Monday, October 5, 2015

Daily 5 Rotations Week 2

Wow. What a difference a week makes!

Last week only five of my students got to have Fun Friday (out of 27) because they were messing around during Daily 4 time and didn't get their work done. Because I use Reading Street, there are a few things I have the kids do during the rotations that need to be done over the four days we do literacy (because Friday is our weekly test that I am absolutely required to give). The worst thing was, the work was not hard or too much work, the kiddos just forgot their stamina building and messed around.

You could have heard a pin drop in my room on Friday afternoon when all of those friends had to sit out of Fun Friday and do their work instead. Let me tell you, they were SILENT today during our Daily 4 time! :) I was so incredibly happy and pleased. We are doing table points right now because some of the kiddos are uber chatty....and they did such a good job that each and every table was able to earn points during this time today :)

Of course they totally lost it when we switched to writing LOL But our ELMO blew up (literally--sounded like someone had popped a huge balloon in class....may have taken a few years off our lives!) and thus we can't use GoNoodle or any of our brain breaks right now. My student teacher and I decided we may have to pull an iCarly and implement some Random Dancing to get the kiddos some extra movement and brain break so they can transition over to writing. We do have some movement between each but it clearly wasn't enough for them after being so focused during Daily 4. This means until ELMO is fixed (and I have no idea when that will be--last year the CPU went out on mine and it was 5 weeks before it came in after it was ordered!), I may have to get creative to let them move around a bit more so they can keep themselves on track.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Happy October! This is my 1,000th post. I'm glad it is a Currently because they are my favorite!
Listening: it is blissfully quiet up in my office. The girls are all downstairs or locked in their rooms (by their own choice, not because I put them there haha). I can hear the lawnmower in the far distance every now and then, but it is blissfully quiet which is nice!

Loving: My class this year is vastly different from last year. VAST-LY. A couple of kiddos who will definitely try my patience but that's to be expected. The rest of them are pretty sweet. They had some trouble getting their work done due to chattiness during the week and had to finish up during Fun Friday...and instead of hating me for it,they were bummed when I said I couldn't come to the movie night we were having at school. Love them.

Thinking: my youngest two definitely need haircuts....they are looking like shaggy dogs haha I need a trim and that may happen sooner rather than later.

Wanting: I'm so ready to dress up in long sleeves and sweaters and go pick some apples. We live right outside of "The Ridge" so named because there are about seven apple orchards! We just have to pick one and go. I'm craving some honey crisp apples and caramel dip. Yummy!

Needing: It's always about the grad work, isn't it? :) Actually this class hasn't been too bad to keep up with so that's good. But next Saturday I am going to Eastern Michigan University for an NBCT meetup and thus I really need to get ahead on this work so that I can enjoy that day without a big paper looming over my head.

What makes me feel Boo-tiful is my MaryKay makeup. About 18 months ago, when I was still selling Thirty-One, a colleague of mine and I had a MaryKay/Thirty-One party at her house after school. I had never used MaryKay before and now I won't use anything else on my face. I love how it makes my skin glow and look so soft and pretty. I don't use a lot of MaryKay eye makeup (I have been using Clinique this past week and I'm in love!) but I won't use any other concealer, cleanser, powder or blusher. It makes me feel feminine and young.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thankful Thursday

We've had a crazy week. Full moon and some kind of interruption every single day during our literacy time (fire drill Monday, pictures on Tuesday, code red drill Wednesday and tornado drill today!). Goodness.

Despite this craziness, I have seen some uber sweetness in the kids around me this year and it makes my heart happy after my rough year last year. I am so incredibly thankful for the kids I have this year. Firstly, since it is now October, we did our October Currently in class and the kids were SO excited about it! They just thought it was so cool that they got to do it again :)

During today's tornado drill, one of the mainstream students from the ASD classroom was upset and crying. I would imagine it was sensory related and she probably didn't really understand why we were all huddled in the space we were. Another second grader from her mainstream class just reached over and rubbed her back to help her feel safe during the drill. It was probably the sweetest thing I have ever seen. What a rockstar that girl is to help her friend like that! 

