Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Writer's Workshop

Since Spring Break, we have been having a "Writer's Workshop" in the Grade 2-3 Classroom each day for about 30 - 40 minutes.  I attended an Inservice a while back where I learned from a fellow teacher how she makes this program work in her classroom.
 There are five stations in this system.  This bulletin board helps keep track of where everyone is in the process.  On two days, students write in their journals.  It may be a story, writing about their weekend, facts about something they know or poetry.  The third station is Conferencing.  Students go through a checklist with one of their writing pieces and then sit with me to do a final editing and polishing of the piece.  This is a time not to just work on spelling and other conventions but to work on expressive descriptive language , word choice, and sentence length.
Next,  I  type the edited story into book form.  The next station, called Publishing, gives time to personalize the book with pictures, a dedication, about the author, and publishing information.  The final station is called special project and that is where the students go out of the room with Mrs. Perreault and learn and create a form of writing like haiku, acrostic poems, diamond poems, etc.
At the end of the five day rotation, everyone has a book like the ones pictured above, that becomes a part of our classroom library.  Students were proud to share their first book with their parents at our Celebration of Learning.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Plural Noun Spelling

Our current class focus in Spelling has been how to make words plural.  We have learned the special rules to follow when a word ends with certain letters. 
There is an online game to practice the skill that the kids have been enjoying playing to reinforce the skill.  It is called The Billionaire Nouns Plural Game and you can find it here.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Studying Medieval Times

This week we have begun studying about life in Medieval Times as part of a Social Studies unit of looking at life in another time.  There are many new words to learn and things to find out about the way life was lived in from 500 - 1500 A.D.  We are fortunate to have many great picture books in the school library to help us learn.
I have also chosen a Read Aloud on the theme too.  It's the first book from the Dragon Slayer's Academy by Kate McMullen called The New Kid At School.  I try to take 15 or 20 minutes each day to review what's happened so far and read on.  This book gives great opportunities to practise figuring out new words using clues in the sentence.  We have come across words like minstrel, hovel, hoards, tunic and lute and made sense of them together.
Another part of the unit is a "Medieval Word of the Day" that the students have recorded in their agenda and were asked to spend a couple of minutes at home with their families finding out what it means.  This week the words were portcullis, nobility and gargoyles.  I decided to add this piece to the unit to encourage the theme study at home and also work on the responsibility needed to remember to complete and return "homework".  

We will continue the theme for a few more weeks and also begin projects at school based on some part of Medieval life.

New and Exciting Seating Arrangement!

After Spring Break, the students were excited to step through the Room 21 door to see the changes to the room that we had discussed previously.  Rather than having name tags on the table and assigned seats, students were free to choose the best spot for them to work and were welcome to move as the day went on for different activities.  "Choosing the best spot for you" is difficult for some children but it is important to know where and who they can work well with.  I am a strong believer in self regulation and often use the phrase "It's not my job to keep you working, that's yours".

We have 3 tables that stayed at the same height as before and they work with the Zuma Rockers and the Hokki Stool as well as our primary chairs.  Two of the tables were raised so they work with the adult chairs and one table was raised to the top to be a standing table.  We had read about standing desks in a Grade One class in Delisle, Saskatchewan and wanted to try it out.

After four days in this classroom, we wanted to share the pros and cons of what we are finding.
Pros (Good things we've noticed about the room arrangement)
  • you can sit by your friends
  • you can get your work done
  • you can choose where you sit to work
  • there's more space to walk around in the class room
  • if there's a table spot that you don't want or don't like, you can move
  • tall kids don't have their legs squished under the tables
  • you can switch during the day
  • we can share the Zuma rockers and Hokki stool more
Cons (Things that don't work so well as compared to the old way)
  • standing table can make your legs and feet sore
  • the standing table squeaks and if someone is trying to read or concentrate, it's annoying
  • your feet can fall asleep if you sit on an adult chair and your feet don't touch the ground
  • tall people might have to sit at small tables if there's no room left at the bigger ones
  • you can lose your spot if you go for a drink of water or something and end up at a table where you get distracted easily
  • kids rushing in from recess or waiting outside the door to get in first
  • losing your things - (pencils, erasers, water bottles) because you are at different spots
If you are a Room 21 parent, please take a few minutes to chat with your child about what they are finding and send me an email or comment below.