Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring Fever (SOLS)

At this time of the year my first graders have Spring Fever.  The weather is warmer, and the sun shines brightly.   Images of Summer fun have already started to take hold.  I'm usually ready for a break by this time of the year, but also overwhelmed with things left to do.  I'm busy completing assessments and finishing lingering units of study.  Planning end of year parties, creating volunteer gifts, and preparing student mementos are also on the agenda.

Each year, I promise myself the time to Stop and Savor the memories.  Savor the days of listening to long stories and funny episodes.  Savor the proud displays of new shoes, outfits, and haircuts.  Savor important events like loosing a tooth.  Savor the many, many personal connections to the stories we've read and shared.

What I most want to savor are the achievements; the reading growth, the writing progress, and the increased confidence in math skills.  Mostly, I want to savor the memories...of a wonderful, curious, enthusiastic, and spirited group of kids...a classroom family that I will miss saying, "Good Morning" to each day.

Poetry: A Shared Writing Experience

My first graders have been busy reading, listening, noticing, and creating poetry.  I'm already considering different ways to tweak and improve this unit.  In my district we use Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Primary Writing.  I also use other resources, such as Kid's Poems by Reggie Routman.

Some of the key understandings that I want students to take away from this unit are: 
  • Write about things you REALLY care about
  • Consider word choice
  • Use only the words you need for your message
  • Poems can be short
  • Poems utilize line breaks, white space, and repetition
  • Endings are important-Poems need a sense of closure
Some important considerations for me are:
  • Start with lots of examples-exposure to poetry is important
  • Choice is important-allow students to choose what they'll write about and which poem they'll publish 
  • Give students the opportunity to share their work daily

As we finish up our poetry unit, my students are been busy polishing their own poems.  A few days ago we created a class poem about pizza.  This poem was inspired by Kid's Poems by Reggie Routman.  We brainstormed words first, like hot, red peppers, peperoni, cheese crust, Hawaiian, black olives, mushrooms, and pineapple pizza. This is what our working copy looked like.

This is our final product:

I Love Pizza
by Mrs. Ruckes' Class

Pizza, pizza
People like
different kinds of pizza.
Pizza, pizza
People like
different kinds of toppings.
Pepperoni and
Pizza, pizza
Everyone loves pizza!

The kids were so excited about our class poem, and couldn't wait to publish it.  So we did.  Now, who should illustrate it?  Perhaps I will... I think they'll like that.

Next Steps?  Creating our Poetry Anthology.  These will make great gifts for the end of the school year.

When writing a class poem, do you guide your students to write the poem a certain way?
Do you just let the magic happen?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maybe It Was The Shoes (SOLS)

What a day.  This morning as I was dressing for work, I had the sense that my day was going to be a rocky one.  My first indication was the brown spot that appeared on my white pants as I was ironing them.  I don't know about you, but I never iron anything ahead of time.  I wait until I'm ready to wear it, and then I iron it.  Fortunately, I managed to get the spot off my pants, and I was still able to wear them.  As I began to slip on my jacket, I noticed a button was missing.  So, I spent a few extra minutes sewing on another button.  As I drove to work I started thinking that my day would not go smoothly since my morning had not.

However, I decided I would not allow my day to go awry.  I made the decision to take control of my day.  I began to confess to myself that today was going to be a Great day.

This is what may day was like:
Drove to work
Prepared some things for my student teacher (who officially starts in the fall)
Spent the morning teaching
Went out and picked up lunch
Spent the afternoon teaching
Tidied up the classroom and prepared a few things for the next day
Drove across town to a workshop
Spent and hour at the workshop
Drove home
Picked up my daughter
Went to the craft store
Went shopping at a department store (and bought three pairs of shoes)
Stopped by the coffee shop
Went to the drug store
Was chauffeured home by my daughter (she needs to get those hours in)
Settled in for bit but then remembered...IT'S TUESDAY!  I HAVE TO WRITE MY SLICE.

So there you have it.  What a day!  A Great Day!

Or...Maybe it was the shoes.