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Happily Ever After?

 

Putting It All Together and Troubleshooting

And just as it started, it comes to an end. The D5 Book Study has wrapped up and I’ve learned so much! I’ve connected with some amazing blogger-teachers; learning from their experiences. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get “fired” up and get my “groove” going.  I’m a little nervous of the implementation of D5 and I wonder if I can get away with it next year…it’s out of the norm, especially with so much district mandated testing happening in our schools in South Florida. Between the base lines, the interims, and of course, my own assessments, when will I fit in the practice needed for the students to be successful at D5?

I admit, the stories that I read from inside the classrooms  of the book study participants sound so “dreamy.” Just like I envisioned my own class to have functioned when I started teaching four years ago. The ugly truth is that although I have seen some amazing teaching and visited several classrooms, I haven’t seen a D5 classroom in action yet. Of course there are D5 classrooms out there, I’ve just haven’t seen one yet. I  personally know some teachers that work for Charter Schools (Thanks Elizabeth!) that have implemented D5 and are being very successful at it. In fact, they (teachers) are highly encouraged by their administrators to run their literacy blocks D5 style.  Nevertheless, I haven’t heard of  or seen this happening in my own school community. Perhaps, this means that I’ve got to light the fire?

Now here are my thoughts on Chapter 7 and putting it all together:

This week’s  two hostesses were, Kim from Funky First Grade Fun and Corrina from Surfin’ through Second. I read Kim’s post first and decided to reflect on her perspective, but Corrina added some great insights too, so make sure to read both blogs!

Check In Time

I have a jingle in which I count backwards from five- that I use to get my student’s attention and it seems to work rather well.  However, I think I need a different one to use during the literacy block and Kim finally affirmed it. I’ve always wanted to invest in a rain stick and a yoga chime to use during transitions and this is the perfect excuse to so. In fact, I can justify purchasing both to use at different times and for different purposes. The sounds and rhythm they produce are calming and do not cause nerves to frazzle, yet allows everyone to become aware of the changes happening. I can’t wait to get mine!!!

Now, I think Checking In is a vital part of D5 for several reasons. For starters, there’s a bit of accountability behind it that reminds students that they even though they’re independent learners, they have responsibilities for which they are accountable. Kim shared these questions that she asks her students during Check In time:

What kind of story were you reading?
Were your partners good listeners?
Who is your audience for the writing you did today?
What stage of writing are you working on?
Did anyone enjoy a nonfiction book?

These are good questions and I’m sure that I will think of others as different situations arise in my own class.  All students need to have a sense of ownership for their work and the activities need to provide the urgency for them to comply with the expected outcome. I’m sure that without any checking in procedures many students might feel less compelled to be actively engaged in their centers. I also know from my classroom experience, that there may be some students that don’t use the group or shared work time to complete their assignments to benefit from the collaboration with their peers. These are the ones that may require some extra practice and a closer eye. Below I have some thoughts on how to accomplish that.

Schedule

This past year my literacy schedule was interrupted greatly. In fact, I’d say that it was BROKEN, and not interrupted! Our day began with the Pledge of Allegiance and school wide announcements, followed by a computer based intervention program required for my students. “What’s the problem?”,  You might say…announcements usually dragged on well into my block shortening it by nearly 15 minutes every day. This is crucial time that I could rarely make up later in the day. I’m thinking that if something similar happens again, I will have to have the students get their materials ready and set up (a few at a time) during this time so that once the announcements are done, they will already be in place to start at their centers.

Assessment

Due to another intervention program that I was required to teach, I was able to log reading errors and fluency gains on a weekly basis. The problem was that the program required me to work with small groups and I didn’t have an aide to help me squeeze everything in on a daily basis, so it was a challenge for me to include it in my already chopped up literacy block. Trying to do it in the afternoon only made it more difficult because I struggled with student services pulling out my kids during other instructional times that were just as important as reading and writing. Go figure…if I allowed for them to be pulled out during reading then they missed out on that, if I allowed for them to be pulled out at any other time, then they would miss Math or Science, or even Social Studies. I had very little choice in this and felt that I had to “go with the flow.” ARGH!!!! I’m not sure how I can overcome this in the future, but I know the importance in keeping data in order to drive my instruction, so maybe including the intervention data log as part of my on-going assessments within D5 may actually help me improve in this area.

Making the Daily 5 Work When You Get New Students

One of the greatest privileges in working in such a big district is having such a diverse population represented in our student body, and it is also one of the greatest challenges. The students are very transient as the regional school boundaries get shifted rather often and new families come from and go to other districts. This year I had a student enrolled the week before our FCAT (State Test) testing was scheduled to begin! Although I provided one-on-one instruction in learning our class procedures and sent home my “Welcome to Our Class” packet, and provided peer helpers, the student proved to be a handful and required much more proximity control than I expected. All this at a critical point before testing. NOT FUN AT ALL! I will have to include what the “Sister’s” recommend on pages 102 and 103 to build muscle memory.

What Do I Do When a Student is Not Able to Be Independent with the Daily 5?

Well I can’t answer this question as I haven’t implemented D5 yet, but I can anticipate it happening and based on the suggestions written by the “Sisters” and the other bloggers, I will have to set up individual conferencing to discuss and review the appropriate behaviors and guide them with close proximity. If necessary, I will need to arrange for the student to practice during recess, not as a punishment, but to deter them from getting off task during the literacy block. From personal experience, this usually needs to be done a couple of times before the students self-correct the undesired behaviors.

From Corrina…

I wanted to highlight a few freebies posted on Surfin’ Through Second Grade because they are really cute resources to have and share. Corrina shared a center scheduling system that she created for her class. She posted a picture of one she found on (where else?) Pinterest via responsetointstruction.net This is one of severals you will find in her blog, so make sure to visit!

If you’re not using Google Docs yet, then make sure you register to be part of a wealth of resources available for educators. Another cool medium she uses is Pinterest and well, if you have been reading my Facebook Page then you know how much I love my PINTEREST!

Well that’s a wrap! Feel free to post comments both constructive and motivational!!! Happy blogging and happy teaching to all!

Mrs. P

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