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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trimester 3: Checking In

We all know how antsy kids get in the spring. Our spring has been full of odd weather so my class is definitely out of sorts. Our staff also found out that our school will be changing from having looping classes for grades 1-2 and 4-5 to having first grade stand alone and looping 2-3 and then 4-5. Our principal had us fill out a wish list of grades we would like to teach and we haven't heard her final staffing decisions yet. 'Tis the season for changes for next year!

Here is an update on my goals for Trimester 3:
  1. Change Daily 5 Stations
          My students are starting to use some of the word work boxes in ways in which they are not intended 
          (ahem- play dough). I plan to make them more accountable for practicing their spelling words.
          Update- success! My plan is working! We started Daily 5 notebooks and now the students write their choices for each round daily. I check their notebooks each day when they meet with me for Daily 5. So far I've seen a good improvement in their spelling scores! I've also added easy and creative ideas for them to use during Word Work. 

    2. Write More
        I am going to have them write more across all areas of curriculum, making sure they have proper 
        sentence structure.
        Update- going well so far! I have been trying to plan more cross-curricular lessons and using writing in them. We've been writing poems about insects in our poetry books, writing letters to characters in stories, and working more on proper grammar.

    3. More Consequences

        This sounds bad but I don't mean it to be. I need to hold the kids more accountable for their actions
        and this means creating consequences and following through.
        Update- I've started a rainbow behavior chart that some other classes are having success with. The kids all start on green and can move "up" to blue and purple by being good listeners and going above and beyond our expectations for behavior. They move down if I need to remind them of the expectations. It is going fantastically. I've had a few kids on purple (which is really hard to get!) and they get a note home to Mom and Dad. I've been pairing that with my beaded key chains from #5 and if they are green or blue at the end of they day they earn a bead for their key chain. If they are on purple they get to choose a special bead. The kids LOVE it and it has been extremely motivating. To be honest, it has worked better than I thought it would.

    4. Change Their Line Order
         I have been having them line up in all sorts of orders to mix them up- by birthdays, last names, 
         first names, etc. but I think I'm going to have to have them boy/girl from now on. 
         Update- we did have boy/girl lines for awhile but the behavior chart has led me away from that. The kids are making great choices to try to move up so we don't need assigned places anymore.

    5. Create Brain Builders

         I found this idea on Pinterest and I think I'm going to try it in my room. I was trying to figure out a 
         way to teach all the skills from the NWEA MAP tests and I think this might be the ticket. I am going
         to make different cards on rings for some of the strands and let the kids learn them in their free time.
         I have a list of things to start with and I'm already working on some synonym/antonym cards. I plan
         to start this after spring break, though, so we have a good amount of time.
         Update- I've printed and laminated some of the cards but haven't used them in the way that I intended. I use them for small and large group lessons but not as independent work. They don't earn beads for these but the cards are great for reinforcement and review.