Thursday, March 13, 2008

Student-Led Conferences

As I sit here reflecting on the first night of student-led conferences, I cannot help but smile. We spend several days (if not all year) preparing for the conferences. Students fill out reflection sheets and pick special pieces to share with their families. We talk about why student-led conferenes are important. It helps students have a sense of ownership, purpose and responsibility with their learning. Selfishly, these types of conferences provide some of MY favorite times of the year. The kids are so excited to share their learning with their families. The rich conversations I over hear between student and family remind me of why I love this profession. I hear about learning that the student feels really strong in and other areas where they feel they can grow. I hear problem solving and affirmation. I see pride from both student and parent. It seems as if families see the learning process in different ways and feel more comfortable in the classroom (asking questions and looking around) then they do in parent/teacher led conferences. If you have not given student led conferences a try, I highly recommend them. It is a real treat for everyone involved.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reflective Practioner

As a novice teacher, my pedagogy and practices are constantly evolving and probably will be for the rest of my career. I do not yet have much to share on what might work in the classroom or advice on how to teach as I borrow many ideas from colleages I admire. I am still getting my footing in the classroom and really thinking about what I truly believe about how to learn. With this being said, there is very little I value you more professionally then the time to reflect on my practices. In the craziness of teaching, I often find it difficult to allow myself the time to really reflect on the days work. I am hoping this blog will allow me the outlet to generate some quality reflections on my teaching and learning with my students so that I can grow as an educator and, in turn, continue to inspire my students to love learning....cause that's what's it's all about....right?

Grammar and Mechancis

It's such a challenge to motivate children see the value in and then actually thoughtfully adempt the editing process of literacy. In a day when there are so many D.O.L (daily oral language) and Daily Edit worksheets (which I am guilty of using), it is hard to think of authentic ways to implement editing in my classroom. The kids look at it as a chore and I can't blame them because I was never very good at or liked grammar and mechanics myself. That is until last night. I attended a workshop on Grammar and Mechanics in the Context of the Literacy Workshop. It changed the way I saw teaching/learning editing. Jeff Anderson sums up the class with this quote from his book Mechanically Inclined, "Teach grammar and mechanics as a creational facility rather than a correctional one." Rather than have children correct sentences that already have mistakes, help them see the wonderful grammar and mechanics in pieces of writing that are already published. To go along with this, we learned a teaching strategy called-Sentence Observation. The teacher basically writes a sentence from a prior real aloud on chart paper and then ask the students what they notice about the sentence. It provided an outlet for a really authenic conversation about parts of a sentence and the value of proper grammar and mechanics. The teacher can really concentrate on sentences that contain an idea that the kids are currently thinking about, while also thinking about other aspects. This is a wonderful way to differentiate instruction and really zero in on concepts that are just right for certain students while exposing those students to other ideas that might not be just right, purely by being part of the conversation. This workshop helped me to see that teaching grammar and mechanics should be a piece of lteracy workshop, just like any other mini lesson. Grammar/Mechanics lessons can be given in a whole group setting, small group or individual setting depending on the needs of the class. These lessons should have students concentrating on text from books in their classroom so they can see proper grammar/mechanics in action. This seems like it will help with the transfer to their writing much easier than if they are making corrections on a sentence that has no real meaning to them (D.O.L./Daily Edits). I am so inspired to change not only my student's thinking, but my own, about the editing process.