Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I'd like to be more reflective. I have a lot of thoughts about my teaching and forgot that I could use this blog as an outlet and some online PD. Blogging started off so strong and I think I stopped mainly because I didn't have a shiny new product to put at the end of a post.  I thought I'd take the pressure off of myself and just do some blogging for the art of it.

Reading. Writing. Words. Math. My goodness. To attempt to be masterful in each of these areas is a LOT. The things on my mind when I'm thinking about planning in the four areas...
What is the best practice?
What does the research say?
What is the most effective method?
Is there an ideal scope and sequence?
Is it rigorous? (has anyone else come to loathe the word rigorous lately?)
What if my team has a different set of beliefs? Planning gets tough...
How many books could I possibly read on each of those subjects?
What are the best books to start with?
Will this instruction equip them to pass the test become lifelong learners?

The battle. TESTING vs what we know is best for them.


Currently, I am teaching:

Reading: My first round of real book clubs using Kathy Collins' book, Reading For Real. We're doing baskets of books that are in a series. They also happen to be chapter books- this is the first time my whole class is going to be navigating through a chapter book. It has sort of revitalized my workshop. I allow snacks and we are all reading different chapter books while I am able to teach the same lessons and strategies for all readers. It's been fun so far!

Words: I am still trying to figure out when I want to do here (Yes, I am aware that is is March) but I've never been happy with it. I started out doing a very close version to the famous Beth Newingham blog post on word study. I quickly found that I couldn't manage it. She had a smaller class AND another teacher to help her. It's just me and 25 babies so I had to adjust.  Words are hard because I go back and forth fundamentally. I know spelling tests aren't the best but then part of me wants the accountability that you can send home to parents. So, imagine the frustration I feel after grading a test where all of the spelling list words are spelled correctly but not a SINGLE transfer word is. Back to square one...never should haven gone with tests. But- for now, I'm using them. I need to read more on that...

Writing: I'm excited about writing! I am a total Katie Wood Ray fan and believe in her method wholeheartedly. If you're not familiar, she just believes that you can give children a stack of texts that are like the ones you want them to write. You study them and notice what it takes to make that sort of writing. Then, you make them! So simple but the work gets SUPER complex. Right now, we are studying persuasion books, reviews, letters, speeches, etc... This is the first unit that I've been able to make a packet of texts and pass them out for my kids to highlight and mark up with notes. Then, we notice the things that they all tend to have in common and we make sure we add that in our writing. They are having so much fun with this.

Math: I think I have a math block that I can live with, finally. It has taken me all year to get here but I feel good about it. I was fortunate enough to have an expert from a local college observe and give me some excellent feedback on my math workshop.  There is still so much to consider! We had a conversation today about the math version of a running record and what you can do with the data. I'll get into that a little later, though. For now, I am going to work on giving children the same problem with multiple access points so that all levels of children are being reached. I think that will save me and the children a lot of frustration!

Ok. I feel better! Thanks for listening to me do a little reflecting and clarifying.


  1. I am so going to enjoy reading your "reflections". Thank you.

  2. Hi!

    Your book club posts have inspired me. I am a reading specialist and I work K-5. My second, fourth, and fifth graders have been pretty much the same kiddos since January. I feel like we are in a rut so I am going to try it. I think they will like it.

    P.s. Your Word work - look into Words Their Way (I love it and they have to think about the phonics and not just they way it looks!)