Even though it is my sixth year of teaching and my 4th year in fourth grade, almost everything I'm doing in my classroom is more new than old. It is exciting and overwhelming all at once because I want to do everything well and sometimes when you are too overloaded nothing gets done well. It's like that old saying, "I'm a jack of all trades and a master of nothing." Yeah... I don't want that to be me, so I'm doggie paddling as fast as I can to keep my head above water.
Here is a quick run-down of some of the "new" going in my classroom during the first week.
- Leader In Me - We are launching the program school-wide this year. I love it and I love using the 7 habits language to talk to my kids, but it's all new to them.
- Morning Meeting - I have been doing classroom meetings for years, but never a daily meeting. This fits in perfectly twith Leader in Me and provides a nice way to incorporate daily community building.
- Whole Brain Teaching - I started this last year and I'm still learning. My class has already learned the 5 Rules, Mirror, Switch, Teach-Ok, and Class-Yes.
- Daily 5 - Again, I have used bits of this program, but I've never gone full blown Daily 5. Although I will still need to modify it this year, we are doing so much more than I ever have before.
We started with 3 Ways to Read a book and I found the B-E-S-T book for this lesson. My students loved it and were so engaged throughout the story. Have you heard of The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola?
Okay... it is the cutest book and it is mostly wordless. It is about a knight and dragon who have never fought in a battle, but want to fight each other. After reading several books, they train and prepare for an epic battle. Finally, they are ready and invite each other to the big fight (I love this page), but the battle does not go as expected. The two realize that perhaps they were not meant for the battlefield and could work together instead.
The story is adorable and the pictures are priceless. You really have to study the pictures to see everything and connect the dots of the story. One of my students even said that they last page is like an I Spy book. Cool!
The best part about this book was that it was new to ALL of my students. Now, I love rereading as much as the next reader, however, sometimes it is nice to have something new. Shhh!! Don't tell the other teachers at my school about this book. I want a few more years of seeing those little faces light up to a brand new story.
We also launched Read to Self this week and got into our book boxes. I was much smarter this year because I did not try to do all of this on day 1. Instead, I had my kids fill out one of those get to know you surveys and used the surveys to fill their book boxes. I was able to stock boxes with book on favorite animals and if they shared a favorite book I tried to match reading level and genre.
Here are our book boxes all ready to go with a variety of reading materials.
Considering my students had not been in a classroom that did Daily 5 last year, I was really impressed with their ideas for the I-chart. Look at what they came up with with just a bit of prompting.
I like the addition of getting comfortable. That is something I have seen added to my I-chart year after year. Kids simply can not follow the other expectations if they are not comfortable, so we always make it a rule. Get comfortable, stay in the same spot, and read... read...READ!
Before we started reading, we talked about stamina (as suggested in the Daily 5 book.) I find it easier to teach this lesson after the summer Olympics, because you can use faces and names of Olympians to get your point across. I always use Michael Phelps. (LOVE HIM!)
I'm a huge fan. He is an incredible athlete and has accomplished so much in his career.
Anyway, I started by giving my students some background information on Phelps and swimming. Then, I shared one of my favorite stories:
Once in practice, his coach (Bob Bowen) stepped on his goggles so they would leak while Phelps was swimming. He wanted to prepare him for anything. He wanted him trained to expect the unexpected. And then, the day came when all his training paid off. At the Beijing Olympics when he was swimming the 200 meter butterfly, he dove in and his goggles leaked. He couldn't see. But, he knew the swim and his stroke count so well, that he won gold..one of his eight golds at those Olympic games. Amazing.
My kids were captivated by his story. We talked about the need to train our minds and bodies to do things the right way, so it becomes a habit. (Boy, does this tie in perfectly with Leader in Me.) We also talked about how Michael Phelps didn't wake up one morning and decide to swim in the Olympics. He had to train and he had to practice. He started small with just a few laps and built up his stamina.
Okay, I think you get the point. There are so many great athletes to use as your example for stamina, perseverance, and muscle memory. Choose yours and go for it. You should have seen my class...Sitting on the edge of their seats I tell ya. When I finished they were all, "Is that true?" "Where is he now?" "So, he's like the best swimmer in the world, huh?"
Haha... they were ready to start training.
We spent the rest of the week building stamina and we are graphing our progress as we go. We're off to a great start!