Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reading up

This is my tenth year teaching, but not consecutively.  I had a couple of years off recently, and now that I'm back in the saddle, I'm at a new school with a new way of doing things, and I feel - well, NEW.  I don't know if I would have gotten exposed to this book or not at my old job.  And to be fair, I will leave the possibility open that I might have.  But I don't know if I would have gone through the anticipation of implementing it. I had gotten pretty complacent with my teaching style.  But. as I mentioned earlier this week- I sway easily to group dynamics.  Since my co-workers are pretty big into the Daily 5, I figured I should give it a shot.

I finished my reading today, in between dealing with my oldest having an Autism super meltdown, my middle having a birthday party, and my youngest deciding that 13 months is the perfect time to abandon napping- so actually, I'm surprised I found the time.  But it is an excellent read.  I suppose on one level I feel pretty dopey for never having heard of it before.  But then again, I'm also relieved that I've been exposed to it now.  Earlier in the week as I had been reading it, I tried out a couple of the management style tips as far as practicing correct models for muscle memory and creating I charts- and I was impressed with the results.  Definitely something to kick off next year with, and perfect for practicing now.

I already downloaded the CAFE book and hope to have devoured that in the next week.

This is another book I am a big fan of.  The Title I coordinator in our building put me on to it while she was doing a fabulous job giving me some training and pointers for the Jan Richardson Guided Reading Approach.  (*sigh* Another thing I knew nothing about, even with nine years of teaching behind me. Like I said, I'm a total newbie again, back on square one)  What I love about this book are the visual manipulative approach for teaching young readers some sophisticated comprehension strategies.

My kids can actually USE the word "schema" correctly because of this book.  And so can I, for that matter.  It's an easy read, the materials for the visual presentations are easy to come by or to make- and the lessons are fun (to teach and learn).  There is a "whose garbage is this" sort of activity for teaching kids the skill of inferring, and it was so much fun to show the kids some random objects from around my house and see how they created a whole explanation as to how I must have had a birthday party.  I hadn't actually had a party, but they gave sound explanations and evidence as to how I could have.  And they have great anchor charts for the kids to reference for all of the strategies.  I've taught these strategies before, but always with worksheets, and never had the results like I am seeing from using this book.

If somehow, I am not the only person on the planet that hadn't read these books yet, and you're out there saying "Whaaa?" Then by all means check them out.  You will not be disappointed.

And then to just finish this week out, and before I re-evaluate my Great To-Do List challenge for next week, I would like to acknowledge that I got my library all fixed up and spiffy at school.  Baskets are labeled, books are sorted, and I think it's looking swell!

All of my regular books are now fitting on three bookcases, and one display rack. No, my baskets don't all match, but I've got to make do with what I have.  Maybe I can spray paint them for next year, but I'm not worried about it at the moment. I started this job at the end of September- the school had too many kids in the classroom for being a Title I school, so they had to add a new position- and I'm so glad they had to.  I love this new job!- But I inherited everything, luckily for me, extremely nice things too.  One of the freebies was a set of book basket labels from Really Good Stuff.  I've seen them before, but had never bothered with the purchase- but now I've found out I really like them and will be buying another set, as I ended up with 39 total baskets.  There's the link if you'd like to look at them for yourself:

I ended up with 39 categories after I was looking at some overflowing baskets and realized I was just going to end up breaking the basket and also that I was over-generalizing some categories.  Especially the picture books.  Yeah, just about everything is a picture book.  So I really tried to separate them out based on what I might need them for, as well as what the kids might be looking for.  For example, we teach an illustration unit at the beginning of the school year for writer's workshop, so I set aside some specific picture books that I felt would be good examples for that unit and put them in a basket labeled "Books With Great Illustrations".  Also I have a basket for "Books With Beautiful Language" for when I need examples for really choosing your words carefully for mood in writer's workshop.  I also made a special category for Wordless Books, and Books that are in Letter Form, and a basket of award winning authors, as well as My favorite read-alouds.  When a book really didn't seem to fit in a specific category, I noticed that they generally fell into either a family story or a friendship story.  So I've got those baskets too.

Some books are just too big to be in a basket and fit on a shelf, so they are in the display rack.  I have two of these racks, but I generally like to put books that match our window of inquiry content on the other one.  This rack is pretty full though, so I may have to rethink that, or get another rack...  And then I also have a modest collection of big books, and I put my listening center baskets on top of their cupboard.  I have individual CD players that the kids use.  I find that it avoids the inevitable argument that arises from too many kids around one CD player.  This way they can just scamper off to a private corner and not worry about who wants the volume changed or who wants to hog the book to themselves.

The books are easy to put away- as the kids don't actually have to remember what the title of the basket was.  They just match the number on the sticker on the book.  So each basket, aside from having a title, is also assigned a number.  And then I just stick little round label stickers on the front, top right corner or each book and write the corresponding number in the circle.  Kids find it extremely easy to know where a book goes.  Books that are "too big to be allowed" have a sticker, but no number.  

I did not take a picture of where I have my non-fiction brochure resources filed yet, as they are sharing shelving unit space with math manipulatives and I have that in a bit of an un-holy mess right now.  But, cleaning up that section is on this coming week's to-do list, so it's only a matter of time.

Another thing I like about my library categories is now I can see what type of book I may be lacking, and where I really don't need any more on that topic.  And that knowledge is going to help me immensely as I sojourn to the great GreenValley Book Fair in the morn.  May the force be with me!


  1. I love your bookshelf organization! I would love to implement Daily 5 after hearing about it on blogs for the past 2 years, but I'm not sure how fully I can use it with the reading program... We'll see.

    1. Thanks, Valerie. It took a little bit of time, but now that it's done it makes things so much easier. Even if I have to pack them all up and move to a classroom downstairs next year it will be simple enough to set back up now with the numbered labels. I know you guys have a new reading program- but if at any time of your day you are still meeting with small groups- I think you can easily adapt this system to your needs. What I found the most intriguing in the book was the systematic method of teaching the correct behaviors when working independently- and I started using that model just this last week in my room to go over things like how to walk in the hallway, and how to behave in the morning before class starts. And it's been working out really well. Get the book and read it- you'll have tons of ideas in seconds on how to make it work for you. I got mine on my Kindle. I worried at first that I'd want my teacher books as hard copies- but I'm not worried about photocopying anything out of this particular one, as it doesn't have that sort of resource in the appendix.

    2. I have the D5 and CAFE books, the CAFE has a disc attached with an appendix of printable pages if you want to look at it :) I used word work and listening this year without much hassle but I couldn't get all 5 things up and running at the same time, especially writing.

    3. I wasn't able to do word work. We had a big push on the guided reading end, so that word study ended up being tossed out due to time, since my other time was taken up with writer's workshop. I didn't have any time to meet with groups about words. I'm trying to figure something out for next year though- because their spelling really suffered. I noticed it on the PALS testing... I think the nice thing about the set-up is you can take on bits as a time as you're ready for them.