Five for Friday!

Whew! I made it! It's been a long week, and I'm SO glad the weekend is finally here! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for her Five for Friday linky party.

This app is Epic! But seriously, it is pretty great. It's s free app that you or students can download for access to thousands of free books! You could use it in the classroom in a variety of ways. I'm going to use it for our upcoming informational reading and writing unit. Epic! Books for Kids

We've been working on making inferences about character traits, and we just started using this resource. I love it because it challenges students to use text evidence to support their thinking, while building vocabulary at the same time. You can check out this resource in my TpT store HERE.

This panna cotta is one of the easiest desserts I've ever made. And it's delicious. And it reminds me of living in Rome, which makes me both happy and sad. I'll be taking it to a dinner party tomorrow night. I think I'll top it with blueberry puree this time. Mmmmm.

I didn't know this was a 775-page novel when I downloaded it to my Kindle, but it's a great read. I love Donna Tartt's writing style, and I'm a sucker for Pulitzer Prize winners. I feel compelled to read them since I focus so much on reading instruction in the classroom.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I just discovered Grey's Anatomy, and I'm completely addicted. I hear that it loses its appeal after about 5 seasons, so I'll be looking for a new fix after that. ;)

Happy weekend!

Wordless Wednesday {a.k.a. Wino Wednesday}

I have such a lovely little wine shop one block from my apartment. I look forward to stopping by most Fridays to pick up a bottle or two for the weekend. What is your favorite after-work (or weekend) beverage?

Wordless Wednesday {Hungry?}

I'm a snacker. And not the healthy kind. (Does that even exist?) I crave something sweet every day at 3pm. I try to alternate between healthy and indulgent. This week I'm going through my chocolate and peanut butter phase. :)

What about you? What do you snack on in the afternoon? When do your cravings hit?

The More We Talk...

We teachers talk too much. There, I said it. But it's not doing our students any favors, because the more we talk, the less they hear. This realization has transformed the way I've been teaching this year... especially as a teacher of 75 second graders (many whose first language is not English). I recently read that students begin tuning us out after a mere two minutes of listening to us talk. TWO minutes! As if we don't feel the constant race against time already: Teachers (and parents) are competing against ever-decreasing attention spans and the increasingly immediate feedback of social networking sites, video games, and screen time in general. 

With this in mind, I've started doing a few things to keep my teacher talk to a minimum in order to maximize student engagement and my feedback. After all, a very wise woman (one of my former principals), once mused, "Less teaching, more feedback" is the key. We want them to have plenty of opportunities to practice what we're teaching... even to make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. 

Here are the things I've implemented in my classroom(s) this year, in an attempt to beat the clock and make sure my students hear what's important... and have plenty of time to practice and receive feedback from me.

1.  A Timer
I've started using a timer during mini-lessons. Before I start teaching, I set it for 5 minutes, and I make sure to have the students turn and discuss/respond to an idea before the timer goes off. Then I set it for another five minutes. I have to be done teaching by the end of that five minutes. (Because even if I'm not done, they're probably no longer listening anyway, right?)

2.  Partner Teach
I ask students to teach their partners what they've just learned, or what their takeaway is. This is similar to #1. The difference is discussing an idea vs. explaining their new learning so others can understand. This is a quick way to see who "gets it" and who doesn't. For the few who don't get it, I will be meeting with those kiddos as soon as I dismiss the others to get started. I don't re-explain and add time to my lesson if it's only a few students who are confused. 

3.  Directions: Visually, Orally, and With Movement
I give directions in four steps or less, written on chart paper, and have the students act them out with me while they're still seated on the rug. (I do all whole-group instruction on the rug.) For example, when students are starting a new word sort, and their first step is to write their initials on the back of each word, we act out turning over the piece of paper and writing our initials.

These three things save us a huge amount of time and confusion in the long run. Before I started teaching this way, I couldn't escape the dozens of questions before & during small group or independent work, and we almost never finished any task. Probably because they had already tuned me out by the time I got to the directions.

Now, as students begin their work, I'm ready to provide feedback individually or in small groups. This is where the true learning comes in, especially as they "try out" the new strategy I've taught. I'll be there to let them know how they're doing, and what they can do to improve.

I hope these ideas help you, too! What are the ways you keep your teacher talk to a minimum? I would love to hear what works for you!

Wordless Wednesday

It's time for another Wordless Wednesday with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice!

After returning from our two week break, I was happy to have these reminders to refer to with students. We're slowly easing into this new year, discussing what they learned before the break and setting goals for our next units.

How do you keep track of what you've taught? Do you have a visual reference in the classroom? Do you (or students) refer to it? I'd love to hear what works for you!

Happy new year!

Currently... January!

Well, this is the first time I've blogged in weeks, and with good reason. I wanted to unplug during the break and spend my time with friends while enjoying my travel to Paris and Barcelona. Now, with only a few days left before I go back to school, I'm ready to get back to my normal routine... well, almost. ;)

The past few days in Barcelona have been a bit like a grownup slumber party... Hanging out with friends day and night but taking things easy in this city. These friends recently moved to Barcelona from San Francisco, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to see them again. :( Maybe this summer?

Now that the new year is here, I'm thinking about freshening up the apartment. Right now it's painted with that awful off-yellow color, which makes everything look dingy and old. Especially the kitchen, which (in my opinion) should be nice and bright. It makes me want to spend as little time in that room as possible (even though I love to eat)!

In other home-related goals, I've already crafted a dinner plan template for the week, for me to complete and shop for during each weekend. I really want to have more consistency with lunch and dinner. I absolutely hate having to think about it every. single. day. UGH!

Since I'm not sure if I'm ready to adopt a puppy yet, I think I'm going to foster one. That way it's short term but I can also get an idea about the commitment required... and whether I'm ready to be a full-time mom (to a pup)!

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy new year!

And be sure to check out Farley's page for more Currently!