Friday, January 23, 2015

An Environment for Learning

After weeks of assessments followed by looking at data and creating new intervention groups I decided I needed some positive change. It was time to reorganize my classroom. Each day I have 14 groups of kids come into the primary Title classroom. I hope when they enter the room they feel both comfortable being there and excited about reading. My wonderful para had found some jungle paper at Michael's and we decided to go with it. I had also decided to get rid of my desk to make more room for all of the kids we work with. I figure this will also help me stay organized. No more drawer to dump everything in at the end of the day.
We used the paper on the wall behind our library. Our books are organized on the shelves by level and in baskets on the floor by theme for free read time. I'll be shopping for some more bean bag chairs soon. The kids love them!
Our floor space which is used mostly with my kindergartners has a rug which they pretend is the grass. It is hard to see, but the leaves on the wall are their sight words. I finally found a way to get them at a level that the tiny kindergarteners could interact with the words as we add them.
The final addition to the room is a mural of a waterfall. I love it and the kids think it is the greatest thing ever. We actually found this rolled up in a storage closet. We added curtains to try to make the room feel more comfortable; my district doesn't allow floor lamps. The kids reaction when they saw the transformation made all of the work worth it. They all say they love coming into our classroom. I realize all of these kids struggle reading and work really hard every minute I have them. It means so much to me to know they look forward to the time they have in our "jungle".

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Learning About Leadership Part 1

I work in a Leader in Me school. If you haven't heard of this it is an awesome program for developing leadership skills in kids and teachers. Check out this link Leader in Me. When our school first began the process I was so excited to see how it would impact the kids. I was especially excited because my son attends school there and I would love to see him develop some leadership skills (unfortunately he inherited my shyness).

 Isn't he adorable!
Not long after the excitement began I started to worry about how I would be able to support the program in a primary reading intervention classes. I spend much of my days teaching phonics and early literacy skills to struggling readers. An even bigger obstacle is I only have my students for 15-30 minutes a day. After a lot of worrying, I realized teaching kids about leadership would have to look different in my classroom. I would focus more on teaching kids what leadership is and on goal setting and how to reach their goals.

With Leadership Day approaching quickly I decided I better start my Leadership unit. We are one week in and so far it is going great. Here is what we are up to!

My first and second graders began by thinking about leaders. They each created a web of leaders they have learned about and leaders in their lives.

Our next step was to begin brainstorming qualities of leaders. It took them a while to start thinking bigger than what a leader does in school, but they eventually got there and had some great ideas.
Now we were ready to begin learning about leaders. We will be doing this through a series of books and close reads. The kids are all very excited to learn more about all of these real leaders. We will be reading about a variety of people including Civil Rights leaders, presidents, inventors and even sports leaders.

With the timing being so perfect we will be learning all about Martin Luther King Jr. next week. We will be using this product to begin our unit. Great Leaders of America
If you have any resources that might help out with this unit please feel free to post your links in the comments.