So what did I actually learn in my small group lesson this week?
- I learned that the county will not level the last group of books that we got for our libraries. Because at my school we need leveled books more than we need genre books, we will have to do that work ourselves. If anyone has already done that work for kindergarten and first grade, please share! If not, I will be tackling that also this summer.
- I learned that the Soar to Success kit is a daily intervention program that targets children that are 18 months below grade level, so really is only appropriate for some of my lowest special education students. Teachers who had experience with the kits in Summer School suggested going through the books one day at a time instead of the suggested one week at a time, until you reach a level appropriate for your group, which may be one way to use this program more efficiently.
- I learned that we are no longer expected to keep the individual Assessment Books for each child intact so we may rip out assessment pages that we need, such as the skills assessments. This is a change from what we were told earlier in the year. And... these books will be replenished each year, so I need to identify pages that will be useful for us.
- I learned that we may take all of our small 6-pack sets (vocabulary and guided reading sets) and arrange them by Fountas-Pinnell levels, which is good since that is how most of our teachers are already using them! Most of our teachers have packaged them in zip lock bags with the the teacher guide folder inside the bag. One of the consultants suggested making a notebook for each FP level of the Teacher Guides, which are already hole punched, which I thought was an excellent idea! It would be wonderful to have all of the Teacher Guides for a single level of books together. By looking through them a teacher could easily see the skills and strategies to be taught for that level in their small guided reading lessons.
- I learned that the Small Group Independent Activities box has a nice purple pocket chart with cards that can be used for a Center rotation schedule instead of making one yourself. Since most teachers have not even opened that box, it's worth digging into it to get to the pocket chart!
- I learned that the Home-Community Connections Book has many interesting hints for families that can be used in our weekly Newsletters and blogs.
- Finally, I learned that eduplace.com has many, many resources that are not password protected and can be used by teachers.
All of the teachers attending these summer sessions are doing it on their own time. As you listen to their questions and discussions, it is obvious that they are trying to "do it right." They so want to learn and figure it out and I think the consultants honestly want to be supportive and answer questions. I wonder... With all of the technology available these days, would the time be better spent making videos, editing lessons that could be watched using the materials, or making podcasts, or writing blogs and wikis with the most asked questions and answers - technology that would reach the entire teacher populace on their own time... This is just such a large county and it seems that our professional development needs to move into a more proactive, rather than reactive stance. I'm sure this is not a novel thought and some of what I yearn for may be in the development stage or even pieces may be now available on-line somewhere. Obviously, it's easier said than done... or we'd be using it... wouldn't we?