Students have been hard at work learning the routines and procedures for Readers' Workshop. Once this workshop is fully up and running, students will be able to independently perform the following tasks: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. Each day, students will have an opportunity to choose 4 of the 5 tasks to complete, while I work with small groups on specific reading skills. Although it will take a few months for students to become independent with all of these tasks, it will pay off in the long run. As I've witnessed these past few years, students learn exponentially more throughout the year with the implementation of Daily 5 compared to a year without this structure. Already, my students have become independent with Read to Self, and are ready to take on the tasks of Work on Writing and Read to Someone.
To help students become independent with each of these components, I have created anchor charts with my students on the specific step-by-step instructions they are to do with each task. Pictures have also been added to these charts. They serve as visual reminders on what to do for each component of the Readers' Workshop (see procedures and pictures below for Read to Self). Once a chart has been created, students directly practice each item, and slowly, but surely, they build stamina. Our first day of Read to Self, my students were able to "read" independently for 2 minutes. The second day practicing Read to Self, students were able to read independently for 3 minutes. I am proud to say that we are now able to read independently for 25 minutes! It's really amazing, considering many of my students don't exactly know how to "read" just yet.
Even though not all of my students can read words, ALL of my students can successfully read the pictures. Students have learned that there are two ways (as of now) to read a book: through pictures and through words. They will soon learn that they can also read a book by retelling the story. This beginning skill of reading pictures will help students quickly develop the skills necessary to read the words. I have also done many lessons on how to read books: how to hold a book, how to point to the words as we read, how to use the pictures to help us read the words, and how to get our mouths ready to say the first sound when we come to an unknown word.
"The Book Fairy" has also been extremely motivating in our reading adventure. She leaves books and materials in a book basket each day to help us become better readers. Oh, how my students LOVE The Book Fairy. They truly believe she is a magical creature who wants them to love reading as much as she does. My students have already received individual books from The Book Fairy to add to their reading box. These are the books that they know really well and can practice throughout the Readers' Workshop. Students have absolutely LOVED receiving these new books!
Here are the pictures and procedures from Read to Self:
Also, here is a video of one of our sessions. It's somewhat long, but it should give you an idea of what it looks like in our classroom. All in all, I am so proud of my students and their progress!
Similar to our Readers' Workshop, we also have a Writers' Workshop. Essentially, it's the same concept: students learn to work independently so that the teacher can work with students individually or in a small group. We started off slowly, creating an anchor chart to know exactly what to do during this time. We also took pictures to help us remember each of the procedures. We have also been building stamina. Students have gone from being able to write independently for 5 minutes to being able to write independently for 25 minutes.
I have also done many lessons on how to write. Students understand that there are three ways to write: drawing the pictures, writing the words, and adding details. Currently, they are learning that these details can be added to both their pictures and their words. All of my students feel successful at this point because they understand that even if they can't write yet, they can draw pictures to help tell the story. I am truly amazed at my students' writing and illustrating thus far. After several lessons on how to stretch out words and write down sounds, nearly all of my students have attempted to incorporate words into their writing.
We are currently writing true stories from our lives (personal narratives). We have been reading personal narratives written by published authors to help us learn how to write this particular kind of book. Students have learned that some of the smallest moments in our lives can make the best stories. They have embraced this concept, and I am loving the memories my students are sharing. Currently, I am keeping their writing pieces in individual files. At the end of each trimester, I will put the pieces into a book for you to keep. In the meantime, I will try to copy a writing piece every few weeks so you can see their writing progression.
Here are the pictures and procedures from Writers' Workshop:
In math, we have been learning several routines and procedures as well. This is the second year I am attempting to do the Math Workshop approach. Very similar to the Readers' Workshop and the Writers' Workshop I just described, Math Workshop involves students working on tasks independently while the teacher works with small groups of students. These small groups of students will consist of students who are working on similar skills. I truly believe this approach will allow me to meet the individual needs of my students. I can truly challenge them exactly where they are at. Currently, we are learning the procedures for Math By Myself. This time involves counting various collections and recording their thinking. We have also added number writing to our list of things to do during Math by Myself. Eventually, we will add even more to these tasks, but for now, these activities will help deepen each students' sense of numbers.
Here are the routines and pictures of Math By Myself:
Here are the routines and pictures of Math With Someone:
In science, we have focused our attention on what a scientist is and what a scientist does. We have learned that scientists sort and classify objects in the world around them. We went on a brief walk outside to explore nature. Many students came up with wonderful questions about the world around them (many of which I could not answer). :)
We also had an opportunity to practice asking questions and thinking like a scientist through the use of a mystery bag (see below). I had a mystery object in the bag, and my students had to guess what was in the bag by asking questions about the object. The best part was when my students were able to figure out the unknown object. They loved this! Each student will have a change to bring home the mystery bag to place a mystery object in, and we will work together as a class to guess this object.
Next week, we will focus our attention on sorting and classifying different kinds of objects. Students will begin to record their thoughts in their science journals.
Here are pictures of some of the little scientists in our room (I will finish taking these pictures on Monday so every student will be included):