Thursday, November 14, 2013

Travel Brochure Menu

I know I am early... but this is a bit of a CELEBRATION! I currently have had 24,976 (make that 24,979 just while I was typing) visits to by blog! This is to CELEBRATE 25,000 (which I might get by the end of the week).

Now... 1,000 are probably from me. And 1,000 of them are probably from my best friend. But oh well- I am still going to CELEBRATE 25,000 visits with a FREEBIE! 

Think of a menu... lots of choices... lots of options... lots to eat. Using a menu in Literacy Centers (Work Stations if you are reading this in DC) is the same thing.  Lots of choices, options, and lots of things to do, which means YOU as the teacher can keep that activity in the Literacy Center (WORK STATION if you are reading this in DC) for a very, very, very long time! That to me says- go to HAPPY HOUR 'cause your work in centers (Stations-DC) is D-O-N-E, done!

Margarita anyone?

Menus can be used at any Center (DC- what are they called?) Think Reading Menu, Writing Menu, Word Work Menu etc. and click here if you don't already have mine.

Now I want to introduce you to another kind of menu that uses an authentic informational text- travel brochures! Who doesn't want to grab them when you see them in a hotel lobby or at a gas station? Well now you have reason to! Gather up all the brochures you can.  All you need is a stack of brochures and this menu- and voila!

Margarita anyone?  Cheers!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

So I've got a few favorite things these days... and I thought I'd take a few minutes and share them with you! Maybe they will become your favorite things too!

Number 1:

PowToon! Have you seen this? It's so fun and so easy! And of course FREE- or I wouldn't like it. You can make fast and easy presentations/videos to jazz up your life! I am already thinking of some fun ones I want to make- they will be about Guided Reading, so that might not be as fun as I'd like to think-but still! Check it out! 

Number 2:

An APL (Assistant Principal of Literacy) in DCPS told me about this book this morning- and by 11:00 a.m. I was the proud owner. This book takes what we know about Balanced Literacy and good teaching and couples it with a fresh look at how we approach those things now in the light of the Common Core State Standards. Don't tell anyone, but it's gonna rock my world! I have already devoured the chapters on Guided Reading and my highlighter was put to work. Several of the quotes are already in my PowerPoint for use in January's PD Day in the District of Columbia. Woo hoo! Melissa is learning new things and gaining new ways to think about things I knew! 

Number 3:

Another book, yes, but a different topic! This book is a new take on Writer's Workshop. Well, not really a new take, but some reflection by teachers who have been doing it as long as I have! Literally- she is only a year older than me. So it is neat to see her take on things, her learning curve, her triumphs and trials.  My highlighter is at work again inside this text too! That feels good. It's been a while since I've had time to read professionally. It's a MUST if you ask me. So I'm going to see if I can finish these two by the end of November- worse case- by the New Year?! Wish me luck. 

Do you have a favorite thing? Don't keep it a secret! Tell me in a comment!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Model Classroom... A Work In Progress

So some of you are wondering about the model classroom I mentioned I was setting up in a school in DC... the classroom is in Browne Education Campus.  Browne is a big school but they have an entire third floor that is unused space, so we asked for it! And our wish was granted.

We headed over there the week before school started to scope things out...  and this is what we found! They had an empty floor all right, but it was more or less storage space! We had a lot of cleaning to do! Dead bugs, old books, even a Christmas tree! I swear it smelled like a dead animal! It took DAYS just to get stuff either thrown out or put into the storage closets at the back of the room. 

I really never thought I'd see the day when it looked and felt like a classroom, but we did it.  I still wouldn't call it MODEL, but at least we have a space that my adult students can come into and learn. I have a classroom.  It even has a bulletin board! 

That's a picture of Sydney. She is my coordinator for Small Group Literacy schools in the District and she worked SO HARD in this classroom with me.  This work is NOT for the faint of heart!

We are ready for teachers! It still needs some work and I'll do a little every time I go, but I have a classroom again- I have no budget to set up this classroom- and I had to buy my own garbage can, but it is my classroom. 

Just being in a classroom again feels so good!   Best part of the whole thing- there are REAL LIVE KIDS right downstairs every day. So when teachers come to trainings in "my classroom" I can do demo lessons with students from the school!  REAL Guided Reading lessons- here we come! 

Not sure if you can tell, but this bulletin board says CAUTION: Teachers at Work! There is another side that will say LITERACY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.  Thanks to the DCPS interns, otherwise known as UELIPs (Urban Education Leadership Intern Program) for their artistic skills in this lonely space! Slowly but surely, this is going to be a great place to learn! We are DCPS- and we can DO THIS! 

Currently November

It's that time again... thanks Farley for your November Currently.  I love the idea of the contest for December. Can't wait to see the winner. I wonder how many entries she'll get!?

Listening: My boys are playing ball! And the scoreboard is a happy sight to see! 16-6!  It's too early to be confident we'll bring home a win, but I'm enjoying it now nonetheless. 

Loving: Driving home from work at night and I am just in awe- big huge trees- orange and red and yellow! It is stunning!  Today's weather was just perfect.  We could have been on the boat in fact, but Jeff had to work. Boo! 

Thinking: I know I say this every month, but really, where did October go? I bought two Christmas presents online today! That is just crazy! Thanksgiving may be one of my favorite holidays though. Christmas is always special because of all the family, but it is always so fast paced.  Thanksgiving is slow and easy. The Thursday holiday always makes for a long weekend and I look forward to relaxing.  Cooking, eating, resting, relaxing. Bring it on! 

Wanting: So many of you know that Jeff and I went on a vacation to the Bahamas in June.  It was amazing, but I've worked so incredibly hard since June and my body wants to escape to the islands again! I want to be on a beach- with a book- and a drink with a little umbrella. Maybe I need to schedule a vacation of my own. For reals! 

Needing: So my job involves some direct teaching of teachers in DCPS, but mostly it is my job to design and implement PD Days for the school year for almost 600 teachers.  Like every district, we have five of these days a year and I have already successfully pulled off two (August and October). The next one is January 6th- right after the holiday and I should really get working on it already.  I am kind of dragging my feet... 

A Yummy Pin:  Have y'all had Dirty Brownies? OH MY WORD! They are so good! So easy to make too! You can find my pin here... 

And believe it or not I actually COOKED a dinner- like a real dinner- not just heating something up in the oven! It was a big hit too. See what you think. You can find that pin here...


Work Station Debriefing Cards

In DC Public Schools, I work with teachers to improve their Work Stations and their teaching at the Guided Reading table. 46 schools have chosen this focus area for the school year, called Small Group Literacy Instruction. We use the work of Debbie Diller and her book Literacy Work Stations. We use "I Can" Lists and we also make it a habit to debrief the work in stations.  Stations may begin with a mini-lesson and end with debriefing.

What could be taught in a mini-lesson for Work Stations?
How to use a new material.
How to solve a common problem.
How to work with others.
How to do anything better in Work Stations.

The teacher will then let students do their work in Work Stations and teach Guided Reading, but not being out there with students during Work Stations is hard.  The only way to get the information you need from students work in Stations is to ask them! We do this using debriefing cards as a routine part of our Work Station routine.

Teachers will meet with the group and ask one or two questions from the cards.  This gives teachers a chance to get valuable information from students and helps students be metacognitive about the work! It's a win-win for all involved!

You can get your cards in my TpT store! FREE!
Happy Work Stations!