This is a big year in education. At least it is for me. The Common Core is to be implemented into my district full force and that means that the curriculum I teach for math, reading and writing has been greatly modified.
This is daunting, but actually very exciting. The Common Core focuses are on depth, not breadth and so I feel as if I am able to really dig deep into some core reading and writing skills strategies. This school year, I am planning on blogging on this journey as I implement strong lessons in such things as monitoring for clarity, visualization, asking questions and inferential skills, the writing process, writing for clear audience and purpose, as well as arts integration strategies and lessons that tie into literacy. Most of all, I hope that you, the Big Universe readers join me on this journey by adding your own comments and ideas so that this can turn into a great conversation!
As I set up and modify my room and create and modify my lesson plans, I make sure that everything is infused with literacy. Here are five ways I have worked towards that goal.
1. The Classroom Library - Every room should have one whether you teach in a full out general ed classroom or have a small office where you meet with students one on one. Your library may be an entire corner of your room or a basket of age appropriate books. Either way, you are making the statement that books are important. My classroom library takes up a large bookcase in the corner of my room and the books are grouped by genre. In the first days of school, I make sure students are aware of the library and know that they are welcome to borrow books all the time. We also go over how to choose books, how to "check out" books etc.
2. Themed Displays of Books For the past few years I have put a lot of effort into having a small display of themed books for my students to peruse. These are everything from chapter books to picture books, informational books to joke books. I display biographies on the composers we study during our active listening time as well as book about the 5o States when we memorize the states and capitols. These high interest books are very well loved and appreciated while they are on display.
3. ebooks on Big U I have two (slow) student computers in my room that are ready to load up Big Universe at a quick double click. Students will learn their usernames and passwords early in the school year and be able to access their bookshelves so that they can read the ebooks that are available to them online. It's just another motivating way to get high interest, age appropriate literature in their hands.
4.Independent Reading Time Over the years I have come to firmly believe in the importance and power of students having a solid 15+ minutes in school to read independently. It very well could be the best thing for them to do in order to become better readers. This year, my goal is to drop everything and read with them each day. Model, model, model! The best way to teach good reading skills is to model them!
5. All Kinds of Writing Materials I want to encourage my students to write, write, write. Because of that I have a portable writing center (AKA a decorative box) that contains all kinds of paper, pads, envelopes, pens, markers, notebooks, etc where students can write everything from a short note, to a full narrative. This is also where I'd like to mention the online possibilities of getting kids to write on their own. Consider student blogging as a way for students to reflect on their work and express their ideas. And of course, Big Universe has a great writing tool on their site as well. My students loved writing their own ebooks through Big U!
Let's face it, literacy is a priority in nearly every classroom and setting the scene for a year of literacy rich learning is important.
Please share other ways you start the year with literacy!