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So This is Vacation?


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J.Elaine's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,431
So This is Vacation?
Old 07-11-2009, 04:25 PM

It's July 11 today which means I've had 15 days of actual time off from school. Question: What am I doing with my time? Answer: Anything I want to do anytime I want to do it!!!!!!

I finished reading The Daily 5 book and started reading The CAFE Book online. This will be my first year to do D5 with my students, and I'm very excited about how it's going to work. The discussions here on ProTeacher are helping me make some crucial decisions about implementation. I can't believe how many people readily share things they've created. My files runneth over!!!!!!!!!

This will be my 5th grade year of a 4th/5th loop and I am anxious for my students to come back to find all the changes I'm planning for our literacy block. For many years I've used a Reader's Workshop approach -- independent reading and guided reading groups (according to Fountas and Pinnell). Then 2 years ago, our district decided to provide continuity for all elementary students by requiring K-5 to use the McMillan-McGraw Hill basal as the backbone of our literacy instruction.

After reluctantly starting to use the basal, I knew we'd never have time to do guided reading groups and independent reading and complete all the portions of the basal I thought we had to do every day. However, I was completely convinced that the most important thing for my students was to have time on-task for reading self-selected literature during an independent reading block. I gave up the guided reading groups, plugged in the basal stuff, and stubbornly held on to independent reading.

I taught basal lessons to the whole class knowing in my heart some of my students were missing the instruction they needed. In my old guided reading groups, I felt I could reach students if for no other reason than the fact that the groups were small. I reasoned -- it's difficult, if not impossible, to get lost in a small group. Without those groups, I felt I was failing my students, even though I was working harder than ever. Goodness knows, I was copying mounds of reading
comprehension worksheets, vocabulary worksheets, grammar worksheets, spelling worksheets, phonics worksheets. even poetry worksheets. I assigned them all to my poor students, and then I had to grade all those crummy things!!!!!!!!!!!

And still, I knew it wasn't enough, or maybe everything I was doing wasn't even the right stuff! Very discouraging. As a looping teacher, I knew that I was the last shot my 4th and 5th graders had at getting ready for middle school. What an awesome responsibility!

Then I heard about The Daily 5. My hope is renewed! My spirit is rejuvenated! I know I can help my students become better readers and writers. I am excited to try D5 with them. There are probably people who think I'm really not using my time off very wisely, but you know what? It's my time, my choice, my life. For those people who say, "You need to get a life!" I'd like to answer, "I have a life! This is it! I chose it, and I love it!"

In my next blog, I'd like to outline my D5 plans - organize my thinking - and get input from anyone who is reading what I'm writing.

Later . . .
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Joined: Sep 2005
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Summer Reading
Old 07-12-2009, 03:44 AM

Isn't it lovely to have time to catch up on reading over the summer? I also think it's incredible to see so many teachers who choose to read school-related materials on vacation. (I can't imagine seeing my real-estate appraising husband read anything to do with real estate during his time off. He does that "on the clock).

I, too, purchased the CAFE book and it should arrive on Tuesday. Let me know what you think. I've been reading some Debbie Diller books on literacy work stations, but to be honest, I'm not inspired. Right now I'm going to look into "The Daily Five." I've heard about it, but need to learn more.

Thanks again for your thoughtful blog.

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