Sunday, September 1, 2013

Welcome Back

As the sun sets on another summer, teachers are working hard to be ready for their students.

Welcome back to a new school year.  Here in Michigan, public schools cannot begin their year until after Labor Day.  But many of you in other states or in Michigan private schools have been in session for a week or more.

I have heard from many teachers over the summer and there has been lots of interest in Daily 5 for use in middle school. School might not be in session but teachers are working.

I am working on the best way to communicate with all those who have shown interest in Daily 5 for middle school.  I should have something to send you very soon.

If you have ideas about the best way to design and send out a newsletter, please share it with me.  I would appreciate any suggestions about technology, platforms and especially on the use of Google+.

The picture above is taken on Birch Point near Brimley in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  I spend most of my summer in the UP.  I'll be moving back down state now to begin my school year.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Look at My Classroom

Now that school is out for the summer, I have some think to think back over the past year and evaluate my program.  I have begun to make plans for next fall.  So I thought I would give you a look at my students and tell you about what I did this year.

Reading Essentials Class is a reading intervention in our middle schools, grades 6-8.  The three classes each meet daily for 40 minutes.  Each session lasts for six weeks.  Because I am a part-time employee, we offer three sessions each school year.  The class has been set up this way because of funding.  There are enough students in our school of 350 students who would benefit from reading interventions to offer more sessions, but the school has not allocated money for that many days of staffing.

Each student usually attends one of the three sessions, although occasionally a student may repeat for a second time.  I had one student this year who attended all three sessions.  He has a several reading disability and his parents requested that he be included in each session.

Our classroom is less than ideal.  I have to use the computer lab because it is the only classroom available during my class time.  So my vision of a room with reading spots that allow students to get comfortable with pillows, lamps and overstuffed chairs had to be replaced with reality.

But my students are allowed to find a spot that is comfortable for them.  Here are some pictures of a typical class day.

Sue, shown below, has taken Reading Essentials as a 7th grader and again as an 8th grader.  When she began, she did not enjoy reading but has developed into quite a reader.  Her choice of Charlotte's Web seemed too easy for her.  However, she really enjoyed it and seemed happy every day to get in her spot.  

Sue is an 8th grader

 Each student meets for a conference 1 -2 times a week.  Here Jay meets with Chris who is my helper.  Actually she is very organized and I depend on her so much.  We don't use the computers in our conferences but simply push them back to give us desk space.  We use the CAFE menu to pick strategies to work on with the students.

Ann had some difficulties in school and liked to be out of sight when she was reading.  Actually she is sitting very close to Chris but the open door seems to give her a feeling of isolation.

Some students like to sit in the chairs.  You can see Lee's tub sitting on the table.  I follow many of the organize methods from the Daily Five book.

This student doesn't look comfortable to me but it is her choice.

Students are allowed to choose their own reading material.  I have a small classroom library.  They also use our school library.  Each Language Arts teachers has many books for the students too.  I have read The Book Whisper by Donalyn Miller and I've used this philosophy in my class too.  If you look closely, you can see this student is reading about basketball which was his passion.

Find a spot and get reading quickly is our classroom rule.  I use an I-Chart as detailed in Daily Five.

One of the most coveted spot is shown here below the teacher table.  We require the students to spread out throughout the room to minimize distractions.

(The names I used are not actual student names.)

I've heard from many of you this year.  I had mentioned publishing a newsletter for the use of Daily Five and CAFE Menu with middle school students.  However, I am beginning to think that a blog is a much better way to communicate with teachers.  It will allow interaction between us through comments.  I would love to hear about your experience with Daily Five.  I will share what I hear in furture posts.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Year-End Review

Here are some of my favorite photos from Reading Essentials Class 2013.  This is a reading intervention for middle school students.  These students are reading or conferencing about their reading.

The students are allowed to pick a spot for reading. The guidelines are to find a comfy spot where they are not distracted by computers or other students.  My classroom is less than ideal.  It is the computer lab so comfy spots are hard to come by.  My students do not use the computers-strictly reading during Read to Self or conferencing with an adult.

 The students have favorite  spots.  A couple of them always pick the area under the computer teacher table.

The above photo shows a student conferencing.  The key to Reading Essentials Class is found in these pictures.  Read, read, read, and then talk about what you are reading with an adult.  The students read out loud for the adult.  Then together they pick a goal off the CAFE menu to work on until they conference again.  Each conference always begins with assessing how much progress they have made to their goal.

I am currently reviewing the data from the students served this year.  This week of May is when all students are given a test of fluency and comprehension.  This is our universal screener.  I also use it to  identify students in need of interventions and then to  track their progress.  I'll post next week on this year's results.

I use the data to identify students , and I also use teacher recommendations and parent requests.  No data seems perfect for identifying reading difficulties.  It always has to be used with person-to-person observations.  Classroom teachers are so important to my program because they almost always have such a good idea as to why a student is struggling.