Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Surface Features

Had an interesting chat with the children the other day over the cluster map on our wiki showing where people who are viewing our pages come from. They were very excited to see an American hit. I do believe it made them start thinking a little more about spelling and about punctuation and whether their posts were able to be read clearly by others. (May also have been their own comments to each other about what do you mean etc). Had one of the girls writing a list and she suddenly saw how much easier it would be if it had comma's separating the ideas. Real audience = caring about what we write, paying attention to detail??? Hope so. I am starting to see some differences, hope others will too soon. So easy to see the mistakes, not so easy to see the development of thinking etc.

Over a Hurdle

The children had hit a bit of a block and were finding it a bit more difficult with the roles. We talked about it and did some discussions together and seem to be over the hurdle and getting more of our role completed. It is great that although the children had an assigned role, they still feel able to slip into a different role if need be. I am finding the children are starting to revisit old discussions and questions and adding further to what they have previously said. Shows me they are constantly thinking about it. Love having the discussions still there to go back our books or on charts, we move on and tend to stay moved on and don't seem to go back to things. Once our thought is there, it is there for life. On the wiki we are able to change our mind, clarify things, explain more.

Most of the children I feel are becoming more specific in what they are writing (others still need to be reminded), early days still. I like in the word detective section, the children are beginning to refer to the page and what sentence a word was in - keep saying in their running records that their needs are about vocab in the context it is used and about getting evidence from text to support answers. Feel like I am beginning to target this now.

Had a funny moment the other day (am I creating monsters). One of the children asked the word detectives if they knew what a word meant. I asked if he had tried looking himself, and he said "No! I am making them do their role properly, I am busy doing mine!" You had to hear the tone that went with it......

Nearly time to move to a new story although I do think there is so much more to get out of this book. Will have to think of what is best over the long weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News is Spreading

Also feel really good that a couple of other teachers are working with the Literature Circles too. One in Junior and one in the Seniors so I am able to get a look at how they work throughout the school. We are all using them differently but in just a short time can see how deeper the thinking is. The junior class used the story - The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Some good connections to be made there with ourselves. Quite keen to try that story out myself now. Great to have others to talk to it about, it's hard to share with others who are not sure what you are on about. But slowly the word is creeping out.

Contact with Author and Inspiration

Feeling really pleased with myself as I found the authors website and have emailed her. She seems to be the kind that responds to people so might hear back from her. She has written so many books, I like the look of a few others. (Trust me to pick the only one out of print). 

Also made contact with Laura Candler who is pretty much the brains behind Literature Circles. Every search I make comes up with her resources and if not hers then they refer to her. I am using some of her role sheets and on her site she had said that people were free to use them in their class and school. Because I want my wiki to be a one stop resource place, I really wanted to upload her sheets. Emailed her and asked her permission to do that and she emailed back within a couple of hours and said it was fine, just make sure the credit line is there. Think it is great to acknowledge the work she has done in making the resources and would never claim them as my own, but feel a lot more comfortable that she knows I am using them and will be able to have them on the wiki. She has many, many resources and thoughts about teaching so well worth people visiting

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great Book

This book has been a great catalyst for things. (Tomorrow is a Great Word) How could such a great book be buried on our bookshelf in the resource room and even worse be out of print now. Have contacted publisher, maybe they might reprint if they get enough good feedback about it. Going to try to contact the author also, she might have loads of copies of it still.

The children initially have found it really hard trying to do the roles in just a pair. A couple of times they've wanted to give up but we have refocussed and worked through it. Taking us much longer to get things posted as they are putting a lot more thought into their roles. The word detectives have found it quite hard as they know they are trying to help others understand what words and phrases mean, not just themselves. They have to be clearer. The illustrators really thought they might have an easy time of it, but they have seen there is much more thought having to go into depicting a scene.

