Sunday, June 23, 2013

Whole Group Instruction

Hey there!  Let me just say, if you've ever done any home renovations - BLESS. YOUR. HEART.  The last couple of weeks we have had new Pergo floors, new carpet, and new kitchen cabinets.  In August we'll add the tile and the granite counter tops.  I had NO idea how exhausting it would be to have your house completely torn apart!

I'm jumping in a little late in the game, but I found an awesome Linky party to join up with this summer!  The Appleicious Teacher is hosting a linky every week about sharing different parts of your classroom.

This week's focus is whole group instruction.  

Let's face it.  This is the most common time you'll see in classrooms around the globe.  While recent studies, research, and the swing of the pendulum have put more focus on small group instruction, whole group is where it's at.  There's hardly any avoiding it.  I know when I walk through our halls, this is what I see 90% of the time.  Old school whole group is kids sitting at their desks in rows while copying things from the board or completing a worksheet or workbook page.  It's so easy to spice up your whole group time and get the students actively engaged.  This can be such a fun time for them!  It brings your class together as a little community of human beings that are delving into information together, picking each other's brains, and offering up what they already know.

Fortunately, I have pictures of a typical whole-group reading lesson.  These were from an insect unit we did toward the end of the school year.  

The first thing we do is formulate a schema chart together.  I usually draw something up in advance on butcher paper and hang it on the board.  It stays up all week, or longer if needed.  I give the students sticky notes and they write what they already know about the topic at hand.  I usually limit them, only because they see what their neighbor writes and they think, "Oh, I know that, too!"  Or they keep thinking of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  I usually tell them to write their best 2 or 3 facts.  Then they go up and put them on the schema chart.

Then we go through and share what we already know.  After that, we head to the carpet and I typically read some sort of read-aloud to them about our unit that week.  I always try to get a good mix of fiction and non-fiction in our read-aloud time.  We also do whole-group mini-lessons on our Promethean board.  This is usually focused around phonics.  This is the new carpet we got through Donor's Choose!

I try to do a fun craft or activity at least once a week.  I wish I had MORE time to do things like this, but you know how it goes.  ;)  This was an activity from Deanna Jump's Insect Unit.  I put a picture of a basic insect on the board and we went through and labeled the different parts.  Their job was to use fun snacks to make their own bug!  They turned out SO cute!

We also did Deanna's cute glyph activity.

This next activity was honestly a quick, spur of the moment idea.  I had such a creative class this past year and I knew that this would be something they would enjoy.  I quickly had them pair up and took one person from each group down to get butcher paper.  Their job was to create their own insect.  They had to choose a name for it and write something about it.  Then they shared them with the class.  I love being able to pair them up for a quick activity like this!

That's about how my whole group looks like during the week.  Mondays are usually jam-packed with background building, Tuesdays are background and learning new reading skills, Wednesdays are reading the story together (we sit on the perimeter of the carpet and read together), and Thursdays are a review with more games and activities.  I love seeing what they can do together!

One thing I am SO excited about adding next year is a document camera that we received through Donor's Choose!  I can't WAIT for it to come in!  :)

So there we have it.  The basic gist of whole group instruction in my classroom.

Next week I'll be back to talk about small group instruction!  Have a fabulous week!!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blog Lovin' Test

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Currently and Planbook!

It's almost 12:30 a.m. and I'm sitting here with the windows open, trying to finish my case study for my reading endorsement course.  I need a break from typing heavy-duty teaching jargon.  ;)

First of all, here's my June Currently, sponsored by Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

Oh my goodness...during interviews last week, one of our candidates shared this awesome website with us!  Next year we have to submit all our plans to our principal.  Electronically.  It's part of our new evaluation system in the State of Ohio.  We have been tossing around all these ideas.  Google Docs (uggg).  Dropbox.  E-mail.  But none of them seemed perfect.  They all had their pros and cons, but none were super-easy.  Then...enter...

WWW.PLANBOOK.COM!  Now, some of you may be saying, seriously?  I've heard of that and it's nothing new.  I'm jealous of you.  I wish I had heard about this a long time ago!  But since I'm just now learning about it, I'm sure there are people out there who haven't heard of it yet.  SO...what's so cool about it?

Here's a screenshot of some of my plans for August (don't shoot me...I just wanted to play around and figured I might as well make it worth my time).  ;)

First of all, it's FREE.  Who doesn't love free?  Once you create a username and password, it's easy to get started.  You create your classes and put in the times.  That's what shows up in the colored bars above.  And if you like to color-code things like me, you'll love the fact that you get to pick your colors for everything!  So for example, red is Morning Work, orange is Grammar, yellow is Specials, green is Math, and blue is Lunch/Recess.  That's only half my day, so it's a work in progress.  Then you go through and click on the day/subject and start typing!  You can easily insert Common Core standards by the click of a button.  They're already listed, you just have to click on the ones you want and it inserts them.  It's so easy to copy and paste from one day to the next.

One of my FAVORITE features is the fact that you can move lessons if you need to!  For example, let's say we had an assembly that we totally forgot about.  I couldn't get to my math lesson that day.  All I have to do is click "Bump" and it moves the lesson to the next day.  I can keep clicking "Bump" if I need to.  You can easily rearrange your schedule with the click of a button.  Let's say you have a fire drill and don't get to half of your grammar lesson.  You can hit "Extend" and it sends it into the next day, while keeping it on your current day.  It's SO easy to adjust your plans if you need to!

And if you're too sick or have an emergency and can't go in to type up plans, you can do it from home. It's easy to share your plans with others in your building.  I could share them with a team member and they can print them off for the sub the next day.  Super easy!

They are not all cutesy like my old plans used to be, but they're a lot more thorough because I have the space without sacrificing messing up all my margins and spaces.  They're also MUCH easier, in my opinion.  And I'm thrilled that I can share them so easily!

Have I convinced you yet?  I only played around with it for about an hour and this is what I have found.  I'm sure I'm just skimming the surface!  You should definitely check it out.  I think you'll love it!  :)  Happy planning!