Encourage students to care more about learning!

Back in teachers college, we were asked to read and respond to an article titled, ‘What Urban students say about good teaching’ (Dick Corbett and Bruce Wilson). I read the article with every intention of doing just that, reading and responding; however, I was quickly engaged in the article and knew that one day, when I became a teacher myself, that I would most definitely take this, reflect on it daily, and teach by it.

The main question posed by the article is this: “What can schools do to encourage students to care more about learning?”

Read my full response by clicking on the image above! Leave your suggestions, comments, feedback!

The Daily 5, a complete Language Arts Program

The Daily 5 is a series of literacy tasks that a group of students complete daily while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals. This book not only explains the philosophy behind the structure, but also shows us how to carefully and systematically train students to participate in each of the five components.  Explicit modeling, practice, reflecting and refining takes place during the launching phase, preparing the foundation for a year of meaningful content and instruction tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. “The Daily 5 is more than a management system or a curriculum framework – it is a structure that will help students develop the daily habits of reading, writing and working with peers that will lead to a lifetime of independent literacy.” (http://www.the2sisters.com/the_daily_5.html)

As the title expresses, it is a combination of five different tasks throughout the two-hour literacy block. Each essential task is a foundational element in literacy for the K-5 grade levels. This program allows for a change to the atmosphere in the classroom and the role for us teachers. It is a change from trying to manage students, from rushing around the room, from putting out fires, to creating routines and procedures that creates independent literacy behaviours to the point of becoming habits. Read to Self is the best way to become a better reader by practicing every day. Children are allowed to choose books that interest them at their appropriate reading level. During the implementation and training stages, children are taught how to select books at their correct reading level. Read to Someone allows for more time to practice reading strategies. This essential task helps students work on fluency, expression, to check for understanding, to hear their own voice, and to share with their partner. Work on Writing works the same way as reading, the only way students can be better writers is to write each day. Listen to Reading is a task that allows students to listen to examples of good literature and fluent reading. This task allows students to expand their vocabulary and become better readers. The last of the essential tasks is Spelling Word Work.This task allows for consistent practice in spelling which aids in fluent writing and the ability to quickly write thoughts down on paper. These tasks are to be done daily and students are given a half-hour within each task. They rotate between the tasks, but what the most important factor of this system is the choice that students have. Eventually, when all is implemented, students will have the ability to select which task they wish to start with and which one he/she goes to next (as long as all five tasks are done within the day). In order for this system to work smoothly there are six core foundations to make it successful. Trusting students is the first. This is not a blind trust but a method to build behaviors gradually through lessons and guided practice. Providing choice is the second core foundation. Choice is extremely motivating and allows the student to be in charge of his or her own learning. Third is a nurturing community. This foundation will create a sense of community thus providing members (the students) with ownership to hold others accountable for behaviors of effort, learning order and kindness. Next is the core foundation of creating a sense of urgency. This foundation will empower kids by allowing them the opportunity to understand why we teach a certain idea or concept. A purpose along with a choice will give the student the motivation to keep persevering and keep on task. The next very important core foundation is the building of stamina. This correlates to the constructivist theory. For the program to be successful, children must commence slowly, a minute at a time thus providing them with a teacher who will lay the foundation for success, support them, cheer them on, and help them succeed. Should this not be done, students will become frustrated and failure is imminent. Last but not least is that the teacher must stay out of the way. This is extremely important because the teacher must display trust and must allow students the opportunity to make their own decisions and monitor him or herself.

I feel that the concept of the Daily 5 is greatly beneficial as students are really capable and if we work with them, we can truly empower them to be active participants in their learning process. The task is a great one, and there is a lot of preparatory work. The Daily 5 does allow for more control overall, and it does dissuade behavioural issues within a classroom. The program fosters a comfortable environment where desks are the furthest requirements. A couch and lounge chairs are more appropriate. This is a complete detachment from the current state of classrooms. It is a fresh approach which requires a 2 hour block of literacy. The five essential tasks are an excellent foundation to literacy. I must stress that this is a complete change in mindset but a successful one. Some school boards have begun to adopt the Daily 5, providing teachers the support and the resources to implement the program. Should you choose to take on this system there are many websites that support your implementation. I hope you find the Daily 5 useful and the following websites to help you start.

http://www.the2sisters.com/

http://www.thedailycafe.com/

http://k-5literacyconnections.weebly.com/daily-5.html

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Professional Development! Keeping Track of Your PD!

June is almost here and another school year is quickly drawing to a close!  Once curriculum expectations have all been covered and report cards have been written, it would be a great time to reflect back on the 2011-2012 academic year and record the various professional development activities in which you participated.  Each year, I say that I am going to keep better track of my participation in PD activities, but I never do! So, I decided to create a simple, one page Professional Development Log to organize past PD activities and to reflect on future PD interests.  Just click on the image below!

pd log

‘Helping Out’ – Roles within the Classroom!

One of the many first things we do as teachers straight from day one is create a job chart of one sort or another, providing students with responsibilities to help keep their classroom clean, as well as, to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all students to work within for the year.

There are many different jobs within the classroom for students to take part in. Here is a list that I used with my grade 7/8 class which seemed to work well. Students volunteered for roles, as well, I continued to rotate them throughout the year so that all students took share in taking on the many roles listed.

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Keeping Parents in the Know!

Keeping Parents in the Know! Parent Communication Form! Freebie! www.teachingrocks.ca

 

How many times have you sent a graded test or assignment home in order to communicate with parents regarding the achievement of their son or daughter?  More often than not, that vital piece of information was never shown, and more than likely lost forever!  I find this very frustrating.  I haven’t been able to communicate with parents and at the same time have lost essential documentation for my student files and portfolios.  Instead, I use my notification form (attached below) to communicate with parents/guardians  of their child’s achievement.  Should this form be lost or never returned, you need not worry as you have the evidence on hand.  Enjoy and use as you please!

Teaching Students Healthy Living Skills: A Case Study Approach!

The following activity is a great culminating task once you have taught your students about healthy meal options, physical activity components, and why it is important to make healthy lifestyle choices.  Instead of simply asking students to explain the previous concepts, students take on the role of a nutritionist and personal trainer who has to provide recommendations to one of two fictional teenagers.  Students are to analyze their subject’s lifestyle choices and provide the following;

  • an analysis of his/her lifestyle choices and the importance of a healthy lifestyle
  • a sample three day meal plan (3 meals plus 2 snacks per day)
  • a sample three day exercise plan (cardio, strength training, and stretching)
  • some tips and strategies to help their subject incorporate these healthy choices on a regular basis

Students are to create a pamphlet/brochure to provide the information in a creative manner.  I have used this with my grade 8 students in the past and the results are amazing! They do an excellent job providing healthy living advice and produce some very professional looking pamphlets!

I’ve included the student handouts and rubric!  Click the image above!