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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cafe: Chapter 2- The Cafe Notebook and Record-Keeping Forms

I'm following along with the Cafe book study over at We Read, We Blog, We Teach. Today I'm sharing my thoughts on Chapter 2, which just happens to be my very favorite part because it's all about organizing and office supplies. ;)

There were a few discussion questions that Katie posted about Chapter 2 that I will try my best to answer.

Discussion Question: How have you previously tracked students and kept track of data during your reading/writing workshop time? If you currently are doing something to the Sisters, what did you do before that?

I used to have file folders for each student. They were a place I kept everything I needed for conferences and assessments. They had first grade assessments (ones we used to check the students' skills coming into first grade), running records, trimester assessments, pretests, etc. They also had test scores from the NWEA MAP test we take. It was hard to keep them organized since it was easiest to throw the papers in the file. It was also easy to never look at them again, which wasn't very conducive to guiding my teaching.

Enter my Conferring Notebook/Brain/Pensieve that you can read about in this post.

As I was reading about how The Sisters select their notebooks one major thing jumped out- they search for the most beautiful notebook they could find. I love beautiful notebooks! :) When they are working with teachers, they often have Notebook Parties. We have those at our school, too! Before a meeting, the primary team meets and makes a big mess of scrapbook paper and stickers. You can see what I made last year in this post here. I'd definitely recommend it- we had a blast and we love hauling our notebooks and plan books around because they have been beauti-fied.

Back to the Conferring Notebook- Section 1 of The Sisters notebook holds Teacher Notes. A calendar and keeping track form are first. A tip from The Sisters: when you make copies of these, hole punch the calendar on the right side of the paper and the keeping track form on the left side or vice-versa. That way they are facing each other to make it more user-friendly. The calendar is used to write down "appointments" you make with small groups or individuals. The keeping track form is to keep an at-a-glance list of the dates you met with individual students.

You can read more about The Pensieve at The Daily Cafe website that The Sisters have created.

Discussion Question: What are your must have notes that you like to keep on your groups and individual students? Have you ever done something similar to the calendar to keep track of appointments with your students?

I used to write in my plan book which small group I was going to work with each time. It ended up to be meeting with each student in a small group two days a week but it was consistent and I wasn't meeting the needs of kids that should have been meeting with me more than twice a week.

Section 2 of the notebook holds individual tabs for each kiddo. In each tab, there is a Cafe Menu (to highlight the skills that students have mastered) and two conferring forms- one for reading and one for writing. I don't use the writing conferring form since I have a separate writer's workshop time.

Discussion Question: How do you plan on setting up your binders, or what do you plan on doing if you will not be using the notebook approach to monitor progress?

I will be using the same binder I have been using. I love that I have everything at my fingertips- assessments, notes, etc. I keep it with me all.the.time.

Do you have a particular type of binder or dividers that you use? Where do you tend to get them from?

I love, love, love my personalized binder from Zazzle. I'd recommend signing up for their e-mails, they have some really great deals! There is also a coupon code on The Daily Cafe website.

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