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Let's talk about work activity time!!
Old 07-31-2006, 10:05 AM
 
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Hi everyone! Luvtolearn just posted the following message in an earlier thread, and I think it's a really good topic to talk about!! I'll share what I've done, and maybe we can brainstorm some other approaches to eliciting these kinds of responses from our kids.

Luvtolearn-- I hope you don't mind that I pasted your idea here!! I just think that it's such a good topic that it deserves it's own thread!

Luvtolearn's POST:

So I just finished this chapter and I want to discuss the Work activity time. I have to admit, the children making inferences and then building clay models, or playing teacher for connections did not seem to be a reality. I am optimistic as the next teacher, but it seems a little far fetched as I don't have time to let the students do even developmental play outside of readers workshop, writer's workshop, phonics, and hopefully guided reading groups.

Where does she find the time for that? I can picture work time in my class and incorporate her ideas, but I have trouble with it being so open and how to get them to that point. It was vague on how to get them there, without it just saying to let them explore the materials. I of course know you would show them examples and have them do it together, but I just can't wrap my head around this as I feel that some of the children may just plain waste their time.

What do you all think? Any ideas for meaningful center/work activity time? I am searching for new ideas to serve up this year. Let me know if anyone has had success with letting them completely go like that.


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work activity time
Old 07-31-2006, 10:20 AM
 
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OK- so here's what I did this year. I called this time Project Choice Time, but I didn't start it until about March. By March, my guided reading groups were fizzling a bit-- I was getting a lot more out of my kids at reader's workshop. So, in my guided reading/center time, I introduced Project Choice Time.

Mine wasn't as free as Debbie's. I explained it as a time where kids could "study" anything they wanted that pertained to books. I gave them a form that had a whole bunch of choices on it. The choices were all things we had done throughout the year. They would have to get me to sign before they could begin their project, and most worked in partners.

The procedure was:
1. Working alone or with a partner, decide what you want to study (an author, illustrator, non-fiction subject, characters, a series, etc.)

2. Get a Project Planning sheet and fill it out (ATTACHED) Planning sheets have room to write what their plan is and how they will carry it out and how they will share it with the class.

3. Meet with me and I'll sign it if everything looks doable.

4. Gather the materials you'll need. (Kids put all materials-- large chart paper, the books they were using, markers, sometimes post-its in a little bin that I bought at the dollar store-- these bins proved to be KEY to organization!!)

5. Start following through on your plan!

6. When you and your partner think you are finished and have practiced your sharing component, sign up on the Sharing Sheet.

I took an entire week to model to them how I would "study" the characters in the Poppleton series. If I would have abbreviated this modeling stages, everyone would have been done on day 2. Because I dragged it out and really worked out each step, they all took 1-2 weeks per project.

I was REALLY impressed by what my kids could do, and they handled it so responsibily. Now, I'm thinking about how I want this to look this year. I like doing it later in the year because they have so much background knowledge, they are more independent, and I could use the guided reading block.

I also have another time in my day called FYOE reading time (For Your Own Enjoyment), and I'm thinking that I may encourage some experimenting from the kids during this time earlier in the year. I hold this time at the very end of the day for about 15-25 minutes, and it's during this time that they can read the room, read their journals, or read any book they want, regardless of level. I actually steal from our social studies time to do FYOE reading, but it's SOOOO worth it.

I'd love to hear anyone else's ideas about incorporating "work activity" kinds of stuff....

Attached Files
File Type: doc project choice time planning sheet.doc (20.5 KB, 392 views)
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So Happy
Old 07-31-2006, 04:41 PM
 
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I am so happy this thread was started. I have been working on my daily schedule and want so much to include W.A.T. into my days. I reread the section in Reading w/ Meaning just last night and underlined the word "Patience." I think waiting on someone to do something noteworthy definitely takes a lot of patience! I am at a loss at how to start this in 2nd grade and would love any ideas b/c I want to start at the beg. of the year. One thing that I have found helpful is to "plant" ideas in a child's mind that you think will go through with the plan and then make a big deal when they do it! Anyway, I love the planning sheet and would also love any ideas on how to start this time!

