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Daily Lit Bit

October 5. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 10/5/17

Work with colleagues in your school to establish a set of core values that will form the backbone for every decision you make. A set of values is not the same as a comprehensive curriculum. It’s a known set of statements that gives you a touchstone against which to measure your decisions.

October 3. 2017

Teacher Tip: Create a List of Classroom Norms

Any time twenty-five or so people work together for hours every day in one room, they need agreements about how members of the group will work together so the time and space works well for everyone. Gather your students and have a talk about how they feel they can best learn and share what you need to offer your best teaching. Create a set of norms together for your classroom using either shared or interactive writing, as you discuss rationales.

You will want a simple list of these descriptive guidelines to which you can refer if needed. Post them on the wall where students can easily see them. Some general guidelines for norms include:

  • Encourage students to participate in constructing the list.
  • Don't make the list long--keep it short.
  • State the agreements in positive terms.
  • Norms should describe specific behaviors as much as possible.
  • Revisit the list during self-assessment.
  • Add items if problems arise and another is needed.

As students learn the procedures for routines, they are also learning and internalizing important descriptors for the kinds of behaviors that are required so that everyone can enjoy their work and learn.

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 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.