Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Guidelines on Reading Levels

As you are aware, teachers are currently involved in job action. This means that we are not doing any administrative duties including the writing of report cards. I know that as the Winter holiday approaches many of you have questions about how your child is doing in school.

I thought that today I would give you some general guidelines of what meeting looks like in the area of reading for this time of year. It is important to remember that all students learn to read at their own rate. It is entirely possible to be reading below the average at this time of year and end the year reading at grade level. I have seen it happen many times!

That said, I have assigned students to their RAZ kids levels based on the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessments) I did in early November. The students are expected to work their way through each level. Those students who are very proficient readers were all started on Level P because I want them to really focus on comprehension. I find that some of those reading chapter books read very quickly and do not retain much of what they have read!

At school, students use RAZ Kids during Language Arts and Computers times. I will be using RAZ Kids as part of our Home Reading Program this year. Due to my being ill for so much of November and with the holiday only two weeks away, I have decided to start the official Home Reading Program in January but all students would benefit from making time to read RAZ Kids at home on a daily basis from now on. I do check their progess on a regular basis to see who is reading and how they are doing on the multiple choice quizzes that test comprehension.

Generally speaking, by this time in grade 1 to be reading at "grade level" students would be reading from the RAZ Kids level D or E. This is the equivalent of a Level 6-8 in the DRA. The end of grade 1 goal for reading at grade level is Level 16-18 in the DRA (RAZ Kids I-J).

In grade 2 the "grade level" for this time of year is around a RAZ Kids level K-L.  This is the equivalent of a DRA 18-20. The end of year goal for grade 2 is to be reading at DRA level 28 (RAZ Kids P).

I hope that this will help to let you know where your child is in his/her reading. I will do my best to send home some samples of work with rubrics or grades on them so that you can get the general idea of how your child is faring in school and I will be posting on the blog some general guidelines for meeting expectations at this time in the school year.

Please do keep in mind that, with job action, as far as reporting goes "no news is good news." I have been assessing and monitoring each student's progress all term and will be in touch with you if I feel that your child is struggling or requires extra support in any subject area. I am able to do brief "check in" meetings (15 minutes or less) after school but longer meetings will need to be during school hours and it is difficult to get coverage for my class so that I can meet with you. I appreciate your patience as we find times to chat about student progress in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today we worked with our grade 4 buddies to make a Santa Countdown to Christmas craft. I got the idea from pinterest (my new favourite thing to do!) but changed it a bit to make it work with the supplies I had on hand. This was the idea I saw on pinterest.

Beard count down to Christmas - awesome for fine motor/ cutting skills!
via this site

The class had great fun making these. They took them home today and will start on December 1st cutting off a row at a time until they only have the Santa face they made left. And then it will be Christmas!!!! I didn't have my camera at school or I would show you what ours looked like. I will take a pic tomorrow and post it.

In Science, the grade 1's have been learning about force & motion. We have studied pushes, pulls, gravity and friction. Today we worked on magnetism and then built ramps to try to see how much friction different items had as they slid down the ramp. Great fun!

The grade 2's have been working with Mr. Langille and Miss O on Solids, Liquids & Gases. They made a goop today that is both a solid and a liquid. How cool is that? They get to bring their goop home tomorrow.

I know that there is tons more going on but right now I am too tired to think! More tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Well, after being away from school for close to two weeks, I am back teaching again. I hope and pray that I never, ever get bronchitis ever again! I am still a little under the weather and definitely feel more fatigued than usual but I am glad to be back at work.

Yesterday I taught the grade 1's Science. We are working on force and motion right now. I did an experiment about friction. We were all surprised to discover that an ice cube did not move very quickly down a laminated surface and stopped completely on construction paper! I was so happy to hear that one of the grade 1's went back to his class and gave a very clear and correct description of friction. Mission accomplished!

Today we had a professional day. We went to visit at a school that was built a couple of years ago. It is not quite the same floor plan idea of our new school (that is currently being built) but the teachers there do a lot of team teaching and collaboration. It was really informative and gave me some really good ideas about what we can do in the coming months to prepare us for our new building next year.

We got to take a tour of the school and, of course, I found some neat ideas and just had to take pictures! I would like to do some of these things in our classroom!

I enjoy teaching everything (except gym!) but some days, when I look at all the cool ideas I have for art projects, I wish that all I taught was art. Being creative is such a HUGE part of me and I want to find more ways to bring that passion into our classroom. Recently, I have been re-reading a book I bought a year ago called The Power of Pictures - Creating Pathways to Literacy Through Art and I am finding it really inspiring. Don't be surprised if you see some photos on here with student writing inspired by their art!

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's official...

I have bronchitis. Sigh.... After 6 days of sleeping, coughing, sleeping, coughing, sleeping (you get the idea!) I got into the doctor today. I spent a goodly part of the afternoon sitting (exhausted) in a clinic waiting for an x-ray so that my doctor can confirm that it is only bronchitis and not pneumonia. I am crossing my fingers that his initial diagnosis is the right one! I am starting antibiotics today and (knock wood) they will start to kick in within a day or two. If my breathing does not improve by Thursday I will have to go back to my doctor and take stronger meds.

I can't remember ever feeling so weak. I don't even have the energy to take the dog around the block without needing a nap after!!!!! Being so exhausted is soooo boring. I am not the kind of person who takes well to doing nothing. Even reading or working at the computer can only be done in short stints since I tire so easily.

I really miss the energy and action of the classroom. I miss the kids, seeing my colleagues, all of it. Sigh... I will be home for at least this week and I am hopeful that the antibiotics will kick in and I will be well enough to come back to work (with energy) by next Monday. Crossing my fingers and toes!!!!!