One thing from Steve Peha's All’s Well That Spells Well that I've been trying is a "Have a Go" card. So far, it has been working well. At first, I had a pile of students lining up for me to check their cards....I suppose it was the novelty of it all! I had to remind the students of the various tools they can try before coming to me with their Have a Go cards. These tools were brainstormed by the students and listed below, the Spelling Toolbox. I have been trying to make the students more independent with their spelling attempts, I am happy to help but soon, I will not be around to help them! So, they need to internalize a list of strategies to attempt unfamiliar words independently.
Leigh Ann and I read Steve Peha’s work on All’s Well That Spells Well. I wont even try to summarize what’s within the document. You can download and read it all from http://www.ttms.org/ Enjoying soaking up what he has to say and form your own opinions. The document is described as “practical perspective and simple suggestions for the teaching of spelling” and “a fast and fabulous getting started guide to research-based spelling instruction”.
The document has articulated for me what I believe about Spelling and amongst the many good ideas I’ve chosen a few as tools to begin making change within my own practice. Below is one document (a Spelling Inquiry of a sound to its letter patterns - you can also use a letter pattern to its sounds) which I’ve recreated from All’s Well That Spells Well. We use this coupled with the THRASS Picturechart another great visual and practical resource from http://www.thrass.com.au/
I use this Spelling Inquiry during the Sharing, Revising and Editing stages of the Writing Process when focusing on 6+1 Writing Trait of Conventions.
Once students understand the concept of multiplication, for example they have mastered arrays and grouping, many would agree that their future studies in Math will be a lot easier if they have at least some recall of the multiplication tables. There are so many fun ways to practice the multiplication tables, from numerous websites and various tips and tricks. Even so, keeping students motivated to practice at home or at any given opportunity can be difficult.
Therefore, I have resorted to blatant bribery. I got this idea from Tina Clark, a dear friend and colleague who used this in her Grade 3 classroom.
Students can go for a scoop either orally or in written form. They recite or write a decided upon table. I let them decide which one they would like to attempt. Differentiation can be achieved by how many hints you give to those who hesitate on their answers and how many tries you let them have before you tell them they need to practice a bit more. If they display their knowledge of a table to your satisfaction, award them a scoop to be pasted on their cone. Once a student gets 1 to 10, I award them with an ice cream cone. If the entire class gets it, I promise an ice cream party.
I try to set aside about 15 minutes once or twice a week for students to attempt a scoop. Or I add it in as a centre when I have no conferences or assessments that need immediate attention. So far, the students are very excited about it and have maintained their desire to practice their multiplication tables throughout the school year.
I have been trying to find engaging and effective ways to begin our Units of Inquiry at the Tuning In phase to set the stage for maximum interest and involvement for the inquiry ahead.
I have begun using Chatterboxes as a tool for Tuning In. The idea came from Kath Murdoch’s book Classroom Connections: Strategies for Integrated Learning. Although you can do this by hand and have children color it themselves which helps them to create meaning, I made an electronic template to edit according to each current Unit of Inquiry. (See below for the Pages document you are welcome to download and a slide show on how to fold it).
This week, I will be trying a combination of both.
I will ask students to individually respond to the meaning of the key words which are color coded by using sticky notes to place on the display.
From this I will be able to assess their ideas and knowledge for discussion and couple it with their own questions further planning of the Unit of Inquiry ahead.
This teaching tool helps me structure individual accountability and appropriate participation.
Leigh Ann showed this and I use it everyday: I made little laminated pictures of my students with magnets taped onto the back for use on my regular magnetic whiteboard for anything that needs immediate organization and constant access/viewing throughout the day. Using an Interactive Whiteboard Flip Chart would be great too but this is quick and easy.
Today I asked my students to think about and discuss what skills they had that would compliment others individually, in partnerships or in a small group to work begin an inquiry together. They spent little time thinking and jumped straight to deciding who to work with. They also seemed not so happy. REWIND.....
I quickly put their magnetic photos together for Inside Outside Circles. I asked the green partner to tell their red partner one subject specific skill they felt their red partner had which would benefit the inquiry. I then asked the red partner to do the same. The green circle then moved one position clockwise. We repeated the process a few times. I then asked the green partner to share with their red partner one social skill which they felt their red partner had which would benefit the inquiry process. I asked red partners to do the same and repeated the process a few times again. This all took about 10 minutes.
This allowed each person to be direct and focused. Plus each person provided and received valuable information about their own skills and a the skills of potential inquiry partners.
Students were then able to quickly make independent informed choices about how they wanted to group themselves. My only requirement was that were aware and made final decisions with sensitivity and act with compassion if others were alone and were not intending to work individually. The looks on their faces were of satisfaction and happiness.
I learned this from Classroom Management: A Thinking & Caring Approach (1994) by Barrie Bennett & Peter Smilanich
ProDivas is a simple sharing approach, teacher to teacher, for our professional development. We collect and share bite-sized practical ideas. Once you take a bite, you may be self-motivated to eat the whole meal! We aim to find ideas supported by research to then apply for “best practice” but some ideas are too good to miss and are just simple “teacher tips”.