Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Best School Year

As always, I am both nervous and excited...

First of all, I want to share the book This School Year will be the Best! by Kay Winters.  In this story, the children of the class share their wishes or hopes for the new year ( a great first day of school read aloud).  I want each child to share their hopes/dreams for this year and then record them and post them for all who visit to know our thinking.  In the past, this book actually inspired a former principal to kiss a pig if students met their reading goals-they did and she actually kissed a real live pig!

Next up, I want to share two books about building friendship and community-Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton.   I am happy to know and share these books because I think they both have main characters children relate to in their lives.  Also, I hope to purchase buckets and put each child's name on a bucket along with bucket filling slips which will allow them to write positive messages to each other and place in their buckets.  I want to read aloud the story of Wonder by RJ Palacio, but I am not sure it's appropriate for first graders.  Not sure... but I will be sharing the "choose kind" cards I am making as inspired by the story.

And then, my mantra for the year, Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin, "It's all good!"  Not only does Pete share about the color of his shoes, he shares about types of shoes in Rocking in My School Shoes and also Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  Pete is such a calm cat-nothing rattles him!  I need to be like Pete and not let things worry me so much-and remember like my best friend Marianne says, "It's all good!".

Next on the agenda, I am going to share the Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk.  The reason this story matters so much to me and I hope to the children is because this summer, I have focused on becoming better at writing.  I want the children to know from the start that they are all authors!  I want them to know that they are writers who need to spend time developing their thinking and writing every day.   This is one area that I am looking forward to improving in for the coming year.

In looking to be inspired, I look to the work of Peter Reynolds.  The two stories that I love from his work are The Dot and Ish.  I hope to get frames either through donations or digging into by own pocket and framing a special piece of work for each child to hang in the classroom.  I don't have any of my own artwork to hang in the room, but I am inspired by my son's artwork which I plan to hang near my desk.  I don't plan too much decoration to start because I want the room to be a work in progress decorated by the work and creation of the children as we move through the year.

Last of all, I want to use The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn to inspire and reassure parents and children that things will be ok, that their hands hold the kiss of love anytime the world seems a little bit scary.

So, in a nut shell, this is how I plan to start the school year!  Sometimes, in life, we aren't sure how we can offer support, or find support and so I hope to do both this year, as inspired by the squirrels and the people in the video below:

What "hot reads" will you use to start-off your year? Please let us know in the comments below!

Happy start of the school year,

Me By the Numbers, an Ice Breaker

Back to school, back to school, we are going back to school!

I am so excited for the first day of the school year.  I can say that knowing I've already been through 2 weeks of Instructional Coach Bootcamp!  Woohoo!  This year, I am coaching in a different building!  I am looking forward to working with the teachers and my new principal.  Over the summer I was perusing Pinterest and saw a great pin for an ice breaker activity called, "Me by the Numbers".  You can check out that pin here along with the orignal post at the Math Coach's Corner here.

I decided to take it one step further and go digital with my copy and share with my staff when we do our ice breaker.  Here is my google slides presentation.  Here is what the screenshot will look like:

I used Google Drawing to create the shapes for the background.  I then added textboxes, pictures and clipart to add the finishing touches.  I enjoyed creating this digitally even though I was hedging on whether or not to use the brand-new batch of "Mr. Sketch" smelly markers.  Love these but went digital.

I think people will enjoy learning and getting to know each other through this fun sharing activity.  I also think teachers could use it with their students as well.  Hello Chromebooks!  Since we are a Google Apps district, the kids all have access to Google Drawing and the teacher could share the template with the students and have them create their own too.  Yay for digital!

I am looking forward to having a fun time with this ice breaker.  Cheers to a wonderful start of the school year for you if you're just beginning or even if you've already started!

If you decide to use this with teachers or students, please comment below and tell us how it went!

Coach Menu

Here's the Literacy Coach Menu I developed with other ICs to share with teachers about the scope of work as a coach.  Hope this is helpful.  We created it in publisher and then folded it like a brochure.

Welcome Presentation

Here is a welcome presentation I've used in the past as an Instructional Coach.  Just wanted to share with you if you're an IC.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hijacking Guided Reading Groups

I feel like the luckiest Instructional Coach ever this past week.  On Tuesday, one of the teachers I work with let me hijack her guided reading groups.  We started with the Reader's Workshop mini-lesson-which was all about finding the main idea and key details of our close read.  By the end of the lesson, it seemed like the students got the idea of how to ask questions as they read to help them think about the main idea and details.

During small group meeting time, the students I met with were reading at various levels.  They were reading at levels B, C and D (Fountas and Pinnell Levels).  As we started the lessons, I reminded them that our purpose for reading was to figure out what the main thing or main idea that the author was trying to tell us.  The B group was reading to find out information about the flag.  The C group was reading to find out about rules families have and the D group was reading to find out about jobs in a community.

Throughout the lesson, we talked about the main idea and key details of the stories.  We also discussed them after reading.  There were key words that we focused on as well.  Some of the keys to success of the lesson included:

    •  planning
    • connecting back to the mini-lesson
    • timing

I think one of our challenges is making sure students who aren't in the small group lessons are staying on task independently at their learning centers.  The teacher took the time to establish routines and procedures at the beginning of the year which is a big pay-off once groups start.  A few points to note are that she has

    • center rotation signs posted
    • signals for transition when rotation changes
    • clear expectations for being interrupted
On a fun note, she decided to adopt the electric lei-when she is wearing it, no one is to interrupt her.  It's beautiful, bright and pink!  A great visual for her students when she is in small group instruction.  Way to go lady!

I am grateful that she allowed me to work with her students and try things out with them.  It's exciting new territory for our teachers and students as we begin the learning journey together with our new curriculum.

It all reminds me of this statement of change I found on twitter from Life Advice...