23 Jul

Back to School

It always hits me during our July 4th adventure to visit my husband’s family.  All of a sudden, about a month after school lets out, I get inspired.  Motivated.  Overwhelmed by the urge to pinterest.

And then the rest of my Summer is always a mixture of trashy television and a whole lot of work.  Throw in a couple kids and you pretty much have the past couple of weeks for me.

So let’s talk about some of the changes that are going to be happening in good ol’ C-5 this year (assuming I’m not being moved).

First, I’m going to make a really big push for more parental involvement.  Last year was an adjustment for me since it was my first time working with such a large Hispanic population, so the translations alone were new for me.  Now that I’ve got that down, I’m hoping to do a little more to get parents even more involved.  I’ve been doing a lot in the way of pinterest research on stuff to do for open house in order to engage parents all year.  Lots of good freebies, but I can’t help but be struck by the lack of Spanish translations.  I know I’m not the only one in this boat.  And I really don’t like the idea of giving the English speaking parents a beautiful pinteresty form to fill out and the Spanish speaking parents something substantially less than because I made it.  This needs work.

On the other hand, I did order some magnets with my information and our class website, so that parents can have that handy.

Oh, and I also created a class website.  Obviously, the information will be in English, but I did add a Google Translate plugin so that non-English speaking parents could get an approximation, if nothing else.  Far from perfect.  Perfect would be my being fluent in Spanish.  But it works.

Second, I’m experimenting with a flipped model for ELA.  I went ahead and created the first two units of videos, which should take us to the end of October.  I’m hoping to get a little more done, but I’ve got a lot of other things to juggle, so I’m trying not to pressure myself.

I’m hoping this will really help to engage parents in their student’s learning because they can actually participate in it.  A lot of our Spanish-speaking parents are eager to learn more English and support their kids in any way they know how, so I’m hoping they’ll enjoy watching the videos with their kids.

Third, I’m going to really upgrade my guided reading game, including implementing a pretty thorough word study program.  Our school is having us read The Next Step in Guided Reading this summer, and I’m obsessed.  They have recommended word patterns and word lists organized by reading level so you know exactly what to teach every different level of kid.  Beyond this, though, I’m going to be creating these resources from the ground up.  Kept looking for good word study resources, but many of them are too focussed on specific words and not focussed enough on word patterns.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less if my students are good spellers.  There are computers for that.  What I do care about is whether they understand what spelling patterns mean while they’re reading.  And sadly, even the simplest patterns are a struggle for so many of my students.

You can see that I’m focussing a lot of time and energy on reading.  There is such a discrepancy between reading and math scores at our school, probably due in some part to our large ESL population.  Our math scores are far from perfect, but the reading scores are just embarrassing.  Also, I spent a lot of time last year on getting my math game up to par, and while it’s far from perfect, I did make a ton of progress.  I’m sure if I can continue what I finally figured out by the end of last year, that will really help my students.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I ever really figured out what works well with literacy.  This year, I’m hoping to do that.


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