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How much is enough?

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J.Elaine
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How much is enough?
Old 01-08-2010, 10:04 AM
  #1

I'm just wondering if I even know how much is enough?

We've had no (as in zero--zilch) school days this week. Are four unexpected days off school enough? Teachers know there's never really enough when it comes to time. I know there isn't for me. I can always think of another thing that needs doing . . . IF . . . only I had more time.

Well, I'm here again today with more time. I've been working on literature units for Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix and Trapped in Death Cave by Bill Wallace. A wonderful ProTeacher sent me a lit unit she wrote to try out on my 4 very high readers. When I return to school on Monday, I'll go with 3 new lit units all ready to teach. I can't wait.

I have 4 boys who are going to read Trapped in Death Cave. As I wrote the unit, I reread the book (for the 5th time!!!) and thought how much they were going to enjoy the dangerous action and suspense! I want them to be able to identify the mood of the story by noticing the words the author chose to create that mood. Bill Wallace always writes about family, friends, and loyalty. I'm hoping my boys will be able to articulate Wallace's message after they finish the book.

The 4 who will read Double Identity have their work cut out for them -- or maybe I do. The plot is a little complicated with loads of unanswered questions from start to finish. I'll need to be sure they are not missing any clues as the read without giving anything away. I think I chose the right book for them because my underlying goal is to challenge them.

I'm implementing Daily 5 and CAFE in my classroom for the first time this year. My students and I are in the second year of a 2-year loop. So coming into 5th grade they already knew how to pick a just-right book and read independently for extended periods of time. That was a great plus for me as their teacher. I always say that in the second year of looping we can just hit the ground running!!! It's wonderful!

Now for the first time, along with the components of Daily 5 and CAFE, I'm going to add back in something I love -- guided reading/discussion groups. Some people call them literature circles, book clubs, etc. I don't really think it matters what they are called. We all do our own versions anyway -- versions that are adapted to the teacher's style and the needs of the students.

Here are the components of D5/CAFE:
whole-class mini-lessons
meeting with individuals and/or small groups of students
(This where the guided reading groups fit in.)

D5 Choices include:
reading to self
reading someone else
listening to reading
working on words
working on writing

And then there's the BASAL . . .
As I balance all the components listed above with my guided groups, I need to make sure I include all the strategies/skills that are covered in each week's basal selections.

So now . . . How much is enough?
Is there such a thing as enough? The answers depends on the situations. If we're talking about time, there is never enough -- even though we all get the same 24 hours each day -- there just is never enough. Which brings me full circle. I am thankful for these days that offer me unexpected, extra time.

So . . . while it lasts, I'm going to take advantage of it and yes, even enjoy it!

Later . . .
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JKB
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Old 01-10-2010, 01:24 AM
  #2

J. Elaine,

We were hoping to get ONE snow day....this past Friday, but to no avail! Oh well........you are right.....there never is enough time to get everything done! At this point in my life, I have more time then I've ever had before, but there still doesn't seem to be enough time.....or is that I just don't know when to quit?

Your plans sound awesome! This year, I have a fairly "average" class. Most of my students are reading right on grade level, with just two really high levels and three really low levels. (Fortunately, those who are low are also getting added support from our Spec. Ed. department.) Quite a change from last year, when I had almost half my class reading one or two years above grade level, while almost the other half of my class was reading one or two years below grade level.......very few were right on target.

Last year, I spent a significant amount of time labeling all of the books in my classroom library, according to grade level. Since our school is BIG on AR, I also included AR test numbers and point values. It took a lot of effort to set it up and it still takes some effort to keep it up when I get new books to add to my library, but it has proven to be very worthwhile! It has helped my children easily find their own "just right" books. It has also made Reading Workshop a much more rich and rewarding experience for my children!

My biggest challenges this year are in the areas of Science and Social Studies. Our state changed all the grade level expectations and my curriculum is completely new in both areas. Last year, my district informed us that we were to follow the new objectives. That would be a whole lot easier if we had materials to work with. However, we have NO text books and very limited resources. I'm always scrambling to try and find age/grade level materials that will work with my class. Sometimes, it feels like I am making bricks without straw! However, the more I delve into it, the better it goes.

Like everything else..........just gotta hang in there! Keep posting, J. Elaine.......I always enjoy reading your blogs!

JKB
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J.Elaine
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Jkb
Old 01-10-2010, 09:06 AM
  #3

JKB,
It's great to hear from you. I read your blog the other day -- about your "firsts" over Christmas. I enjoyed reading and sharing in your successes throughout the holiday.

Like you, I have more time now than ever before in my life. I can just decide to do whatever I want to do -- most of the time. I do have a daughter and A LOT of grandchildren!!!!!!!!

It's true -- there is never enough time, but maybe you're on to something. Maybe it's just that we never know when to stop. When I work in my classroom (like our workday last Monday) I have to set limits for myself. For example: work on the room until 10:00; do grades until 11:00; stop for lunch; do lesson plans until 2:00; prepare copies; go home!!!!!!!! Of course, I don't always follow those guidelines, but if I didn't set them, I'd never know when to stop.

We go back to school tomorrow for sure. I am in the process of writing a study guide for our science test. Then I'm going to organize and gather my supplies and go to school to make copies. Our school is on crusade against "worksheets," so I don't have a lot to copy. ( That sounds like a new blog topic to me!!!!!!!!)

When your GLEs changed, did you (the teachers) have to write the new curriculum? We are constantly writing new curriculum, new common assessments, etc. A couple of years ago we got a new math text (which I don't use at all!), new reading text, and new science text. Good grief!!! The teacher next door to me says, "Just shoot me now and get it over with!" That' the way it feels sometimes.

I just checked your profile again and see you are teaching 3rd graders -- right? I will be 4th grade again next year. Maybe we can share some ideas. Anyway, it's great hearing from you. If we keep blogging, we can keep up with each other. I'd love that!!!!

In the meantime here in Missouri, work awaits!

Later . . .
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