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.