Sunday, August 28, 2011

The First Week

The weather the past few days has been beautiful here in Chicago. In fact, it is so breezy right now I just fell asleep on my back deck! While I am exhausted after the first week of school, I am also excited for week two.

On the first day of school we launched Read to Self and began practicing our stamina. The Hefty two and a half gallon bags are doing well (the zipper has broken on one, but I bought three bags so this is no problem!).

This week I have realized that my students really struggle to get started right away. Between getting their bags, finding a spot and conversations with classmates some where not even getting started before I called them back to the carpet. Now, before we leave for lunch and recess, we've been placing our reading bags around the classroom. This has helped us (for the most part) get started right away.

Half way through the week I realized that I was using the "stink eye" to help a few kids continue reading, even when they had stopped following the behaviors on our chart. After doing research on I knew I needed to stop my students as soon as they displayed behaviors that didn't match our expectations. Our stamina is only about a 1 minute and a half right now, as I have several students who are struggling to get started right away and read the whole time.

When we gather back on the carpet between practice sessions we have been discussing what behaviors we've been doing well and which behaviors we need to work on. I've given my student who struggled the most with read the whole time a small hourglass timer, which has really helped give him focus to read.

How do you help your students build their stamina? What strategies do you use for your students to get started right away? How do you decide if a student is readjusting or if they are no longer displaying the correct Read to Self behaviors?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gearing Up For The Year

I still haven't decided how my students will store their books in my classroom and my to-do list is getting longer and longer. On Thursday evening my mom arrives and she will stay through Tuesday, helping me set up my classroom!

As I begin planning our first week activities and lessons, this quote from the Daily 5 book is sticking with me:

"It is the explicitly teaching and practicing of behaviors that sets the Daily Five apart from the other management systems we have tried over the years." (pg. 6)

I think that the explicit teaching and practicing of behaviors is important throughout all aspects of classroom life. I have been seeing a trainer this summer in my effort to get in shape. Throughout our hour long training sessions my trainer models how the exercise should look and as I am doing the exercise she makes corrections to what I am doing. The first time we complete an activity we go slowly, not worrying about repetitions, but worrying about doing the exercise correctly. Even if we have done an exercise before, my trainer will often still model it for me, as that assists me in doing the exercise correctly.

This has been an important reminder to me in the importance of explicit teaching and practicing of behaviors.

What are some creative ways that you explicitly teach and practice behaviors at the beginning of the year? What procedures do you make sure to teach on the very first day?