Thinking Back Thursday: Organizing Record Keeping


Thinking Back Thursday

 

Reading gurus Debbie Miller and the Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, are some of my go-to experts when it comes to reading instruction. They are masters at creating a Reader’s Workshop, and their strategies have proven to be essential for many of us over the years. While keeping those strategies intact,  the time has come for a 21st century update.

Reading with Meaning

The Daily 5 & CAFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no doubt among these experts that the greatest power for teachers in a reader’s workshop lies in conferring with students. The tricky part is organizing the notes you take from these conferring sessions. In her book Reading With Meaning, Debbie Miller states, “I’ve experimented with many different ways of record-keeping, and have finally settled on small 4-by-6 inch notepads that I keep in a basket near my desk. There is a notebook for each child, and every day before our literacy workshops, I scoop up four or five from the front of the basket. Throughout the work sessions, I confer individually with these four or five children and make notes about what I’ve learned about them as readers, writers, and learners. Entries might include words the child wrote on a sticky note, oral responses, a quick running record, and/or strategies the child uses for decoding and comprehension. I also make note of a child’s specific strengths and areas where he or she needs more support. Listing specific examples from conferences and observations keeps my comments real and in context, and puts me back in the scene when I need to refresh my memory. ”

In their book, CAFE, the sisters write, “In this age of accountability and increasing diversity, we need records that document how we are assisting each child with exactly the skills and instruction he or she needs.”  They state that one of the core elements in the CAFE system is conferring: “Children meet with the teacher during literacy workshop conferences to be assessed, to receive focused, explicit instruction, to set goals, and then to follow up on progress. The teacher keeps track of progress on the goal sheet in the notebook and schedules the next conference on the calendar, and the child posts his or her goal on the class CAFE chart.”  They call “the notebook” they refer to a pensive, like the one Dumbledore uses in Harry Potter to keep all of his important thoughts in one place. In their notebook or pensive, they explain that, “Each child has his or her own section of the notebook so that we can easily flip to that child’s name when we meet with him or her in conferences or record notes after a small-group session.”

Debbie Miller, Gail Boushey, and Joan Moser all state that they have tried MANY different ways to keep track of these anecdotal notes–me too! And if you are one of those people who are really organized and make sure that you file each paper in the right spot by the end of the day, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal?” If you’re like me and the phone call from a parent, the lingering student who wants to chat, or the text from your husband distract you before you end up filing that paper with important conferring notes, you are swimming in papers! Enter technology solution . . .

Even if you are one of those people who can keep your conferring notes organized, upgrading to a tech solution will benefit you too. Not only can you keep track of your anecdotal notes, but you can keep recordings of a student reading, pictures, and videos of each child right at your fingertips. Then you can share that information with other colleagues who work with that child.

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There are A LOT of tech solutions out there for organization, and I’m going to share 2 that I have tried with success. Fetchnotes is a great place to start if you are a beginner when it comes to technology. It’s very simple and straightforward, but it will simplify conferring notebooks for you. You can organize your fetchnotes by #hashtag. That means you can create a label for each student like this:

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You won’t have to worry about flipping to the right section in a notebook–just start a new note with #Nani, for example, and start typing. Then move on to the next student by starting a new note with #(their name). You can make a separate fetchnote each time you confer with the same student. When you want to see all your notes about that student, just click on his or her hashtag and name on the left and it brings up all the notes labeled with that hashtag. Simple!

Fetchnotes will let you attach a link or picture, but if you want the power of filing anything (like videos and recordings) in a simple way, Evernote is the tool for you. It is the cadillac of note-taking tools. Even the free version of Evernote gives you more options than fetchnotes. You can set up a note for each student and search for it in a similar way to fetchnotes, but Evernote is a much more robust option. Click here to see the website review from graphite. If that seems a little intimidating, fetchnotes is a great place to start. I still use it for keeping notes at conferences.

Both Fetchnotes and Evernote are free on the computer and on the iPad. Using the iPad version gives you the mobility to walk around the room and confer with your students, which is more convenient than a paper notebook! It also gives you a much simpler way to review your notes when filling out report cards or deciding on next steps for a student. Both tools also allow you to easily share your notes with someone else if you have other teachers who work with that student, or if you are having an RTI meeting.

