Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Basics and "Outer Space"

It is time to get back to the basics. We have been very proud of all of our extra and extended learning this year and have loved showing it off on our blog. However, that is not the true focus of our day. 

Our morning reading block plays a major (if not the most major) role in our 1st grade lives. 

Here is a rundown of our reading block:

8:40-9:15 Students enter the class, unpack and go straight into their reading zone. 

While the reading zone is in progress, students meet with me at the teacher table to do a bit of guided reading. Guided reading is a 20 minute block in which 3-6 students work with me at the teacher table on a range of skills and concepts.

A few students working on their expert decoding strategies.
9:15-10:20ish - These groups continue into our W.O.R.L.D's time. 

This stands for:
Being a Writer
Being an Observer
Being a Reader
Being a Listener
Being a Word Detective

While I am working with students at my teacher table, the rest of the class is responsible for their own learning during the W.O.R.L.D.s in what I like to call... "Outer Space".  Outer Space is the everything else except the teacher area.

We usually have 3 reading groups a day and this creates a significant amount of time in which the kiddos in Room 222 are independent teachers, creators, presenters and thinkers. 

This system is based on a mutual trust. The kids trust that I have prepared them correctly for this responsibility, prepared their materials correctly for easy use and set systems in place that lead to success and comfort. I trust that the students are using what we spent weeks preparing for and make the learning choices that I have asked them to make. 

Here is a glimpse of the student-choice learning that happens in "Outer Space":

SF participate in "Being a Reader":
She can read for hours. 

Many students write independently and collaboratively*  in "Being a Writer":
Some students have been planning and producing chapter books together while collaborating. 

Students reading and collaborating* in "Being a Reader":
Notice the identical books.

GF researching* using BrainPop Jr. during "Being an Observer":
This research can be used for future informational writing. 

CR researching* using PebbleGo in "Being an Observer" and PD listening using Storylineonline.net in "Being a Listener":
PebbleGo is an amazing resource for animal research.

A group of girls, reading, sharing and discussing books* in "Being a Reader":
These ladies frequently read aloud to each other, conduct book talks, talk about characters and share book experiences.

Not only has this class consistently followed our independent guidelines but they surprise me everyday with a new form of self-directed learning. 

Go back through and review these particular pictures. Anything with an * is completely created and proposed by this particular class of students. 

Quite an impressive group of students. 

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