Friday, 17 June 2016

Daily 5 Update

Well, hello there!
Long time, no blog. Sorry about that. It's been crazy.

We're almost halfway through the year and I have to say, I think Daily 5 is working pretty well in my room so far. I have been blessed with some very capable independent workers this year, which has made this the perfect year to start my Daily 5 journey.

During Terms 1 & 2 this year I have run Daily 5 Literacy Groups first thing in the morning, three days a week. Monday mornings I keep free to introduce our spelling focus for the week and work more closely on guided and independent writing. Normally I would be running Literacy Groups (now Daily 5) four days a week, but I lost a morning to Sport and Music, bringing my available days to operate Daily 5 down to three. 
Why do I do Daily 5/Literacy Groups first thing in the morning? Habit, I suppose. That is literally how every other teacher in K-2 at my school operates their reading groups and until now I have not known any other way. Also, parents often come to help out for Literacy Groups and first thing in the morning is most convenient for them.

Every morning starts with a quick check-in and run-down for the day. Sometimes I even remember to mark the roll, but I'm conscious to get things moving quickly as often there are a couple of parents standing patiently at the side of the room ready for us to start reading. I have a display projected on the IWB (or as we call it in our classroom, the 'not-so-SMARTBoard') that tell the students the 3 Daily 5 activities they will be engaging with that day. This allows them to read the board, move the the activity and get started right away.

I find the display really easy to use. I don't have a pocket chart (those things are all over Pinterest!) and I'm not quite ready to give all the choice to the students, mostly because whenever we have free time it's always the same few kids on the computers, so I can only imagine the squabbles for time at Listen to Reading. Anyway, once I map out the activities and ensure that each group is visiting the activities equally, I pop it into a table and voila! I love the graphics, they were a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers from Lori at Teaching with Love and Laughter.

So each day, we check the board to see where we're going. Parent helpers take kids outside one at a time, and the kids can either read their home reader from the previous night or a Good Fit book from their book box to the helper. Parent Helpers are my Read to Someone.

Listen to Reading is working well. I've had the computers on quite a bit, and at the moment we're exploring the books on You may recall the dramas I was having with setting up the old iPhones. Well, I started with six phones and we have three that work. A 50% success rate. We're scanning QR codes and listening to stories on the phones. I do have other plans for Listen to Reading on my Listen to Reading Pinterest board, but those projects have to wait for now. I also have a CD player playing an audiobook and a REAL BOOK to follow along with. That one is not so popular... old technology I guess.

Word Work is also a favourite. A new rule this term - each week every student must complete at least one paper-based Word Work activity and glue it into their spelling book, which is working well for the most part. Having said that, if I don't remind them, it doesn't get done. We have lots of fun stuff - magnetic letters, letter stamps, play dough and whiteboards... And it usually gets put away correctly! I still need to label my tubs at the Word Work station... I cringe each time I look at it but the sticky-notes are working fine for now... just gotta hang on til the holidays! I have to say - I see great results from Word Work in our weekly spelling tests. If we haven't had Daily 5 for a week (there was one week this term where I cancelled them for the week due to whole school activities and performances), you can tell by their results. So I'm loving Word Work.

Read to Self works really well in my room and I would expect it to, since it is the first aspect of the Daily 5 introduced in the year. I have a class of avid readers, and they all (mostly) clearly enjoy curling up with a good book. I need to be a bit clearer on appropriate times and behaviours for book shopping, and that will come next term when we revise our classroom routines. At the moment we book shop on Friday afternoons or for fast finishers.

Work on Writing requires a bit more attention and revision - from both myself and the students. I would like to see some of my students being more independent during their Work on Writing time, and also to challenge themselves in their writing more. I'm looking to spend quite a bit of time revising the expectations and routines next term.

On the whole I'm quite proud of myself in that I've been able to implement and stick with the Daily 5 so far. I was a bit hesitant as I don't know anyone else who does the Daily 5 in their room. Ever the perfectionist, I'm always looking for ways that I can improve myself. Now that we have the routines in place I'm thinking of taking 'Meet with the Teacher' out of the rotation and calling students out to conference with me separately from the rotation. I used to do that when I taught Kindergarten and it worked really well. I'm also having a closer look to how I structure my guided reading time with smaller groups. I bought a fantastic resource from Designed by Teachers today that will really help me with tracking and planning my guided reading time. Let me tell you - it is NOT GOOD that I've stumbled across Miss Jacobs' Little Learners... That is where all my money is going from now on, her stuff is FANTASTIC. Plus, she's Aussie so she uses PM reading levels, and I didn't have to pay the USD conversion rate!
Check out this awesome resource!!
As well as tweaking a few things during my Daily 5 session, I'm thinking of giving my whole literacy session a bit of a shake up. Time management is something I've always felt I needed to work on and there just seems to be more and more to squeeze into every day! A colleague recently broke the mould and has restructured her literacy session (not having Literacy groups first thing each morning, GASP!), prompting me to analyse and rethink my own. She recommended a document 'Teaching Reading K-6', which I'd read once years ago, and it was great to go back through it, and old ideas become new again, bla bla bla. So I'm busting out a new-look literacy session next term now, too. I'm also looking at adding Daily 5 to Mondays, which will be a challenge to me and my time management, but I'm ready for it!
I'm going to finish off this blog post in the spirit of '2 Stars & a Wish'... only you'll notice I have a few extra wishes!


