Burn After Watching!!!

***This is a review of Burn After Reading***

I just returned from seeing “Burn After Reading” and was sorely disappointed. I thought that surely it was going to be a good movie since there was such a stellar cast. However, I was wrong. I can’t believe that I was left with such a feeling of disgust after seeing it.

The movie basically boiled down to a social commentary on plastic surgery; how we, as a people, will do anything to look good. I was very disappointed. With such a great cast (Pitt, Malkovich, Swinton, etc..), one would think that would make for a great movie. But sadly, it wasn’t so. I give the movie an F-.

Just my thoughts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last Week Was A Hard Week…

Just as the title says, last week was a hard week. So many unbelievable things happened that I won’t even post here because I don’t think that most people would believe it. That’s why I took all day to recuperate. I took a couple of naps today.

I am unhappy right now. I can’t see my whole teaching career going like this. Things have to get better. They just have to! Bye for now. I still have some recuperating to do.

Explicitly Teaching The Sound Spelling Cards

Continuing from my post from a couple of days ago regarding an easier way to teach Open Court to Special Education students, here are a couple more of the things that I do when teaching OCR.

When I am teaching the skills called for in the program, I scaffold it down very low. By this I mean that I photocopy instructional materials from a lower grade with simpler explanations and work from there.

Open Court teaching is on grade level, but Voyager is intervention. It is below grade level. During that block of time, I am allowed to teach the children what they need to know, like the Sound Spelling cards, high frequency words & sight words, word families, and whatever else they need.

During that time, I explicitly teach the sound spelling cards. I target a specific S/S card and work with it. For instance, when I come to a S/S card that has more than two spellings, like the S or sausage card, I write a word with the spelling in it to show the children that it’s not just there for show; that it’s there for a reason. So, now when they see it when they’re reading, they will know.

I subscribe to a newsletter from All About Spelling and am encouraged as I read the weekly newsletter. In the newsletter, the author, Marie Appel, writes about explicitly teaching the sound spelling cards in order to help students with their spelling.

I guess I’m on the right track.

Well That Didn’t Work…

What was it that didn’t work? It was my retoolling of my schedule. In trying to make the classroom a better place for my students I tried going back to my old methods from last year. I cut down on the strict schedule. Instead of being so regimented and scheduled, I gave them time to talk and move around like I used to last year. Can you guess what the result was?

It was total chaos. There were about 4 fights today. I don’t know how, but I somehow forgot that last year the students fought so much because there was so much unstructured time. During this past 3 1/2 weeks of school, there had only been 2 fights in the classroom. Today, that number doubled.

I tell you what, tomorrow I am going back to my totally scheduled way. I will do this until I find a happy medium where they are on a schedule and they’re having fun. Until then, I will stick to my schedule posted earlier in the week that barely gives them room to breathe. They may not have had much fun, but there was not chaos in the class and they were definitely learning.

I’ll keep you updated as the situation progresses. Until then, here’s to continued success!

My Dilemma

I have a dilemma. This has to do with the schedule of my classroom. I posted it yesterday. I like it but it’s a totally different one from last year. Last year I did not stick to any schedule. If I planned a lesson for 25 minutes and it ran over because the children were extra chatty and excited, then it just ran over. I took a constructivist approach and let the children direct the instruction to a certain point.  I still kept control but they had a little bit more say than they do now.

Now, I have so much to do that I shuffle them from activity to activity with only a 2 minute transition period. Last year, I kinda’ had an excuse since I was new and hadn’t had any training. Now that I’ve had the training, I have responsibilities that I take pretty seriously, and I need to live up to them.

That’s why I have the dilemma. I know that I still need to live up to my responsibilities, but I know that my students need to move around and have more choices than they’re currently given. Last year, I didn’t have a real set schedule but my students made remarkable progress. This year, I do have a schedule and we’re getting a lot done. Their writing has improved immensely, as well as their knowledge of the S/S cards spelling cards and consequently their spelling. But they are not having as much fun or experiencing as much freedom as they did last year. I need to find a happy medium. Somewhere in between my chronically schedule breaking self last year and my overly scheduled self this year is where I need to be.

I really need help. Is there anyone out there who can give me some pointers or some helpful suggestions? I would appreciate it so much.


I Want You To Read That One…

My new student, Nu, had a special request that I don’t mind filling. Last week I read them The Hungry Thing, all the while preparing them for the sequels, The Hungry Thing Returns, and The Hungry Thing Goes to a Restaurant.

The books teach rhyming and it’s interactive. It’s the perfect little book for my class. They love it. Apparently Nu really liked it too because as I was asking the students which book they wanted me to read, he asked for the sequel to The Hungry Thing.

Just two weeks ago when he first came into my class, he wouldn’t sit down. The second day he disrupted to class so much, security had to escort him out of the room, and he’s only 7 years old. Now only two weeks later he is requesting a story. I love it, love it, love it.

Here’s to continued success!

Blend This!

Today my University supervisor came to visit. It was in the middle of the OCR block. She got a chance to see my students in action. I got a chance to see my students in action!!! I was so pleasantly surprised by how well they did. It didn’t even seem like a special ed. class. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in a good way. They were amazing. I couldn’t believe it. The only hints I needed to give them was the name of the S/S card and they got it.

This was an extension of the Voyager lesson that my assistant does with them in the afternoon. In the afternoon, after my assistant returns from lunch, I work with the students on Vocabulary Development & Comprehension, while she works with them on Word Study & Phonemic Awareness. We work on a rotation schedule. She works with one group while I work with another. After 20 minutes, they rotate.

It’s working out swimmingly. I didn’t know that it was working quite so well until I heard them blending today. Let me just tell you that I was very, very impressed. They were simply amazing. I will continue to work on explicitly teaching the S/S cards (I will post on this later in the week.). It is working out like a charm. I could not be more proud of them.

As always, here’s to continued success.