Thursday, January 22, 2015

Taking One for the Team

It is more blessed to give than to receive.. Acts 20:35b, NIV

Whew! What a day! I just need to brag about how blessed I am.  I have an outstanding group of students this year.

We have had the privilege to be a model classroom for writer's workshop.  Our district purchased the Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for grades 3, 4, and 5 this year (last year they purchased grades K, 1, and 2).  My room is one of the 3rd grade classrooms that is used to conduct model lessons.  Before we begin each unit of study, the district-hired consultant does a one day workshop on the unit of study.  For one hour during the workshop, we go into my classroom and use my students in a model lesson.  Today was our third workshop in preparation for the third unit of study - Changing the World.

So this morning was hectic (of course ... it's the day of the workshop).  Stopping at Dunkin Donuts ... twice ..., getting to school late later than I normally do, wanting to prep and clean my room, still write sub plans for the day, hang up student work, cover my bases before teachers start taking pictures of my room. ;)
Well, I was going downstairs to our library where the workshop was to be held and the other two Language Arts/Writing teachers (since I'm the general education self-contained classroom and they are departmentalized classes) informed me that there were no substitutes for them! :(  My heart broke.  We were like the three musketeers during the workshops!  Each workshop we have "hosted" we have provided some type of food - candy, muffins, munchkins.  

Like I said, my heart was broken.  I felt terrible that I received the substitute teacher and they did not.  I wanted to bless those teachers and give them the chance to be in the workshop for teaching writing.  I am able to do outside workshops and Lucy Calkins Saturday Reunions - plus the fact that I had done this opinion writing unit last year - so it wasn't right for me to steal that time and professional development hours from my colleagues.  I decided to seek out my VP and ask for permission to give up my sub to one of the other teachers and I would take in the other classroom that did not have a sub.  So I got approval ... finally the students enter my room .... my two colleagues go downstairs to the library for the workshop .... I have 45 students in my room . . . . . . . 

I remember looking at the clock thinking to myself, "I have 2 hours until Writer's Workshop comes into the room.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Here goes nothing."

So we read ... 

Our unit is currently ..... I guess you could say Nonfiction.  (I hesitate because our unit assessment is on fables.)  We are following the University of Pittsburgh's IFL Unit "An Investigation into Ocean Animal Life".  Because of the short amount of time in our 3rd academic unit for the year, we have to pick which IFL tasks to focus on.  I've been spending time doing read alouds on the ocean topics ... and today I read Endangered Penguins.

That actually went really well!  It was the best feeling watching the guest students grab some of the ocean nonfiction books we had in our classroom. Students were reading independently, in a pair, and even trios.  They couldn't wait to share and tell me some ALL of the interesting facts that they found! It was so cute! 

I didn't want to end reader's workshop. :(  There was a lot of commotion book talk in the room.  I was running around like a chicken without a head maintaining sanity ensuring students were on task.  All 45 students were just engrossed in books.  As a teacher, I don't get that all the time - the time to step back and just observe what is really going on in the classroom.

So we moved from reader's workshop and did a little bit of writer's workshop.  What a flexible bunch of students! They were so attentive and cooperative.  

At 10:30, our guests started to enter the classroom and our visiting students went to their special.  My students had "lost" their special to take that hour to do a model lesson for writers workshop.  After not expecting me for the day, having another 22 students in the room, then having 25 guest teachers, my students are real troopers ... taking one for the team.  Their writing has truly immersed and the volume of their writing has grown.  I couldn't be prouder.  For approximately 40 minutes, while our writing consultant conferred with some students, the rest of the class was engrossed in writing compliment letters.  Some students wrote three different letters!  

 The model writing lesson went into the students' lunch, so they lost their recess time. :(  They went down to lunch then for the afternoon, we worked on a math task - exploring improper fractions! (An IFL Unit for 3rd grade math - HIGHLY recommend it!)

I wanted to make up for the students losing their recess time, not having physical education (for writer's workshop), and just being so flexible.  The last few minutes at the end of the day, we packed up early.  I let them just have free time - they could play with play dough, use the computers, play "teacher", use our story making kits, or play a Lakeshore Landforms game that we had.  I forgot how much I had "robbed" them of their creativity in learning. :(

One student automatically took play dough and made a snail!  Then students started getting sooo creative!  Their imaginations and zest for learning ... that can't be taken away. :)

I had to take a picture of this!  My student drew this on the board to mimic a picture that our opera teacher drew!  He was pretty on point!

 This is the picture of what our opera teacher drew to explain the roles of the opera!

This student took play dough and made a person! :)

This student made FRACTIONS with his play dough! #neverstoplearning

Our Lakeshore Landforms on-the-go game.

Some students on the computers playing math games.  

I'm just really proud of my students.  They rose to the occasion and "took one for the team."  They were flexible.  They didn't complain.  It was a nonstop day, but they didn't let it hinder their love for learning and the respect they have for themselves, their classroom, and their school.  I couldn't be prouder to be their teacher.  

They are loved, and I am blessed.


JanCT said...

I'm so proud of them, too! Wow. What an amazing group of kids. I'm quite sure you had a lot to do with the development of the positive and patient atmosphere in your classroom. They are blessed to have YOU. I'm glad that your sacrifice to bless others worked out so wonderfully for you as well. Have a great weekend!
Laughter and Consistency

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