July 14, 2012

Classroom Pillows

One of the things I've been wanting in my classroom for awhile is pillows!  I love letting my kids spread themselves out around our room while they are working and reading, but some of the positions they come up with look terribly uncomfortable.  I always wish they had a pillow to prop themselves up with or lean on but was hesitant about bringing pillows into the room.  I know how much dust and how many germs a pillow can contain and couldn't shake the idea of a head lice outbreak from my thoughts. 

Still - I wanted pillows!

I think I've found a way that I'm comfortable bringing them into the room.  I got some pillow forms at JoAnn Fabric - 50% off each with my additional 15% my total purchase as a teacher = great deal!  I then found some vinyl tablecloths in fun summer colors and used these as my fabric for pillow cases.  I'm excited about this because of a few reasons 1) they are so bright and cheerful! 2) they were really cheap - I didn't pay more than $2 a piece and I only used 3 table cloths 3) since they were cheap and super easy, if they get ruined I won't be upset about making new ones 4) since they are vinyl, I can wipe them off with an antibacterial wipe whenever I start to get the heeby-jeebies about how many little noses have been laying across them!

I'm excited for my classroom to be done being cleaned so I can get these into it!

July 3, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study

I'm currently working my way through The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser for the second time this summer.  I read it first on my own, and am now participating in a book study with other teachers from my grade level team and around the country.  Chapter 1 was due yesterday and it has been so helpful to read the thoughts and suggestions from others on the blog set up for this book study.

Chapter 1

I appreciated the Sisters' honesty throughout this chapter, outlining their progress from teacher-centered to student-centered instruction within their literacy curriculum.  I could match myself up to many of their experiences, feeling like I began the year on a much more teacher-centered mark than I ended it on.  My understanding of and comfort level with guided reading grew greatly over the course of the year, allowing my reading instruction to improve tremendously from day 1 to day 180. 

I identified closely with a question the sisters posed within this chapter: "Did things just keep the kids busy, or were they engaged in literacy tasks that will make a difference in their literate lives?"  I'm afraid that too often during the last year I was providing activities to students that, although aligned with our content standards and centered on reading strategies, were not truthfully improving them as readers.  I am eager for that to change this school year.

A second point I took from this chapter was the importance of explicit teaching and practicing of behaviors.  I have read this idea and understood it from many sources, but few as directly related to reading instruction.  Practicing each behavior and expectation until they become habits will help reduce the interruptions each of us face within the classroom due to off-task behavior.  How helpful that will be!

I am eager to continue rereading this book with a critical eye, knowing that my literacy instruction is going to be greatly benefited by both my own reflections and reading the thoughts of others.