Sunday, November 30, 2014

Layering my Classroom (And the Cybersale!!)

I think my love of 100 Minutes has been well documented since I started reading it this past summer…but today I want to talk about how I think it has helped me build in my classroom routines in my language program and add layers to my teaching.

Side note: 
This is a wordy and lengthy post…I apologize! But if you hang in there I have a whole list of must-have products from TPT sellers towards the end. 

I have already struggled with wanting to start EVERYTHING all at the same time and have my full program up and running. Lisa Donohue talked a lot about the importance of deepening your routines and taking students farther by adding on to previously existing structures and routines. I have found that thinking about my program in this way has really helped me to find the perfect time add a new layer to our existing literacy routines and provide my students opportunities to deepen their understanding of the concepts we are studying. 

Adding layers has been an especially important part to my class' success this year has I have a VERY wide range of abilities and quite a few ELL's and students working below grade level. Building in layers of routines to help deepen my program has really helped me to differentiate and work towards meeting all my students needs. It has been especially helpful as 6 students from my class receive ESL support three out of 5 days…that's a 1/3 of my class!! Then I have 3 other students who receive Spec Ed support everyday and 1 student who goes to a math group twice a week. 

My room is a constant revolving door. 

This has made scheduling guided lessons somewhat difficult but not impossible. Lisa Donohue wrote about intentional sequencing in her book 100 Minutes and it made so much sense to me…it was definitely the missing piece to the puzzle of my literacy program. 

It isn't perfect yet (and probably won't be) but it has helped me to see how to schedule our literacy block and why I should be putting  rotations in a certain order. 

So this is how I plan for guided reading and our literacy rotations. As you can see some of the boxes have X's in them. This is when my ELL's are receiving support and are not in the class with us. As  I said it isn't perfect yet. We have yet to build in Reading Response as a rotation (the goal for next week!) and I haven't yet met with groups for a Writing Conference. 
Always so much to do. 

This is our rotation board. Since it's new to me this year it's work in progress. 
If you like it you can find it here in my TPT store. 

Right now I have been using post-it notes to provide instructions to my students for each of their rotations. I am lucky this year that I have a full time educational assistant in my room to work with one of my students who needs 1:1 support. She has wonderfully taken the initiative to also work with three other students who need 1:1 support for most of their work. I often assign that group extra guided reading with her so that they are being taught in a guided group everyday…plus the time they are being pulled for ELL or Spec Ed support. 

Sometimes the scheduling makes my head spin. 

Here's a closer look at my Guided Reading Literacy Group Labels.

This is also the first year that I have been happy with how my guided reading program is running and I must admit guided reading has been a necessity in my class. I am VERY much behind in my literacy teaching due to the fact that some many of my students have so many different needs. Guided reading has been the key to this problem as I now teach all the components of my reading program in small groups. 

We save whole group time for interactive read alouds, chapter books, building on our routines and scaffolding our writing instruction. In the past I have focused most of my writing instruction on the text forms but this year it just wasn't feeling right so instead I have switched to a much freer writing approach, allowing my students to choose the majority of their own writing topics and forms. We are focusing on the writing process and how to edit and revise. 

Isn't it amazing how much your writing can change from year to year?

So now on to the good stuff…! 

What are some TPT products that I just can't live without?

Well, I'm glad you asked, especially since the Cybersale is on tomorrow. 

This amazing writing prompt product from Irene Hines has been the cornerstone for my weekly journal writing program. 

I just love it.

The Fluency Strip pack from The Moffat Girls has really helped my students who are ELL's and working below grade level to build on their fluency skills AND they love tracking their progress through the sets. 

I can not even tell you how much I LOVE The Weekly Word Wizard sets from SunnyDays. Since Grade 3 is a testing year in Ontario this product provides my students with constant practice of valuable grammar and vocabulary skills. 
I am loving it!!
The next few sets are already in my cart for tomorrow.

This next product is a MUST HAVE for anyone doing guided reading in their class. It has saved me sooooo much time when creating my guided lessons and helps to provide a consistent checking system of the skills we have already covered and need to review. Head over to Angeline Stewart's store to check it out. 

So there you have it…

My literacy program in a nutshell. I hope you get some good deals tomorrow and I'd love to hear about any suggestions you have for literacy products from your own TPT store or others that you think might benefit my students. 

1 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Ann Mosley said...

The way you organize your classroom is amazing. Thanks you so much for sharing these tips and ideas! I also love those printed sets. I haven't tried using them yet but it may actually help me make lessons both entertaining and educational. Might go for a batch next year. Right now I'm using admission essay writing service when I need some curriculum assistance. But I guess I should get more creative with the tasks. Kids adore anything with pictures and these books may be a great deal. Ann

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