Monday, August 27, 2012

Daily 5: Read-to-Self (first update)

Since the second day of school, we have been learning to become more independent thinkers and learners, and we began with the Daily 5.  The Daily 5 is essentially a way for us to become more independently literate through reading to ourselves, reading to someone else, listening to reading, writing, and working with words. 

So far, we have only learned about and practiced one of the parts of Daily 5: "Read-to-Self," in which we discussed expectations of ourselves and created the independence chart below to record our thinking. 

To help us gradually become more independent, we began practicing these expectations for 3 minutes straight since we all agreed that we could definitely handle it for at least 3 minutes. Before every time we practiced, we reviewed our expectations; then after the 3 minutes, we reflected on what went well and what we needed to improve. For awhile, we had some trouble with even 3 minutes, so we added more expectations to our chart to help us attain our goal of increasing our stamina. By the end of last week, we made it to 6 minutes straight. After today, we are now up to 10 minutes of successfully reading to ourselves independently, which we were incredibly happy about today. 

Here are a few pictures of our three reading spaces, featuring lots of comfy seating to help us be as comfortable as possible while we enjoy the books we choose to read: 

One of the main goals in our 5th grade classroom is to become so independent that we can handle working and learning on our own without having a teacher monitor every move (because, after all, who really likes that, anyway?). Since this way of learning is rather new to the majority of our class, most of the first couple weeks of school has been spent practicing routines and procedures for becoming more independent, and we will continue to practice since that's what will help us improve and become more intelligent, independent young adults!

Check out some pictures of us during Read-to-Self:

*Note: none of these pictures were posed. :) Instead, we took this opportunity to practice one of the most difficult expectations of all: ignoring distractions, which in this case was me (Mrs.Allen) as I quickly snapped a few pictures. Didn't they do a wonderful job ignoring me? :) Choosing great books helps, too, of course! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Week of Free-Writing!

This week we began free-writing, which for many of us in Room 121, was a breath of fresh air since that meant we could write about anything and everything we wanted to...but with a catch: writing the entire time without stopping!

According to Peter Elbow(an English professor and author of many books including Writing Without Teachers), free-writing is the best way to improve writing, and we want to be the best writers we can possible be in Room 121

"The most effective way I know to improve your writing is to do freewriting exercises regularly.  At least three times a week.  They are sometimes called "automatic writing," "babbling," or “jabbering" exercises.  The idea is simply to write for ten minutes (later on, perhaps fifteen or twenty).  Don't stop for anything.  Go quickly without rushing.  Never stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing.  If you can't think of a word or a spelling, just use a squiggle or else write "I can't think what to say, I can't think what to say" as many times as you want; or repeat the last word you wrote over and over again; or anything else.  The only requirement is that you never stop." ~Peter Elbow

To help us build stamina, we started with free-writing on Tuesday for 3 minutes, and we wrote for 3 minutes today. Yesterday, before everybody began writing their first official free-writing entry, I (Mrs.Allen) wrote an example while everybody watched. Then, after answering everybody's questions, we got right to writing.

Today we wrote again, and tomorrow we might even increase our time to 4 minutes since we did so well today. We'll see....

Here are a few free-writing entries from a few of us who really wanted to publish our writing to our blog. As you can tell, some of us still are getting the hang of it, but every one of us wrote each entry in 3 minutes. Since we are all unique and work at different paces, some of our entries vary in length; however, we all wrote practically the entire time, and we are still learning.... so that's what matters!

With true free-writing, which is what we are aspiring to do, sharing is optional. With public free-writing (which we will do some of later on in the year), the writing is intended to be shared (hence the name "public" free-writing); however, with the free-writing we are doing now, sharing is optional.

After we wrote today, we got with our skating partners, and many of us opted to share what we had written.

Here are a few pictures of us sharing our writing today:

Classroom Scavenger Hunt

With all the beginning-of-the-year tasks and extensive practicing (for procedures, routines, and drills) we have had to do, we finally were able to begin our classroom scavenger hunt today! The main purpose of our classroom scavenger hunt is to practice working collaboratively with a fellow classmate on the challenge of discovering as many things as possible together around our room. Although, the scavenger hunt also helps everyone get more familiar with where things are located around the classroom, of course.

Check out some of the pictures below to see some of us during the scavenger hunt this morning:

Our 5th grade classroom! (2012-2013)