Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loving Language Arts: The "Weekly 5"

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my new teaching job in a while. That would be because when I get home and decide to blog, teaching is the last thing I want to think about.

I’m enjoying it, really...I just certainly have had my work cut out for me. But, as my Grandma told me recently: you often learn more in your first year of teaching than in college. Ain’t that the truth!

Anyway, the semester is winding down (only 3 more weeks!) so I thought that I would update you on a few of the things that we’ve been doing this semester!

I’ll start first with Language Arts…

While I was at The University of Georgia, I learned a lot about The Daily 5. Since I am at an International School that teaches 3 languages, there isn’t quite as much English language education classes as in a normal US school. Thus, I’ve converted it to the “Weekly 5”!

The system still works well and could be applied to any classroom that doesn’t have quite as much free LA times as desired.

This is what our weekly LA schedule looks like:


Spelling Words Week 12 (20 min)
Listen to Reading (10 min)

Read to Self (10 min)
Work on writing (15 min)
Word Work (15 min)


Grammar Lesson (40 min)
Read to Self (15 min)
Word Work & Work on Writing (25 min)


Word Work (20 min)
Read to Someone (10 min)
Listen to Reading (10 min)


Spelling Test (40 min)
Library (10 min)
Reader’s Theater (30min)

We spent many weeks introducing each element of the Daily 5.

We started first with Read to Self, then Read to Someone, then Listen to Reading, then Word Work, and then Work on Writing.

Our Weekly 5 time is almost like a reward for the kids. It has made teaching Language Arts such a joy. One thing that has worked like a charm is modeling. In the Daily 5 book, it talks about modeling to children the right and wrong ways to act- don’t take this lightly! Plus the kids LOVE to show the wrong way to act… ;)

Read to Self

For this element, we have a book corner in our room and kids also bring their own books to read. I don’t have enough books for each child to have his/her own book box but we went over procedures of how to retrieve the books from the buckets quickly and quietly. I also let the kids bring in pillows to make reading time more comfortable on our hard floors.

Listen to Reading

I broke a rule here (I’m so sorry Daily 5 sisters!) and made my read aloud time the “Listen to Reading” element. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have had any free read aloud time (which is one of my absolute favorite things to do). Anyway, Last year during my student teaching practicum, my mentor teacher introduced me to the book “There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom”. This book is pure magic! It has just the right amount of funny mixed with some really solid life lessons. My 2nd & 3rd graders have laughed and cried along with the book and professed it as their favorite many times over. 

Read to Someone— 

EEKK! The acronym for Elbow to Elbow & Knee to Knee (describing how to sit with a partner) was received so well by the class. To get them engaged, I told a story about how I had found a huge bug in my room the night before and all I could do was scream “EEKK!” until my roommate came and killed the bug (ok, maybe this was only half true. I’m usually the bug killer when it comes to those situations). Regardless, the story sure got them listening. Since then, the kids have helped one another so much during Read to Someone. They get to be teachers with their “Coaching Sheets” plus, it’s fun to read with a friend!

Word Work

Undeniably the favorite element. When I introduced it, I asked the class “who likes spelling and writing?”…. there were groans that emitted from throughout the room. Now- there is nothing that they would rather do during LA time! Here are some examples of what we do to practice our spelling words: Rainbow words, bean words, acrostic spelling poems, Big Medium Small, spelling sentences, word scrambles, word searches, cursive words, and the list goes on.

The way I monitor this element is by using BINGO Word Work cards. Every time we do Word Work, the kids use these cards to help monitor their progress. They must get 5 in a row by the end of 2 weeks. This gives them a choice (they can choose the row/column) of which activities they will complete but it also ensures that they will do a variety of activities (each row/column has 4-5 different activities).

Work on Writing—This was the last element to be introduced and I think that we could still use a little more practice in this area. Every morning, students have been increasing their writing stamina by writing in their journals during Homeroom time. However, when I give individual attention to a student during Work on Writing time (i.e. a writing conference), I have trouble monitoring how on task the rest of the students are… I think that I will need to reintroduce this element after the break.

Currently, we are finishing up our “Diary” writing projects (an idea that we decided as a class) based on the oh so loved, Diaries of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (or in Spanish, Diarios de Greg).

Other than Work On Writing, I think that my students may have had enough practice by now that we will be ready to switch to independently doing these activities (because choice increases motivation). 

However, I’m still looking for a method of checking that each child is actually completing each element throughout the week. Feel free to leave a comment if you know of any good ideas. 

Cheers to enjoying literacy & getting into a good book on a rainy Costa Rican night. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Southern Bride Blogger

Guess what? I am officially a Southern Bride Blogger! If you haven't seen Southern Wedding Magazine, you're missing out! It's an adorable website with so many great Southern wedding ideas. 

I know that my parents from Pennsylvania will be proud. But hey- they're the ones who decided to raise me in the South! I am going to get to show my family from all over the US what a Southern Georgia-Peach Wedding looks like. 

I looked at my calendar today and realized that I only have 4 weeks until I'm back in the US for a month! No teaching for a whole month? That means it's going to wedding planning central up in here!

Here is just a glimpse at my to-do list for my trip back to good ole GA 
(many inspired courtesy of my ever so helpful account!). Number one on my list is undeniably "buy a wedding dress" because I keep having nightmares about not having a dress on the big day! :O

Some examples of the DIY inspiration for wedding crafts that I hope start over the break...

hanging decor
Use this idea with "Mr. & Mrs."  for the backs of bride & groom chairs

window pane for menu

quote & verse displays

Wood & pinecone centerpieces
candle holders
cake stand!

table numbers with pictures of
the bride & groom at that age!
Table numbers
ski lift escort cards!

Ring box other words, if you want to see me when I'm back in the States in July- you better be in the mood to get crafty! :P

{ & let me know if you have any rustic but elegant winter wedding DIY craft ideas, I'm on the prowl!}