Monday, December 19, 2011

How Go-eth Your Day, Miss Bongers?

Today we had a guest teacher, our principal Mr. Torrega! This is Mr. T's first year as a principal in an elementary school setting (he was the former assistant principal at our high school last year). At the beginning of the year he said to me, "Miss Bongers, after I get the first few months under my belt here at Barrie, do you think I could come in and teach a mini-lesson during reading? I just want to try it." I looked left, I looked right, I could hardly believe my ears. I chuckled and replied, "Absolutely!"

As our district asks us teachers to take on more and more in terms our literacy instruction, I find it so admirable that our principal wanted to 'walk in our shoes'. He and I prepped after school on Friday to help him establish his teaching point in kid-friendly language, design a template for his anchor chart, and find mentor texts and guided practice texts. I sent him home with a pad of anchor chart paper, a few markers, and our reading mini-lesson protocol, and let him take it from there!

It took us nearly 45 minutes to get all his materials organized, and then I said to him with a smile, "And Brent? That's just the mini-lesson for reading. Then there's 3 guided reading groups to plan for (minimum), in addition to teaching math, social studies, handwriting, guidance, writing, and spelling. Oh, and then return 3 parent emails, cut the birthday treats, correct the math tests and record them in your gradebook, and somewhere in there go to the bathroom and eat lunch. And then repeat for the 179 more days in a school year?! :)" Of course, I said it in a kind, humorous way, but I DO think the picture was clearer for him as to how much we do in a single day. If anything, I'm thankful to know our principal will have this mini-lesson experience in the back of his mind as he moves our professional learning community forward in a way that honors all of us!

Mr. T's lesson today was on dialect. He discussed that we can infer a lot about a character based on the way s/he speaks. Dialect is what we notice when individuals speak differently as a result of where they live (region), their social class, or how much education they've received.
Mr. T recorded his inferred thoughts from a text selection he had me read earlier in the day. One of his examples came from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in which the characters speak very properly with words like thou, shall, and naught. He said to our kids, you don't hear me come into your room in the morning and say, "How go-eth your day, Miss Bongers?" The kids all laughed, and he had them hooked! He discussed that when you hear individuals speak in a different way than you do, you are noticing their dialect.
Then he handed out a page from a different mentor text so the kids could practice the strategy themselves. Thes two students below discussed a cowboy's line: "Git them dogies along there, Bubba," ordered Dwayne. They discussed that the author didn't just accidentally spell 'get' wrong, she meant to do it that way to help us learn more about the character - it's part of the cowboy's dialect! They inferred that the character lives in the south, and that 'dogies' are really cattle.

Today we also started our holiday craft for our families. Parents if you're reading this blog posting, pretend to be totally surprised when you get your fabric wreath! ;) We listened to the Polar Express sound track and definitely enjoyed a little bit of the Christmas spirit. To be continued tomorrow...

You may have noticed Tristin's red hair in the last picture. No, he doesn't normally have his hair like that. In fact, most people at school today had some pretty crazy hair because it was Crazy Hair Day! Here are the participants in our class:
Tomorrow is Pajama/Comfy Clothes Day!


  1. That's really awesome that your principal wanted to teach a lesson. And what a great lesson! Sounds like ya'll are having a fun week :)

  2. I just recently came across your blog today and I am in love with it. I sent you an email earlier today too! I am a first year 6th grade teacher and am really wanting to have a true reading and writing workshop in my class during the spring semester. However, the other 3 ELA teachers are so against it even though I know it is what is best for my kids. I pretty much stalked your blog today while my kids were taking their semester exams and found so many wonderful ideas that I cannot wait to adapt for my class.

    How neat that your principal wanted to come in and teach a mini-lesson. Our principal has a math background so she loves to teach in the math classes. I wonder if I could talk her into coming and trying a reading mini-lesson?

    Thanks for sharing!

    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

  3. Such cute pictures! Seems like you & the kids are having a blast!

    Happy Holidays!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen ❤
    A Teacher's Treasure

  4. As usual, another terrific post!
    : )
    BTW, what text did you use for the cowboy dialect? Did you come across any other texts in which the dialect is really clear--and allowed insight into character?
    Thanks for always giving me strategies and ideas to think about.
    And, WOW, how great that your principal stepped up and taught a lesson. That's wonderful!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  5. Hey Kim!

    The book with the 'southern dialect' is Bubba the Cowboy Prince. Our principal also used a passage from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (which eluded to royalty). Any historical fiction books that depict slaves vs. slave owners are also good ones to use!

  6. Ms B!

    That was SO nice of you to get back to me with text suggestions--on your vacation, even. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    Your school sounds so fun and spirit-filled. Hooray for 100% blue attire! At my school, sixth graders are assigned black... so if you are a sixth grader wearing "school clothes," you're ready for Class Color Day!

    Enjoy the rest of your VACATION.
    Great motivation, tips and strategies as usual... I just love to visit this blog!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade