Teaching Writing As A Resource Teacher-#sol17

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Lately, my professional reading has focused on writing.  I recently read Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Poems are Teachers and Ruth Ayres’ Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.  Both books revitalized my writing instruction and have encouraged me to continue to make writing a featured part of my instruction.  Although I love to write and now consider myself “a writer,” teaching writing has always been a challenge, particularly as a resource teacher.  Balancing reading and writing can be difficult during intervention time, but I cannot imagine not writing with my students. Unfortunately, though, I’ve found that many specialists do not focus on writing because of time constraints.  One friend who teaches in another district noted sadly that she didn’t have time to write with her students because of all of the things that she was expected to cover in a thirty minute lesson.  

While time is often cited by specialists as a reason for not developing a habit of writing with students, another issue appears to relate to the intervention materials used with students.   Some specialists are expected to follow specific programs with fidelity.  Even though many  programs state that they include a writing component, that element often seems to be very structured and represents more of a response to reading or to support phonics instruction instead.  Students need opportunities to respond to their reading (but not to every single thing that is put in front of them) and writing activities like dictated sentences are great for reinforcing phonics concepts, but intervention plans also need to include time dedicated for students to be writers.  We often consider and target a student’s oral reading fluency, their word recognition, their spelling knowledge, or their comprehension of text when crafting interventions.  Some of my students have a wealth of wonderful ideas and so much to say, but they lack an understanding of how to communicate that message.  Other students struggle to identify something to write about and need support in that area.  Then, there are students who are not only challenged with finding something to write about, but also struggle to get that idea onto a page.    As a result, I spend time working with them to develop their skills as writers and I believe that including writing as a valued part of my intervention plans does not detract from, but instead enhances all aspects of my instruction.  We are readers and writers in room 16!

 

 

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Magical writing days #sol17

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Today was one of those magical writing days with my students.  After reading Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Poems Are Teachers, I was inspired to expand my use of poetry during my writing instruction.  I often have students read poetry, but realized that I had provided limited opportunities for students to write poetry.  For some reason, I’ve often felt intimidated when I’ve attempted to write poetry and as a result, I didn’t encourage my students to write as much poetry as I should have.  However, I took a deep breath and jumped into writing poetry with my groups.  As I read a poem written by a fifth grader today, I felt goosebumps popping up on my arms at the words and phrases that flowed from her pencil. Not only did the poems affect me, but the confidence demonstrated by each writer, from second grade through fifth grade, inspired me.  One of my fourth graders, who doesn’t usually care to write, spent the entire class time intently drafting his poem.  What’s even more exciting is that he presented me with a poem that he wrote outside of my classroom without any prompting.  These kids discovered their voices and they were willing to share what was in their hearts.  I can and will learn a lot from their fearlessness as poets.

Accountability #sol17

 

I almost didn’t post a slice today.  I had a long, busy day and didn’t arrive home until nearly 9:00.  My feet were hurting and I hadn’t had a proper meal and I wanted nothing more than to curl up in my recliner with a snack while catching up on my Hallmark Channel viewing.  I hadn’t planned anything for today and during the hour-long trip home from a meeting, I told myself that it would be okay to skip this week.  I justified this decision told myself that it would be better than posting something just for the sake of posting.

But when I shared my plan with my accountability partner, a.k.a. my Mom, she reminded me that I blogged every week and now was not the time to stop the habit.  She gave me the encouragement that I needed to postpone my plans for the recliner and Hallmark movies in order to open up this post and to start typing.  One word and then another…that’s all it takes.  Just get words onto paper (or in this case, the screen).  Don’t break the habit, because all it takes is that one time to get off course.

I’m thankful to have an accountability partner who knows when I need a kick in the pants and who recognizes how important writing is to me.  No, my words tonight aren’t scintillating, but I cranked them out.  I didn’t break my habit.  Mission accomplished! Now, let’s see what’s playing on Hallmark!

 

Dear Kindle #sol17

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This week’s post was inspired by a prompt posted during Teachers Write in 2016.  In the prompt, Erica Perl suggested writing a letter to an inanimate object (click here to check out that prompt).  So I thought I’d write a letter to my Kindle since I haven’t had many opportunities to curl up with it in the last few days.

Dear Kindle,

I know that I have been neglecting you.  Believe me, I’ve missed spending time with you! There are so many books that I haven’t had a chance to finish along with several samples that I haven’t gotten around to purchasing.  There you are, though, sitting on the nightstand with a fully charged battery, just waiting patiently for me to open your dusty cover.

However, I am now enjoying my Thanksgiving break and I anticipate many delightful hours of reading with you.  I even stopped by the store earlier this evening and bought an Amazon gift card so that I can add books to your library.  Your battery is charged, I dusted off your cover, and we’re ready to go!

