Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's been a while

I'm so sorry that it's been so long since my last post, but with school starting up it has been insanely hectic.

So far we have completed about 4 weeks of school and I truly love my class. They are the sweetest bunch of kids. However, I have had to deal with some issues that have made me feel like nothing I do is ever good enough. Do you ever have days when you try and try, but just feel like the effort you make goes unnoticed?

Anyway, our new principal this year would like us to use Words Their Way for our spelling program. I have used this in the past, but I have to admit that I now have about 5 different spelling groups going and some of my kids are at the very beginning of letter naming. I am really outside of my comfort zone when it comes to phonics. I have always taught upper elementary grades and therefore am really unfamiliar with most phonics rules. I also find myself spending the majority of the week trying to come up with engaging word work activities to give my students based on their specific spelling pattern. While I know that this differentiated spelling program will be beneficial to my students, I feel like I can't give them everything they need. I am afraid that the instruction isn't very effective because I know very little about the phonics patterns. I have been studying up, but I still don't feel confident. In addition to this, I have realized that the students understand and know enough of their spelling patterns to complete the weekly word work assignments and take the weekly spelling test, but they are failing to apply their knowledge when it comes to their writing. It just seems that they can't transfer this knowledge and I'm not sure really what to do.

In addition, I am trying to devote at least 20 minutes to Monitored Independent Reading. Our principal is making this a school wide focus, which is much needed. However, it must be monitored and it is just difficult to find the time for everything. I work at a school that is on an Indian Reservation and the students go to culture classes everyday for 75 minutes, plus PE for 45 and science for 45. This means I only have about 3 and a half hours of instruction time with my students. In 4th grade the students are tested in three subject areas reading, math and writing. I need all the time that I can get. It seems that when I focus too much on one subject, the other subjects get left behind.
I am trying very hard to manage everything, but it appears that no matter how much time I spend, I never get ahead. I stay late at school, I work late at home and on the weekends. It's never enough.
I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Well enough ranting, I just wanted to share some of the experiences that I was going through.

I also tried to implement the Daily 5 with my students, but found that all of the mandated test prep and other school focuses, I didn't have much time left over. ARRGGHH! It's so frustrating. Like I said though, the positive side is that my students are AMAZING!!! I really do enjoy working with them and can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us.


Mrs. Shepherd

Do you have a promethean board? If so, I have a few Spelling flipcharts that I made that my students use during Word Work that work very well. You could use the ones I made and just copy your words into them. What about grouping your students into their Spelling levels during Daily 5? I also have students at varying levels for Spelling. I give an onlevel Spelling pretest using Google Form on Monday. If students get a 100 they are exempt from all Spelling homework. If they don't pass then then they complete homework for the week and when at Word Work center practice Spelling using the flipcharts. Also, I only do Daily 5 3 days a week and for 10 minutes. My Daily 5 consists of: Read to Self, Technology, Word Work, Work on Writing and comprehension skill with the teacher.

Please email me if you want the flipcharts


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Thinking of Teaching

A Teacher's Treasure

Where have you been? Looking forward to some new posts :)

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A Teacher's Treasure

Cindy Foreman

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