Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Google Form for a Reading Interest Survey

After reading The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller this summer I decided to begin my year with a reading survey. Since I wasn't sure what my roster number was going to be, last year at one point it was over 60, and I'm not a good paper organizer, I decided to enter the questions into a Google form and embed the form on my school website. Next step; I opened that site on my five iPads and saved it as an icon for quick and easy access for my students. The very first day with my students was spent in the hall filling out the survey. Yes, the wireless hub is positioned right outside my classroom door but wireless does not work once I step into my room! I put in a work order to have it fixed but it was classified as a future project. So, in the hall we went. For most groups it took our whole class time for everyone to finish the survey. If they finished early they used Grammar Wonderland to work on grammar skills.

I use a Daily 5 approach in my reading room. But after my summer reading I decided to do some tweaking. My first tweak was instead of letting my students roam my whole class library to select 5-6 books I gave each student a pile of 8-10 books to look through and asked them to select two books for their book bag. Having the information from the survey plus the data from Star and IRIs I think I did a decent job of selecting those books. My confirmation came from a third grader who asked, with a huge grin, "Mrs. Isenberg, how did you know I lovvvve horses?!" I sorted the survey data by grade level, hid some rows and printed the answers that would help me with books selections.

While, I was playing around with the information I discovered Google does a summary of the data. How did I not know that? Here's a few interesting facts:

Picking up library card applications is something I've thought about each spring. This shows it would be worth my time.

Here's my favorite answer to this question:
If I could meet any literary character (for example, Jack or Annie from the Magic Tree House series), I would want to meet:
Annie because she seems more adventurous then Jack. In one book she wants to go find the tree house after Morgan had left with it on an adventure and Jack wuss telling Annie to calm down and not to worry about it but I love how Annie kinda has a wild side and just goes into the Frog Creek Woods and sees if the tree house is there and follows the clues like in GhostTown at Sundown the rabbit into the woods and there it is the magic tree house. 

Some of the students have a good ideas for what needs work.
As a reader I need to work on:
Slowing down when I'm reading.
New words that are complicated
Being confiding
Some are a little general:
My reding

Some are confident:
I don't need to work on anything
I don't have trobl

I'll be using their responses as I confer with students and we begin to set our reading goals.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Classroom Crib

As a reading teacher I see most of my students every other day for 30 minutes. I try to make sure that half of their time with me is spent reading books of their choice. This year I want to add time in for writing as well. So, my room  is set up with lots of books and cozy spots to read and write. There's not much on the walls yet, charts will be added as we make them throughout the year.
Take a look at the Thinglinks for more details.

What do you think? What can I do to improve the room? I welcome your feedback.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Room

Well, this is my fifth year as a reading teacher and I just finished settling into my 3rd room. It was a hard switch since I loved my cozy little room that I've had the past two years. My new room is large but I'm sharing it with another reading teacher. The best perk so far is that we have a full size refrigerator and extra cupboard space so I won't have to make lunches this year. I can just keep my lunch supplies right at school. We have a divider up between our two sections so I feel like it's my own room but I'm still concerned about the noise. I'll just have to wait and see how it goes....

Anyway, I thought I'd show a few pictures of the new set up.
Time for a color change-I went all black.

Science Books-animals, weather, plants....

Once students begin these will be filled with baggies containing books and a book log.

The book rack holds books that go with the modules being used in the classroom.

A few cozy reading spots. 

Teacher Area

A perk-having enough room to set out supplies!

Work table-I gave up my kidney table for this one.

View from corner 1

View from corner 2

View from corner 3

View from corner 4

Special markers will be used to add favorite quotes from books to my desk. 

A favorite reading spot last year

A close up view of a book basket-students designed them a year ago.

I have a CAFE board for each reading group

Got myself organized last June-how long will it last??

Personal photos by my desk helps keep me grounded

Happy New Year! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Logs for Student Accountability

Last year my students learned how to select good fit books and selected their own books all year. The one thing that was really lacking was keeping track of what books were read. I didn't hold the student's accountable for ever actually finishing a book or keeping a record of what was read. Each student had a bag of 5-6 books and they could read a different book each time they came to class if they chose. Last year was a learning year for me. I tried to follow  Joan Moser's and Gail Boushey's  Read to Self and CAFE routine during our 30 minute every other day sessions. I'll continue that this year but I'm adding bits and pieces that will fit from Donalyn Miller's books The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild.

Change number one will be that students will only have two books in their bag. Change number two will be having the students keep a book log with the title and pages read each day. Now my question is; how do I that? If I do a paper log that's kept in the book bag there's always the chance it will get lost. Last year all my students had access to an iPad in class. I'm hoping that will be the case again this year. If it is, I'd really like the book log to be on the iPad. Something they can access quickly to fill in the needed information: date, title, author-maybe, and pages read. The students will be third, fourth and fifth graders. Any suggestions on how to do this? So far, my only idea is a Google form.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions, thanks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Reading Goals

June is always such a hectic month. Even though we go to school right up to the end of the month I don't see my students on a regular basis. June means field trips, assemblies, class picnics, moving up ceremonies and so on, you get the picture, right? So, after reading the article Finish Off the Year With Amazing Summer Reading Plans I decided to finish up the year with a project. I hoped having my students put their summer reading plans in writing and in a fun way might carry over into the summer.

So, I adapted this idea for different grade levels. Once I get back to school I'll add some more images of our final products. Unless of course I saved it to my desktop, then it's history as our computers are being updated and I think I forgot to backup those desktop items. Oh, well.

