Thursday, July 5, 2012

Teaching Smart

Smart Teaching

Here is the best thing I used in my classroom this year... it worked wonders and cut down my planning time!
It's Laura Candler's Literature Circle Printables.  You can click HERE to go to her site and see them.

Let me tell you how wonderful they are! Oh my goodness.  At first I was a bit overwhelmed wondering how my students could do this independently (and correctly), but after a couple weeks of training it finally began to fall in to place.  This past year our school had 2 combination classes that pulled from 5th grade, so I was a little apprehensive about trying this out with my class because I did not have as many independent students as I have had in past years.  The more I looked into it the more I saw how it would help me too and save time and planning.  I was determined to try and make it work, or give it one heck of a try before calling it quits.

I explained everything to the students on the first day and told them how the system would eventually work after their training.  We used our Core Literature book to do the activities together, so my students knew what to do and knew what was expected of them.  Finally came time to seeing how they could handle work on their own....I was a nervous wreck expecting some crazy upheaval from the independent groups while I read with my small group. (I hope I'm not the only one who has had a dream where the class has gone crazy and won't get under control... I call it my mutiny dream.)

Instead of just releasing them and working with my group, that week I released them while I monitored and made sure students stayed on task.  I altered things a bit to fit my schedule and also my students' attention span.  I set the timer for them to read for 15 minutes with their group, then when the timer went off they returned to their seats to work on the activity independently.  

This worked so amazingly well.  I was so impressed with my class. :)  I even had other teachers compliment my students with their system.  What was even better was that my students absolutely LOVED it!  They would get so upset if we had to cancel it.

I highly recommend taking a look through the printables and if you would like to see any examples of the way put together and ran my literature circles, just comment on this post and I will email you.  :)  If there's enough interest then I'd be more than happy to do a blog post on it.

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