So, Kindle, be prepared for some epic reading marathons.  Be prepared to stay up late.  and get a workout this week.  Be prepared to download all kinds of books, from children’s literature to history and biography to the cozy mysteries that I can’t seem to resist.  Be prepared to collect a lot of fingerprints as I swipe the pages.  Trust me, you’ll be more than ready for me to return to school next Monday!

Love,

Jennifer

The Things Kids Say #sol17

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While I love laughing with my students, there are times when I need to keep a straight face.  I don’t know how many times I’ve had to smother a giggle and today was one of those days!

During my first time slot of the day, I work with a fourth grader.  After we finished our lesson, I took the bag of letter tiles from the word-building activity and turned to put them away.  I have a cart next to my table where I store lesson materials according to each group.  Before I could slip the bag into the appropriate drawer of the cart, most of the letter tiles fell out of the bag (which I didn’t zip) and scattered onto the floor .  As I leaned over to start picking up the tiles, my student hopped from his chair and darted over to pick up the tiles.  I thanked J for helping and he looked up at me, an earnest expression on his face, and said, “My grandma was like you, she had a little extra weight on her, and I’d help her pick things up, too.”

As soon as the words left J’s mouth, I had to stifle the giggles that were just about to erupt. I thanked him again as he handed me the bag and headed on back to his classroom.  Once I knew he was down the hall, I burst out laughing.  J was so serious, but his words were hilarious! I could hardly stop laughing long enough to jot down the conversation.   I love the things that kids say!

Seven Days of Pictures-#sol17

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Recently, I saw posts circulating on Facebook where people were invited to post seven black-and-white photographs from their life over the course of seven days.  While the posts specified that people should not be included in the photographs, I couldn’t resist and broke the “rule” for one picture.  The “rules” also suggested not providing an explanation for the pictures.

I thought that I’d incorporate this idea into today’s slice because I’ve been looking for a way to stimulate my writing and to find some ideas to fill the pages of my notebook.  I spent time reviewing lots of pictures and thinking about the stories behind each one.  Sometimes the memories were wonderful and sometimes they brought tears to my eyes.  Other times, I laughed out loud.  Choosing just seven pictures from the thousands of pictures that I’ve stockpiled on my computer was challenging, but finally I found a group to share and I can already imagine developing each picture into a piece of writing.

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Ten Things Tuesday #sol17

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Ten Things Tuesday 

10.  I love to listen to XM Channel 90, the NASCAR channel.  I especially enjoy The Morning Drive, which is aired during my morning commute to school.  Sometimes I laugh out loud and probably get some strange looks from other drivers:)  There have been days that I’ve pulled into a parking space at school and sat there for several minutes listening to the program.  Unfortunately, I was running late today and couldn’t enjoy those few extra minutes.

9.  Speaking of my love of NASCAR, I’m still trying to get over the fact that my favorite driver, Chase Elliott, was so close to winning on Sunday.  The end of the race was difficult to watch, but at least there are a few more races left in the season.

8. I’ve spent a lot of time going through all of the photos on my phone and computer.  I love to snap pictures with my phone, but often forget to back them up.  As a result, my phone gets clogged with pictures and I get a message that my phone is almost full.  While at first this message was annoying, it at least forces me to back up the pictures on my computer.  I often find myself stopping to review all of the pictures and thinking about all of memories captured in them.  Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I just remember the wonderful times captured in the images.

7. As I reviewed my pictures, I had to chuckle at the ones I took with a selfie stick.  For some reason, I haven’t mastered the ability to use the selfie stick.  The pictures are either lopsided or I haven’t gotten everyone in the frame.  I guess this means I need to take more pictures so that I can get better using the selfie stick!

6. The Scholastic Book Fair is going on at my school, so I know that my wallet is going to be a lot lighter by the end of the week! I always look forward to this time because my students usually recommend books for our classroom library.  I love this opportunity for them to get their hands on new books, to flip through them, and read the blurbs on the back.    One of my fourth graders came into my classroom with two sheets of paper that included titles that he wanted to buy while a classmate shared the titles that he’d already purchased.  I love being able to talk about buying books with my kids!

5. The sniffles have invaded my classroom.  We’ve used more tissues in the past two days than we probably have in the past two weeks.  Thank goodness I have a stockpile of tissues, Clorox Wipes, and sanitizer because I think that we are going to need it!

4. The leaves are finally beginning to change on the tree just outside of my window at school.  The leaves at the top of the tree are now tinged with red, which is probably my favorite color of leaves.

3. A student gave me a Starburst this afternoon and it reminded me of eating the candies on the school bus many years ago.  I particularly remembered the day when I chewed a Starburst and it pulled out one of my last loose baby teeth.  That was a powerful piece of candy!

2. I have to laugh at how my students have also developed an appreciation for InkJoy pens.  I cannot put down an InkJoy pen without someone claiming it almost as soon as it touches the table.  It doesn’t matter the color—someone will find something that they need to write with the pen.

1. Even though it’s Halloween, my students have been focused and hard working! I know that they’re excited about dressing up and trick-or-treating, but they’ve put forth great effort today.