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Daily Lit Bit

September 28. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 9/28/17

Language weaves a community together, and it is developed through communication and problem solving. A common language has two advantages: (1) it enables teachers to talk with each other in a meaningful way; and, (2) it communicates most clearly to students.

September 27. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 9/27/17

We favor embracing the open door and becoming part of a learning community of colleagues—all of whom share common goals, take risks, and find the rewards of continuous professional growth. This takes time and problem solving but if achieved, it will have big payoff for students.

September 26. 2017

8 Steps for Teaching Routines and Transitions

At the beginning of the year, put children in "the big picture" by taking a tour of the room. Introduce children to their "home" seat at a table and to the different areas of the classroom. Play a game that involves coming to the meeting area, sitting on the rug, and going quickly and quietly back to the home seat. You will not use all the centers (even the major ones) right away. Begin with large-group experiences and introduce materials and work areas one at a time. Your goal is self-initiated movement so children develop and practice self-regulation as they transition from one center to the next. You may find it helpful to use these steps:

  1. Talk about and demonstrate the routine yourself.
  2. Have one or two children demonstrate and affirm their efforts. If necessary, repeat this process with more students.
  3. If everyone can use a center simultaneously (for example, the classroom library) have all students at once demonstrate the routine. For example, browsing boxes might mean reading three books; listening center may mean listen to one book and write or draw about it in your reader's notebook; poetry notebook might mean read the poem, glue it in your poetry notebook, illustrate it, and read it to a partner. Post directions for the students at each location for their reference. Watch and describe what they are doing to affirm their efforts. If the center is small, have each small group start working there and observe them closely affirming their efforts the first time. Teach them how to transition to the next center.
  4. Introduce the basic centers first - the ones you will be using almost every day.
  5. Observe children in the center until you are comfortable that they are consistently using the are independently and are being respectful of others and of the materials. (This may take only a short time.) If some children are inexperienced or find self-regulation challenging, reteach. Children will soon learn to help each other achieve self-regulation.
  6. Build in extra support for students who find it difficult to work independently (for example, a check-in between groups).
  7. Then work on helping students learn how to clean up and organize the materials at the center before transitioning or moving on to the next center. Demonstrate explicitly or have a few students demonstrate for the class what is needed for each type of center.
  8. Encourage children to self-evaluate and problem-solve at the end of the independent work period.

Every time you introduce a new task, or if you decide to change the task in a center, help children make the transition. Again, demonstrate and have children act out the change. Don't assume that telling is enough. After a time, children learn how to make such transitions and they will take on new tasks more quickly and with independence so you can work with guided reading groups without interruption.

From Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

September 20. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 9/20/17

Shared reading is an enjoyable experience for your classroom community and an important opportunity for children to “step up together” into more challenging texts while also beginning to notice and acquire the processes they need to read those texts as individuals.

September 19. 2017

6 Steps to Building a Community of Readers Across the Grades

Schools can be places where competition is more common than collaboration, and students are tested as much as they are taught. This is why it's important for students to feel a sense of community in the classroom. Here are a few tips to start building a community of readers across the grades.

1. Meet with a small group of colleagues to self-assess your school and classroom as a community. You might involve the leadership team and/or grade-level colleagues. Or, you might just work with a colleague.
2. Try to see your school from the students' perspective as you walk through the school, your classrooms, and the library. Ask:
  • Is there evidence that students' homes and neighborhoods are valued?
  • Does the school reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity in the school?
  • Is there evidence that student work is valued?
  • Do you see order, cleanliness, bright color, and a welcoming environment?
  • Is there evidence of good management?
  • Are there signals to students that let them know what to do and create predictability (guides, directions)?
3. Chances are you will find many positive aspects; but look hard for areas of improvement. Work as a group to identify some short-term and long-term goals. There may be one or two goals that you can accomplish right away.
4. Now do the same for your own classroom, for example, ask:
  • Are there clearly designated meeting areas?
  • Is the meeting area attractive, comfortable, and functional?
  • Does each student have an organized way of keeping personal items and supplies?
  • Is there evidence that the classroom reflects students' homes, languages, and culture?
  • Is there evidence that student work is valued?
  • Is the room orderly: Are supplies well organized and labeled? Are work areas designated?
  • Is there evidence that students have been engaged in collaboration? In inquiry?
  • Are the students' names posted and used in a variety of p;aces (e.g. cubbies, name charts, and folders)?

5. Again, define some short-term and long-term goals.

  • Create a short-term plan for at least one idea that you can implement right away.
  • Start to think about next term or next year and make a plan for creating a community environment from the beginning.
6. As you work toward developing your classroom environment, it will help to invite a friend into the room to walk about and then just tell you his first impressions.

From Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.