Although we had a short week, I sure felt like it was full! We got a lot done in my classes. We continued working with Phoebe the Spy and discussed setting and how it affects the actions of the characters. We are also continuing to work diligently on the bubble gum opinion/persuasive writing piece. The kids are learning a LOT about gum and I can't wait to share some of their writing with you all!
I also think I have perfected my reading response journal system (finally!). It was after a lot of discussion with colleagues, my principal, and Twitter pals that I finally came up with a process that works for my students and me. Here's the run down:
I collect journals from each class every other week on an alternating schedule (e.g. My morning class hand them in one week, and my afternoon class hands them in the following week). This means that the students have two full weeks to work on them here and there during their independent reading time. I place one of those circular colored dot stickers on each child's notebook. They turn them in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays depending on their color. Before, I used to have both classes hand them in every week. This meant I was taking home up to ten journals a night! It was too much since I write back to each student. This new schedule is MUCH better and I do not fall behind in responding as I did before.
I also changed the way the journals are graded. I am more concerned with the students developing their reading and writing skills, so I made these areas have more of an impact. I also upped the ante since this is like a long term project and made the journals worth more points. This was actually my principal's idea. We are really owrking towards older students being held responsible for what they have learned in writing. I added a "C.U.P.S." section that will be put into their writing grade.
Another thing that is really helping is setting aside the last 5-10 minutes of independent reading solely for journaling. This way, my procrastinators must work at least a little each day instead of waiting to do it all on the day the journal is due. In addition, I gave the students a schedule so they knew the exact date their response was due, so no more excuses!
Here is the information I reviewed and gave out to students:
Reading Response Journal Rubric and Expectations
Reading Response Journals Calendar April
I use the cards below when grading journal responses. I simply cut them out, write on them, and tape them into journals. This has helped the students understand what areas they need to improve upon.
Journal Score Cards-1
The students who still continued to wait until the last minute, or did not do what I thought they were capable of, had a conference with me about their journal. I explained why they received the grade they did. Hopefully I will see more improvement from them.
This week, I also gave myself permission to abandon a read aloud with the kiddos in order to read another one. Actually, I gave them the choice. Lesson learned: always give your kids options when it comes to a read aloud. Do not just choose one for them. Of course you cannot always please everyone, but aim for the majority. I hate to admit it, but we had been working on the same book since November. We were not even halfway through. The reason? Well, I think it was because the kids just didn't LOVE the book I chose for them. I loved it, but who cares if I love it? So, I gave them a choice: keep going with the current read aloud or take a break for another book. Before they were allowed to choose, I played the book trailer (a tool I have found VERY useful), read the inside flap, and read a few pages from the beginning. It was almost unanimous! Now we are reading (and clearly LOVING) The One and Only Ivan.
Finally, I also found out that I received 100% on all of my grad class assignments this week. I am looking forward to sharing this news with my students. I will make sure to explain that it wasn't easy, but I took my time, worked hard, and made sure I understood all of the material. Hopefully they will be inspired by my own learning experiences. Only time will tell!