I know there are MANY more great organizational tools out there, so I started a list on List.ly: Organizational Tools for Conferring Notebooks. Please add a tool to the list, or link with your own post below!

An InLinkz Link-up

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Quick Tip: More Back to School Organization with Google Forms


This is my second ‘Quick Tip’ post about using google forms for organizing back -to-school info. First, I made a post about using google forms as an easy and efficient way for parent volunteers to sign up, which you can read here. But you don’t have to stop there! You can also use google forms to recruit volunteers for classroom parties. If you have a room parent that organizes your classroom parties, with a google form (like the one below), all you have to do is hand them the spreadsheet with responses from a form like this and you are done! Click here to make a copy of this form for yourself. This link will take you to the spreadsheet of responses where you can make your own copy and change it to fit your specific needs. See the first ‘Quick Tip’ post for using google forms here if you need directions on how to do this.

Using a google form is also a really easy way to collect parent information. Caryn, from Mathtechy, commented that she will turn her google forms into QR codes that will be hanging around the room during Back to School Night, and iPads will be available if they don’t have their own devices to scan with. Great idea! In my district, all the information for parents and students is housed in Infinite Campus, but it would be worth the time to create a form where parents submit their email address into a form so that you can easily create an email list without the need for looking them up one by one. Click here for a quick tutorial on how to use a google form to create an email list in about 2 minutes. You could do the same thing for students (if they know their email addresses) to create a student email list!

I hope this helps you organize your back-to-school info!

Quick Tip: Use Google Forms to Organize Your Parent Volunteer Sign Up


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I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s time for many of us to start getting ready to go back to school! But you don’t need to spend a lot of time and money printing papers and mailing them to parents (which may or may not make it back to you). Here is a quick technology tip for getting parent volunteers signed up easily and efficiently.  Click here to watch a tutorial for embedding a google form into your classroom website. Click here to make a copy of this form for yourself! Once you make your own copy, you can personalize it for your classroom. Here’s hoping your ‘Back to School’ rush is productive and efficient!volunteering in the classroom: Use a google form

June’s 21st Century Tool of the Month: Google Apps


What are google apps? They include google docs, google forms, google spreadsheets, google presentations . . . you get the idea! Any of those collaborative tools from google that you can access from google drive. You may also have heard the term GAFE (Google Apps for Kids). It’s the same thing, but geared specifically toward students. Google offers school district packages.

I think google apps are absolutely imperative to education in the 21st century. I don’t know what we ever did without it! There are A LOT of great tutorials and explanations out there. If you are brand new to using google apps and looking for a beginners guide to getting started, here are some of my favorite tutorial series:

Tutorials from Anson Alexander

Tech with Jen’s Teacher Training Bootcamp

Google apps also include add-ons from the chrome web store, and more options are being added all the time. This is a really helpful organizational tool for the ease of creating student accounts. When students are logged into their student gmail account, they can access add-ons such as powtoon, voicethread, narrable and automatically set up accounts using the credentials from their account. Trust me, you will be very grateful for that lifesaver!

One of my new favorite add-ons from the chrome web store is fetchnotes. I learned about fetchnotes from this blog post by Teaching With Technology. With fetchnotes, you can add hashtags # to organize your notes in different ways, and you can share your notes with others!

This article from Edutopia, written by Beth Holland, outlines how to apply higher level thinking skills with google docs using the add-on screencastify. It’s brillant! I tried this with 5th graders this year, and they were VERY motivated to do some higher level reflecting!

 

http://blog.techwithjen.com/search/label/Flubaroo

Here are some amazing teacher organizational add-on tools have been added to the chrome web store: flubaroo, doctopus, goobric, and common curriculum lesson planner. These tools will be huge time-savers and help you on your way to becoming a paperless classroom!

Here are some more of my favorite add-ons with links to the chrome web store:

– Class Dojo

edmodo

storybird

Boom Writer

prezi

glogsterEDU

simplebooklet EDU

powtoon EDU

voicethread

pinterest

padlet

dropbox

Vocabulary Spelling City

Khan academy 

Summer is a great time to get to know google apps, which is why it is our 21st Century tool of the month for June. I promise you will find it worth the time and effort!

I Love Fonts!


