Summer Possibilities

In May summer vacation seems like endless possibilities for learning, lunching, and lounging.   I go into every summer with grand plans of how I'm going to organize everything in my house, get my health back on track, read every professional book I've every heard of, read the ever growing pile of books I keep around for myself, listen to podcasts and audio books, plan for next year and relax.  I've never gotten to all of the things, or really a tiny sliver of the things.

This summer was going to be different.  I am going back into the classroom full time and I was creating a strategic plan of how I wanted to improve and better myself this summer.  The possibilities of having a full day classroom again are so exciting, except I have to teach Math.  I haven't taught Math in three years....obviously this is an area of focus this summer.

Well...we are three weeks into the summer and here's what I'm working on.

My health-I've walked an average of 11,000 steps per day.  Most week days are more like 16,000. I've cut out most sugar and started online yoga videos.  I'm super proud of my start here.

My personal reading-I've read 2 1/2 books and listened to 4.  This has been a welcome break from all of the reading I've been doing for grad school.

My personal PD

  • Word Study-After taking a graduate class last semester I'm completely overhauling my word study.  Using Kathy Ganske's DSA and Word Journey's.  Word study was not in my half of the day of the classroom so it'll be easy to make a big shift. I probably have more to say about this in another blog
  • Choice Words by Peter Johnston-I'm always going back to this book, rereading and finding information that I'm ready for now.  There is so much packed into this little book it's amazing!
  • Reading Workshop-I've been thinking a lot lately about how to raise the level of comprehension and conversation with my student's independent reading.  I feel like in 1st grade we are so focused on decoding words that we don't take the time to create readers who think about story at the earliest stages.  I've been diving deep into Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning and trying to create a plan for how to improve this next year.
  • Curiosity/Wonder-Have you noticed that kids are lacking the ability to think freely, be creative and guess?  I haven't found this to be an issue with things like art or music but I have found students hesitant to make guesses or predictions in other areas.  A couple of years ago I started a Wonder center in my room.  This "center" started as a place for objects that the students may not recognize.  They were asked to notice things about the object and use those clues to ask questions and make a prediction about what that object was.  It's time to make this more open ended, ask the students to do more thinking and research and for me to let go of some of the control here.  I'm using Georgia Heard's A Place for Wonder to help guide my thinking.
  • Podcasts-This is something fairly new to my thinking.  I love listening to podcasts in my car or on my walks.  I like a lot of the series that NPR does.  How can I bring podcasts into the classroom in a thoughtful, purposeful way?  There are several that are designed for kids but I was to make sure I'm using them in a way that is meaningful.  Any thoughts on this?
  • Writing-My school uses Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  I'll admit I'm not a huge fan (I hope Lucy never reads this).  I've never felt the freedom to follow my kids with this curriculum.  I've always felt trapped in lesson sequences.  I saw Lucy speak this winter and she was furious at the way people had interpreted her Units of Study.  I've spent some time looking at the Reading and Writing Project on-line resources and this is starting to sway me a little.  
Anyone notice there is no Math on that list?   Any great resources to get my kids thinking about math in the flexible yet intentional way we think about reading and writing?  I know who to turn to when I need to adjust for language arts but when it comes to math I have no idea.


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