Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Look Closely Like a Scientist

I am truly blessed that my team has a wonderful Instructional Coach who works closely with us each year.  Our Title I Grant funds 4 Professional Development days a year with our Coach, Rebecca Kaverman.  Since we are focusing on Lucy Calkin's Units of Study for a second year in a row, we spent yesterday planning our next two Units of Study.  Today was our first instructional day for our new unit, "Look Closely Like a Scientist."

This unit is found in the "If, Then" book in Calkins Units of Study.  Since my co-worker, Karen Korty, was invited to attend The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project over the summer we benefited greatly from her new knowledge of how to use this "If, Then" book.  (If you can find a way to go to NYC for this amazing training...DO IT!)

We spent our first 2 hours planning our teaching points and laying out a schedule of the lessons to convey these teaching points.  The "If, Then" book just gives you guidance and not daily lessons.  At first, this seemed odd to us.  However, it allowed us to personalize the lessons that our students need at this early time of the year.  It also allowed us to deliver the teaching points that will grasp our students' attention.  (In the afternoon, we met with Rebecca to firm up our plan and prep all our writing books needed for this unit.)

A beautiful plan was put into action today.  Take a look at the photos--you see that excitement on my students' faces?  Yes, they are already hooked for this next unit of study.  

We are going to focus on pattern books that focus on describing Autumn through the use of our senses.  My students have grasped drawing a picture and adding a label.  Some have a story tellers voice.  Others do not.  By using the simple teachings points of making lists and writing a pattern book, my students will be able to make the connection that words that are spoken can be written.  

Today, we took a walk and used our eyes to discover what Autumn looks like around us.  When we returned, we made a list of the things we saw and collected in our partner bags.  These partner bags will now become part of our science center.

We have a walk scheduled for the next four weeks.  (Praying for perfect weather on each of those days!)  Tomorrow, I will model how to think and plan a pattern book for the sense of sight.  My students will then practice thinking and planning their own pattern book.  Then I will release them to start their new work.  

I think I am as excited as they are!  

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