Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Currently November

Wow, where in the world did October go?? I swear I must have blinked and it was November already... anyhow, I love November. I love the name of the month, I love the weather and I love the food that so often comes with this month! So on the topic of November, I spotted the "Currently" posts and though I've never linked up with another blog before or done one of these, there's always a first time for something! So, I linked up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and here goes my currently's :)

I am currently:

Listening ... to Kelly Rowland and her album "Talk a Good Game." I hadn't listened to her too much before, even though I knew she was talented (just didn't get around to it), but one of her songs came up on one of my Pandora stations and I loved it, so I created a separate station for her and have been listening to it regularly for the past few weeks.

Loving ... the extra time I've gotten to hang out with my sister. She's been staying over at my place and it's been really nice reliving our time together, eating junk food, and watching Elementary episodes.

Thinking ... every first week of the month, we have our bulletin boards due. This month's theme is Thanksgiving, and I've already created the foundation for my board but I have yet to make it interactive, which is one requirement on the rubric (yes, we get graded on our boards) that I have yet to meet. I might just do a "flip up and ___" type of thing. We'll see.

Wanting ... I've been pretty glum lately and one of the reasons is that I've completely fallen off my workout routine. I had a great thing going the end of last year into summer, but when I started getting my half sleeve and other tattoos done, I had to take a break from working out and since then, never really got back into it like I had before. Now a handful of months later, I weigh more and feel less healthy and it's all been pretty upsetting to me. I'm wanting and wishing and trying to get back into it, but as you probably know, getting started is one of the hardest things to do. BUT, I refuse to give up. I'm going to the gym today and hoping it'll help jumpstart things.

Needing ... Grades are due this Friday, and I've been pretty good about them, except my listening/speaking and science grades, so I have to hustle and get those in. Also, the amount of papers I have to file is no joke. I spent 20 minutes filing papers this morning. It's just one of those things I actively avoid until I can't avoid it any longer because the papers are overflowing from their bins. So I need to really get on those two things, because who wants to do it all on a Friday afternoon? Not I, for sure.

Reading ... I confess to not having read much lately, so since I've been getting back into watching Elementary, I figured it'd be the perfect time for me pick up where I left off on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I'll start with a story today on commute home.

:) Happy November, everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let's look at Verb Tenses!

This week in writing/grammar, we are moving into studying verb tenses. In order to introduce the topic, I made a packet that includes posters and hands-on practice for my students. Isn't the little nerd on the cover just precious? I just purchased Melonheadz nerd kidlette's pack of clipart, and I'm so in love with them. Any who, click on the previews below to find the resource in my store. 

In this packet, you'll find:
- Verb tense posters
- Past vs present cut and paste
- Present vs future cut and paste
- Past vs future cut and paste
- Labeling sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Verb tense sort (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Writing sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)

Hope this resource comes in handy for you!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Relinquishing Control in the Classroom

I was recently having a conversation with one of my grade level partners and we were discussing how we can make our students more independent and transform our classrooms so that it is basically run by the students. One way to do this is by giving students more responsibilities. I started off the school year with a handful of jobs, including paper passers, sanitizer distributors and a paper collector. As the year goes on, I introduce more jobs and allow for students to take ownership of different aspects of the day. For example, this is what my morning looks like:

After students enter the classroom, they take a seat at their desk. I start the timer for breakfast and morning work (because the times vary depending on when we get in), and as students take out their homework folders, I dismiss students by table to put their belongings away in the cubbies. A student is in charge of turning off the timer on my ipad when the alarm goes off, another student gets up and gives out table points during breakfast cleanup, and a third student manages breakfast cleanup, calling each table to throw their breakfast out. The only time I intervene is when I dismiss the tables to put their things away, and starting from next week, that task will be given to a student. 

The first 20 minutes of school is student-run, and I love it. I love seeing my students working together to help roll the day out because, as I stated before, I stress to my students that we are a team, and "Teamwork makes the dream work." So, in order to move my classroom into a student-run class throughout the day and not just in the mornings, I am giving out more responsibilities to my students starting this upcoming week. I'm going to start by handing over the job of dismissing students to their cubbies as well as calling students for transitions. In my class, we use nonverbal hand signals for all transitions and the students know them by heart now so a student could definitely take up this task. We put up 1 finger to indicate girls and 2 for boys, and then we use the following steps:

(Quick note: For transitioning from the rug to their desks, the second step, "B", changes to mean "face your destination," since there are no chairs on the rug.) 

Before you start releasing control in your classroom, it's important to have your routines and procedures set in place. If your students are still struggling with following expectations, I would work on that first before passing on the majority of the responsibilities to the students. My mornings weren't always student-run. I had to do it slowly, stepping back and allowing students to take over with my facilitation and and a handful of reminders. After practice and explicit instruction, I was able to step back and let them run the morning. Of course, we're not fully there yet, but it's my goal for my students to become more self sufficient and to help operate the day together. My hope is that by January-February, we'll have the majority of the day lead by students without me having to give constant reminders. Here's to dreaming a big dream!

How do you relinquish control in your classroom? What jobs do you have your students completing? Do you find them to be useful or more work managing?