And at the end of the day today, as we were dismissing kids, I was holding the door for the kids and a student, whom I don't even know (so I'm not sure if she's a second or third grader) comes up to me and says, "Mrs. Wood, you are beautiful" and smiles and walks away. How super sweet! 

It is little friends like them that make me so thankful that I stick it out despite the tougher kids....they make it all worth it. They really do.

Another awesome thing today was my student teacher had her first observation. I have a hard time just accepting praise (as I am vastly insecure even though most people don't realize that). My student teacher's supervisor said he loved my attitude toward helping my ST grow and learn and that I was his favorite CT :) Made me smile. And the kids loved the lesson she taught so that was even better. They were engaged and all wanted to share their stories with her. 

And lastly, I got to see some new (ultrasound) pictures of my grandbaby this week. (Still weird to say grandbaby when talking about myself!) In one picture the baby looked like he or she was waving. As unpleased as I was to learn I was going to be a very young grandma....let's be real, that baby already stole my heart and he/she isn't even here yet! 

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Daily 4 Day 1

Yesterday was our first day actually putting our hard work to the test and having our full rotation schedule and small groups meet.

Considering I had just settled my first group in and we had a fire drill (!!) AND my projector actually blew up (so loud I thought someone had popped a balloon in class!), it went pretty well. The projector breaking means it'll be a little harder for me to do part of the mini lessons (as I rely on technology for some of them) but the kids rolled with it. Yay for them and for solid procedures.

I only had to remind one student during rotations of the stamina building we had done. The other friends did an awesome job. :) I did discover, however, that there is just no way we can take the time during group to do the first part of the notebook. It just takes up too much valuable time. So I am going to find 10 minutes somewhere on Friday for us to do them all at the same time like we did before. That way it's done and kiddos and I can get right to work when we are at the table together.

I'm very pleased that I stuck with this routine because it went well better than I could have hoped for on our first day of rotations. (Especially refreshing since it's a full moon and my kids WEREN'T insane. Hopefully I did not just jinx myself!)

With a couple tweaks to my plan, this is going to work out very well, I think.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Daily 5 + Reading Street 3 weeks in

I realized I haven't updated on our Daily 5 progress. It's really the Daily 4 in our room and we call it "Daily 4 Literacy". We have spent the first three weeks of school building our stamina and practicing some behaviors I want to see when they are working independently. For the most part, the kids do a pretty good job. They are a competitive group so they really wanted to outdo themselves on their stamina building each day. I do have a few kiddos who are more squirrel-ish than the others...but honestly if they aren't bothering anyone and go back to their book in less than 30 seconds, I don't make a fuss. We talked about that when we built up our stamina...sometimes we need to yawn or stretch or scratch our head. As long as we go right back to reading, it's good.

Our neighbor class is kind of loud (not obnoxiously but since our "bump out" area doesn't have a door, if one class is silent, the other class sounds louder than it probably is) but they did an awesome job maintaining their stamina even with those distractions :) 

We made it up to our 20 minutes on Wednesday. I didn't think that was too bad since we don't have a formal Daily 4 time on Friday (due to art and computer lab time wherein they are required to take the weekly reading street test) so I didn't think that was too awful since we built that stamina up in 9 school days! 

The CRAFT menu has several strategies on it (we've reinforced a couple of them as well since they are important so I haven't put up a ton yet) and we've worked in our interactive notebooks. Monday will be the real test....we finally finished all of our baseline testing so I can make my groups and begin the real rotations on Monday. I doubt I'll ever fully let go and let them pick rounds themselves because of how I need to balance the time I have, but they have choice within each round so that helps me feel a bit less guilty :)

I have four groups that my student teacher and I will be working with. One group is pretty big as it has all of my really low kiddos in it (8 kids) and the others are smaller with 5 or 6 kids. My bubble groups have six each. Those are the friends that I know if I push them, they will benchmark by the end of the year, or be very close to that benchmark. Then I have my high group. Each group will see the teacher three times per week in group. My low and bubble groups will see me three days in a row, my high group will see me three times still but are moved about to fill in the gaps from the other groups. 

