Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Most Wonderful (and exhausting) Time of the Year

Well friends, I know it's been quiet around here lately, but I've got a good excuse. I've been busily setting up my new cozy learning cottage at my new school (that's right! I'm still outside!). We started back with students about two weeks ago and through some unavoidable delays, my classroom wasn't ready for students on the first day. Electricity is a requirement in my book :)

But we've finally moved in and I'm remembering why this is my favorite part of the year. The kids' antics are still hilarious, and they're not tired of me yet either. But especially with new to English and new to school kiddos, it's also the most exhausting time of the year.

I have spent quite literally every moment of this week teaching procedures, and guys.. they're getting it. They know what the quiet signal is and what to do. They've learned how to raise their hands, where to sit, when to talk and when to listen. But what I'm most proud of- they already know and can independently participate in three literacy centers!

Center One: Read to Yourself

I always teach this one first because they're going to have to be able to do this and it takes a while to build up their stamina. It's also a great one for them to know how to do as an early finishers activity. I set up my library area to be cozy and inviting, so kids always want to go there and settle in with a good book. We do have a 1 pillow and no laying down rule, however (too many kiddos rolling on the rug instead of reading). I give them book bags (gallon size ziplocks) with two appropriately leveled texts and they get to choose one more from my classroom library of any level. During read to self time, they are allowed to read any of those three books, and they can choose one new book when they first sit down, but then they read through what they have.

We start off with a 5 minute increment and they can already do 10+ minutes of silent reading time! Especially because some of my students are pre-readers, it's impressive that they will sit for that long with a text.

Center Two: Writing Center

Because my students are a variety of different levels with regards to their writing ability, I have two activities at the writing center. One is a word wall search, with different themes every day. One day they need to find and write down as many words as they can that have the letter "b" in it, another they have to copy down all the 6 letter words. It's good to keep my lower level students engaging with the words and practicing their letter formation as they copy.

I also have the sentence frame pocket chart. I change out the words and sentences regularly, but students can move the cards around to create a sentence, then copy and illustrate it on a piece of notebook paper.

Center Three: Listening Center

My public library has a decent supply of these bookpacks, and they've been a clutch find this year. They're essentially books on tape with the books included, and my students have already figured out how to turn them on, plug in the headphones, and turn the page when they hear the "bing" sound.

I let the students try the centers without any help from me today with about 10 minutes at each center, and all of my classes were incredibly successful. I'm going to try to start pulling guided reading groups tomorrow!

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