Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3rd grade wonder

OK, so I know that it has been a ridiculously long time since I last posted. I apologize. Now that we are on Christmas break I decided that I needed to update the blogging world on the school happenings this year. First things first, I am now teaching 3rd grade. Same school, new grade. Actually, about 10 teachers ended up switching grade levels. This was a much needed shake up for our school and I feel that although, it has been tough for all at some point, it has been so great at bringing us closer as a staff. 

Second thing, I am now teaching all subjects. Before, I was just the English Language Arts junkie (I love reading so much that I can definitely call myself a junkie) but now, I am trying to be ELA, SS, Science, AND Math junkie. Challenging to say the least, my brain has a hard time thinking mathematically so it has required much reading, researching, and looking at my fellow bloggers ideas to finally feel comfortable with it. 

Third, I am training our entire staff in Write from the Beginning this year. Have you heard of it? It is part of thinking maps. You can go to it here:


It is an AMAZING writing program. I have written about it in previous posts but oh man, I have seen such a difference in our kids writings. It is a vertically aligned writing program that goes from K-8 and then it could potentially go all the way to 12th grade. I started using it with my kiddos two and a half years ago and I am seeing such wonderful results from those kids and from my kids now.  Now that I am training our whole school in it, students will come to me ready to keep building on what they already know. This summer, I had a chance to go the training of trainers for the second time to hear Jane Buckner, the author of Write from the Beginning (WFTB) do the training in Colorado. (They do the trainings all over, I just wanted to go the Denver). She really put it in perspective about how kids can organize their thoughts so much better using thinking maps, how the mini lessons make writing fun and interesting, and how you can incorporate everything spectacular writing lesson that you are already doing with WFTB. In addition, it is great because it can be modified for whatever writing level your students are at. I know that this is a big year in Texas because of the new STARR test. Our 4th grade students are going to be expected to write 2 essays- one narrative and one expository. Other states already do this but it is a difficult transition when you are so used to narrative writing only. This is going to get our students so ready to make 4s on BOTH essays. There is a school in the district I teach in that uses WFTB religiously. A few years ago, they made the highest number of 4s in the entire state of Texas. And no, I am not getting paid to say all this, I just know it works. haha. This is a sample of the process that I expected of my 3rd grade students in October for a Writing Benchmark. 

This is an example of a 2nd/3rd grade writing model that I did with my class. 

 Sorry, it got a little messed up... it is a 3 day modeling process and this is just what happens on Day 3 of being on the board... :-)

We still had to work on conclusions... obviously.... and this was my rough draft BUT, the final process of my kiddos was very similar. ALL our hard work up to this point is paying off. Gotta keep trucking! Look in to Write from the Beginning though. You won't regret it...

Lastly, I have been busy just loving on my 3rd graders. I have the BEST class this year. Oh my goodness, I adore them. They are SO interested in everything that we are doing in our class. They set their own goals and meet them, they are self-motivated, they give the best hugs, and they make coming to school everyday such a privilege. 

What a wonderful year, thus far. I will work very hard to post some of the other things that we are doing this year. Hope your advent season has been joyous! Merry Christmas!