I have made this work for me of ways I didn't even think about when I was planning to integrate D5 with reading street. I created my own category of "Notebook" as one of our choices. This is a time when the kids will be working in their interactive notebooks on the weekly vocabulary and strategy skills. For me, it is a great way to help them dig into our texts in a meaningful way that is also structured. They have enjoyed using the notebooks so far and I think that will continue as I gradually release them to doing more of that part on their own.

Each group will have Read to Self four times per week, Teacher Time three times per week, Word Work twice per week, Notebook twice per week and Read with Someone once per week. We shall see if it actually works out as nicely in real life as I have envisioned it will in my head as I've been building toward this for the last three weeks :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Words you can't say in 3rd grade

Oh my gosh....if my class would stop socializing so much, I'd love that. Then again, I wouldn't have so many fun stories about them if they weren't so social! :)

My student teacher has been out the past two days for PD at her university and then her big teacher test today. She has been reading aloud a book to the kids and I wanted to save that for her so I read two picture books while she has been out.

Today we read "Houdini was...." which was written by a 2nd grade class after their class hamster Houdini died. The kids loved the pictures and we spent a little time talking about the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig.

I told the kids, who were sitting at my feet at our carpet, that I thought guinea pigs were gross and smelled like butts. That was a bad idea because they roared with laughter for at least five minutes and I thought one of the girls was going to choke she was laughing so hard. So I said, what haven't you ever heard a teacher say butts? And they died laughing again.

Later we were talking about what to do go fire or code red drills. Each class, of course, has a different evacuation spot. When we have the code red drills, we lock the door and huddle by the counter. We were discussing how important it is to be super quiet. I asked them what they should do if someone farts  (because really that happens invariably when we have those drills and the kids just giggle--we don't want you to giggle during a drill!). Of course the second I said "farts", they all died again.

Goodness. You can't say farts OR butts in 3rd grade because you'll have a class of corpses because the children all died laughing because the teacher said those words!

Oh they amuse me so.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five for Friday {September 18}

 Happy Friday! We made it through our first full week of school! For once, I am not entirely exhausted either :)

We have dived into Daily 5 procedures this year and are building and building our stamina. I've noticed my kiddos are pretty competitive against themselves so at the end of each reading time, we set a stamina goal for the next day. Yesterday's goal was 12 minutes...and they made it to 13! :) I'm SO incredibly proud of how seriously they are taking it. We don't have time on Friday for D5 because we have a special and then computer lab to take the weekly reading test I am required to the end of the day one of my girls said "Oh no! We forgot to practice our stamina" <3 p="">

 I found this super fun interactive notebook set for Reading Street on Teachers Pay Teachers over the summer. I wasn't sure how it would work out using it in conjunction with the Daily 5 format but we used it this week and it's been great! My kids are going to have the best fine motor skills in the school! They drew pictures to match the vocabulary and these two just had me giggling when I was grading notebooks today. (The top one is supposed to be a bat...the bottom one is her picture to represent "blew"....I swear I giggled like a 5 year old when I saw these because they are so darn cute!)

I have relearned how much I love mentoring new teachers. I have only ever had a student teacher once before and never in the fall....but I am enjoying it immensely. I am finding that I am really a better mentor now because I have to be explicit in explaining my rationale to her as we set things up. It's been a lot of fun to have someone to work with all day again. She has two days out this coming week for PD at her school and her state licensing test....I'm not sure what I'm going to do without her!

I forgot to take a picture of this and I'm super sad....we have a huge amount of wall space in our hallways. There is also a wooden piece that makes a nice separator. Over the years I have taken to using two sheet protectors per student and hanging one above and one below that wood divider. The kiddos' names go on the wood piece to identify their spot. This year we are using Currently in the Classroom and that is in the top student teacher hung up letters so it reads " 3rd grade" and I LOVE it. I will try to remember to take a picture because its so fun!

After spending 12.5 hours at school last Friday, my student teacher and I left at 3:55 today with NOTHING IN OUR HANDS. :) I'm discovering that I spend way less time grading in 3rd grade (partly because the assessments are shorter) and because of how I am setting things up for my kids. What a relief! Goodness knows that I have so little time at home to be fussing with grading between doctor school and my own family obligations. It's awesome to know I have the entire weekend to focus on my own school priorities and my family :)

Have a great weekend!