Friday, May 25, 2012

A Long Way from Chicago - Inferences and Timeline

     With my fifth graders, I had the opportunity to lead one group during their literature circle time. We read a few different books while I was there including Ruby Holler and A Long Way from Chicago. My group of students contained all girls, and they loved Ruby Holler but were not as enthusiastic about reading A Long Way from Chicago.

      A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck is a book that chronicles a boy's week-long adventures with his sister when they visit their grandma during the summer. Each chapter is the story from a different summer. It takes place from 1929 to 1935.

      I found that my students struggled with comprehension with this book. Part of this was due to the fact that they did not find it as interesting as other books, but another huge factor was that this book uses inferences regularly. To help with comprehension, I decided we would make a timeline as a group. This worked very well for this book since each chatper was a different year. We would talk about each year, discuss any inferences, decide what they wanted to write for a short summary, and choose what to draw for a picture. Then, the students would work hard on it. This really helped with their comprehension and enthusiasm for the book. Making timelines to aid comprehension is definately something I would recommend and I will remember to use more in the future.

      A Long Way from Chicago is also a wonderful book to practice inferences with upper elementary, even if you just want to use one chapter as a read aloud ("The Phantom Brakeman" is a very good example)

Thanks for reading this!!!
Have a wonderful end of the school year or beginning of summer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer, Organizing, and Unpacking

      It's officially summer time! I finished my classes, packed up, watched my friends graduate, and returned home (well, to my parents' house). This summer, I will have a couple of free weeks before I start my summer job. I will be working for a month at something called Summer Clubhouse, which reminds me of a cross between a day camp and summer school. The group I will be working most with are the children who just finished first grade. I am so excited for this opportunity! Plus, I will be living at the same house I will be at in the fall for student teaching.

      Now I have the lovely task ahead of me of unpacking from college and repacking for my summer job. Yesterday, as I was unpacking, I found that I have collected a lot of children's books over the past year. In the first practicum I had during my freshman year of college, my teacher told me that the best advice she could give me would be to start collecting children's books for my future classroom library right away so that I could do it a little bit at a time. I took this advice to heart and have collected a few books at a time over the past few years.

       When I put them all together yesterday, I found that I was not sure how I wanted to sort them or record what books I had. How do you keep track of your children's books? How do you choose to organize your classroom library (topic, author, reading level)? For now, I reorganized them so that the chapter books were in one box, nonfiction in another, curriculum in the blue bag, and fiction pictures books in the last box. Later this summer, I want to record them, put my name in them, and organize them better. What ideas do you have?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Survival, Placement, and Currently

    I'm back, and I survived. The Praxis 2 was easy, but giving up time for it was not. Teaching my fifth graders all day one day last week went really well. The schedule ended up being very jumbled with ISTEP practice testing that none of the teachers knew about until the day before. The students were wonderful though and really seemed to enjoy the lessons I taught them. I'll tell more about it later as well as post about the mini-thematic unit I taught. 

    In other exciting news, I officially recieved my placements for student teaching in the fall! During the first quarter, I will be in a second grade classroom, and the second half will be in a 4th to 6th grade special education room. Second grade has definately been my favorite grade of the past experiences I have had, so I am looking forward to being in it again at a different school. I'm also interested to see what my special ed. placement will be like. So far I have been in an elementary life skills classroom and an emotional behavioral disorders classroom, and my fall placement sounds like a resource room. I can't wait for the fall!

Finally, I decided to join my first linky (hopefully, I did it right), Farley's May Currently.