Kindergarten, first and second grade used Pixie3, one of my favorite programs, to complete their goals. One of the reasons I love this program is that I'm able to set up projects and share them with my students. So once the students are on the program they click join project, find a blank page, put their name on it and get to work. Then at the end of class I save the project and they just close out of the program. It makes it easy for me to check on everyone's work and at the end it's easy to print.

Kindergarten wrote one sentence about where they will read this summer. Then they illustrated the sentence.

1st grade wrote an opening sentence, where they will read, how often and one book they plan on reading.

2nd grade had to write an opening and closing sentence, where they will read, how often and two books they plan on reading.

3rd grade did the same as second but they had to add strategies they would practice as well. They did not use Pixie. First they wrote their plan on paper. Then they moved to the iPad and used the Postcard App. First they copied their writing and then they selected a photo and a stamp. (The one drawback to this app is the work can't be saved and completed at another time.) Once it was completed they saved it on the iPad and they used Flick to send it to me. I printed them and found out some fonts don't print very clearly.
3rd Grade 

4th and 5th grade did something different. They each made a trading card with a book recommendation. They started out by filling out a form with the title of the book, author, genre, 1 interesting thing and why they liked it. Once that was completed they took a picture of the book with their iPad. The next step was to go to the Big Huge Labs Trading Card page. Once again, this part has to be done in one sitting, no saving and coming back allowed. But it does allow you to look at the final card and go back and edit before the final save which is huge. Once the information was filled in and saved they also sent the saved image to me via the Flick app. I printed one half sheet size card to laminate and hang in the hall and then printed quarter sheet sized cards for each 4th or 5th grader. On the last day of class they exchanged cards and had a nice set of cards to take home with books to possibly read over the summer.
5th Grade

All the students took home a laminated copy of their plans or book recommendation. I encouraged the children to hang their plans on the refrigerator or their bedroom door so they would see them everyday and not forget to fulfill their plan.

With all my students, except kindergarten, I talked about the importance of summer reading. I told them about the research that shows children that don't read over the summer come in behind in the fall. I reminded them to go to the library and how they've learned to pick out good fit books this year.  I mentioned it to parents in their final progress note as well. Here's hoping the project is helping some of them stick to their goals.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Year in Review

Well as usual my attempt to blog on a regular basis failed again but here I am attempting it once more.

I'm pleased with how the past school year progressed. Here are just a few notes.

Highlights of the Year:

*     Sticking with the Daily 5/CAFE Model-Ok, it's mainly a Daily1-Read to Self with CAFE for grades 2-5. On the occasional day we didn't do it the kids were disappointed. One of my 4th graders proclaimed reading was her favorite class because she gets to actually read a book! I took an online course on Daily 5 and CAFE and found that very helpful.
*     No formal checking out of books but when kids found a book that was too hard for independent reading or they didn't want to wait to finish it I let them take the book home. I wrote their name, date and book title on an index card and stuck it on a bulletin board. When the book was returned I crossed off their name. A few books didn't get returned but I know there's a good chance they'll make it back next year.
*     iPads were used weekly, although some grade levels used them more than others.  I worked to avoid the worksheet type apps. A few of my favorite apps are Popplet, Skitch, iTalk, Storia, and Book Creator.
*     At the beginning of the year I told myself I would not do test prep. The kids get enough of that in the classroom. I stuck with it all year. The only think I did was with my 5th graders. I had them use Popplet to make an organizer of all the test taking strategies they knew.  Then we went over them and pulled their ideas into on final organizer.
*     I think I only got pulled to sub for a classroom teacher once! My subs continued to get pulled but that's not so bad. I personally hate getting pulled to sub.

Things That Need Improving:

*     Doing more writing-I struggle with how to fit in reading and writing when I only see students 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. If anyone has suggestions let me know!
*     Letting all students know they can take home a book if they'd like.
*     Doing a better job of conferring with students and keeping daily notes on the CCPenseive. Keeping up with the notes is one of my biggest struggles.

Ideas for Next Year:

*     Using origami for reinforcing reading skills-reading carefully, following directions in a sequence, comprehension... I'm beginning to collect ideas. One teacher sent directions home for a weekly homework assignment after introducing and practicing origami directions together. I like that idea but I'm also pondering an origami corner in the room as well.
*     Finding more ways to incorporate the iPads with writing and reading.

Summer Plans:
*     Looking for iPad apps
*     Reading books for 3rd-5th graders. I know K-2 books but am weak at this level.
*      Review Daily 5 and CAFE books before school begins. Also finish reading The Book Whisperer, Notice and Note and begin Reading in the Wild.
*     Design a reading inventory for the students to take at the beginning of the school year based on ideas from the Book Whisperer.

Well,  this was my last year as a K-5 reading teacher. Next year our schools will be reconfigured and I'll be one of two reading teachers in the 3-5 school and we'll be sharing a room. I'll be the first to admit that I did not take the news of the sharing a room well at all. I'm embarrassed to admit I was a cranky ol' lady for a few months. But finally at the end of the year I got my head screwed back on the right way and I'm ready to give it a try. I'm nervous, I know K-2 curriculum and skills so much better since I taught all three levels in the classroom. I've never taught 3-5 but I'll continue with my Daily 5, I mean Daily 1 or 2 and CAFE and watch them grow and find reading an enjoyable activity. After all that is my main goal.