Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Using Google Forms

To record conferences and the work done in them, I wanted to try out google forms.

Here was my first form:
From here, I realized several things:

  • No need to have a date, google will time stamp it when it goes into the spreadsheet
  • The more drop downs, the faster you can fill out your form
  • It is necessary to have more than one strength/needs section so that you can more easily sort needs for groups
  • If you are going to record Text Level or any other level, make sure to include an N/A choice in your drop down list or else you'll inadvertently end up with incorrect information
  • Adding an "additional notes" column helps with anything that might not quite fit in

Having the form bookmarked has made it super easy to find at the start of conferences. Once you submit the form, it gives you an option to reload the form, which makes it easy to complete the form again.

I might make separate forms for Read to Self, Word Work and Work on Writing. This would allow the data to be much more specific and searchable.

Right now I have the spreadsheet with all of my information bookmarked, as well. When I am looking at who to conference with I am able to see who I conferenced with. As I conference with more students, the data on the sheet will be come too much and it will be hard to see who I have conferenced with. I wonder if creating a google doc with a table (listing each student name down the left hand column) and then multiple columns where either Xs or dates could be entered.

This digital pensieve is highly internet dependent, which I don't love, but I will see how it continues!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Word Work

Word Work was the turning point for my class. Once they had the choice between Read to Self, Work on Writing and Word Work the whole class really started to work hard to keep going!

Each week my students have one of three lists (based on their Words Their Way level). On Mondays we glue their list into their Daily 5 journal (we use these for writing).

Student list in journal, with date.
The first day I introduced Word Work I wanted an option where every student could practice at the same time. I recently received a class set of whiteboards through Donors Choose, so I thought this would be a great option. I showed the students how they could write the words regularly, with dots, squiggly letters or bubble letters.

Student using whiteboard for Word Work!

Writing fun letters makes this a favorite choice!
We practiced with the whiteboards for two days and on the third day I started pulling small groups to teach them the other materials that would be available for Word Work Choices. I have bendaroos and reading rods available for students to also use.

Zainab making words with bendaroos!

In small groups we reviewed how to handle the materials, carry the boxes they are stored in, and how to put the materials away. Students then practiced the activity.

Word Work boxes

Students are doing a great job with Word Work and it is certainly their favorite choice so far!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Building Our Stamina Through Choice

When we were building our stamina with Read to Self I was very worried about my class because it seemed our stamina would not go up! I added Work on Writing before we were probably truly ready for it (if you use the "8 minutes of stamina in one activity means you're ready for a new activity" rule).

What I found was that my students were highly motivated by the choice and that our stamina has continued to grow with the more choices they have. They now can pick between Read to Self, Work on Writing and Word Work (right now, they do all 3 everyday). In word work they can write their words on a whiteboard, make their words with bendaroos or make their words with reading rod letters.

When I first introduced Word Work our stamina was around 5 to 8 minutes depending on the day. Today we did 3 rounds of at least 12 minutes each!!!

One thing I've done with my barometer children is to give them a timer, but also to give them a sheet that has a simple 2 row table with the numbers 1-16 at the top. They flip the sand timer over, read/write/work the whole time the timer goes, and when the sand runs out they put a check under 1. They repeat the process the whole time that we are working. This really helped a couple of friends who were struggling with their stamina.

A student using timer and personal stamina graph!

Here are the personal stamina graphs!