Saturday, January 26, 2013

OLW January: Move

After a week of inside recesses, it's clear that my one little word is buzzing in my students' heads. MOVE! They are desperate for some activity, and it's always a struggle to keep busy bodies in control when you can't get outside and run.  The ironic thing has the opposite effect on me.  Being stuck inside only makes me want to cuddle up with a book under a blanket and stay put for hours.  So it's against my natural instincts to buzz about this time of year.  This conflict of interests is a constant give and take in my classroom, and especially this year, I've had to adjust my literacy block to accomodate my students' needs.  Here's how I would love my literacy block to go: everyone dives deeply into their books, getting comfortable and settling in for a long reader's journey into another book world, breaking every so often to share thoughts with one another.  Eventually, we would meet and discuss what we're reading, and I'd weave the teaching points for the day into the conversation, giving them real context by applying them to their current reading, and then we'd go off to our book worlds again to apply and get lost once more.  Sound like paradise?  Well, fantasies are supposed to be good.  Here's how my students want it to go: read some comic book for 5 minutes, then draw the characters from the book doing funny things while talking to my friends for the rest of the time.  Hmmmm.. not quite what I'd pictured!  Well, to be fair, I think I have a couple of students who'd prefer my lit block, but they are far outnumbered.  To strike a balance somewhere in the middle, I've had to carve out 20 minute chunks for my literacy block, and we stick to our schedules religiously.  Each reading group, or in certain cases- individual student, has their own plan that moves them from activity to activity in 20 minute rotations.  It's designed to help them get physical movement in the long stretch of literacy block, and keep things fresh. Schedules include silent reading time, whole group lesson, iPod listening, Tumblebooks, comprehension activities, and more.  I've tried to make each piece meaningful while also independently sustainable so I can teach reading groups at the same time.  While all this movement has been good for them, it's a real struggle for me!  But in the light of my one little word, I'm moving forward with this plan.  I'd love any suggestions on how others handle their literacy blocks, I'm always looking to adjust this. Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A "Moving" Moment

A little moment of success today- I was reading The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lansky to my class.  It's the biography of Eratosthenes, a Greek philosopher and geographer with a passion for learning by seeking answers to questions.  The book repeats several times how questioning was his motivation for learning, and in the middle of the reading a student raised his hand and said, "So, Eratosthenes was like, the first Wonderopolis, right?" YES!  I loved it!  It was a beautiful connection to inquiry learning.  After reading the author's note discussing how there were still so many questions about Eratosthenes' life, another student suggested that we submit a wonder about him to Wonderopolis. So we did! Here's hoping they will provide us with even more information about this leader of inquiry learning!

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Little Word (OLW) for 2013

My OLW for 2013 is "MOVE"

Over break, Tracy, a fellow blogger and my literacy support coach, asked me if I'd like to join her in One Little Word for 2013.  I selected the word MOVE, as it represents the mobility I seek both personally and professionally.  Although I don't have a clear path for where this word will lead me, I often feel as though I get 'sparks of inspiration' that fly into my mind, and almost just as quickly fly out, because I don't act on them right away.  For me, 'move' represents that next step: move on ideas when they come, move on projects that have floated in and out of existence, move into the new realm of Common Core (although sometimes Common Core movement is an excited run, at other times it is a reluctant drag of the feet ;).  But more than that, 'move' also extends into physical action- move around my classroom to gather more anecdotes, listen in on more conversations, and just be present in my students' space. It also applies to the need I see in my students to move (nearly constantly!) and my desire to use some of that energy for good rather than evil :). I want to incorporate movement more into my lessons this year- something I will need to actively work on.  Finally, 'move' has personal meanings-  get back to daily walks and yoga sessions, keep up with my very active 2 year old, and harness my own energy into actionable progress with real results.  I'm excited to see where this word takes me this year!

Check out Tracy's OLW here. Want to know more? Check out Ali's blog, who started it all.

Our Wonderopolis Visit

Right before we left for break, Wonderopolis came to visit us!  It was such a wonderful experience for my students to see "in real life" the people who help create a website we love in our classroom on a regular basis.  To prepare, each classroom in our school created a "wonder jar", filled with thoughts and questions the students had.  My class followed both a curricular line and a natural curiosity by filling our jar with wonders about natural resources.  Once we started generating a few ideas, the kids really caught the spark of questioning!  It was one of those rare moments when learning becomes a passion for a whole group at once. They wanted to spend time researching to get "just the right" questions for the jar, and it led down a fantastic path of guided research.  I ended up 'secretly' teaching most of our science standards on natural resources just through this exploratory research for the jar.  It was an exciting experience for all of us, and it really got us ready for the visit!
Our wonder jar
Up close on the jar

Our third grade students got to help select a wonder for study that the first graders of our school had suggested.  It was great for the kids to see that the Internet has "authors"; that actual people write, research, and validate the information that appears on the page for them to read.  Often, younger kids don't understand that concept- that someone has to put the information on the Internet- it just doesn't magically appear there.  I'm glad my students were able to grasp that understanding and have a chance to interact with the wonderful people from Wonderopolis!  They were so generous too, leaving us with a "wonder jar" to keep the wonders flowing! Thanks for a great visit Wonderopolis!
The contents of our wonder jar