So what am I happy with?
  • my students are independent workers
  • we are consistent in following our routines
  • we understand the expectations for each Daily 5 activity


A few tweaks for next term are...
  • Daily 5 four days a week (every day except Wednesday - Sport)
  • Moving Daily 5 to midway through the session - allowing for a modelled reading session to begin each morning
  • Small group conferencing during Daily 5 to occur separately from the current rotation
  • More focus on the structure of my small group conferencing
Looks like I'll be busy these holidays!!

Thanks for stopping by.

See you next time,

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Getting Ready for Listening to Reading


I honestly don't know what was going through my head when I thought "hey, a bunch of iPods to snap QR codes will make my Listening Centre TOP NOTCH"

Seriously? I managed the 30 Kindergarten iPads for the last 2 years. Did I ever have a tech day to update the iPads that went swimmingly? No. Not once. I should have remembered that.

For some reason I thought iPhones/Pods would be easy. There's only six of them... WRONG-O.

Silly girl.

So I have 3 old iPhone 4s, 3 iPhone 5s... I charged them, reset them back to factory settings, and was totes ready to reset and sync them all up together. And that's where the problems started.

FYI iPhones need SIM cards to set them up, even if you're not going to use them as phones. And make sure your phones aren't locked to a network (my 6 phones are locked to 3 different networks... excellent). So today I ran to Officeworks and purchased SIMs for 3 different networks (and they didn't come with nanoSIMs for the 5s... kill me).

STEP 1: Download Apple Configurator 2

At school I've only worked with the original version of Configurator... this is my first stab at the new one... it looks different! I'm sure I'll figure it out though.

I plugged my first phone in and got it set up (finally, yay!) but it's a super old iPhone 4, so the software is out of date, and Configurator only works with iOS 7 or later. It's so out of date that the little angel couldn't even link up to WiFi to download the new iOS... gah!! It's currently still plugged in, 3 hours later still downloading and installing the new iOS through Configurator. It's way past my bed time.

STEP 2: Create a Backup

I need a main phone. That will be my go-to for changes, setting up profiles and app settings that I can then push out onto each iPhone. My plan is to have every app except for Settings in one app folder on the Home screen (even though the phones won't be optional as phones, I don't want the kids to be tempted to open the call or message apps which can't be deleted), then download the QR Reader and position that right down the bottom of the screen above the Home button.

Everything is looking kind of strange in Configurator 2... I think I'll be making a blueprint to put on all the profiles?? That's all new.

Step 3: Plug In All Other iPhones and Sync

I purchased a 7-port USB hub so that if I need to, all my iPhones can be plugged in at the same time. This will come in especially handy for syncing the phones.
At this stage I don't have 6 cords for the 6 phones... that's next on my shopping list. Good forward planning ;)

Step 4: Snap QR Codes and Away We Go!

'Cos it's that easy, right?

Ha, unlikely... but that's the plan. I bought some super cute phone cases to protect and identify each iPhone. Each one will be named the character name so if a student tells me that Pikachu was playing up, I know exactly which phone I need to check out. Plus it's cute, and I love me a bit of cute!
How adorable are they? Stitch is my favourite.

Well, that's all from me... probably until all the phones are up and running. I'll tell you more about it then.

Until next time,

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Writing Centre is Ready to Go!


I'm super excited for Monday tomorrow (said no teacher ever haha!) because I've FINALLY been able to set up my Writing Centre for Work on Writing!

It's been a busy couple of weeks - back to school always is - but I've been feeling it even more since I've taken on the Daily 5. It's a good kind of busy though.

Anyway, here it is!! Check out my Writing Centre:

So I had a little play in IKEA, that's where my lovely shelf, document tray, magazine holders, pen holders and cute little pot plants came from. I should not be allowed in there unsupervised!

On the window to the withdrawal room are Writing Topics Cards which I found on TpT by Teaching with Love and Laughter. Check them out here

The kids' journals are in the magazine holders (larger book for Year 1s, small one Year 2) and the document tray holds their plastic or manilla folders. They'll be used to keep any writing they do on loose paper or templates which are in the grey paper-shelf thing...

