"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Treasures' Resources

I mentioned in the CAFE segment that I used powerpoints for introducing vocabulary with our basal series. Here is a fabulous teacher who has done an incredible job of compiling several teachers' work making resources to go with the Treasures series. It contains second and third grade materials.

Why "The Pathfinder Post"???

Palmer's Pathfinders was my class name each year. The picture on our shirts had the base station for the Mars Rover Sojourner. The Pathfinder was the name for the space craft that landed a base station and rover in 1997 on Mars. The kids always liked it after they learned about space and its meaning. I have a book that we read during a guided reading time for each group and then of course space was my thing. In some form or fashion, I managed to pull in space talk most every day. I hope one day to be sitting in my rocking chair watching the news about one of my former students blasting off for Mars.

The following is how we defined Pathfinders...

What are Pathfinders?
Pathfinders are those who are not content to just stay in one place, but they seek to go to the next frontier. Our nation has had many pathfinders. Those who came to this nation for the first time, those who traveled west on the Conestoga wagons, and those who traveled into space. Like those of the past, we are ready to be the next pathfinders ---- wherever that may lead us.


After successfully implementing the Daily 5, I added the CAFE piece the next year. It is based on the
 2 Sisters book, The CAFE: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary and Assessment. It took time especially the first year...not an overnight success thing for me. It was difficult to walk away from the security of the basal. You can still incorporate your basal skills and do CAFE. You can choose your basal skills to add to your board and add them as they come in your basal or you can go full blast and add them as the Sisters suggest. I think the strategies that match your state standards and the board organization make a good pairing. The teaching strategies taught in the book are great for making sure that children apply the reading strategies to their reading.



For my third grade class....this is how I set up my week using the basal....
On Monday...  For the first whole group lesson, I introduced the new basal story by building background and going over the vocabulary with a powerpoint lesson. This lesson takes longer than other lessons during the week. Then we began our first round of choice.

*I did the call out and select method that the 2 Sisters use. The only adjustment that I made was to use a chart with the Daily 5 choices at the top and names on the side. That way I could just place a check mark in the column. It was easy to glance across the chart and see if they were selecting those elements of Daily 5 that were needed by them. For example, some need to go to Work on Words more often than others. I listed Read to Self first and had five boxes because they have to go everyday, then I had the other 4 choices. Each day students participated in two rounds, one of which was Read to Self .D5check-in.docx

Then, we returned to our seats for a mini lesson on comprehension. This was our basal comprehension lesson, and we added it to our CAFE board during the week. Then, it would be time for the second round of Daily 5 choices.

I always liked to end up the day with a summary of the day/review, and I found that at the end of the reading block was a great time to do those workbook pages if you needed those for evaluation purposes.

On Tuesday, we reviewed our comprehension skill for the week and often used a picture book or powerpoint lesson to teach it more in depth. Then, we began our first round. On the second whole group lesson, we listened to our main basal selection. Off to the second round. Again, I always used the end for any workbook pages for evaluation purposes.

On Wednesday, the mini lesson was vocabulary related and basal related, such as multiple meaning words, or adding affixes, then first round of Daily 5 choices. The second whole group lesson, we reread our basal story. This could be done in different ways. Sometimes we read it to ourselves, other times together, mostly it depended on the story itself. Then, off to the second round, then on Wednesdays, we took our story test at the end of the reading block.

Thursday was a skill lesson related to the second selection of the week (usually a nonfiction reading). First round, then for the second whole group lesson, we read and discussed the second reading selection of the basal. Second round of choice.

*During their two rounds of choice, I met with small groups and did individual conferences. I did a combination of strategy groups and guided reading for small groups. As the year progressed, and I knew my students better, I found myself doing more strategy groups and conferences.

Fridays were my assessment days. I gave the FCAT weekly test and I did SRAs which I LOVE!!!! I only did Read to Self on Fridays.

Sometimes....you just have to break away from that basal and have fun doing a literature unit with a class set of novels. It is a great way to build enthusiasm for reading and to model sooooo many things. Maybe that is why it is often labeled Shared Reading. More about that later.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daily 5

I began using the Daily 5 and CAFÉ four years ago. I was completely frustrated with my reading block. This frustration was due in part to moving to a new school where the practices I had used at my previous school just weren't working. I remembered seeing the 2 Sisters book, The Daily 5, while serving for a very short time as a literacy coach. I had been intrigued with it at the time and wondered why no one was talking about it. I purchased it and began to ponder if there was a way to make it work in my new setting. I dabbled with it just adding the features of Read to Self.

I must say I love Daily 5 and CAFÉ. It may not be for everyone and as always, a teacher has to customize a plan to fit her needs, strengths/weaknesses, and administrator’s wishes. I would caution teachers to not use the term Daily 5 to describe their reading instruction if it doesn’t meet what the 2 Sisters have written and published. Call it a modified version.

 The following is how I integrated the Daily 5 into my program and pictures of how it looked in my classroom.
 The most important piece in my opinion is Read to Self. The Sisters recommend starting with it first. It is the cornerstone piece. We began with making our I chart. Those are important pieces as well. Don’t skimp on setting up those procedures or making I charts that the students can refer to because even the best and brightest students will need reminders occasionally. I am one of those that has to tell the kids that I will recopy it to make it look neat, b/c I wouldn’t be able to tolerate looking at it any other way!

                                                         My I chart wall...

