April Calendar View
Below you will see screen shots of my calendar for April. If you wish to plan time with me this will more effectively allow you to do so. As you can see, this tends to be a slower month for me with all the testing preparation. This would be a great opportunity for you to fulfill your TIP time if you have not already done so or schedule a coaching cycle if that is of interest to you.
Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop:
- Your reading unit for this quarter is Historical Fiction Book Clubs. FINALLY, you get to return to fiction, but it will still be in the context of history. Again, this is a great opportunity to cover Social Studies content. You can find book club sets that take place during the historical time period you are covering, so students can build some background knowledge in this area through their fiction stories and then teach the nonfiction aspect during your actual Social Studies time.
- There are a couple of things to think about when selecting texts for this unit. One, if you have a lot of Social Studies content left to cover think about how to set up your book clubs to accomplish this work. You will most likely have 5-6 book clubs going on in your classroom, so this about literature sets that cover the different content you are wanting to teach and set up those groups. Through conversation and synthesis work all students will hear the work of individual groups and be able to build their work and understanding around that.
- When you are choosing your own texts, feel free to pull what you feel would work best. The list Calkins recommends is as follows: read aloud text: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and mentor texts: Poem "Things" by Eloise Greenfield, The Tiger Rising by Katherine Patterson, The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco, Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, and current events articles that connect to themes and characters from these texts.
- Make sure you are doing all you can to connect the reading and writing lessons together. This is a huge asset we have working for us this year with the reading and writing units aligning. This is certainly a new way of thinking about instruction, and if you are needing assistance to help see these connections please let me know so we can work thought that. This does not mean you have to teach them together, but it does mean you should be making a connection between the learning and work done as a reader and author. This will show students how to look at a text in more than one way, while also showing them the direct connection between reading and writing. The mentor texts used in reading can then be brought in for students to examine what those authors did and try to emulate it in their own writing.
- If this is your first time setting up book clubs you will want to do some work on the front end to set up protocols and procedures for how book clubs work in a way that meets your expectations. I have role play activity that I always used with my students to set this up. It was shared at Summer Institute as "Dysfunctional Response Groups". If you need that again, let me know and I'm happy to send it your way. If you need help with the role play activity I'm happy to come in and help with that as well. The way in which you set up these procedures and expectations will determine the success or failure of this unit, so I would spend my immersion time on this and exposing them to the texts you wish to use. My advice is to not move into book clubs until students can show they are ready, because you will have enough to manage in this unit with the different book clubs, so you don't want to have to focus your attention on behavior as well.
- In writing, your students will be crafting a literary essay. This unit is really synthesis work of students connecting what they know about narrative and expository writing to draft an essay that incorporates both. This work is intense and some of these lessons may take several days. Give yourself that grace and please reach out if you are needing help scaffolding tasks to make them attainable for students.
- You should be right in the middle of Topic 14 right now, but may be in 15 due to skipping Topic 13 as advised. Remember, for Topic 15 you are not going to give a pre- and post-test because you are only teaching three lessons; 15-1, 15-3, 15-5. In so doing, you will be able to get into Topic 16 sooner to cover the geometry standards and skill students will need to know.
- Additionally, just as we have talked about in grade level meetings, vocabulary is going to be key and one way to ensure students retain it at a deeper level is to ensure they have an experience to connect the vocabulary to. Therefore, I would get any and all types of polygons in their hands for this topic. They will get an envelope of these shapes as a manipulative on the MAP test as well, so make sure you provide those real experiences around shapes in your lessons as well whether it be triangles, quadrilaterals, and polygons in general.
Science and Social Studies
Science: Earth's Systems/Scientific Inquiry/Science, Technology, and Human Activity
- I have experiments for this content endorsed by the NSTA that approach the content from the 5 E model of inquiry and include literature to teach the scientific concepts. If you are looking for material that incorporates inquiry and content in order to provide students with authentic experiences in Science let me know and I'll be happy to share those.
Social Studies: Economic Concepts and Principals/Institutions and Traditions/Social Science Inquiry
- If you are wanting assistance in tying this content into your Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop time let me know and we can meet to put a plan in place.