Saturday, September 25, 2010

Talk Talk Talk and more Talk

I love to talk!  If you are a teacher it's highly likely that YOU like to talk!  But don't forget to let the students in your classroom TALK!  It is essential that the students have the opportunity to communicate  orally.  Arrange meaningful conversation opportunities.  If your students are English Language Learners
this is doubly important.

Take a look at this piece of an article I found regarding ELL learners:

"Language involves four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Oral skill is learned through listening and imitating. Then by repeated practice and exposure one learns to speak one’s language.
Usually children are able to express emotions, feelings, intentions and reactions very easily in their mother tongue. They are unable to do the same in English language. They have little practice in English. Controlled and guided activities are not provided to the learners.
The children will be able to develop oral skills in English by practicing the wide range of skills mentioned below.
1. Class room English
2. Telling Stories ( Story Telling)
3. Creating situations for dialogue
4. Language games & activities
5. Use of language in social gatherings
6. Conducting Interviews &
7. Telephonic Conversation."

Don't forget about your ELPS flip chart (Texas teachers).  It is full of ideas!
I have things to do now, please come back sometime soon!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Anchor Lessons - Anchor Learning

Well, it's that time of year.  Your lessons at the start of the school year are probably centering around the anchoring of key reading skills.

It is important to introduce key reading skills to students right off the bat.  These might include, Main Idea, Author's Purpose, Inferencing, Drawing Conclusions, & Summary, among others.  

Ideally,  most students will come to you with some previous experience with these topics.  It's important to reinforce these skills and provide visuals that will help readers throughout the year by giving them something to which they can refer as the year and lessons progress. 

Here are some samples from actual reading and writing teachers' walls.  Maybe you can grab an idea or two:

Excuse me while I go make a poster.  Good day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is Teaching an Art or Science?

My creative nature impels me to see teaching as an art.  Though some might disagree and take a more scientific approach to teaching.  Have you tried analyzing test scores lately?  That is a fairly mathematical exercise.  Of course like anything else in life, there is certainly a blend of both schools of thought in education.  Even an artist will readily share, I'm sure, all of the technical aspects of their craft including perspective, dimension, and on goes the list.

Have you read, "Mosaic of Thought," by: Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann?

In the book's epilogue, a teacher is compared to a sculptor.  The following statement is made in regards to "Teachers we admire."

"They are not carpenters but sculptors.  They are after the mystery implicit in the stone.  They guide their students on a search for the mystery and ponder with them as 'troubling human confusions' are revealed.

These teachers create the environment and provide the tools students need to read deeply and thoughtfully, so they can contemplate ideas alone and with others, and write persuasively about what they read.  They are teachers who embrace the wide range of responses their students give to the same text, and challenge the students to read books they believe they cannot.  They relish every day with children and recall why they went into teaching in the first place.  They are teachers who know that what matters most is the joy of learning."

Something to think about?

Must go plan for Monday now...See ya.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lots To Think About

This was my mind before I attended an excellent training for educational facilitators today:

This is my mind following the training:

Teaching is truly a never-ending learning experience.

It's Friday.  Time to play.

Have you ever played with Wordles?

Go play!
(link on side bar)

Can you imagine how many ways you could use these
as a teacher?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Today you are you,
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is youer than you."
-Dr. Seuss

Go out there and put ALL of YOURSELF into your teaching!
Let your students know that they've hit the JACKPOT getting
YOU for a teacher!
(Thanks for sharing Meg! No doubt YOUR students have struck gold!)

Difficult Text

Those of us in the business of teaching reading are commonly faced with struggling readers.  This is nothing new.  We have a absolute myriad of strategies that we offer to help these literary wanna-be's (at least we hope they wanna be)!  But when was the last time YOU struggled to understand text?  Personally, I've felt like a fairly competent reader for a very long time.  Sure, sometimes I get off- track and have to re-read passages.  Sometimes a word must be looked up in the dictionary.  I LOVE Dickens, so that old-English alone has its own set of challenges. But this past summer my reading skills got a workout, when I decided to read, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."  I didn't know much about it before reading it, but I did know that it was a national best seller with 2 follow-up novels and movies in the works, etc...  I also (disclaimer...disclaimer...!) am not even suggesting you read it.  It had some rough parts that some would certainly not enjoy (I'll leave it at that).  But my point is this...(finally)...I had to read and re-read and look back and look back some more.  It took me a very long time (100 pages?  more?) to get into it.  At times I SERIOUSLY considered putting it down and stopping.  After all how hard should one have to TRY in order to enjoy a book?  But then it happened...I started liking it.  I started REALLY getting curious to find out what was coming next. 

Then, a light went on!  Just like my struggling readers!  It was somewhat painful.  Not so fun, but in the end WORTH IT!  Isn't this the message I'm trying to relay to my reading students?  In the end it's WORTH IT?!  I place a huge amount of value on modeling the behaviors I want to see in my students.  Of course I model the writing process in a variety of ways, but sometimes I just sit down and work alongside them on an assignment.  There is value in knowing what it FEELS like to complete an assigned task.  Perhaps I haven't given them a reasonable amount of time to complete it.  Maybe it's too easy.  My point is...struggling with this book, gave me such great EMPATHY for what my struggling readers are feeling.  I felt it was such a great accidental gift.  Another way for me to connect with and relate to my students.  Of course I will be sharing my struggles with them! 

I loved it when a teacher friend to whom I had recommended the book reported the same struggles and wanted to ditch the book in the worst way.  But she too, STAYED THE COURSE, finished it and ended up LOVING it!  Gotta run now...picking up 5th graders and taking them to lunch!  Ta Ta!