Thursday, October 29, 2015

October Products for Payday

Happy payday! That happens every month on the 25th here on The Big Kids Hall, and I've always got a few things on my wish list waiting for it.

If you're looking for an easy-peasy way to challenge your readers and take care of reading homework, you might consider adding my Reading Homework Choice Boards to yours!
Three different menus let me focus on skills related to plot, theme, and character. All I do is print and go. Each board has 16 tasks, so you could use it for two or three weeks if you wanted to. I just do single-week assignments.

I would have classroom pictures to show this item in action, but we in room 301 have been in a different sort of action this week. I've just gotten back (as in got home about and hour and a half ago) from a three-day camp on beautiful Seabrook Island, SC studying ecosystems. It sits on a large estuary, and we've been walking in a palmetto forest, seine netting, and slogging through plough mud in the salt marsh. Sadly, it rained for most of the time there, but the kids still had a good time. Did I mention that there was a lot of plough (pronouce it 'pluff') mud?
If you've ever done one of these camps, you know how this smells. And sticks to utterly everything. It has the strangest gelatinous texture that sucks at your shoes. Of course, the kids thought this was the most awesome part. That, and petting a baby alligator.

If you've heard about the serious flooding South Carolina's had over the last few weeks, it's the salt marsh and its ability to absorb and distribute water, that's rescued Charleston. Stinky, but necessary.

I hope you've had as much fun as we've had this week! Hang on; it's almost payday, and the long September-October haul is nearly over!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I'm Reading This October

The truth is, not much. I've still got a sixteen year old with a migraine that, after six weeks now, won't die (and stay that way) so between doctor trips and holing up in the dark, I don't get a lot of anything done.

What am I supposed to be reading? Well, this:

 We teachers of Academically/Intellectually Gifted kids in my county are part of a required book study, and this is the text. I'll have to admit that, at first, I was less-than impressed. I have real concerns that this move toward 'text dependence' represents a dumbing-down of curriculum (Don't think; just go fetch the right answer.) and I still think that, used poorly, that's what it becomes.

I've been pleasantly surprised, though. What I've read, so far, has shown that using text dependent questions can, in fact, promote real thinking into text. We are given strategies that take kids well beyond the literal, but stay within a TDQ framework. The book doesn't read like a textbook, with a much less formal vibe and down-to-earth examples.

I've got a lot more reading to do, but already, I've changed my attitude toward this type of work from, "Yippee! Let's raise some convergent, low-level thinkers that'll make great sheep when they grow up." to "Maybe this does have a place in my classroom."  It's a start.

What am I reading with my classes? That's a different story. I teach a lot of my skills through read-aloud with accountable talk and follow up with book clubs. I teach reading twice a day, once with fourth grade and once with fifth. Both groups just finished our first read-alouds (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH  and Crispin: The Cross of Lead respectively) and we're cruising into:


This is where we'll begin to look closely at character: identifying and supporting character traits, how those traits both create problems and equip characters to solve them, and how relationships play out throughout a text. 

For fifth:

For plot, we'll focus on how the individual stories intertwine (and how so many lead back to one minor character, which is weird.) For character, we'll look at different types of characters (flat, round, sympathetic, static, dynamic.) This has a good variety of those.

Plus, I love reading how the snobby admin.-type refers to himself as an ed-you-cat-or, as opposed to the warmth the kids' teacher, Mrs. Olinski, exudes. 

So, what are my awesome, bloggy friends reading these days? Click the button below to stop by the Focused on Fifth site and find out. Share what you're reading, too; it's a linky party!