Saturday, February 16, 2019

"You LIKE Reading"? Is Reading for Pleasure Obsolete?

The other day I was teaching an economics lesson on Supply and Demand.
The students had to write a list of 4 things they like to do when they are home.
I modeled the ist with a list of my own, and I started with reading. (Which I really shouldn't have because the lesson was about getting paid to read, so... but that's how much I love to read.)

One of the students stated increduously, "You LIKE to read?"
I replied, "Yes, that is part of how I got here, haviing this job," or something like that.
He said, "That's not what I mean. You just LIKE to read?"
I said, "Do you mean for pleasure?" Yes, I do, and I'm mad that I don't get to do it as much as I would like because of work."
At this point, he just laughed and shook his head.

Many students don't read for pleasure. Many adults don't read for pleasure.
video games
lack of diversity in books
books are not present in the home or classroom
school has sucked the joy of out of reading

So, what should we do to get our kids reading for pleasure?

  1. have diverse books in your classroom
  2. stop killing books with worksheets (What's the Main idea?)
  3. give kids time to just read 
  4. Let students choose their own books 
  5. allow students to read books, not just passages with questions
  6. allow students to read above or below their "level."
  7. participate in projects like the Global Read Aloud
  8. connect with others in the world who are reading the same book.
  9. use tech to let students "talk" about their book
  10. connect with authors
  11. read picture books
  12. allow audiobooks
  13. let them read digitally with Epic and Readworks.

My kids are tested at the end of the school year, so I am not going to tell you that I never use worksheets or teach reading "strategies." But, I have found that the ideas I have listed above have created students that actually enjoy a book, who read for pleasure.

My best moment of our day is whe my kids sprawl out all over the room in video chairs, the Yoga balls, at a desk, or the round table and read. The room is quiet and and the majority of them are actually reading! Sweet!:)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Genre Hunt:Using Books For Authentic Learning Moments!

Sometimes kids just want to do something that is fun. Meanwhile, I want fun and meaningful.
I gave them a @Quizizz pre-test on Genres and they bombed! They had an accuracy of about 42%, which told me that they knew almost nothing about genres.

What to do ? What to do? How do I "teach" genres in a hands-on way where they might actually understand what a genre is?

I know, "A Genre Hunt!"

I have tons and tons of books in my room in every genre, so this would be an easy task.
I created a form that included 3 items, the genre of the book, the title of the book ("Use capitals!"), and the author. (Amazing how many kids don't know where to find the author of the book).

I handed out a Genre Overview sheet and we reviewed it. Then I let them go. (Classroom management is a must with this activity.) They worked in groups of 4. It was a learning experience watching them rush around the room gathering books, picking up our most recent read aloud trying to figure out where it fit, deciding who recorded, and who skimmed the books. Collaboration at it's best!

They really, really enjoyed this activity! When I told them that we had to stop, I ended up giving them more time. As a matter of fact, we had a Part 2 the next day.

I wish I could tell you that when I gave the Genre quiz on Quizizz again, they were at a 100% accuracy. However, they did increase to 50%, so learning about genres will continue to be a work in progress.
If nothing else, I did get them to become familiar with all those books sitting in our classroom. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year! Suggestions for a Successful School Year!

Have a Wonderful 2019!

I share these ideas twice a year. At the beginning of the school year, and the beginning of the year. I've made some changes to my list.

Some suggestions for the new year:

  1. treat all students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, behavior, a parent's nasty attitude, the comments from last year's teachers, or a seemingly lack of interest in learning 
  2. to realize that all children can learn, but not always at the same pace.
  3. stop using sarcasm as a disciplinary tool, no matter how effective it may seem. 
  4. speak in a quiet, even,tone, even when yelling seems to be the only option. (It never is!)
  5. "sticks and stones...but words"... Words can hurt worse than "sticks and stones." Please be careful of the words you use with a child.
  6.  realize that you might be the only good thing that happens in a student's day 
  7. try to meet all deadlines(With all the burdens placed on teachers these days, this one is VERY difficult)
  8. stop gossiping about other teachers, parents, students, administration...! (Difficult at times, I know)
  9. if you don't know, say you don't know (But find out or teach others how to find out)
  10. make mistakes, it's OK. But admit to them and then learn from them.
  11. challenge your students! Challenge yourself!
  12. share with colleagues, we are not in competition with each other. 
  13. use technology as a tool to excite, engage, and empower students. Technology is not a subject!
  14. be involved in fighting what is happening in, and to, the public education system! (Standardized testing, education "reform", merit pay)
  15. be a lifelong learner 
  16. continue to be passionate about the job, it really is about the kids!
  17. realize our preconceived notions and biases impact the way we treat your students.
  18. Building relationships is key!

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Postcard Exchange:Authentic Learning Through Projects!

I don´t remember if I saw it in an email or on Twitter, but the Postcard Exchange project caught my eye. It was sponsored by @techTOSAGina. This was her first one, as a matter of fact. Each teacher would be responsible for sending out 50 postcards to all the other classes on the list.

Sounded like an interesting way to teach Geography.

I decided we would create a postcard via Vistaprint, and yes the cost was out of pocket, but fortunately,Vistaprint is always having sales. And like a teacher, I  could not  just get the postcards, I added in return labels with our school name and mascot on it.
As a class, we decided what information would be included on our information sheet.

The postcards started trickling, then pouring, in. Meanwhile, I had my kids glue on the information sheets and stick on the return labels. I decided to address our postcards myself because I just felt it would be quicker. Unfortunately, it was not. I am a procrastinator, and ended up addressing them a while after they were due.:( But, I did send them.

As I collected the postcards, I kept trying to think of a way this could be more than a bunch of postcards we glue on the wall. And wouldn´t you know? A teacher shared her idea. She created a Google Slide presentation, and the kids added the info they got from their postcards. If they didn´t get enough info, they did the research and supplied it themselves. Another teacher created a Google Tour
using the addresses of the schools.

My kids are still working on their Google Slide presentation, and they are really enjoying it! They talk about the facts they learned about their states with their peers and I. When they were done, they asked for more cards to fill out another slide. They enjoyed finding out how many miles away they were by car, walking bike, etc...

 I´ve never used Google Tours, but I am going to give it a try.Really doesn´t matter, once I give it to the kids... For example, I told them to add a picture, they found a much more creative way to add images to the slides.
Looking forward to doing this again next year!

Interested in creating your own Postcard Exchange? Here´s some ideas!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sometimes the Technology Doesn't Work!

Yesterday was our first Mystery Skype of the year.
My class was hyped!
Earlier, I tested my webcam, and everything was in order.
It did cross my mind to contact the teacher and do a practice run, but that thought went out of my head as quickly as it went in. (Note to self:Always do a practice run!)

The Skype was scheduled for 2 p.m.
So much talking, movement, excitement!
The video call begins.(I laugh when I think about how excited they got!)
We say hello, and the teacher says, "We can't hear you."

All I can think of as we try this,that, and the other, is how disappointed my kids will be if we don't get this to work.
Press things, hang up,call back, nothing is working.

We messaged each other back and forth and decided to do it anyway.
Both of our classes were first timers, the teacher was also a first timer, but we did it.
We could see and hear them.
They could see us.
I typed.
My kids used signals.
One finger for "Yes."
Two fingers for "No."

It worked.
We guessed each other's state, had fun, learned geography, and we will hook up again with a working microphone.

Sometimes the technology doesn't work. And that's ok.