Friday, October 21, 2011

Finishing Up

All Guided Reading books (Walk Two Moons, Westing Game, Number the Stars) should be COMPLETED by Tuesday, October 25!!!

We will work on book projects the week of the 25th and will start new books November 1!

Students have done a great job on their books so far.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the Horizon: Book Conclusions!

I know it's unbelievable, but we're approaching the conclusion of our first guided reading books. All 3 novels should be finished by the end of next week. This is great for two reasons:

1. Finishing books means you get a new one--in our case a more challenging one! That way we can build upon all we learned reading this one.

2. When I finish books with groups, I like to do a fun little project. Stay tuned for info on these. I can tell you they involve an interactive map, photos from World War II-era Denmark, and talking photos. Fun projects, in case you didn't know, is the famous "Curran Way!"

Stay tuned for details!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekend Reading Assignments

Lots of reading to do this weekend!

Walk Two Moons: read chapters 15-22

The Westing Game: read chapters 11-13

Number the Stars: read chapters 11-13

Not too much, not too little...just the right amount, I think. Parents, here's your homework...ask your child to tell you about their book. They're really enjoying them a lot. I think they'll have a lot to say.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Students Own the Learning

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This is one of my biggest goals for this year. I want students to be in charge of their learning. This is a philosophy known in education circles as "student directed learning."

The theory is that if the students direct their own learning process, they they "own it." That is, they are more invested in it, more motivated to do great job, and it's more likely that the learning will be more meaningful to them.

Of course, you can't give them total control. I have lots of things that I have to teach them. There are fifth grade standards, and it's important that they learn them. However, if I teach them in a more "student directed" manner, I think it will be more of a significant learning experience.

Here's an example of our first student-directed learning activity...learning about different types of non-fiction texts (memoir, atlas, almanac, etc.).

Here are the steps we're trying:

  1. Students choose 5 types of non-fiction they want to learn about.
  2. They complete the research on their own during stations time...they have to learn what they are, what you can learn from them, and any other info they feel is important.
  3. Finally, they have to choose a way to demonstrate that they've learned what they're supposed to (video, podcast, digital poster, wiki page, etc.)
We're "baby-stepping" our way into student directed learning, but I already like what I see. Students are engaged, working hard, and focused. They're in charge. They're in control. They're learning.

I'll keep you posted as we surge forward into this new style of learning. I'm excited to see what it turns into. Stay tuned!