Can you believe we’re approaching the end of our summer book study?!  
This chapter was all about the thoughtful use of time!   Isn’t this one of our biggest issues in the classroom?!?!  So much to do and so little time?!?!  
I want to share a couple of quotes that really hit home for me…
“Learning by doing takes time…”
This year time is going to be a major adjustment for me because I am moving to a new school that has a shorter day!  My day will be an hour shorter this year so fitting it all in is going to be even more of a challenge!
  This sums it up so powerfully.   Our students learn by doing.  Hands on.  Engaging activities that challenge them to figure things out.  Not by doing worksheets or test prep packets.  But by doing with the their hands and this takes time.   We need to build this time into our day and not be driven by timers (GUILTY, Party of GREG!)!!
“Keep it simple…”
This is something else I’m really working on.  Not everything has to be big and fancy and Pinterest worthy.  In fact, it’s those little moments in the classroom that matter the most.  This year my classroom has been simplified (as far as decorations…) which means tons of room for student work!  My center system is simplified for me (teacher friendly and easily managed) and the ‘staches.  Kid friendly=independence=more time for me to do what they need me to do!

My big take away from this book is conferring!!!!   Not just talking to my ‘staches, but talking with them, listening to them, and discussing their work with them to personalize instruction and build that all important relationship with each student!
And finally, this year I am going to work on making conferring part of my day!   I love the challenge that Debbie issues on page 119 of Teaching With Intention:   commit to one or two conferences a day for two or three weeks and you’ll be hooked!   
So, let’s challenge ourselves to making conferring part of our day!  Who’s with me??
And finally, two quotes from the book that I hope you’ll carry with you each day:
“Remember then that there is only one important time and that time is now.”

“And remember, when you walk in to the classroom, you are a brilliant teacher, okay?”

Indeed.  We are all brilliant teachers.  And we are the cool kids and we are all the popular kids!

Next week, I will be speaking to Debbie Miller about the book and asking her your questions!!!!!  Stay tuned for details!
Be sure to link up your post about chapter 8!


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This week our chapter hosts are my blogging BFF, Chris from Famous In First and Laura from Luv My Kinders!   Make sure to check out their posts on chapter 7 and link up!
Famous in FirstPhotobucket
This week’s chapter was short but powerful.  It’s all about that dreaded word:  ASSESSMENT!   Honestly, what teacher doesn’t throw up a little when they hear that word?!  We automatically think state tests…standardized tests….and we’ve all had those assessments that are definitely not developmentally appropriate!    BUT what I love about this chapter is how it makes assessment something teacher friendly, kid friendly and emphasizes the importance of assessment being ongoing.
And guess what you NEVER read in this chapter:  THE WORD TEST!   That’s right Debbie doesn’t mention testing at all.  So, how in the world can you assess without testing????
Debbie suggests the following ways to assess student learning as it’s happening!  WHAT?!?!?!  You mean assess them while they’re learning and not just test them when they’ve learned it or when the unit is over?!?!   CRAZINESS!
1.  Conferring!   Talk to your students and let them share their learning!  It is their learning after all so they’re going to give you valuable information!   Take notes!  This is something I do a lot of during writer’s workshop but I need to do more across our day!   Time to buy a new glittery notebook!!!
2.  Listening In!   Yep.  Be a spy.  Eavesdrop.  Listen to conversations in your classroom.  (If you’re classroom is a silent place, we might need to chat!  Message me!)  Listen to what students are saying and take notes!
In our classroom, we have a GoPro camera that the ‘staches wear.  One day I came home and watched the video that one of my girls recorded one with the GoPro.  I was blown away by the conversations she was having while working on her centers.  Hearing her talk through the words and chatting about the magic E on the end was powerful.  I was fortunate to have a GoPro to record this moment but even if you don’t have a GoPro, you can listen to what your students are doing and learn a tremendous amount!

3.  Observe.  Just watch.  How often do we sit back and just watch our students and take note of what we see!   Powerful.
4.  Examine student work.  This is my strongest area.  While we don’t have a lot of paper products to examine, we do independent work, writing, journals and center work that I will examine.  I also keep every piece of work that my students turn in and send it home at the end of the year!  Parents love it and it means I have documentation for the year!
5.  Charting student thinking.  This is another are that I’m strong in!  We do lots and lots of anchor charts to record our thinking and learning an dmake that learning public!   I really embraced anchor
charts last year and loved the results.  And better yet….the ‘staches loved them and use them frequently!   We display our charts on a rope that runs across our classroom!!!     This keeps our learning front and center for our eyes and the eyes of visitors!

