Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Team

Today I met with my new first grade team. It's a large group of 13 women but so many ladies that I have worked with for many years. I have a great relationship with this group and know that they all adore each other. Also thrown into the mix are a few new faces to our primary grade level. It's really such a gift to be able to spend an entire day with our Standards Coach, Suzanne Shall and a group that is excited about being together next year. It just makes the hectic end of the year easier when you already have a plan for next year!

What do we do on a New Team day? We start by enjoying a breakfast suggested and brought by the team members. Then it's on to getting to know each other by playing a game of matching pet peeves with people in the room and then putting each person in the hot seat and asking them a question that we just have to know! There was lots of laughter and lots of fun as we learned more about each other. So who has a thing about yucky toenails? Who can't stand belching? Who pieced their own belly button? Secrets - only first grade teachers know for sure! We selected a new Team Leader, my partner, Tracy Ruark, who will be WONDERFUL, and volunteered for Committees (Field trips, Spirit Committee, Homework, Foundations...)

Then it was on to the meat of the day with discussion about the Parent Supply List that goes home in the report card and then our list of "non-negotiables." It's the list of the things that we all agree to do as a team.

Chets Creek Elementary
Non-negotiables - First Grade

Subjects• One hour Readers’ Workshop daily
• One hour Writers’ Workshop daily
• 30 minute Interactive ELA Skills Block daily
• One hour Math Workshop to include Interactive Math Skills Block (i.e., Calendar Math)
• 15 minutes daily and 45 minutes of Science on long Wednesdays (100 minutes a week)

Don't forget time for Social Studies, Health and Character Education!
Homework• On average, including book in the bag, homework should take no more than 30 minutes nightly.
• Homework on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. No homework on weekends.
• Grade level homework is to be sent home by every teacher although it may be modified to meet the teacher’s learning schedule.
• Projects should be reviewed and effort should be made to align projects with the New Generation Standards. Projects sometimes go home before the weekend to give students and parents additional time to secure materials but teachers should not expect students to work on them over the weekend. Projects (including responses to Standard Snapshots) should be considered part of the 30 minutes of homework nightly.
At CCE we encourage students to be actively involved in extracurricular activities and spend the least amount of time as possible on homework while still building some rituals and routines around study skills.
Million Word Standard
• Each student is responsible for reading a million words a year.
• Evidence should be logged. Book logs can be paper/pencil, digital, school based or home based.

• Standards must be posted for the daily lesson that can easily be read by students throughout the classroom.
• Book of the Month should be attractively displayed and accessible to students. A Book of the month bin of 2009-10 books of the month should be part of the genre library.
• A system of organized data collection is required (such as a notebook that includes Diagnostic Profiles, DRA’s, PMPs
• Portfolios in Writing and Mathematics are required for every student.
• Artifacts for individual students in Science may be journals, notebooks or portfolios.
• Teacher made Charts demonstrating mini-lessons in ELA should be evident in the classroom.
• Classroom writing rubrics of genres covered should be available for students.
• Word Walls should be obvious as students should be using them daily.
• Math artifacts such as teacher-made charts, 100’s chart, number lines with negative and positive numbers, manipulatives, strategy charts… should be displayed. A Math bin of books should be available in the genre library.
• Science artifacts such as teacher-made charts and evidence of an inquiry based laboratory should be obvious. A bin of Science books should be available in the genre library.
• Student work should be posted with the standard - encouraged on the walls of the classroom but with limited space is acceptable in hallways.

Standards-Based Bulletin Board
SBBB will be displayed by the deadline date. A typical board will include the following components: Standards, task, 4 pieces of student work, teacher commentary. The board may also include student commentary, circumstances of performance...
• No SBBB are due in August, December, March, May or June.
• At least one board is required in ELA, Math, Science and a final work-over-time board.
Standard Snapshots• SS will go home with report cards on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd nine weeks.
• SS should be done collaboratively as a grade level with an emphasis on discussing student work.
• Each student’s piece of work will be attached to the snapshot to be sent home on the specified date.
• First grade will produce a writing, math, and science SS to include a parent engagement piece.
Pacing Guides and Standards• District Learning Schedules in Mathematics will be followed; Sunshine State Standards will be used.
• District Learning Schedules in Science will be followed; Sunshine State Standards will be used.
• First grade CCE Pacing guide will include reading and skills and will follow the Scope and Sequence of our county adopted Houghton-Mifflin core, using the First Grade Sunshine State Standards
• First Grade CCE Pacing Guide will include 6 genres of writing: Narrative, Non-fiction – Procedural and Informational/Report, Response-to-Literature, Persuasive and Poetry. Standards will reflect the America’s Choice Rubrics for the first 4 genres and the Sunshine State Standards for persuasive.
• The First Grade CCE Pacing Guide will include Reading, Writing, Skills, Math, Science, and Social Studies so that teachers can see “echoes across the day”.

On Course Grade Book
• No grades will be taken on content of homework. However, a single grade each nine weeks may be given as part of a habits and processes grade based on homework turned in and completed.
• There should be a reasonable number of grades to average for an overall grade each nine weeks. (5 or more)
• There needs to be grade level consistency on what is being graded and teachers need to be able to communicate with parents how the grade was derived.
• Teachers should post grades within one week of an assignment being given.
Communication with Parents• A one page weekly newsletter is required to be sent home on Mondays on the back of the Connection. It must be edited by an Administrator before being copied.
• Written notes to parents, phone calls and e-mails should be replied to within 24 hours.
• Written notes should appear in planners and/or emails should be sent to every parent every couple of weeks.
• Blogs are highly recommended but optional. To keep a blog active a teacher should post at a minimum of every other week. An e-mail can be sent to parents when a new post is written.

By discussing the Non-negotiables we made sure that each new first grade teacher understood the expectations for the grade level and discussed that sacred cow, "homework" with the idea of thinking about removing all homework except reading each night and a monthly parent project - but more about that later.

We actually went out to lunch with the idea of more team building. We recognize that the success of a team is built on relationships and if that is the only thing we accomplished in this day, that would be enough! It's also nice to just get out to a nice restaurant and have adult conversation!

When we came back we each updated out web site and then spent some time playing with the computer site, Discovery Education - a gift from SAC! What a resource! Videos on every possible topic to add a little tech savvy to any lessons. the kids are going to love it!
I can't begin to tell you about how excited I am with my new grade level. Each year brings its own successes and challenges, but this new year is opening on such a high note. Can't wait!


Danielle said...

I had such a fun time yesterday! I can't wait for next year! What a fun group!! Danielle

Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

We have "great expectations" for next year with a great new team. Looking forward to making it the best ever :) MM

Anonymous said...

There is no one more excited about next year than me! This new first grade team rocks and I can't wait for our new adventure together to begin. I love my partner. She is so giving and has agreed to take over the rest of the first grade commitments. LOL! You rock Dayle!

Tracy Ruark:)