Wednesday, July 20, 2011

choice words pt 5

I finished the book today. The last chapter is more of a restatement of the main points of the book. I understand that the language I use in class needs to be authentic, but I am going to create a set of index cards with the discussion starters on them just to keep the language in the forefront of my brain so that I'll use them. Later, I won't need them any longer and it will be automatic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

choice words pt4

As I was reading today I decided I probably need to create index cards with lots of the discussion leads so that I can remember and use them when school starts. This chapter has you read appendix B and do a little analysis. I think I find myself somewhere between the two teaching styles shown. My kids can discuss genre and point of view, but not to the level where the kids in the other class can. I want to build my discussion of what the other kids in class can do as readers and writers, which means that I really need to emphasize having kids read other kids' writing. That's going to be a focus for me this year.

Monday, July 18, 2011

choice words pt 3

Today's reading was all about getting kids to transfer what they learn at school to their lives outside of school. It's an age-old problem with no easy solution. The idea presented in the book was to build communication. Take the teacher out of it and let the kids build their thinking by really conversing with each other. "What else...?" on pg 45 has lots of ideas for discussions with kids. I felt really good with this chapter because I feel like I do lots of this already, but there is validation in reading it in print too.

The chapter after this one is about the teacher's role. We always like to be in charge and having kids be in charge of the inquiry is really hard. I tried this last year and it's amazing when you see it happening in a discussion, kids talking to each other, not trying to yell over another to be heard, but really listening to what they are saying. I'm hoping to take this even farther this year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Choice Words pt 2

I finished the next two chapters. Chapter 3 especially gives lots of ideas of things to say, and not to say, to help students build a sense of identity as a reader, writer, scientist, etc. Instead of telling the task, you can present it with, "As _______, how should we tackle this?" By using these words students build their own meaning as well as understanding that we are (learners, researchers, mathematicians, etc) and in our class we figure things out without waiting for someone to tell us the answers. There are also suggestions for what to do when kids don't behave the way we expect them to. They are very helpful and I will be referring back to these as the year goes on.

Chapter 4 focused on agency, building agency in students so that they understand that they can accomplish anything. It allows for more than just focusing on curriculum, but essentially, how to face problems in class and what to do about them. Asking questions like, "What problems did you face today?" allow students to relate to the fact that they will encounter problems on a daily basis and having a plan is critical.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Choice Words

I decided to use this blog to help me with my summer professional reading. Maybe this way I'll retain more of what I read so that I can use it in my classroom. I started Choice Words earlier this year, but had to abandon it because of all the requirements of my job and home life. So, I started over. It's important to remember that what I say really impacts kids' lives. I've read the first two chapters and the value of noticing and naming is critical. There are several examples of questions to use to keep kids thinking and noticing. It starts on page 13 and continues through the chapter.

Something else to remember is to always notice what is right, with myself as well as my kids. Just because I don't make it through all the curriculum in one day doesn't mean I should feel guilty. I need to remember to focus on what I did right and what was well done, instead of what didn't get done. I need to do this with kids too, especially in writing. I'm trying to build strong writers and they need for me to notice what they do right too.

I want to remember to set up specific lessons for noticing and naming and to not share my thoughts first. Kids need to be the ones to do the talking and I need to listen. I also need to remember the phrase "any other?" for noticing more than just the most obvious.

There are two books I am interested in looking at: Katie Wood Ray's: Wondrous Words and Ralph Fletcher's What a Writer Needs. These were listed at the back of chapter 2 as good reads to continue working on using words in class.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Certificate

Tool 11

If I had to choose one favorite I think it would be my blog. I'm choosing this one because it has all my thinking in it for all my journeys through the technology trainings I've done. I've stored so much information on it. At first I was very skeptical of the use of a blog, but now that I've had it for a while, I'm actually starting to think of starting a new one for the professional reading I want to do on my own this summer to help me keep track of my thinking.

Now that our class sizes are going up, the need for small group instruction is even more critical. Without the added technology devices we will get in the fall, that would be a difficult feat. This will help me plan for small groups and to meet the needs of individual students.

I was surprised that this training was easier for me than when I did 23 Things or 11.5 Things. I was dreading starting this one because the others were hard, but this one was so much easier. I don't think the tools are easier, but I've done it before, and practice really does make perfect.