Found we needed to do some more work on what an earthquake was like that is on that scale and it has spun off into some homework tasks and going to other sites. Found a really neat site which had an earthquake simulator which the children could use. Being in Rotorua we experience little earthquakes all the time, but to get to grips with an earthquake of the magnitude of the one in the story was difficult. A fine line between showing the children and scaring them senseless. Hopefully I have got it right. It has really reinforced to me how great developing the wiki is as I could just add the links to the site. I was also able to post a new question for them to answer right away. I am able to do things at the moment I think of it, the children can go on at a time that suits them also if they are going in at home.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Capturing the Thinking

With this latest book (Tomorrow is a Great Word) I decided to put pairs in each role in the hope they would support each other and I would be able to get discussion between the pairs. This has worked for a couple of the pairings, being a fly on the wall I am able to hear what I think is discussion, bouncing ideas back and forth, agree, disagreeing, moving on. (Voice recorders are a wonderful invention). For a couple of pairs they are trying to go it alone. Showed me also the refocussing I need to do - e.g the Summarisers are having a good discussion but I don't think they are quite sure of their role yet and what they need to end up with. Think they need a story map to help them with making decisions on events. Early days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Woo Hoo Moment

We read our new story today. Had the video running and the voice recorder and it didn't phase the children at all with it going, so that was good. 

Had such a neat moment today. At the end of the story one of my children said out of the blue, "I can make a connection between this and the 3 little pigs story we read - they are both about fear. Different kinds of fear, but there was fear in both stories." It was just so neat, he went on to tell us about his experiences of being in an earthquake and how scared he'd been, and how she must have been really scared. It was just so great for me that so early in our work on Literacy Circles and the roles, that he clearly saw something and was sharing it.

It worked out today that the children asked for different roles, some interesting choices but they were the roles they felt they could contribute to the most for this story so great. Am heading to them making those choices and they've done it early for me. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tomorrow is a Great Word by Janeen Brian

Am starting a new story tomorrow (Monday). We are going to try to move on from us all doing each role to beginning to take on the different roles ourselves. I am going to work this time with 2 children per each role so they can support each other as it is all so new  for us still. I am going to take on the role of Questioner for this book as I want to still show them the depth I will be expecting for that role. Tomorrow will be just reading the story and setting them the task for each role and hopefully Tuesday we will start getting into the roles. As they initially read the story I will get them to circle words they are unsure of or find unusual so they can ask the Word Detective to explore those words if they have not covered them. 

A bit unsure of how to have both face to face discussions as well as the blog discussions. Guess this will play itself out in time, at what point do we need the face to face?....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Good Session Today

Had a session with the children today where they were being word detectives and really felt they were thinking with their posts. They are starting to see that their discussions are for a wider audience than them, if they explain what a word means, they might help someone further away, doesn't have to be just for the group.

Was great today as the kids put some good online dictionary sites on our Word Detective Page on our wiki. They decided that would save them wasting time searching through millions of sites when they search for a definition.  Wish I'd been that clever ages ago, the hours I spend searching for things. Getting the idea of the difference between a phrase and a word and how searching for a meaning needs to be done differently.

I think they love the fact that all their work is right where they left it, no book to find, no paper to lose.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Goodness, video certainly stifles my children's discussions. They kind of clam up and just look to the camera...Guess by doing more they will get used to it. Also children just don't have the experience of discussing in a group. They are kind of used to Round Robin talks where they contribute in turn and don't really just contribute freely. Even if we are reading a story and talking about things, it is usually directed through me as the teacher, taking turns. So many skills to learn and do.  

The blogging for the sake of it tends to have tapered off and as we are learning more about the roles, it is taking longer for the children to post as they are now putting more thought and research into what they are putting up. Guess this is also the second week of working with the book so our initial questions are asked, we are now looking at deeper thinking to try to answer some of our questions.

Having technology that works is the biggest frustration. Of the 6 desktop computers in my room, 1 is working at the moment!!!!! Thank goodness for two laptops and a suite with enough computers. Blogging is great and working in online environments fantastic - if you get on there.....