Monday, November 10, 2008

November 2008 Professional Development

Today first grade teachers met for a day of professional development to tie up loose ends and plan ahead. The morning started with teachers sharing with each other some of the lessons, students work and activities that are part of their non-fiction reading and writing reports.

Next Instructional Technologist Melanie Holtsman joined the group so they could work on adding web sites, files and videos to their newly designed first grade wiki space. The idea is to create a space where the teachers can house all of the resources that they use in first grade. With thirteen first grade teachers it gets harder and harder to share on such a wide scale so a place where everything is accessible is highly desirable. Each teacher brought at least five things to add. Some added web sites. Some added center ideas or resources they had created. Before long, they investigated taking a snapshot of student work using the document camera and how to add that type of document to the wiki. After a few months the teachers will open the wiki for public display!

During lunch the teachers viewed and debriefed short non-fiction conferences and mini-lessons by Lucy Calkins.

Next the teachers talked about the Pacing Guide and what they needed to be ready for lessons in the third nine weeks. A first grade tradition is the First Grade Sleepover in January that this year will include lots of read alouds - some narrative, some non-fiction in preparation. The time will also include a week of exploring writing in different genres. From writing stories and small moments about sleepovers to reports on "All About Sleepovers" to "How to Pack a Bag for Sleepover" students will immerse themselves in all the fun and excitement of preparing for the big event. Students will make stuffed bears as a home project and will come to school for a family night to make their own pillowcase to bring to the sleepover. Finally the sleepover event culminates in a Friday celebration beginning with a pajama parade and pancake breakfast and then centers to end with a pajama party in the Media Center! It's lots of FUN but takes lots of planning (and, in case you're wondering, the students don't really sleep overnight!)

After tweaking the pacing and inserting the Sleepover hoopla, the teachers previewed the Kevin Henkes Author Study emphasizing Response-to-Literature that will dominate the third nine weeks. Those teachers that have done the unit before shared an overview for those that would be doing it for the first time this year. The teachers planned a common Kevin Henkes Celebration Day to keep them all about the same place, finishing the unit at about the same time.

The teachers ended the day by stamping and leveling the 250 books that they received as part of the county's new book adoption. A few of the books were added to existing Science units or to non-fiction baskets, but our leveled libraries have become depleted so for us, we need the books to be leveled. It took an hour for each teacher to complete stamping and writing the levels on each book in her box. The collection is actually a little disappointing. The books are not what we would consider great literature, but seem a little like the company may just have cleaned out its overstock! The comment of the hour, "If the county paid $11,000,000 for this new adoption, you would think the books would come with levels already attached!" I couldn't argue with that!


Meli Launey said...

You guys got so accomplished in one day. Do we do this in all the grades?

dayle timmons said...

That's a really great question. Up until this year we had WOW (Working on the Work)days on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday one grade level had a TDE for professional development so every 6weeks your grade level would have a work day. The Resources Team covered the grade level that was working together that day so you didn't even have to leave a lesson plan. Of course, it also meant that nobody except that one grade level had Resource on Wednesday but most teachers were willing to give that up to have an entrie day four times a year to work deeply with their colleagues. One of thenicest things is that day always started with a live demo lesson! Unfortunately, with budget cuts, we no longer have enough coverage, so we no longer have those Wednesday for professional development. However, grade levels may request a day of professional development any time they feel like they need that much time to delve into a topic deeply by requesting it of their coach. The days are TDE and are given on an "as needed" basis. As you can imagine, intermediate teachers often don't want to take any time off before FCAT so they sometimes are reluctant to plan such a day, but both Kinder and 1st have already had those type days this year. Great question - thanks for asking.