Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Comprehension Through Conversations

     Its our first week back in school and it has been a busy one to say the least! This summer I read several PD books to help strengthen our comprehension through "purposeful" conversations. One of those books was titled "Comprehension Through Conversations" and "Writing About Reading". Both of these books were excellent resources to add to my PD shelf and would highly recommend them for all K-8 educators. Our campus is on a mission this year to teach reading comprehension through purposeful conversations by allowing students to express themselves in a more "meaningful" way. This week I read Jamie Lee Curtis' books to model "turn and talk" lessons so that the students could be introduced to how these lessons should look in a classroom. Inferencing skills are very difficult for ELL learners and it takes lots of practice to be able to infer the author's point of view when reading an article or short story. Turn and talk conversations between students will help strengthen their comprehension through deeper questioning skills and allow them to ask questions for a better understanding of the story. These lessons will also be carried out in all subjects to continue strengthening student conversations. The video link below will give you ways to plan and implement "turn and talk" lessons in your classroom to help strengthen student conversations in a more "purposeful" way. Here are several of my students practicing "turn and talk". We practiced modeling lots of lessons last year and established some rules during a turn and talk session. There are so many variables that take place. For example, how do students ask questions, listen to their partner and look at each other during a session? These are all very important skills that must be modeled over and over by the teacher. The conversations need to be "purposeful" so that students can make real life connections to their own lives. I walk around and listen to their conversations. I give them some kind of signal, clapping or counting down, to come together as a group when our time is up. Then I ask for volunteers who would like to share their conversations with the class. Some did not want to share at the beginning but now they all love sharing and talking! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Grab A Seat...Let's Get This Digital Learning Started!


     Its August and yes that "back to school" mind set is here in full force! As the summer comes to an end and your mind is filled with new ideas from books that you may have read, classroom designing trends you have seen and new curriculum at the forefront of it all, I still get excited about welcoming my students on the first day! School is just two weeks away and I can't wait to see my students and hear all about their summer. This year, I have added lots more maker spaces in my classroom, some new furniture added to our spaces and a few surprises as well. 
     Last year, I did not have desks and chairs in my classroom and my students LOVED having that kind of freedom! So at the end of last year, I had to pack my entire classroom and move to a different hallway. This allowed for me to think about how I would design my room to meet the needs of my students in a 1:1 iPad environment. I love the design process and I'm anxious to hear the feedback from my students when they enter my classroom on that first day. They will be given the opportunity to change anything that may fit their needs more effectively. Though these are returning students I had last year, I still want to be able to give them those opportunities to share their thoughts with me. After all, this IS their classroom where creative thinking and designing will be taking place all year long. So a few of my followers wanted me to post pictures of the design process. I still have a few more pieces of furniture to add, Hokki Stools coming in October from our first +DonorsChoose.org project that was funded and can't wait for my students to use them and get our learning on! Here is a glimpse into my classroom and the new maker spaces I have created throughout the room for more collaboration and shared learning between my students and connected classrooms around the world! I will post my final design floor plan next week with a short video describing each space. Happy designing!

 My favorite space....Big Joe Cafe
(chairs bought at Walmart and are called Big Joe's, come in many styles and colors, as well as black coffee tables; leather ottoman was bought from a friend. Chairs are like bean bags and can easily move around as needed

Picnic table was a gift from one of my parent volunteers and totally LOVE IT!!!

 Student collaborative space with dry erase board where students can use to write down their thinking strategies, questions, workflow using a certain app, etc. This is more of a "Think Tank" space for student lesson designing. Chairs will be replaced with our new Hokki Stools coming in October...yipee!!!!

Teacher table right in the center of room towards the back for small group math and reading instruction. I have a great view of all maker spaces in my classroom. Chairs will be replaced with stools bought from JoAnn's Fabric (not pictured yet)

Another maker space where students can work and share collaboratively with each other. iPad cart will be stationed next to table. A small mobile dry erase board (not pictured) will be handy for students to use for lesson designing and thinking