Favorite Fonts Webmix

Are you crazy about fonts like me? I like giving the things I make a little personality! Unfortunately, every year our computers get re-imaged and I lose all of my favorite fonts and have to install them all over again. To make the process a little easier, I made a symbaloo webmix of my favorite fonts. Now all I have to do is click and download. I thought it might be helpful for you too! You can click this link add this webmix to your own symbaloo. Have fun creating!

Monday Made It: Better Late Than Never


I’ve been working so hard making things, that I haven’t had time to post them! So I’m going to do an all-in-one pinterest show! I’ll try to make sure I give credit to where all my ideas came from . . .

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My hallway display–scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, and the use of my cricut! (Click here and here for the pinterest-inspired posts)

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My parking lot–I love it! It really cuts down on random questions! (Click here and here for the pinterest-inspired posts)

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Flipped labels–they go so well with my classroom! (click here to find them)

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I got the rods and clips from ikea for $2 each! (Click here for pinterest-inspired post)

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Clipboard refurbished with duct tape! (click here for the inspiration for this project)

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Mini clipboards made with chipboard and a binder clip! (click here for directions)

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The highlighter cup–from the dollar bin at target & click here for the sign

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Our “scoreboard” which we use for transitions– made with smiley faces from melonheadz illustrating and my cricut (from whole-brain teaching)

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Personalized binder clips–they really help keep me organized! (click here for the pinterest-inspired post)

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These have worked out great! Click here for directions.

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These have come in very handy when kids turn in their lunch money! (Click here for the pinterest-inspired post)

Here are a few of my own ideas that have come to life . . .

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Happy DIY decorating!!

Monday Made It DIY #3: Discovery Journals and a Color “Wheel”


I’m a little late this week because we’ve been out of town, but I did make some things before we left! Thanks to Monica at the Schroeder Page, I discovered that office stores can cut composition notebooks in half!

Office Depot only charged me $3 to cut 12 composition notebooks in half (which gave me a total of 24 mini notebooks). Staples wanted to charge me $3 per book!

This is good news because my 2nd graders NEVER use the whole book. They are usually intimidated by the number of pages in the book and the lines that are so much closer together than in 1st grade. Some kids ignore the lines altogether and write all over the place! I’ve had 2nd graders flip to random pages to write things down, and then they never find it again. Needless to say, I’ve learned that 2nd graders need explicit instruction about how to use a composition notebook! So here is how I plan to use these mini notebooks that will be so much more manageable for my 2nd graders.

First, I thought they looked kind of funny cut in half, so I covered them with duct tape. This should make them nice and strong too! (I picked a color that I thought boys and girls would like, but there are a TON of varieties to choose from!)

Walmart had the the cheapest tape that I could find at $3.50(ish) a roll. It is called “Duck Tape,” and it comes in a variety of cool patterns and colors!

Next I made a label for the front and directions for organizing the notebook that I pasted on the inside cover. We will go over how to use our discovery notebooks in class, but I thought a reminder would help! (Click on the picture of the directions to pick up your freebie!)

We use our notebooks to make notes, observations, draw pictures, etc. in all subject areas, so we divide our notebook into different sections. I’ve tried using sticky notes to do this, and it doesn’t even last a week for most students. They get torn off or they stop sticking, so I’m trying something new this year. I’m going to modge podge labels onto foam tabs, and I duct tape the tabs on. I hope these will last all year — I’ll let you know! Has anyone ever tried anything else that lasts?

I did another project for my son that he won’t be able to enjoy for awhile, but at least that gives me plenty of time to put on the finishing touches! I saw a really cool way to display crayons and colors on pinterest, and I knew that would be the perfect addition to my art room! (I am planning on making a section of my art room kid friendly.) I started with gathering buckets for the colors.

I got my buckets from the dollar bin at Target and from amazon.com, but I don’t suggest it! Ikea has galvanized buckets that are MUCH sturdier and cheaper too! I had already bought mine, so it was too late, but I wish I had gone to Ikea first.

Ikea had this REALLY cool lazy susan that I decided to use for the color “wheel.” I spray painted the lazy susan white and each bucket a different color. I am going to modge podge color labels on next. I also put bigger buckets in the middle to hold paint, pens, pencils, etc.  My husband bolted each bucket down, so you can spin it to the color you want! I’m so excited to put it in my art room and let my son use it (someday)!