Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 3 things Linky Party!

Simply Second Resources is having a great Linky Party about what are the top 3 things you want to work on in your classroom! I think this is a great idea and wanted to throw my hat in the ring!

1. Independent Reading - Last year I implemented Daily 5 into my classroom and was so focused on trying to get as many "Dailies" in as I could I don't think the kids got much time to really focus on any of them.  Then I read The Book Whisperer and it has totally changed my thinking about teaching reading! I plan to really show my students my own love of reading and provide them with time for independent reading this year. I am doing two 30 minute rounds of D5 each day and the students MUST do Read to Self for one of those rounds every day! That means my kiddos will get at least 30 minutes of independent reading every day. Plus I am doing away with all the "busy work" I have for the kids to do when they finish an assignment early, if they finish early they will read.  Instead of working so hard to try to pull reading groups I am going to focus more on conferencing with my students about what they are reading and what strategies they are using

2. Writing - Since Writing is so important in 4th grade in Florida I am planning to make some big changes to my writing instruction. I was so fortunate to get to attend a Melissa Forney conference last month and I can't wait to implement her ideas and lessons into my writing instruction. I purchased her book Writing Superstars and plan to follow her lesson plans for teaching writing. 

3. Math - While my class did fine in math on our standardized assessments I personally was not happy with their growth in this area. I am planning to make some changes in how I teach math this year as well. I believe that I spent too much time on topics that my students didn't need and then had to rush through topics they really needed more time on. I teach using Envision Math and they provide two Topic Tests for each topic, so I am going to use one of those as a pre-test at the beginning of each topic to see what areas my class is already solid in and what areas they need more work. I think that this will really help me to focus my instruction to exactly what my students need. 

OK those are my top 3 things, so now it's your turn, head on over and join this Linky Party!!


  1. I can personally relate to this entire post.

    Writing was my strong subject last year, followed by Reading and Math (almost exactly equal in score distribution of 3s, 4s, and 5s. The year before, Math was the best subject on the FCAT by far, and my confidence soared. However, it was not as grand last year. The standards are getting more difficult.

    -Have you incorporated a lot of reading to self in your class prior to now? I noticed the students who were PASSIONATE about reading (and read, read, read) were the ones who got a 5 on the FCAT. The only challenge for me is getting students who are more math-minded to love reading and students who are more magazine- or non-fiction minded to love chapter books. I try to focus on choosing Just Right books at the beginning of the year, but I have to be patient. It takes a while for them to really know what they want sometimes.

    I had (5) level 5s, (13) level 4s, and (4) level 3s in Reading. Two of the level 4 students were 3s in third grade, and all four level 3 students were level 4s in third grade. I am never pleased when I have level 3s because I teach advanced, so I hope to focus more on inquiry this year. I am going to use a lot of magazine articles and higher-order thinking questions to lead discussions in my classroom.

    I need to focus on poetry earlier in the year as well as imagery and WHY figurative language is used to describe something. I need to focus more on the application. I have been reading the standards this summer and discovering a lot of this.

    - What did you notice about math? I know my weakness came from the combined area problems (the Ls, Es, and other letters where students to find the areas of many parts). I need to not label the figures and have the students practice with rulers more often. I need to give them more complex letters (like E's or H's) to measure and find the area.

    -Now for writing, Melissa Forney IS sensational. More people need to "discover" her. My focus this year will be getting more scores above a level 4 (I had (6) 5s and one 6 last year). I have never had (2) or more 6's in one year. I heard their scoring will be more stringent and focused on general grammatical elements as well. I need to focus on my students getting stronger in this area, yet it takes effort because third grade has to focus so much on reading and math. I think I have improved a lot over the years in the way I deliver instruction, but there are always new goals I have every year.

  2. I am in the opposite situation, I teach the ESE cluster for my grade level so a large majority of my students are ESE and below grade level so if I can get them to a level 3 on reading and math and a level 4 on writing then I think I have done well. My writing scores were pretty good last year, I had (1) level 5, (10) level 4, (5) level 3, and (2) level 2. My two that scored a level 2 in writing were reading on a first and 2nd grade reading level. My reading and math scores are eluding me right now I can only remember the 3 that got a level 1 that I was focused on getting good cause for. I was super proud though that one of my ESE girls made over a 400 point gain in math.

    Last year I did 4 rounds of D5 a day and I didn't make Read To Self a "must do" and since most of my kids had reading difficulties it was not their favorite choice so sometimes they would only do it once a week and that was only for a 15 minute round. SO this year I am making Read to Self a MUST DO every day and I am cutting it to two 30 minute rounds. That way the students can choose which round they will do it and they will get a full 30 minutes of independent reading each day. The Book Whisperer has inspired me and shown me the importance of this independent reading time. I taught kindergarten for 8 years before moving to 4th grade last year so I was always a firm believer in the more a student reads the better reader they become. After reading Miller's book I realized that I had the right theory all along, I just wasn't putting my theory into practice. I hope that the changes I make to my reading block this year will make big differences. The funny thing is I was all set to do novel units, even bought class sets of novels to use with my class, and thought "this must be the solution" because the teacher on my grade level who did novel units last year, instead of the basal (like the rest of us) had the best gains in her scores! So I figured that had to be it. I am SO glad I read Miller's book because it makes SO much sense and goes right along with my own teaching philosophy.

    As for Math, I think having a new math program made it difficult. The program assumed a lot of background knowledge the kids just didn't have from the previous program. I am hoping that since this group will be coming in with one year of the new program under their belt that it will be a little easier. The biggest issue in my class was that the majority of my students did not even know their basic multiplication facts which makes any of the higher level math almost impossible

  3. Thanks for linking up! You have some great goals for this year.

    Simply 2nd Resources

  4. Thanks for sharing! I think you did a FANTASTIC job. Your writing scores were on-target. When I taught ESE students, I did have students earn a 1.5, 2, and 2.5. I think I only had one student who earned each score in four years, but I knew they still grew as writers. Most of my ESE students usually scored a 4 or 3 while a few earned 5's because I encouraged them. I still remember when a boy earned a 5 in my second year of teaching and he had repeated third grade, so I encouraged him a lot while in fourth.

    Math takes a lot of review. I will write about what I do on here this year. The perspectives was a new standard in itself (top, side, and front views), so we had to adjust a lot last year. We'll both do better this year. :) I only had four level 5s for advanced in math, so I know I will improve.


  5. Victoria, thank you for your comments on this posting! It is so great to discuss these types of things with other teachers right here in FL