WFMAD Challenge: Write 15 Minutes a Day — Public Post: Happy Labor Day!

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I am using my day off to relax, and to reflect on my opportunity to work as a teacher.  In this day and age, I am lucky to have a job — with days off, no less — and I thank all of those who came before me for fighting for my labor rights.

My right, as a woman, to work in the public arena and gather a decent wage (as small as that wage seems sometimes).

My right, as a teacher, to develop curriculum and assist students in becoming our future leaders.

My right, as a professional, to learn and grow as I see fit.

My right, as a citizen, to read, write, and continue to develop my own ideas and goals.

My right, as a leader in my field, to fight for our continued well-being. Bless all you teachers out there! I’m with ‘ya!

Happy Labor Day!

Curriculum Tip for August 13, 2013: Back to School Supplies are Expensive!

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I have learned to “write what I know.” As we prepare to enter another school year, one thing I know is that back-to-school supplies are expensive!  But as a parent and a teacher, I can tell you with confidence that shopping for school supplies doesn’t have to make parents, students, or teachers crazy if we all follow some simple guidelines.  Here’s my perspective:

1.  Shop the sales! I know, I cannot stand to think about school at the end of July, but that is when the sales start.  Stock up on paper, pencils, and folders. You know, no matter what grade or subject, you’ll need those.

2.  DO NOT buy what you DO NOT need!  Students, please don’t tell your parents you need those glitter pens, small staplers, colorful Post-it notes in all sizes, or fancy leather portfolios. Unless it’s on the school supply list from your school, you do not need any of these items! Parents: Don’t fall for it! Stick to the list from your child’s school.  Teachers: Don’t ask for what you won’t use in the classroom, either.  All those unneeded items just lead to clutter and chaos.

3.  If you don’t have a list, here’s a suggestion for standard supplies that WILL BE USED during the school year:

loose leaf paper (a LOT–you need it every day, maybe for every subject)

2 spiral notebooks (college or wide ruled, 70 sheets standard) for each subject

pencils (a LOT–students break them, lose them, give them to friends, and the school pencil sharpeners eat them up)

folders (2-pocket plain folders are standard)

reading and writing (and possibly science and math) notebooks (composition-type books work well for the most part)

small scissors, a pack of glue sticks, colored pencils (the 12-pack is plenty!)

2 large boxes of tissues (name brands not necessary)

2 rolls of paper towels (to help with cleaning the classroom, extras for washing hands before lunch, etc.)

This list of school supplies will get you started.  Seriously. If anything else is needed, parents, please help your student to buy the items, or ask your school for help. (Teachers don’t mind helping, when necessary and not perceived as wasteful or a way to take advantage  of them.)  Students, come to school ready with these basic items. Your teachers will love you, and you’ll be off to a great school year.  Teachers, remember our goal is to educate students. Think about the supplies you will really need, and create a thoughtful list for your families.

And of course, have a great school year!

Curriculum Tip: April 2, 2013

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Taking a Break

It’s spring break here, and I was just thinking about how great it is to have some time to read for fun. No homework, no lessons, no projects. Just reading. Research concludes that any time spent reading helps one to become a better reader. What are you reading?

Spring Break Book List — Feel free to share your list with us!

Life of Pi (Martel)

The Happiness Project (Rubin)

Liar & Spy (Stead)

The Last Lecture (Pausch)

My Beloved World (Sotomayor)

Sharing: Have a Reading & Writing Sort of Summer!

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I am so excited to share that my friend and colleague has started a wonderful business! Check out http://www.ANovelTime.com, featured in the community section of the South Bend Tribune (our local newspaper)! Students will be able to read, write, discuss, and share work through an online curriculum starting this summer.

What an exciting venture!

See the news story at www.southbendtribune.com/community/sbt-granger-woman-launches-online-summer-program-20130324,0,5550467.story

Curriculum Tip: March 19, 2013

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Thoughts on Oral Reading Fluency 

Recently, I was teaching an oral reading (fluency) lesson that led me to a teachable moment: never mistake “expression” in oral reading fluency with “volume.” As we practiced using modeling and choral reading, I noticed the students becoming increasingly louder with each line of a poem. After a few minutes of this shared practice, there was nothing but yelling — not at all fluent reading!

I stopped the class. I asked why. They told me. “You said to read with expression.

Ah, yes. But…Expression does NOT equal “loud.” Expression does NOT equal “high volume.” Expression does NOT mean “yell.”

Through a little conversation with the class, I found that most of the lessons about expression that I had used in the past were scripts or passages where a character was mad, or was yelling to save some other character from danger.  Although these characters’ words were excellent models to introduce fluent reading with expression, I never did include other expressive passages in the practice phase, such as whispering to quiet a baby, trying to talk while gasping for air after a track meet, or growling to express controlled, mounting anger.

So the tip of today comes straight from my classroom: In oral reading fluency, “expression” and “volume” are not the same.

HAVE A GREAT DAY! (But don’t yell.):)

Back to Normal

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Today was the first day of school in a long time that I could consider normal. ISTEP standardized testing is over, for now, and “real” teaching begins again.  It will be a great week, too, with a new reading unit (science fiction), new writing unit (reviews), and the Comfort Day celebration on Thursday (mix “pi” day in there, as well!).

What are you reading? Share with us.

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