Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Class Engaged in #Daily5.

My class have all voted in favour of the way we are managing the Literacy section of the day. I vote for it too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Real Learning?

I am really enjoying the experience of trying out Daily Five in my classroom.  This system of structuring and managing my Literacy programme, along with the CAFE menu of reading strategies,  is a way of teaching that is really resonating with me. I feel so energised still at the end of the day, I look forward to the ideas I am going to share and teach my class each day.  Some of these things are new to me, I have just learned them and I delight in bringing them along to class.

'Write something....' photo (c) 2009, Justin See (coming back) - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Today I stopped by DR. He was working on a narrative piece of writing in his Writer's Notebook.  I asked him about the last piece of narrative writing he had been working on when I met him last.  He looked at me and said, "It didn't work out, I got muddled in the middle." I asked him what he had learned from the experience. He replied, " I realised I really need to plan my writing. So I am taking the time to plan this narrative in more depth, at the moment I am developing my characters so that I have some details on the kind of people they are."

Have your ever felt vindicated! (We are working at using words we come across in our reading, vindicated is one of those!) In that moment I did.  Early in the year I had taken the class through a number of ways to plan their writing.  In term two I was out of the classroom, on returning this term, as I circled the room I began to realise that as I asked about planning, many students owned that they hadn't planned.  I felt quite downhearted. However I calmly mentioned and reminded again of the importance of planning.

Now, through first hand experience DR has discovered and experienced how important planning is in helping to structure a piece of writing.  If I had continued to teach and support and gone back to Term one mode, DR would never have learned this for himself.  There's a time to teach, and there's a time to give students the freedom to find out for themselves.

It was a great day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ten Week Paid Sabbatical.

At the end of last week I found out I was one of the small group of fortunate teachers in New Zealand to be awarded a 10 week paid sabbatical in 2012.  Half the time is for learning and half the time is for relaxing and living a leisurely life!  I am delighted to be given the time. I really look forward to it.

'Digital Learning Environment' photo (c) 2010, Dan Zen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

My goal for my sabbatical is:

To investigate how I can use tools of the twenty-first century to develop in my Year 5 – 8 students, digital literacy and network literacy.
To investigate how I can do this in a way that empowers them to be intelligent and critical producers and consumers of a full range of media texts.

The questions I will investigate are:

·         How can I effectively use digital story-telling, podcasting, vodcasting, voicethread and other tools to empower my students  to be critical thinkers about what they and others produce?
·         Are there benefits to using such sites as Facebook and Twitter in a primary classroom?  What other ways are available for networking and collaborating?
·         How can I develop the reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and presenting abilities of my students through these tools?
·         How can these tools meet the diverse needs of students in our senior school?
·         How can I encourage a process and product that empowers students to engage in work that has the mark of excellence? 

I will explore:

How other teachers are already using these tools through reading about their experiences with them on their blogs and wikis and attending webinars.  I will read books and articles from teacher magazines that refer to the literacies I am exploring.
A book called, Digital Storytelling by Richard Lambert and Adam Brice to develop my ideas and learn from the experience of those who have already been very successful in the digital storytelling field.
Each tool I learn about I will ‘play’ with, developing my own skills so that I can share them with my students.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Implementing Daily Five.

Three weeks into the new school term and Daily Five is beginning to take shape in my classroom.  I am still finding my way and I still have questions, however I think that when I begin to grasp the way it works and how I might operate within it, it is going to be all I hoped.

The actual design of the classroom, with many of the desks removed to the storage dungeon, on the whole is working well.  The main drawback is that I have allotted places around the room for students to store their books and pencils etc.,   at times there  are bodies all trying to get to the same place at the same time.  So we are learning about waiting and taking turns, rather than walking on top of one another, ( as one student does)!

The students like the layout, and there were many dropping jaws and visitors from the next room coming in to see what had happened in Room four, on the first day back.  Just a week ago, after school, Sandy, a teacher from the other end of our long corridor came in and exclaimed, “Where are all your desks?”   With glee, I told her what I had done with them.

I now have Reading to Self, up and running successfully. This was not difficult as the students were already reading for 20 minutes of self-choice reading in the day. However I went through the Daily Five introduction and we practiced doing it correctly, incorrectly and correctly!   Writing was next on the list and we went through the same process, followed by Working with Words. 

At present I am working on Reading to Someone.  We are at the stage of building the I chart and practising it.  By the end of the week I hope it will be there as a choice.  I am a little nervous of this one, as it will introduce more sound into the room, so I think I will need to take my time with it.  At a class level where students are 10 to 13 years old perhaps it could be argued it isn’t a needed skill. That most of them are fluent readers.  However not all of them are, and those that are, do not necessarily have the expression and variety of a good oral reader.  I will probably request that it be chosen two times in the week and observe how that goes.

Listening will be introduced this week and up and running by next week.  I am not going to make this a compulsory aspect as I think it will appeal to those it needs to, and less to those who don’t need it so much.  However I do believe we all benefit from being read to, and I won’t stop anybody from making the choice. I have used Ministry listening materials, and have also collected some other places the students might go in my Livebinder.   We have another time in the day when we all listen to a story together.  At present we are listening to The Lion Boy by Zizou Corder. 
This week I am aiming for four days using Daily Five.  Because I am giving more time than I might normally to Literacy, I am keeping Friday to cover other aspects of the curriculum.  I am giving a ten minute input, and then students choose what they are going to work on.   On a good day I hope to have four input sessions, followed by four choice sessions.  As all teachers know, not every day is a good day.  Take tomorrow there are school photos!  Tuesday the students are off to technology and so it goes…. 

The hardest aspect for me to organize I think will be how I spend that time while the students are involved in their choices.  At present I am using it to Running Record some students to find out what would be good next steps for them.  I am also meeting individually with writers, and I am beginning to grasp that.  However once I start integrating group times, it will be something else to juggle.  I want to use my time wisely and where it will make the most difference.  I suspect this aspect of Daily Five is going to take the longest to implement effectively. 

I am keen that students will be able to tell me what they are choosing to do and what their goal is as they leave the gathering place.  Some students are well able to identify their goals, others are going to need more support. 

I see how our key competency of self-management fits very well into the Daily Five.  I have completed a taxonomy for students to place themselves on at the end of each session or day, in relation to this.  Indeed I should do one for myself.  With over 35 years of teaching experience it is very difficult to leave go my roving eye and word of caution, and allow the students to practice self-management!
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