Monday, August 25, 2008

I need to post this next to my computer

Internet Love Gocco print, originally uploaded by Chris Piascik.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to decrease your lesson planning stress on a fixed schedule in 3 steps.

My schedule this year makes it virtually impossible for me to collaborate with classroom teachers or to push into classes so I had to think of a way to teach quality lessons without burning myself out. I do not in any way advocate for fully fixed schedules and/or how I am going to have to run my library this year, but...sometimes when you are given lemons, you make lemonade.

How to decrease your lesson planning stress on a fixed schedule in 3 steps:

1. Read only "QUALITY" books during readaloud. This sparks curiosity about the subject which leads to students their own self-motivated research. Last week I read the Librarian of Basra: A True Story of Iraq by Jeanette Winter.

2. Plan lessons where students do ALL or MOST of the work. Once you have sparked their curiosity, provide them with a variety of resources to conduct their research: reference materials, non-fiction books, articles, magazines, videos, audiobooks, etc. Have students jigsaw and then share their findings to the class.

3. Have students create something that can be shared with an audience: An ABC book on any curricular topic, a student-created audio book, a videotaped puppet show, etc.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I just received my Califone MP3 Center!!

I ordered a Califone MP3 listening center for the library. The only thing is...I can't get my computer so recognize the device. The software that came with it is from Lexmark and I don't see anything in the software that resembles an MP3 driver. The website is no help...sigh. I will figure it out by the end of the week...hopefully.

I am so excited about starting library centers with my kids. I know that we will be working on procedures for quite some time before I introduce and open our library centers. I have been reading Debbie Diller's book, Literacy Work Stations. I am so grateful that there are educators out there who are willing to share their methods. I plan on having a computer center (using ReadAbout software, tumblebooks, or create a Moodle...if I am ambitious), a vocabulary center (students will play Scrabble and look up and record the words from the dictionary), a drama center (story retelling), a newspaper center, a poetry center, and maybe a video center if I can figure out how to make that work. If I can get my students working well in centers, that leave me with a small group of students to work with using reader's theater.

My goal is to get my students speaking with feeling this year and using their entire body to communicate. My ultimate goal is to get my students taking a more self-directed role in their learning. I want them to tell their stories and share them with with world. When I shared the idea of my kids podcasting with a K/1 teacher, he told me that I am being ambitious. You bet I am! My kids know that I believe they can do it. The real question is how long will it take to perfect the flow.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Procedures, Procedures, Procedures

Well, I ran my class, Harry Wong-style, and guess what? It worked! My students knew exactly what I expected of them because I told them, I modeled it, they performed it, and then we all practiced. I broke down every procedure to the greatest detail. I made visual reminders of the procedures. I even created physical samples of how the completed task should look. What happened in there was the magic that I see in so many classrooms. Procedures are truly the key to success. After about three weeks of setting the tone in this way, I should be able to do some really great things with my kids this year. I want my kinders podcasting and my 5th graders videotaping reader's theater performances.

Tomorrow I will have six classes. I am already feeling the tingling in the back of my throat. It never fails, every year, I get sick and lose my voice. I promised myself that I would do minimal talking this year. I am really trying to take care of myself this year. I promised that I would never leave after 4pm. Today I left at 4:59...I'm improving.

Louise Hay would say that I should pay attention to what my body is telling me. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, she wrote:
The THROAT represents our ability to "speak up" for ourselves, to "ask for what we want," to say "I am," etc. When we have throat problems, it usually means we do not feel we have the right to do these things. We feel inadequate to stand up for ourselves...Sore throats are always anger....LARYNGITIS usually means you are so angry you cannot speak.
I definitely feel angry. I do not feel a part of our school community. I can never collaborate with my teachers because I am a part of the "integral" loop (the kids come to me in the library, the music teacher, and the PE teacher, so they can have their grade level planning meeting). I barely have time to take care of myself during the day, and I do not have time to plan the type of quality lessons that I know I am capable of (22 lessons/week, K-5). I try to avoid complainers like the plague...and now I have turned into one of them.

I am feeling unsupported by my principal, who is well intentioned, but has no expectations for implementing a curriculum-involved library program. You know the saying, "There is no I in Team?" Well that person was right, because I am in the library and I am not a part of the curricular team at my school.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Same actions, same results

My students have successfully completed their first week of school. I spent my week preparing the library, "Harry Wong"-style, for my upcoming schedule of 22 classes per week. I still can't figure out how giving up Read 180 turned into 6 extra classes and not enough prep time to plan any of them.

Albert Einstein defined "Insanity" as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Is that why I've been feeling so crazy?