that is all over Pinterest:

Daily 5 anchor charts:

Student book bins, and small group area (I keep all of my small group materials hidden in the cupboards):

This is the other part of my "teacher desk area."

These baskets hold teaching materials for the week:

The cupboards contain my "math word wall." (To see the post about the inside of my cupboards, click here.)

This is going to be my author study board. We're going to be celebrating Dot Day in September, but I didn't get a chance to pick up more Peter H. Reynolds books from the library. So, I put back to school books in the rack instead.

This will be the home for our class frog, who should be arriving soon! I set it up early to keep the kids wondering what it will be for.

Genre board (posters are from One Extra Degree):

This board is going to to contain ELA anchor charts.

My PBIS board. The pockets contain my classroom jobs, and the puppies move from pocket to pocket. Later I will add the "Top Dog" poster for the student of the week.

Classroom library:

Doubles posters and number line:

I try not to keep a lot of supplies on the tables-just pencils and erasers. I place student names on the back of the chairs with Velcro. The extra spots in the bin are for any "fun" pencils that students bring.

Each table group has their own bookcase to store supplies (the idea came from Dandelions and Dragonflies). The container on the left is for headphones. The basket on the right is for art boxes (crayons, markers, colored pencils), and the bins on the bottom contain notebooks, folders, and take-home binders.

That's pretty much it! I didn't go into tons of detail, but if you want to learn more about the different areas of my classroom, please click on the various blog posts on the right.