Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CLM Conference

Candice and I are very excited to present our journey with the Comprehensive Literacy Model at a conference in Naperville, IL today! Here is the powerpoint we will be using today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The End of One Dream, the Start of Another...

 "Trust in what you love, continue to do it, 
and it will take you where you need to go."
- Natalie Goldberg 
My dream job was always to become a fourth-grade teacher and for the past nine years I have been one. The amazing thing about teaching is that you end up learning just as much about yourself and life as the students you teach. If we are to expect of ourselves what we expect of our students, at some point, we should reflect on all we've learned and continue to grow. To say I'm incredibly grateful to the students, families, and staff at Barrie is an understatement. I'm not sure words can frame how I feel about a place that has felt more like home than any of the 10 places I have lived in since moving out of my parents' house after high school graduation.

If you've spent any time with me in person or on this blog, you are aware that my experience getting coached in the Comprehensive Literacy Model has completely transformed me. I went from dreading teaching reading and writing to becoming obsessed with it. A sixth- and seventh-grade language arts position opened up at our middle school shortly after the school year ended and it caught my eye instantly. While I'm so, so sad to leave Barrie, I know that this new position will offer me opportunities to practice what I know at a different level and learn even more along the way.

At this point, I have no plans to 'shut down' LifeIn4B, as I hope the ideas I used in my fourth-grade classrroom will continue to inspire you for as long as you need inspiration. I'm hoping to start up a new blog (or continue writing on this one) for what teaching and learning looks like in our middle-school language arts classroom. Lastly, thank you for your support in my journey. LifeIn4B has helped me connect with so many of you out there who have the same passion, mission, and vision for our youngsters as I do! Keep on keepin' on!

"Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip."
- Robert J. Hastings

Monday, June 4, 2012

Synthesizing, Counting Change, & Dewey!

That's right, folks. It's the last week of school and you better believe we're still learning! I know, I'm an eeeevil teacher. :)

Today we talked about synthesizing - when our thinking changes as we read. I read The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss last week to introduce the idea of nesting dolls and how the littlest doll fits inside of the next doll which fits inside of the next, and so on. The nesting dolls become a concrete example for explaining synthesizing. We start with a small idea of what a topic or book is about, and as we read more, we add more and more layers to our original thinking to deepen our understanding of a text.

During the mini-lesson, I actually modeled my own process of synthesizing using a non-fiction text on competitive horse shows. I started by writing on my first post-it what I knew about competitive horse racing. As I read a few more pages, my understanding deepened which caused my thinking to change so I recorded my new thinking on the next post-it, and so on. As I wrote each post it, I used my real nesting dolls to show how each layer built upon the one before it. Concrete examples are so helpful for kids learning complex processes like this! (The idea came from Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor!)
Through my project that I proposed and got funded in March of 2012, I was able to purchase several high-interest non-fiction readers of varied reading levels that I decided to have my students use to practice synthesizing. I gave each student a book at his/her reading level and also had them glue a similar nesting doll anchor chart into their Thoughtful Logs.
As students read through their readers, they stopped after every of couple pages to put together their new learning with what they already knew to form new thoughts about their topic.

Thank you to all my donors! Even when I told the kids they could put their books away, I found that most of the class didn't want to! They just wanted to finish 'one more page'! Not too shabby for the last week of school! Go, 4B!

Last week we also started working more with money and using the 'counting up' method for making change. I put students in pairs to work together to find the right amount of change without needing to use subtraction at all!

Lastly, Casey (my boyfriend) and his dog came down to visit this weekend. Casey and I did a workout (Insanity!) video in my classroom since my home DVD player wasn't hooked up. Dewey (Casey's adorable Vizsla (pronounced 'veesh-la')). came with us into my classroom and found a nice home ... IN THE BATHTUB! He didn't want to go outside, and his ears perked up when I asked Dewey if he wanted to read a book! Love that dog! :) I tell stories about Dewey often to my fourth graders so I showed them this video this morning of Dewey in the tub, and they loved it so much they asked me to put it on the blog. Here it is!
A few more great shots that we got...

Too cute!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our American Heritage, Ethnic Smorgasbord & Culture Technology Projects

Today was an exciting day in fourth grade! We celebrated our country and our individual cultures in a variety of ways. The day started with Mrs. Rawinski's class presenting their play entitled, 'Our American Heritage'. In 15 minutes, we learned about the history of the United States. This is a picture from the 'Head'n West' scene!
 The Civil War...
 America today! "This land is your land, this land is my land..."

At lunch, we had an ethnic smorgasbord! Over the past month, students did research on a country of their ancestry, and last night, families prepared a dish from a country of their ancestry and joined us for lunch!
 Our halls were lined with all the flags of the countries where our ancestors are from!
 We had five tables of cultural foods for everyone to try!

Students also escorted their guests to our computer lab where they showed the Power Point they made about the geography, traditions, famous people, and cultural foods of their country and a Photo Story they made about the history, traditions, and modern day life of the Ho Chunk nation.

A special thanks to all parents who helped prepare food for this special day. I hope you engaged in great conversations with your children about their heritage! E Pluribus Unum is a Latin phrase meaning "Out of many, one!" We are a variety of cultures, but we are ALL American!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Generations Apart" Oral History Project & Orchestra

The Hoard Museum in Fort Atkinson sponsors a wonderful oral history project for all fourth graders in our city entitled "Generations Apart". The project connects students today with older family members/friends and their history. Students interview a grandparent or special person from an older generation and draft a biography about the person they interviewed.
Four students from each classroom are selected to be honored at a celebration at the Hoard Museum. Here are the four writing scholars from our room standing next to their winning essays.

All winning essays were hung around the room for public viewing.

Each student was called to the front of the room to get recognized with the special person who was interviewed or a parent (if the person interviewed could not attend). Mrs. Oberle (the director of the Hoard Museum) read a short section of each student's essay to highlight a funny or interesting memory of the interviewee.

Tyler interviewed his Great Grandpa Louie but had another special person, his grandma, stand up with him!

Teagan wrote about her Grandma Karen who was able to attend the celebration with Teagan!

Adam's Grandma Faith was able to attend the celebration, too.

Eliot's Great Aunt Fanny wasn't able to attend the celebration so Eliot's mom stood up with her. What a proud moment!

All fourth-grade student essays are stored in a binder at the museum. We encourage all families to visit the museum to view all the oral history essays and check out the other historical exhibits at the Hoard Museum.

Today we had the 5th Grade/Middle School orchestra come to do a demonstration of all the instruments our students will get a chance to play next year. Students listened to the different instruments, got a chance to try each one, and got an information sheet from Mrs. Gary if they were interested in possibly playing one.