Thursday, May 2, 2013

No Excuses, Just the Truth

I've been a little absent real excuses. I'm just tired, feeling burned-out, and lacking any inspiration whatsoever. I'd rather postpone writing than write worthless words.

Anyway, I'm down to something like 32 days of school and 4 more weeks of Sunday School. I'm almost cleared to teach summer school, but those days will be really laidback and end at 12:30, so...hardly counts in my book. No papers to grade, no math lessons to mull over, no research (except some extra awesome crafts), it'll be a comparative breeze.

In the meantime, I do want to share a project that I completed at school recently! Our district utilizes RTII (Response to Instruction and Intervention) which is a great program that essentially looks like good, old-fashioned reading groups. The pedagogical idea is that when students are grouped for a portion of the day based on ability, we as teachers are able to target strengths and weaknesses, build necessary skills through carefully differentiated instruction, and maximize growth and learning.

Exciting stuff.

(Really, actually. This stuff lights my fire.)

Anyway, out of the whole second grade I teach the highest level readers for 30 minutes each morning (thanks to our great district, very few of our students are actually below grade benchmarks, but I work on some higher-level thinking skills). As such, I have a lot of flexibility and I've had a lot of fun designing my own curriculum for this group.

You know, because I don't have enough to do as a first-year teacher.

My most recent project has been an author study of one of my favorites--Patricia Polacco. She's an awesome and incredibly talented author and illustrator, and we've had a blast reading her books. We've discussed themes, genres, and made lots of connections between her texts. One of my favorite things about Ms. Polacco is that she injects so much of herself into her books, and so many of her stories have at least autobiographical elements, if not being totally based on her life.

Patricia Polacco's Official Website

As such, our culminating project was to skim through the books we'd read (complete list below) and glean information about her life completely from her books. We'd done other research on her life, but we put together this awesome timeline just based on her stories.

The kids really enjoyed this project. They loved digging through the books for factual information, and we got to practice our sequencing, comprehension, making connections, and main idea all in the bargain.

Now...just 32 days to go!