Thursday, February 14, 2013

The View from DCPS

I spent the morning at a school in DCPS today! I just love being in a school! I love being around kids! I love seeing teachers do what they do and do it well!

So this morning I was part of a walk-through for the Literacy Team and Central Office at Thomas Elementary. I was snapping pictures like crazy, because I know teachers like you, who read this blog, will appreciate seeing some of the great things I saw!

Thomas Elementary had lots to offer my camera today! I wish taking pictures would have been my only purpose while I was there or there would be many more.

First up is a Pre-K classroom with a restaurants theme! I have seen LOTS of great pretend play scenes, but I have never seen a Baskin Robbins! I wanted to stop and play in this ice cream shop.

Look at the ICE CREAM SCOOPS??!! So cute! So clever!

Next up was a Kindergarten classroom. I loved this display of fingerplays and clapping chants they know! As a teacher, I was always forgetting my go-to songs etc. Now they are posted for all to see and for kids to reference.  I can only imagine the way this teacher must use these in Literacy Work Stations. I imagine kids also have copies of all of these chants/fingerplays and can read/sing/clap them during stations as well.  This could be a Fluency Work Station too! Oh the possibilities....

Can we say KEYBOARDING?! Not the kind I grew up with however! This was the keyboarding lab! I am so excited that elementary kids in DC get to learn how to play music at such an early age.

I continued to see cute everywhere I went. Seriously? Look at these classroom curtains made from paper! The entire school was such a welcoming learning environment.

I love seeing LITERACY and MATH meet! Here is an example of a Math Word Wall. I love the pictures with the definitions.

A Poet Tree! Seriously!

This was my last stop of the day. I just had to get a picture of this! First of note here is that the kids are reading at the Guided Reading table with ANIMAL NOSES ON! I love that this teacher is keeping some novelty and fun involved at this work table too! The other kids get all the fun "stuff" to work with in Stations, but this teacher is keeping it FUN at the Guided Reading table too!

Next of note, is how she reminded the kids (who were reading at a level C) to point under words.  She asked kids to fly their finger UP like an airplane and then down under the words.  Another teacher I saw said WIND it up and kids spun their finger like a helicopter roter blade... up and then down to the words. I have to admit- that is a lot more fun that what I used to do which was just tell them to point to the words.  BORING! Wind up... fly in... so much more fun than I ever was at the Guided Reading table.

Finally, can you see the SIGN at the table! This is her READING RADIO SHOW! Kids come to the table and read into those fancy plastic microphones from the dollar store- you can see one on the table. The idea is, they are broadcasting to listeners.  Motivation for kids to read for real, and to think about what their reading sounds like. So much fun! Very clever Mrs. Carroll.

I am already looking forward to my next school visit in DCPS and the next classrooms I will get to see. If you are a DCPS teacher reading this- leave a comment- invite me to see the good things you are doing at your campus and out "In the Trenches"with DCPS kids!  I can't wait to visit you too!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Currently- Better Late Than Never

Better late than never- that's an expression I use very infrequently because I'm rarely ever late! But, I kind of forgot to do this until I was looking at my friend's blogs.  Thanks Frizz in First for reminding me- even though you learned it from me last month! :) 

Thanks to Oh Boy Fourth Grade for posting this so I could LINK UP

Listening: I love it when my husband plays with our dogs. I have to admit- I don't do it enough. My husband knows how to do what really matters. Stop and be present in the moment. So as I type this blog post I am watching him enjoy our puppies- enjoy the moment. I do wish I played with them more. Oh wait- I had to just STOP typing to help clean up dog vomit! Guess one of them was not feeling well enough to be played with! Oh disgusting! 

Loving: I do love that it is almost Friday! I started the week with family and friends in Michigan and presenting at the SDE MI Common Core Conference! It was fun- but it was a LOT of work. Then I got home and my house is a wreck! I need the weekend to get ready for another week! Isn't that how it always goes? 

Thinking: See above! I've been gone. It's like my husband doesn't even SEE the DOG HAIR floating around the hardwood floors in BIG TUFTS! Maybe he just doesn't know where I keep the broom? Regardless- I am the only one who is bothered by a dirty house- and my house is DIR-TY! I used the broom and the vacuum tonight after work. And my dog getting sick got some bleach and other chemicals out.  But there is still so much more to do. Maybe I need a maid? That's what I am needing! 

Wanting: When do I not want ice cream? Mint Chocolate Chip is what I'm craving right now. Yeah... I want ice cream! 

Needing: Above it says nothing- because I really do feel so blessed. I think about it so often driving home from D.C. I'm still amazed that I live and work here.  But, the more I think about how dirty my house is (it's not that bad- but I wish it were cleaner) maybe I just need a maid! 

Pet Peeves: Emails that get no response-so annoying! That's all I want to say about that! 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Vocabulary Go Fish

I'm working on a presentation called Purposeful Planning with the Common Core right now.  One of the things we will be learning about in that session is Vocabulary and the call of the Common Core for explicit vocabulary instruction of Tier 2 words.  DCPS (DC Public Schools) work on this in every unit through a vocabulary lesson plan. Part of that lesson plan every day involves playing GAMES with the new vocabulary.  Marzano tells us the importance of this!

Vocabulary Go-Fish is one of the games that can be played. I hope you will find a way to use this file in your classroom and will start searching for Tier 2 Words in the texts you are reading with students. Tier 1 words are basic vocabulary (car, run, horse, orange). These are words kids already know.  Tier 3 words are specific to a content (isotope, Civil War, protractor) and are not used often outside of that content. Students will learn these, but they do not transfer well to other texts/domains. Focus rather on Tier 2 words. Tier 2 words are words that are used in complex text and may also be multiple meaning words. They also have a characteristic to "travel well" to other places- like other texts, and into student writing and conversation.

Be sure to visit my TpT Site to get your FREE download and start on your way to making Vocabulary Go-Fish with texts you read in your classroom.