Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Next Year, New Grade

I have enjoyed my time these past two years in third grade very much. The students are independent (they can tie their shoes!), our class discussions were filled with details (and fewer "stories"), and the subject content was so interesting. Next year I will be moving to fourth grade, which is departmentalized, and teach two mathematics and science classes. A dream position! I am glad for the summer but already looking forward to next school year!

Sunday, May 14, 2017


I have noticed a couple of similarities with third grade students who need extra help with reading.

1. They are still tracking print with their finger when reading. This slows the reading and then affects their comprehension. Decades ago (in first grade) the rule of thumb was to give them a bookmark or an index card to place under the sentences and then move down as they read. I think in an effort to make students appear more "engaged" we have prolonged tracking print with their fingers.

This is especially important to fix as students are reading more passages and articles on the computer, especially for testing. You might see them reaching out to touch the screen or rereading words, phrases, and sentences more often.

2. For vocabulary, using context clues should be used in conjunction with structured vocabulary lessons. Has the common core standard which requires students to use context clues in reading replaced the need for teachers to just teach words? No doubt they need to use context clues when reading. Sometimes context clues are not enough, they need more direct instruction.  It is not just science and social studies content words that are difficult, but words like "remember" or "disappointed." 

One strategy I have used this year is before reading the passage together (choral or partner), I dedicated the first five minutes for them to read it silently and highlight words that are unfamiliar. As a class we discussed the words and sometimes I would display a visual for the word using my laptop.

My reasoning for this was to allow them to first use the context clues to find meaning and provide support only for those words they had trouble with. I worry with the reading shift away from using books and instead using passages as the primary source for reading instruction, that we are limiting students' vocabulary. If we move away from using books for reading instruction, then maybe we should bring back a scheduled read-aloud time for the intermediate students.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fitness Goals

As I move past the mid-40's and I am on my way to the big 5-0, it is time for me to get serious about taking better care of myself. In the past I have been a Happy New Year starter who fizzles out by Valentine's Day. Recently, I have been making great strides in committing to my health and fitness goals and I wanted to share some "tools" that are helping me along the way.
Dancing has always been something I LOVE to do. I have never taken dance lessons, nor am I very graceful or coordinated. However, it is an online dance fitness class that has become my favorite thing to do every day. In fact, my "dance" clothing is neatly folded ready for a quick change when I get home! I was on youtube looking for dance exercise videos and I put together a playlist to try out. My favorite videos were from Shine Dance Fitness. I visited the website and placed my membership that day. I have not missed a class in the past week and a half. If you are looking for a fun and fast daily workout, I highly recommend Shine.
Here is the link to Shine Dance Fitness.

Another tool that is helping me reach my goals is an app called itrackbites. It allows me to log meals daily and then converts everything to a score. There is even a message board community that is very active. The link is here.

With summer quickly approaching, I wanted to share some motivation 
for any fitness goals you might have during your time off!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Retirement...not mine

Just wanted to give a shout-out to my mother who is retiring at the end of this school year after spending 36.5 years teaching. Her experience spans all lower elementary grades and Title I reading. We have spend most of my career teaching at the same schools and I will miss seeing her daily. I have no idea what we will talk about now! I can not remember a time when my mother was not either a college student taking education classes or actually in the classroom. It is a bittersweet time, more for me than her. Congratulations mom, I am so proud of you!
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