6.  Reflecting, sharing and teaching!  When students share or reflect or teach other, take notes!   You will gain powerful insight into their mastery of a skill or concept or lesson!  This is something I need to allow more of in my classroom.  At the end of each day we share something we learned, but we need to have more explicit sharing time each day, especially after we’ve worked on skills and concepts!
So…all of that and not once do we give a test!   Imagine how much information I can gather on my students by watching and listening and talking to them?!?!?   I would be willing to bet that information is more telling and accurate than a test!!!  
The key theme is TAKE NOTES!   The notes provide your data and documentation!  So when admin or parents need data, you can point to your notes!
BUT…we all know that we have to have some data and testing our kids is necessary (mandates and evaluations and STUFF….)  so why not make it quick and painless?!?!
I use ESGI for all of my assessing needs!  It’s computerized and 1 on 1 so it’s quick and easy.  The software immediately calculates data and spits out personalized letters and flashcards for students!  There are tests for every standard or you can create your own!  BAM!   Using ESGI, I am able to do all of my report card assessments in….ONE DAY!  ONE DAY AND DONE!!!!!   If you’re not using this, you need to be!  
You can get a 60 day free till by clicking on the picture and using the code B2442!  Tell them Greg sent ya!  
And speaking of data…here some free data tracking forms that I use in our data notebooks!  

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I am super excited to be teaming up with From Kindergarten With Love for chapter 5 of our book study!

Who’s loving this book???  The shift in my thinking about so many things has been huge!  I am so ready to implement new ideas/techniques and strategies!!!
I LOVE this chapter because I love getting to see the reasoning and research behind schema maps/charts! 
I started using these schema charts in my class this past year and loved how the ‘staches responded to them.  I love the visual…I love the discussion…I loved using post it notes (ummm I have a Post It Fetish and claim over 10,000 Post Its as my own…)…I love how we can connect learning and address misconceptions!  
I also noticed that using the schema maps compared to KWL charts had a bigger impact on my ‘staches remember our new learning!  

In Teaching With Intention, Debbie writes about making a giant file folder and using that as their schema chart.  I love this idea because it connects so well to what our students already know about files on a computer.  I love how she connects our learning to using a computer!  In our tech savvy classrooms, this is a fantastic way to help students understand and make sense of their own learning!
As you can see in our schema charts, I draw a picture of what we’re studying and label areas of the chart for our schema (what we think we know), our new learning and our misconceptions.   The Post It Notes allow us to move our thoughts around and adjust our learning.
Some take aways from this chapter:
Give students more power/opportunity to write/illustrate their learning and place it on the chart
Write students learning/thoughts word for word
Add illustrations to our learning
Moving our new learning to connect it to our schema (making connections visible to our students)
In an effort to incorporate more non fiction/informational text into our classroom (#commoncoreisfun) we’re doing a lot of research projects in our classroom and our schema chart becomes the focus of our research.  We’re doing research with books, videos and online.  We’re recording our learning, discussing our learning and then we use that learning to create our research journals which includes writing!    The schema maps help us organize our thoughts and learning!
I am already picturing a large file folder (laminated) to use next year.  Maybe even bigger than the one Debbie uses in her lesson!

What are your take aways from chapter 5?

Do you use schema charts/maps?

How do you and your students conduct research in your class?
Be sure to link up with us for chapter 5 of the book study!  We would love to hear how you do research in the classroom and how you use schema and mental files to record learning! 


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  • Reply Tracy Ledford July 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I'd love to check in later in the year and chat about how conferring is (or isn't!) working in the first few weeks of school. How are you planning to document your conferring?

  • Reply Jackie July 30, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    This chapter had so many take aways for me. I've always done conferencing but I think by limiting how many students I conference with during writing time I'll be able to have those deeper conversations. That whole quote by Jon Muth was so powerful – I want to get a print of it and hang it somewhere!

  • Reply Joan Strassman August 1, 2015 at 2:45 am

    I believe that it is better to meet with 1 or 2 students daily. I’d rather do this because then you can focus in on that child’s needs/weakness and build those up to be strengthens. When my district requires me to do small groups for guided reading and math, I am not sure how to accomplish this. Something I need to work on. This just popped into my head, I can do this in the morning after I take attendance and things like that, while they are working on their morning work.

    Digging deeper to ensure that my students understand the skills being taught is what is most important. Making sure that they learn what they need/have to and have fun doing it would make for success. By digging deeper and conferring with individual students will help create the relationship that Debbie speaks about. This will create a better classroom environment, as well as a fun/trusting/caring relationship I want to have with my students. This will happen because I will also be able to make those important connections and getting to know you moments with them. They need to know that I am a human being and I have a life outside of the classroom. I need to know about their likes/dislikes/favorites to learn how I can make this year more enjoyable for them, as several of them may have never been a school setting before.

    “Keeping it simple” is something that I’d love to do. This would make life easier for me and my students. None of us need to make learning difficult because then it’s not fun. Again, something I need to work on. I have materials to use and yet I find myself trying reinvent the wheel. Simplicity makes life easier for all involved.

    I came way with lots of ideas to use, as well as areas that I need to improve on. Being in kindergarten for my third year, I taught middle school Language Arts for 11 years prior, I have areas that I need to improve on and this book has helped realize that I am a good teacher, but I can be better. In time, I will be a better teacher tomorrow than I was yesterday.

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