Lana/SC
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Patience with W.A.T.
Old 07-31-2006, 05:41 PM
 
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Of course you can share my post! I am so glad it started a discussion because I think we can all learn from this one. That chart is great and I will use it. I guess I do have to think of patience and what my 2nd graders are capable of, which is a lot. I like your ideas BookMuncher and I can see how you can get them there if you do proper modeling. Can you comment on any difficulties? What about the lowest kids? Did you find that kids only stuck to the same projects? Did the children have a time line to finish? How did you handle a slacker or timewaster (not to be negative, but I want to hear language you used to get those kids involved again)? I too would like to start at the beginning of the year since 2nd graders are ready for that.

I have always had more structured centers in my class... such as poem center, listening, writing, computers, etc. that relate to our read aloud and strategy. I was thinking of working these in as well. Do you think it has to be totally open to explore or should I start with more structure and slowly "release responsibility" as Debbie would say as I model more options for W.A.T.? Then maybe they will have a grasp on the strategies better to work on their own a few months into the school year. Thoughts?
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Good Idea
Old 08-01-2006, 02:44 AM
 
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I think starting it at the beginning of the year it will be more like free explore with materials. I am thinking of brainstorming and charting list of ideas with the kids of what they could do during the time (we can add to it throughout the entire year)....easy things like paint/build with blocks a setting from a favorite book, draw and label the characters from a story, chart your connections from a book you enjoy, retell a story using puppets (they could make them) etc. Any other ideas of easy things they can do at the beg. of the year? I think by starting simple and letting them get used to this time of day it will be easy to build on the possibilities. I am lovin' this thread! Let's keep the wheels churnin' and the ideas comin'!

Lana/SC


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getting started
Old 08-01-2006, 05:43 AM
 
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Lanagamma-- I think you're on the right track with exploration time. I think that to try this for the first time, it can't be totally free like Debbie Miller- because remember, she was just letting them play with clay, build with blocks, etc. I would I have more confidence that this time would transform into meaningful reading work only AFTER I've taught in this way for a couple of years. Even though you're opening it up to total free choice, you are giving them parameters by limiting it to things that have to do with books. This is the reason why I'm not goint to called it Work Activity Time-- I think this year I'm going to name it just Book Project.

LuvtoLearn-- I didn't really have kids who weren't engaged (except for ONE- see below), and I think that was because of the choice end of it. They were so pumped about doing something that THEY wanted, that they slipped right into the role of "responsible student." I did have regular sharing sessions to point out things that were going right. I often would ring the bell in the middle of Project Choice time and point out a group that was doing something helpful to guide their learning.

The one kid who I did have who was not engaged has some issues working with others. (I think he may fall somewhere on the spectrum) We tried for about a week to keep him with his partner, and although she kept pulling him in, he would just be found somewhere else in the room or looking at their books for the wrong thing, etc. Eventually, I told her to continue on and I helped him focus on a project that I knew he'd be obsessed with and from that time on, he worked really well alone.

As far as getting stuck, I didn't really do it long enough for them to really get stuck. Some groups did do a non-fiction inquiry every time, but I was fine with that, because it made more room for non-fiction reading in our curriculum. I have a feeling that if I would have done it longer, those groups would have eventually tired of that and followed the lead of a group they saw in sharing time.
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Project Choice Time
Old 08-01-2006, 05:52 PM
 
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Thanks for the ideas, they are all great! Lannagamma, I love the idea about the chart before hand. It is all about modeling, isn't it? Bookmuncher, thanks for sharing insight on the kids from your class. I guess when they get to choose, there must be a much higher interest level. BookMuncher, did you assign groups or partners? If so, according to level? Or did you just let them work alone, in a group, or with partners at their own choosing based on interest? How did you collect or check their work?

I am not clear on one thing. During this time, what is the teacher doing? This is separate from Reader's Workshop, so is this conference time too or is this the independent time when I can call groups for reading?
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Old 08-02-2006, 03:53 AM
 
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I assigned partners for the very first time-- mostly just so that no one would fight and I did do it partially by ability too. I told them that whatever topic they chose, both partners needed to be able to read the books. Non-fiction can often be mixed ability because there are different levels of books on the same topic. After that first time, I let the groups take form on their own.

I had originally thought that I would keep pulling some groups during this time, but I was really wrong. They really do need support. I think they could do it on their own (I did do some testing at the end of the year during this time), but without the teacher, it is not as meaningful. They need you there, rotating around, asking questions, guiding them so that their work is the best it can be.

