Sunday, June 7, 2015

Teaching with Intention Book Study: Chapter 1

I am so excited to be joining in with an awesome group of bloggers for Mr. Greg's (Kindergarten Smorgasboard) book study on "Teaching with Intention" by Debbie Miller. I have had this book sitting on my nightstand in my "to read" pile all year and now that school is out I finally have time to dive in. Thank you to Mr. Greg and all of the fabulous bloggers hosting!

"Reading with Meaning" was such a wonderful book, so I know that "Teaching with Intention" will be as well. Debbie Miller rocks! Chapter One was all about your ideal classroom, which I think about constantly (as I'm sure all of you do).
I am a new teacher, so I actually dream about my ideal classroom all the time quite a bit! My ideal classroom is organized, child-centered, and engaging. Our classroom feels welcoming, safe, comfortable, and like a home away from home. It looks beautiful and calming with a green, turquoise, and blue color scheme, without being overstimulating or cluttered. Natural lighting, cozy pillows and rugs, plants, alternative seating, and baskets give it a comfortable/homey feel. Student work and class created anchor charts cover the walls. Materials are neat, organized, labeled, and easily accessible. Everything serves a purpose.

Our classroom sounds like a buzz of productive learning, with students reading to a partner, working together in stations, sharing book recommendations, laughing at the Pigeon's antics, collaborating with a group on a student-led project, and me on the floor conferring with students. Everyone is on task, knows just what they need to be doing, and they are busy taking ownership of their learning. Student choice is a huge motivator! Yes, there are definitely times when the classroom is silent, students engrossed with their reading during DEAR/Read to Self/independent reading time and busy working during Writer's Workshop, but much of the day students are busy with hands on learning experiences that are meant to get them thinking and sharing with one another. My ideal classroom is student-led and student focused.
I guess I kind of already answered that one, didn't I? I see myself as a facilitator, observing, guiding the students when needed, and conferring individually and with small groups most of the day. This really allows me to meet individual needs by differentiating my instruction and work with them on their learning goals.

My students are taking ownership and engaged in their learning, whether they are reading independently, working with a partner, using technology, collaborating in a small group, or working at a station. Their work covers the walls and they are proud of their accomplishments.

Each day starts off with a morning meeting to promote a positive classroom community and set the students up for success. We have a class read aloud of a mentor text and chapter book. Whole group lessons are keep short and sweet using Whole Brain Teaching techniques to improve student engagement and retention. We have Reader's Workshop, Writer's Workshop, Daily 5, Math Workshop, Number Talks, science, and social studies every day. Basically, all our time is spent being readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and growing as learners!

Organization!! I have been working on organizing all of my materials, stations, supplies, and books! I have a wonderful library that is organized by topic/genre/author/series and labeled for the students to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. I have been working on leveling my early readers.

 I have all of my files separated and organizied by subject//topic/TEKS in binders. You can check out my binder covers here. I have also organized all of my station manipulatives and games into bins by subject/topic/TEKS. I am updating my labels for those and will be posting them on TpT soon. They coordinate with my binder covers, which match my color scheme of Dots on Turquoise.
I have purchased rugs, pillows, cushions, exercise balls, child sized chairs, lamps, and plants to help my vision of a comfortable and cozy classroom.
I am going to work on stepping back more to allow for a truly student led classroom! It is hard not to step in sometimes, but they learn through the struggle. I also want to set up a class website and have my students blog weekly, reading responses, reflections, thoughts, questions, anything to get them engaged!

Thanks for stopping by to get the scoop! Feel free to join in and link up to share your thoughts. Please come back next week for Chapter 2. 

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