Archive for April, 2010

Snapshots from IRA

It was so much fun meeting so many of you at IRA in Chicago this week! Thanks for coming by the Stenhouse and Really Good Stuff booths to say hello, get books signed, and take pictures. Also, thank you to those of you who came to the vocabulary session I presented with Debbie Milner. We’ll try to present a similar session next year for those of you who couldn’t get in (due to the small room).

Signing books at the Stenhouse booth

With Stenhouse editors Philippa Stratton and Toby Gordon checking out a very secret project! Stay tuned!

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Often when I visit schools, teachers explain that they have too many students and don’t know how they can possibly do stations. Last week in Denver Public Schools (Denver, CO), I found folks that have overcome this issue at Valverde Elementary and Castro Elementary Look at how they’ve done it!
A kindergarten teacher took my advice, and cloned some stations. She has TWO listening stations, as pictured!

Listening station I

Listening station II

A first grade teacher has 35 plus students in one small classroom! He has some students sit at his small group teaching table; others sit at low tables (with table legs removed for the illusion of more space). There are no assigned seats. Here are some photos of his room (Those two adults you see are a student intern and his substitute for the day.)

35 kids in one classroom with tables for everyone!

Some kids use the guided reading table as their desk

Low tables create the feeling of more space

How have you solved similar problems in your classroom? Leave your ideas in the comments section!

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It’s a contest!

I’d love to hear about book studies you’re doing with my books. Recently in Richmond, many of you told me about the book studies you’re doing with my books and DVDs. Please share your ideas with others via my blog. Or email me at d.diller@live.com.
Here are a few to get you started:
  • Wine & DVD Party- One school watched my DVDs at an in-school professional development. However, the teachers wanted to study them in depth. So they borrowed the videos from the county and planned a party for Friday night. The teachers met at one of their homes, brought along a bottle (or maybe two) of wine, and had a Movie Night. They watched the DVDs, paused and replayed where they wanted to look deeper, and relaxed with a glass of wine. What a fun idea!
  •  Beach Party Book Study- Some of you shared that you met at the beach with one of my books to do a book study. I need pictures of that one!
  •  Extreme Classroom Makeovers- One literacy coach arranged for teachers to come to school on a Saturday to declutter classrooms. There were special invitations mailed to all ahead of time, a catered lunch, and large pickup trucks to haul away the overflow. End result: more space for children!
Let me know about upcoming book studies you’re planning. Send in your ideas, and the winner will receive a “guest visit from Debbie” via phone!

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Anchor charts in Pre-K

We had a request for anchor charts from PreK. So here you go! I took these photos at Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Center in HISD in Houston. What a fabulous school for 4 year olds! My friend, Mechiel Rozas, is the principal here and invited me to come to their Math Data Day before Spring Break. These teachers and their students are blessed to be learning together in this environment.

Opposites anchor chart

Spanish anchor chart for circle

Math attributes anchor chart


Anchor chart for our senses


Syllable anchor chart in Spanish

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These videos were just posted on YouTube, so I thought I’d share these with all of you so that you can get a taste of this great video! Enjoy!

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Out of the mouths of babes

Recently, I got this email from a teacher about my upcoming math book. Just had to share it with you all to put a smile on your faces:

Hi Debbie,
It is an IMMENSE RELIEF to hear you only have two chapters remaining in your math book adventure.  This is why.  While reviewing units of measure for our state testing in early March, I asked my 4th graders, “Ok, next one.  How many feet are in a yard?” One of my more creative thinkers replied, “Well, DUH, it depends on how many you invite over!!”  
Isn’t that a good one! Not to worry, I’ve finished writing the chapter about measurement stations! I’m writing about addition and subtraction stations right now. Almost there! 

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni is such a wonderful book to read aloud to introduce children to measurement.

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A few weekends ago our church had the coolest service project! It’s called Project 180 and that’s what it’s designed to do. We have adopted our two neighborhood schools, Paul Revere Middle School and Walnut Bend Elementary and about 1000 folks work together to spruce up those schools!
This year, one thing we did was to give classrooms a fresh coat of paint. Teachers got to choose their colors, and we went to work in teams. I got assigned to the light blue paint team. I was wearing that color all weekend, despite my best efforts to stay clean!
Other teams put together furniture (glad I wasn’t on that team!), made cushions for benches, created floral arrangements for the library, and did general freshening up. We also had a free community picnic for all who wanted to attend along with a carnival at no cost to those in attendance. The worship band played live music, and the day was a blessing to all!

Just think what would happen if every church, synagogue, or temple teamed up with their neighborhood schools for a day like this! If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with those who organized our event. They’d love to spread the word!

Volunteers cover new bench cushions

Kids and volunteers paint walls at the middle school

Cheerleaders cheer us on in the hallways

Putting together IKEA furniture

Many hands make light work in giving school a new look

Decorating the library with some new greenery

Community picnic

Painting a quote on the library wall

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