Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harcourt Trophies Supplement: Catch a Dream

Now available Harcourt Trophies "Catch a Dream" Basal II supplement for guided reading groups and centers. Stories include: Dan's Pet, Boots for Beth, Space Pup, Where Do Frogs Come From?, Try Your Best, and Fun with Fish. Activities are specifically geared towards the rigor of Common Core Standards. Materials can be used in a writing center, reading center, phonics center, pocket chart center, game center, & art center. 

Each story has customized:
-Teacher Talk cards
-Focus Skill graphic organizers
-Writing Prompts
-5 in a Row: Word Fluency Game
-Reading Tic-Tac-Toe Game
-Scrambled Sentence activity
-Pocket Chart materials

Also included:
*Bonus writing templates, graphic organizers, and flip books that can be used interchangeably with each of the basal stories.
**Directions, Harcourt Trophies Focus Skill outline, and Common Core Standards List.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lesson Planning in the 21st Century

Lesson Plan Example {click pic to download}
This is kind of strange to say…but, one of my favorite things to check out are other teacher’s lesson plans. I like to see different templates, components, details, etc. Each teacher has a style, making each plan unique. I enjoy seeing how others approach the craft of teaching. Maybe it’s just the administrator in me. That’s when I find myself looking too closely at the details and evaluating! School districts typically outline certain features that must be present in a teacher’s lesson plans. 
In our District, we are required to follow the Components of an Effective Lesson when lesson planning and teaching students. Click the picture for a download that defines each component.  

pre-Curriculum Engine
The Clark County School District is the fifth largest in the nation. With the implementation of the Common Core Standards this 2011-2012 school year, all teachers in our District have online access to the curriculum. The “Curriculum Engine” was created by our District to provide a more efficient method for accessing the curriculum, downloading pacing guides for assessment purposes, creating calendars, locating resource downloads, and here’s the cherry on top…lesson planning!

Calendar Layers {subjects}
One of the key advantages of lesson planning in the Curriculum Engine is the option to share and collaborate with other teachers. For each subject, you create what is called a “calendar layer”. You can determine who is able to view your lesson plans. The three viewing access options are: Private - the calendar layer can be viewed by you and, of course, your administrators. School - the calendar layer can be subscribed to by any other teacher at your school. Public - the calendar layer can be subscribed to by any teacher in the entire District. You can also allow colleagues to edit your layers. What a great way to collaborate and plan with other teachers in your grade level. Gone are the days of lesson plan collaboration via email attachments!! 

Find and Drag Standards
The vision of the Curriculum Engine was to provide tools for lesson planning. My favorite feature is the user-friendly “clicking” and “dragging” of the standards directly into your lesson plans. I find the standard(s) that I am covering, click the notepad icon, drag the icon over to the calendar or lesson plan, and then let the mouse button go. It "drops" that specific standard into my lesson. Standards are listed at the bottom of each subject's lesson plans. 

Calendar View

Online Lesson Planning View

In the Clark County School District there are over 18,000 educators, who have an incredible amount of knowledge about teaching. My District asked the question, “Imagine if we could somehow harness this collective knowledge into an enormous filing cabinet?” It was decided that the Curriculum Engine would provide a way for teachers to store and access our District’s knowledge about the standards and how to unwrap them. Unwrapped standards are the essential concepts and skills that students must know and be able to do in order to meet {and even exceed} expectations.
Unwrapped Standards Features (Live Links)
Unwrapped Standard RI.1.9
To say the very least, the Curriculum Engine has changed how I lesson plan. I type my lesson into the CE, click & drag the corresponding standards, and then print. Plans print in an easy-to-read list format. My administrators have electronic access to my lesson plans. The Curriculum Engine has made my job easier (and less time-consuming). An efficient planning tool is all an overworked overachiever like me could ask for.
How have the new standards changed your lesson planning?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back to School Shuffling

What a week! I return fatigued...a victim of the back to school vortex!! Many of you blogged about the exhaustion felt during the first week of school. You'd think I would remember this feeling after so many years of teaching. Did I listen? Did I heed your warnings?! Noooo! I guess I just had to feel it for myself!! Every year, I am also surprised that I don't remember how little bitty the incoming first graders are. I am definitely grateful that the first week of school is over. But, most of all, I can say that it was successful.  
Our first week of school was all about procedures. The importance of practicing classroom routines and behaviors can never be underestimated. This year, I was so excited to teach procedures using materials created by talented {and famous} teachers! 
You can’t mention the start of the 2011-2012 school year without talking about Abby Mullins’ “Fun with Firsties” activity download! On the first day of school, you know we enjoyed some “Jitter Juice”!! We washed our butterflies away {right before we headed out to recess}!!! 

I also incorporated Kathleen Pedersen’s “Teaching Manners-Monster Fun” download. She shared a cute story called “The Day a Monster Came to School”. The kids were shocked {and seemingly appalled} that the monster in the story was throwing things in the classroom, dumping toys on the floor, and screaming at the top of his lungs! It was a great story to emphasize that we don’t want any “monsters” in our classroom this year. We also sorted monster-themed behavior cards to identify and define “superstar”, “classroom” problem, and “principal’s office” behavior. Once that “naughty monster” behavior was defined, students contributed their ideas for classroom rules.

The class really enjoyed Abby Mullins’ “Find-a-Friend” activities. I loved watching students internalize all of our discussions on speaking and whole-body listening behaviors. It was also a great way to emphasize that we need to embrace everyone, whether they are similar to or different than us! Using various thinking maps, we also defined characteristics of Kindergartners versus First Graders. Students described Kinders as being little. Whereas, First Graders were viewed as "smarter" and able to play on the "real" playground. Though cute and funny, the activity allowed me to gain some insight into the class’ perception of themselves. Their statements hinted of insecurity {and a strong desire} to read and write proficiently.
You want to know the best thing about these two downloads? They integrated and were supported by great children’s literature. Prior to launching into a topic, I was able to activate and build schema. Our first week of school was full of meaningful activities, where students were active participants. It was a fantastic way to kickoff the implementation of the new Common Core Standards, where a large emphasis is placed on the development of listening & speaking skills, language, and collaboration. 

But, there is no rest for the weary. I am off to learn about the magic of my classroom's new Smart Board. I am excited to use this 21st century teaching tool to support the Common Core.