Here are some of my students around the room doing read to self. My only really big rule other than the standard ones you would think of like choosing your spot carefully so as to avoid distractions is….. "Do not get under anything". My students always had a tendency to want to get under their desks or under the computer cabinets. I am not comfortable with that because I can’t see their eyes.

One thing I wrestled with when I started was... do I call it “Daily 5” and “Read to Self” when I was starting midyear. We had SSR and station names, etc. I ended up deciding  to go for it. I called the class together, and told them I was going to revamp what we did with our time. I gave them a little information on why, but not too much. They don’t really care…they just want to feel confidence that you are in control and know how to run the room.

 Here are pictures of our students doing Work on Writing. I started with that second. I will share more about our ideas for writing later. We continued to work on Read to Self and Work on Writing separately for now.

Then I added Read to Someone and Listen to Reading. Here are photos of this. For Read to Someone, they could choose their own books, our basal and leveled readers, or from a basket of books. I went to the library every 2 weeks and checked out a variety of picture books (fiction and nonfiction) to place in the basket. For Read to Someone, my school had been a CARBO school when cassette tapes were big, so I brought those in and then utilized 2 of my 3 computers for listening websites.

Then I added Work on Words. I had one of those white Rubbermaid stacking trays with different activities in there to choose from.


I would say to make sure you make your I charts and emphasize the I stands for Independent. This is not station work or group time. Have frequent reminders of what the expectations are when you see behaviors slip. They are kids!!!

 Follow the book and for me joining their website for a year was extremely helpful. The videos they have that demonstrate and model what they are talking about were super. I just did what I saw and it worked.

 For Read to Self, I used the following chart on a clipboard to keep up with what they were reading. You must have some accountability. I did that before I started CAFÉ , and I continued it even after I began the CAFÉ the next year. I called it my Status of the Class, and it can be done anytime of the day or when conferencing as well. I usually took care of it at the beginning or end of the rounds for Daily 5. It is a great way to see if they are really reading without an actual conference.

I write what the students are reading each day and what page they are on. When they finish reading it and take an AR test on it, I highlight it. If they abandon it, I cross through it. I keep all 36 weeks on a clipboard. I can easily flip through and see if they are completing books looking for those highlights or are they starting but never finishing with those crossed out lines. I can also see if it is taking them a long time to complete a book. It is a quick glance with lots of information gathered.
For Work on Writing, I created Writing Menus. This idea was adapted from Melissa Forney’s book The Writing Menu. I love her and all highly recommend all of her books. She is incredible in person. You may have noticed in the pictures above the orange paper. That is a writing menu.
*I will include a sample later.

For Work on Words, I had magnetic letters for spelling, word sorts, etc. I also used Patricia Cunningham’s Making Words books and Tim Rasinski’s Word Ladders' books.


Meet the Coach

I have been teaching since 1983. Time does fly ---it is hard to believe I am in my 31st year of teaching. I left the classroom to take the job as science coach three years ago. I have always enjoyed teaching science, so I consider this a fun way to spend my last few years of the career. I have had the privilege for the last three years to open science labs in three schools. The science labs are part of a DODea grant (Department of Defense Education Activity). I am at three schools each week in the "Science Stations" working with students and their teachers. The goal of the grant is promote  a love of science with children as well as promote science content with teachers.

We can instill a love for science at an early age. Children naturally love the subject. I can remember my first experiences with science. I discovered the books that I had in elementary school on Ebay. I purchased many of them including my science, social studies, and reading books.

These are my science books for grades 3-5. I actually have the set for grades 1-5.

I still remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Dees, doing this experiment as we all gathered around her desk.

On a side note, I love collecting old science books on my favorite topic, space. In fact, I collect space books period...A frequent sentiment from my husband is "how many books are you going to order?" :)

Now for a bit about me...
I was born and raised in Alabama. I graduated from Auburn University, and it was there that I met my husband, Jeff who is a FWB native. Jeff is a middle school principal. We have two children, Lindsay and Paul-Allen. Lindsay is a senior at Auburn this year. She is carrying on the family tradition. WAR EAGLE! Paul Allen is attending Northwest Florida State. It seems like only yesterday they were in elementary school with me. Whew!!! We also have 2 or 3? dogs! That means we have 2 here all the time and Lindsay has one at college with her, so when she is home, we have three. It can get a little nutty around here sometimes. Lucy is a 7 year old Springer Spaniel, Lemony is a 3 year old Golden Retriever, and Gracie (Lindsay's dog) is a 4 year old greyhound mix. They are lots of fun even though they can be very messy. I love dogs!!!

Lemony and Lucy
My hobbies include reading , especially about history and space. I might just be a space nerd! I   have loved it since I was a kid and grew up at the right time to be fascinated by it. Maybe there is a bit of farmer in me also, because I love growing things, especially roses and geraniums. I like to sew and cross-stitch, but those hobbies have often taken a back seat to doing things with my family and working with preschoolers at my church.

While in the classroom, my mission for the class was...To provide a safe learning experience that encourages children to explore the world around them and to continue their intellectual and academic growth. I want to challenge and nurture each student in such a way that they are willing to work hard and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. The only difference is now...I want to encourage and support teachers as they teach science in ever-changing times.

 I can't think of a better, more rewarding job except for being a mother. I truly have been blessed.
It is my hope that as I near retirement and work in my new position, that I can share some encouragement to teachers out there.