Friday, November 4, 2011

5 Days in 1 Blog Post...

Honestly, it's been that busy of a week... phew!

We started our WKCE state testing this week. Students took the reading and math sections of the test on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they will continue to take the other science, language arts, and social studies sections in the weeks to come

One of the skills we learned during Writer's Workshop this week was how to use a thesaurus. A thesaurus is a reference book students can use to find a synonym for a word they may be overusing in their writing and/or to find more powerful words. Students practiced looking up synonyms for words fourth-graders commonly overuse (like 'nice', 'good', 'said', and 'fun').

We combined our new skills with the fall season by making Turkey Thesauruses! Students put a common word on the belly of a turkey and used their thesauruses to find synonyms for that word to put on the feathers. I pulled up a picture from our blog from last year when my students made these same projects so my current students could see a final product and connect their learning to a 5th grader they know! This is way blogging can be used to enhance learning in the classroom. It can be used as a visual reference for what students are learning using students they already admire. I think it helps to make learning more meaningful and connect the idea that we are a community of learners!
You will see in the next two pictures that Tyson (in the first picture) and Elisa (in the second picture) are both looking at the picture on the blog to help guide the creation of their turkeys.

While I was gone, we had a great reading lesson going on in our room that was taught by Mrs. Pierce, my co-teacher during reading! She used the mentor text The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson to practice the strategy that good readers infer characters' feelings and actions through reading their dialogue and what other characters' say about them. Mrs. Pierce explained her inferred thinking using a few of the pages from the book. She set up part of the anchor chart ahead of time but it's the co-construction of the anchor chart (the messier handwriting) that truly helps students connect to their learning. One thing I learned early on in this literacy model is that it's OK to not have perfect handwriting when you're writing on an anchor chart in front of the kids - the fact that you're constructing their learning WITH them is what makes anchor charts so meaningful for our kids.
For guided practice, Mrs. Pierce photocopied another page from The Other Side and asked students to record what the text said and what they inferred about the characters' feelings from the dialogue or actions. You'll notice the chart students glued into their My Strategies tab of their Thoughtful Logs matches the language on the anchor chart. The example below shows evidence of one student's inferential thinking during guided practice.

This next example shows what another student inferred during guided practice. It also shows evidence of a one more example that he recorded during independent reading. Students are always encouraged to keep their Thoughtful Logs open during independent reading so they can continue to record examples of their strategy use.

On a totally different note, today was the end of our first quarter. Students who met their reading goal for this first quarter got to chew gum for the first two hours of the day (in which we were in our classroom and not in any other part of the building). It was a fun, simple reward that Mr. T approved!

And as if that isn't enough excitement, we also had Ana's dog, Angus, come visit us at the end of the day today. Ana was Person of the Week because her birthday was on Monday. Ana's family adopted Angus from the Humane Society recently. He was such a sweet dog!
Homework:
1. Reading - 15 mins., Turkey Log
2. Math - 10 mins. facts
3. Thursday envelope
4. Conference slip - Due back Wednesday!
Don't forget Fall Family Fun Night at Barrie on Tues., Nov. 7 from 5:30 - 7pm!

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