Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Looking for Dracula - a Halloween Treat
Fall Festivities Abound
Aussie Pumpkins Like You've Never Seen Before
The Pumpkins Are Here!
A Special Halloween Surprise
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Adding to a Wiki
Using Web 2.0 Tools
Using Your Document Camera
Adding Widgets to Your Blog
I attended Debbie Harbour's session on using Voicethread in the classroom (shown to the left). Debbie and several other teachers have made voicethreads which they have added to their blogs. In fact, Melanie Holtsman actually helped me with a voicethread about this time last year but the truth is that she did most of the work and I didn't learn enough to do it completely solo the next time! I can be a really slow learner when it comes to technology! Of course, that's one of the best things about working at Chets Creek. You don't ever have to do it by yourself because there is always someone who is willing to help. I think now that I've seen Voicethread enough, with my experience with Melanie last year and watching Debbie today, that I feel pretty comfortable about trying one on my own, so... stay tuned!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Decorating pumpkins to go with a favorite classroom book is a Chets Creek tradition. Each year I think the pumpkins are more spectacular than the year before and this year is no exception. Three of the first grade pumpkins actually feature one of our Mem Fox books (Koala Lou, the Bush Olympics from Koala Lou and all the characters from Hattie and the Fox). Another pumpkin is turned into an Aussie kangaroo and each child illustrated one of the letters in ABC Australia with his pumpkin! Other pumpkins reflect some other favorite books such as Rapunzel, School Picture Day, and Apples to Oregon. These festive decorations will be on display for the next week as children and parents delight in the creative offerings!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Today veteran video conferencer Michelle Ellis taught a small group lesson in her kindergarten classroom using materials from the new reading adoption while kindergarten teachers at the Schultz Center looked on (pictured on the right). This group of teachers, however, are Literacy Leaders who have been chosen by their own school to be model classrooms in our new reading adoption. As Michelle finished the lesson, her teaching partner, Debby Cothern was at the Schultz Center to help with the debrief.
From now on, I will only be highlighting the first grade streams done at Chets Creek since my focus this year is first grade. For a review of all of the streams including pictures (and sometimes videos!) you can join the educational Ning or check Suzanne Shall, our Standard coach's, blog. There may be a few days delay on getting the videos up since we are doing all the editing in house, so please be patient!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
At Chets Creek we have always given an overall reading assessment three times a year (that include DIBELS and DRA2) and on-going individual assessments such as running records anecdotal records, quick quizzes as we teach a skill, and by observing and taking a reading “on the carpet.” Although we believe that the pendulum has swung too far into the formal testing arena, we do believe that data drives the instruction in our classrooms. We must know how our children are progressing in order to know what to teach tomorrow. So...now that we have these new assessment booklets for each child, how should we use them? As we come to the end of this first nine weeks which parallels the end of the second theme in our new Core Curriculum, we are interested in knowing if our first grade children at Chets Creek are keeping up with their peers across the district. While we are incorporating every part of the Core that fits easily into what our experience tells us to be true (such as the sequence of skills and the scope of strategies and skills for first grade), we have really struggled with what Lucy Calkins refers to as "pop around" mini-lessons that jump from one focus to another instead of the in depth work we have done with a single strategy over time (such as that proposed in Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning). With 96% of our children last year at chets Creek scoring 3 or better on the Florida FCAT, it would be malpractice for us to abandon the very practice that put us on the trajectory of really reaching 100% of our students. So we have moved very slowly and carefully into areas that seem contrary to our previous training and experience. On the other hand, we know that we are all (the researched-based Core curriculum and our eight years of training and experience with the America's Choice reform design) coming from the same research base and it's just the details that we are trying to figure out.
It seems that one way to compare and keep our finger on how we are doing would be for us to give the Benchmark assessments which are not tied to particular story content but are tied to the skills and strategies taught in each theme. Do our children know the skills and strategies that children across the district are expected to know at this time of year? We will be finding out in the weeks to come! I’ll keep you posted!
Monday, October 13, 2008
- Look at the pictures. Often looking at the pictures gives a child an idea of what the words are about and will give him the context to make a good guess at an unknown word.
- Get your mouth ready. If a child is reading and he comes to an unknown word, he should begin by saying the sound of the first letter and sometimes, the word will just pop right out!
- Does it make sense? Students always want to make sure that what they read makes sense. If it doesn't, they need to try another strategy.
- Does it sound right? As the child reads, the words should sound right in the sentence. If not the child should try another strategy. For instance, "I is good" doesn't sound right so it must be "I am good," because that sounds right.
- Do the letters look right? If a child makes a guess at an unknown word, he needs to go back and make sure that the letters in the word match the guess.
- Reread. Any time the words don't make sense, the child needs to reread to clarify so that he understands what the words say.
These are strategies that parents can also reinforce at home when a child comes to a word that he doesn't know as he reads each night from his book-in-the-bag.
Today the children learned a new song to reinforce the strategies in class. The words are on the chart below with the strategies underlined. It's sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot."
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I guess that's one of the things that I love so much about Chets Creek, and one of the reasons that it would be so hard to ever leave - there is always something new to learn, people who are willing to take risks with you and put themselves on the cutting edge. They keep my zone of proximal development at the very edge of my ability (sort of like the edge of a cliff!) and ALWAYS offer the scaffolding that I need to fly with the eagles! Elluminate... here I come!