Archive for May, 2011

I spent four wonderful days with non-public school teachers in Archbald, PA through the NE IU-19 in late March. Although high winds and snow delayed my travels, I finally arrived there 24 hours after flying out of Houston! I worked with folks from Catholic, Christian, and Hebrew day schools. We planned curriculum, learned about small group reading instruction, designed literacy work stations, and mapped out classroom spaces. Teachers tried things and brought back samples of their work several days later which was very rewarding!

Here are some photos of some of the work we did together:

Interventionists in grades 4-8 list materials they use in small group instruction

One of the groups I worked with

We took a field trip to see how an itinerant teacher organizes her teaching materials in her trunk!

A Pre-K teacher made a big book of color words and task cards which her kids loved

Big book of color words used with Pre-K

Planning curriculum together

We had a great time working and learning together!

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I picked a poem by Bruce Lansky for this week — I think it’s definitely timely and a fun take on this common issue between parents and kids: Turn Off the TV!

Turn Off the TV!
Bruce Lansky

My father gets quite mad at me;
my mother gets upset—
when they catch me watching
our new television set.

My father yells, “Turn that thing off!”
Mom says, “It’s time to study.”
I’d rather watch my favorite TV show
with my best buddy.

I sneak down after homework
and turn the set on low.
But when she sees me watching it,
my mother yells out, “No!”

Dad says, “If you don’t turn it off,
I’ll hang it from a tree!”
I rather doubt he’ll do it,
’cause he watches more than me.

He watches sports all weekend,
and weekday evenings too,
while munching chips and pretzels—
the room looks like a zoo.

So if he ever got the nerve
to hang it from a tree,
he’d spend a lot of time up there—
watching it with me.

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Join a group of teachers and bloggers who are organizing an extensive discussion of Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations starting June 1. Each blog below will tackle a different chapter and offer room to exchange ideas. If you have your own blog and would like to post your thoughts there, you can link your post from the host blog that week.

During the discussion — now through July 30 — enjoy FREE SHIPPING on your order placed at www.stenhouse.com if you use the code MATH during checkout. There will also be a chance to win a free copy of Math Work Stations — just follow the discussion to find out how to enter.

June 1: Mrs. Wills @ http://www.mrswillskindergarten.com/ will host Chapter 1: What is a Math Work Station? and Chapter 2: Organizing and Managing Work Stations

June 6: Mrs. Parker @ http://learningwithmrsparker.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 3: Getting Started with Work Stations

June 13: Mrs. Kramer @ http://www.kindergartencrayons.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 4: Beginning Number Concepts with Work Stations

June 20: Mrs. Saoud @ http://www.primarygraffiti.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 5: Addition and Subtraction Work Stations

June 27: Mrs. Arnold @ http://oceansoffirstgradefun.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 6: Place Value Work Stations

July 4: Mrs. Patton @ http://pattonspatch.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 7: Geometry Work Stations

July 11: Mrs. Evans @ http://loryevanspage.blogspot.com/ will host Chapter 8: Measurement Work Stations

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To register for this year’s Summer Institute in Houston, June 16-18, sign up here!

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J. Patrick Lewis was named this year’s Children’s Poet Laureate, so for this week’s Poetry Friday selection I have one of his poems, Library Lady. You can also read an interesting interview with him on the Poetry Foundation website.

Library Lady
J. Patrick Lewis

If you’re looking for good fiction,
Welcome to my jurisdiction!
I’m the Dewey Decimal Guard,
Who can find the perfect story,
Humor (witty), horror (gory),
Novels (great), adventure (glory)….
Let me see your library card.

No, there’s nothing’s more exciting
For a kid who’s reading writing
Than to fricassee a mind,
‘Cause a book is like an oven-
What it’s cookin’ is book lovin’.
Set the temperature then shove in
Every brain cell you can find.

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On my trip to Bethlehem, PA I visited a pre-Civil War cemetery. Had to take pictures of some of these most-interesting gravestones. I plan to use them with older students in a lesson on inferring. What can you infer from these unique burial markers?

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On a recent trip to Scranton, I stopped in Bethlehem, PA to visit an old friend from college. He is a high school history teacher and showed me many historic sites in and around his hometown. It was fascinating to tour this city and see so many parallels to my hometown of Lititz, PA. Both places were settled in the 1700s by Count Zinzendorf as Moravian communities. Don’t ask how I remember this bit of trivia from elementary school! Probably that unique name!

Here are some of the things I saw and experienced on this springy Saturday:

Lovely park by the river

Unique door handle on the Moravian Church

Beautiful old stained glass church window

Suspension bridge in Riegelsville, PA built by same builders as the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC

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Here is a fun poem for this week’s Poetry Friday selection by A.A. Milne.

Wind on the Hill

By A. A. Milne

No one can tell me,
   Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
   Where the wind goes.
It’s flying from somewhere
   As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
   Not if I ran.
But if I stopped holding
   The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
   For a day and a night.
And then when I found it,
   Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
   Had been going there too.
So then I could tell them
   Where the wind goes . . .
But where the wind comes from
   Nobody knows.

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One of my favorite decoding strategies to use in 1st and 2nd grade is to teach kids to “Try the Other Sound.” I first read about this strategy in a Reading Teacher article many years ago. We made an anchor chart showing the short and long vowel sounds, and then we applied this strategy to a new poem in shared reading. We tell kids to “try the other sound” of the vowel when the first sound they try doesn’t make sense. We also posted an “Essential Question” on the easel to remind students of the focus of today’s lesson.

The class tries "Try the Other Sound" as they read a new poem together in shared reading.

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Love this math station I spotted in 5th grade recently. Students use playing cards to find range, median, and mode. Fun and simple activity!

Playing cards fanned out in a holder are used to determine range, median, and mode.

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