My beautiful watercolour pennants and alphabet cards are from the Colour My Classroom theme I bought from SchoolgirlStyle. Omg that website is insane. If you ever want to feel inadequate about your classroom decor, go there. So many beautiful things. I showed serious restraint only leaving with the zip file for the theme. I could have easily spent all of the dollars on trimmings, pompoms, tassels... ugh it was heaven.

Well, we shall see how it holds up against my little writers tomorrow.

Next job - my Listening Centre! I've collected a bunch of old iPhones and am ready to tackle the super fun job of syncing them and making QR codes galore!

See you next time,

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Welcome to 2016

Well, well, well!

New year, new house, new classroom, new kids, new challenges, new adventures!

I have been working my butt off the last few weeks (and will be continuing to do so for the rest of the year!) getting my new classroom up and running. It is nowhere near finished, and I reckon I'll be ready for my 2016 classroom reveal somewhere around October haha!

Anyway, here is a sneak preview of my 2016 classroom:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am teaching a Year 1/2 composite class this year. They are an absolutely beautiful bunch of kids who are an absolute pleasure to teach because they are just so thirsty to learn. I have to say, I am lucky that I don't have any behaviour management difficulties so far this year. It's safe to say that my only challenge is going to be keeping up with these kids! I'm still getting to know them, figuring out exactly where they are and what they need, as well as trying to decide the best way to deliver my teaching/learning program to a group of kids with more than 24 months age difference between the oldest and youngest students.

This week I launched the first component of The Daily 5: Read to Self!

It wasn't too much of a challenge, really - especially once we started graphing our stamina. On the first try we only got to 1.5 minutes, that's because my youngest student (he's only 5 and a half) flipped through one book, packed himself up and went to put his book box away. He's my 'barometer student', so once he was up and moving I had to pack everyone else away too. His stamina has really improved since that first practice - we can ALL read and maintain concentration for 9 minutes now.
They were actually asking me to do Read to Self so they could 'beat' their previous time. I explained that the reason we were practicing Read to Self was so it would become a part of our daily literacy rotation and that they would be able to do it completely independently while other kids might be doing other Daily 5 activities. I think they got it - they're smart kids - but they're still driven by the competitive side. No matter, I'm happy that they are reading and loving it.

I'm attaching my Foundation Lesson plans for Read to Self. Everything is straight from the 2 Sisters' Daily 5 text (2nd edition), just broken down into separate lessons and steps to make it a little bit more reader-friendly for my program.

I hope that worked... I think that it did... I'm still new to all this blog stuff.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. My job for this coming week is to get my writing centre up and running so we can do Work on Writing with Read to Self during our Daily 5 practice time. Time is going to be the biggest factor here - this week is full of Dance Info Sessions, Parent Info Night, meetings and on top of that I have some stupid doctors appointments to run off to as soon as the bell rings... so it should be interesting!

I'll be back shortly with an update on my success (hopefully!)

See you next time!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Thank You Kassie!


How incredible does this blog look???

It is the beautiful work of Designs by Kassie. I cannot sing her praises loudly enough. She is super efficient, professional and a fast worker. Within hours of placing an order with her she had made contact and started working on the design. The whole process probably took about two weeks - she made it so easy and after her initial contact I knew I had made the right choice.

If you're thinking of giving your blog a facelift, check out all her wonderful work and see for yourself!

Kassie, thank you so much for beautifying my little place in the blogosphere. My only regret about working with you is that I wasn't able to meet you in person and give you a big hug! xox

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas is Coming

Well, the countdown is definitely on. After tomorrow the kids have one and a half weeks until the summer holidays. Teachers have an extra two days at school, damn!

We have been up to our elf-shaped ears in Christmas craft. We have to get it up early because it'll all be coming down and going home at the end of next week.

How good is Pinterest? My inspiration for literally every one of our artworks was  from Pinterest. #pinterestforever


Emily :)

Monday, 30 November 2015

Update... Goodbye Kindergarten

It's the 1st of December... Happy summer!

So yesterday we found out what grades we're on next year.

Sadly, no more Kindergarten for me :(

Next year I will be teaching a Years 1/2 composite class. It was a bit of a surprise, definitely not expected (I was gearing up for another year in kindy), but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think it will work well with my implementation of Daily 5 as the students placed in a composite class are typically independent workers and generally above average in terms of academic achievement.

You may have noticed my blog name has changed. Can't be Curls in Kindy anymore! So I am now Curls in the Classroom. That'll teach me not to be so organised and plan ahead for the following year.

And it looks like I'll be changing rooms next year, so you can ignore all the whingeing about my classroom from the previous post.

Christmas is currently going up in my room, come back soon to check out all our wonderful Chrissy creations!