I'm reading Lucy Caulkins right now, and she feels that if want children to value their work, we have to value it by being there for it. (??? It is a different way of looking at it) She runs REALLY awesome centers that remind me a lot of this project choice time,and she is there for them. She doesn't put as much stock in guided reading and probably only pulls about one-- maybe 2 short groups-- during part of their reader's workshop. Her ideas of "centers" (don't know why she calls them that-- kids don't rotate and they are basically doing these kinds of projects) are one of the most important time a day, and she works with kids on their reading and talking the whole time. I don't really know where all this leaves me??!! It's a much different way of looking at my daily structure, BUT if I did it this way, then I my kids would be engaged in meaningful reading work the whole morning.

If you don't have the book, I would REALLY recommend reading just that chapter in the library or barnes and nobles-- that chapter can stand alone, and it is a LOT like project choice time, but makes more sense to me. The book is The Art Of Teaching Reading by Caulkins, and you want the chapter about K-1 Centers.
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The Art of Teaching Reading
Old 08-02-2006, 06:22 PM
 
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Yes, I have seen that book. We used it for a professional development a few years ago but I do not have my own copy, so I will check it out. Now I feel even more confused though about how to set up my schedule. Since I have the 2 hours, and need to squeeze in a bit of the basal, I have to figure out how to fit it in. Bookmuncher the schedule you outlined for me was great and gave me a lot to think about. I am basically going to review the basal story a little bit and do the rest reader's workshop each week along with writer's workshop almost daily if I can. so I think I will start the way she does and just settle in and see how it goes. Then start structured centers with guided reading and then ease them into more project time as they learn what they are.

Bookmuncher- Sorry to nag about all of your procedures, but I am assuming you modeled final products for each of the project choices. Did you have separate sheets for each project or did they do it on their own? Can you give me an example of what a product of a fantasy fiction study or realistic fiction study would look like? Do they list things they notice?
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final projects
Old 08-03-2006, 04:14 AM
 
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Actually, I didn't model and end-project for all of them because I didn't want them to think that they had to do it a certain way. Since we did so many charts and venns and lists during the year, I knew they had a good base. They never had trouble thinking about what they could do to keep track, and if they did, then when I met with them, I would suggest a format.

A realistic ficiont study might be a story map chart with character/setting/problem/solution/theme at the top and then filled in for a whole bunch of realistic fiction stories. The kids might then look for some patterns. A fantasy fiction study might just be a list of things they noticed that were common across these books: magic, flying, animals that talk, etc... Sometimes kids like to incorporate art into these, so maybe it would be more like a poster of different elements of fantasy with labels on them.

That said, I think my way of thinking about project choice time is changing after reading Caulkins.... her's are much more organic, and the kids learn how to talk about books by first engaging in some whole class inquiries- like a study of ABC books. Through these whole class studies, the teacher is not so much teaching them about ways to show their knowledge but about ways to read across a set of books and how to talk about them. Pretty soon, partner groups at reader's workshop start noticing patterns and they form a study group. I think I'm going to even re-read this chapter again, and then formulate a new plan. Ahhh!! If I stopped reading it would actually be easier!!


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Bookmuncher...
Old 08-04-2006, 05:09 AM
 
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Would you please, please, please email me your project planning sheet??? I can't open attachments from ProTeacher for some reason (not just yours, but everyone's) and I've read posts from you about your awesome project time before. I'd love to see your sheet! My email is annieteach2002@yahoo.com

Thanks BookMuncher!

As for other ideas about meaningful work time...I'll have to get back to you on that one. It's something I'm still working on
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I'm still here!
Old 08-18-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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I'm still here too! Just have been busy getting my room set up and travelling. I think I am also going to start the year off with guided reading groups/structured literacy centers and then as the year goes on transition into project time. I want to build community and practice lots of routine at the beginning before I give them TOO much freedom! ;-)
I do recommend Academic Choice (in the responsive classroom series). It has great ideas for giving kids various projects and other choice time activities (for all ages really). I ordered it this summer and have found it to be very helpful!

As far as the guided reading vs/readers workshop - I have to do guided reading at my school, but I think it is good anyway so that's fine. I do Readers workshop first thing in the morning when the kids come in, then morning meeting and then phonics, reading workshop mini-lesson & guided reading/centers all during my morning literacy block. Writing last year I had to do in the afternoon but hope to fit it in my morning if the schedule works out this year.
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Project Choice Planning Sheet
Old 04-30-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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Dear Bookmuncher,
I tried to open your file and it is not allowing me to view it. Could you email it to me at bcook@coppellisd.com ?

Thanks!!
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