A Peek At Last Week

21 September 2013
Okay ... I just may be getting the hang of this year.  ;)  It's been a busy start, and I'm exhausted ... but it's a good exhausted.  I have 28 students in my grade 5/6 class this year.  And they're chatty.  But, they are such a GREAT group - motivated, leaders, and full of personality.  I am so excited to see what this year brings, and of course, I'm excited to share it all with you.  :)

It's been quite the start to the year.  We amalgamated with another school this year, so over half the students in each of our classes are new to our school.  So, the first week was spent learning and reviewing a lot of routines and ways to make the year successful.  Then, just as I was excited to really dive into the second week, we were hit with some extreme weather which caused a lot of flooding and washouts in my community.  Buses were cancelled for 3 days (some routes were 4 days).  I only had about one third of my students from Tuesday - Friday ... so much for a regular week.  Which brings us to week 3.  YAY for a regular week.  I feel like we accomplished SO MUCH this week - but I know it's just relatively speaking comparing it to the last two weeks.

Which brings me to our first big writing assignment.  We wrote paragraphs on "Looking for the Heroes".  With so many of our students affected by the flooding and washouts, we decided to write about the good that came from the whole situation.  Students wrote about the heroes that emerged after the storm (whether it was a family member or friend, or city or community workers).  The paragraphs were so touching and thoughtful - especially from those students who wrote about a family member.  I can't wait for their parents to read them.  They are all hung on our writing bulletin board (which will be cumulative throughout the year - new assignments will be hung over previous ones - really allowing ALL of us to see that growth over the year).  We also started our Writing Goals Clip Chart with the students' personal writing goals.  We all started at the top goal - writing an effective introduction, but during individual writing conferences with the students, their goals will change based on the needs in their writing.

Our first read aloud of the year is The One and Only Ivan.  We are IN LOVE with it.  It's a fictional story based on the true story of Ivan the gorilla, who spent much of his life on display in a shopping mall.  We've been studying the reading strategy of visualization while reading the novel (we completed Visualization posters from my Reading Comprehension Strategy Posters resource), and working on building better answers with our reading responses.

We even "adopted" our own silverback gorilla through the World Wildlife Fund store (we ordered from the Canadian site, but the American site has a similar option).  With a small donation (I think it was around $50) we received a plush gorilla, an information booklet, and a certificate of adoption in the name of our classroom.  We love our mini Ivan.

We've also gotten a great start to our CRAFT (CAFE) board for the year.  I have a blog post in the works that explains a little more about the process, but here's a peek at how it works for us.  I've been adding a new strategy every two or three days based on needs I see in the class.  We have focused a little more on the "R - Reading Responses" because I really wanted to start building better answers right away.  In a nutshell, we have a short minilesson when we add a new strategy, post the new strategy on our board, and then students complete a short, reflective note in their CRAFT journals.  We then use our strategy as a focus for everything else we complete during reading activities (independent reading, pair/share activities, our read aloud, reader responses, etc.)  Again, I'll go into more detail in my CRAFT blog post (but if you search CRAFT or CAFE in my sidebar, you'll find some information on our start-up from last year).

Whew ... sufficed to say, Language Arts wasn't our only subject for the last three weeks, but I think that's enough for now.  ;)  

I've been having a lot of fun uploading one pic per school day on my facebook page.  I'm doing "Project 188" - a spin off of Project 365 where people take one picture per day for every day of the year.  Click HERE to make sure you're following me on facebook.  :)

Hope you're having a GREAT weekend!  My oldest daughter is away at a soccer tournament, so it's just me and the little two for the weekend.  We're heading out for a dinner and movie date soon.  :)


  1. Hi Jen!

    I just ordered The One and Only Ivan as well!
    I'm sorry to hear about the flooding in your area. I hope that all are safe and well and that things are returning to normal.
    I just used "Whew" in my post too. I think it must be the universal sound of Back-to-School!
    Sending you good wishes as the year unfolds...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. WOW! I'm so impressed with all you have done so far! And I'm super jealous of all of your bulletin board space!
    Rowdy in First Grade

  3. I LOVE the One and Only Ivan! While we were reading it, a new baby was born at our zoo and it turned out it was leased to a circus as a condition of housing it at the zoo. (I don't know all the fine details) Needless to say my class was outraged that something like Ivan was happening in real life. They wrote many many letters to the zoo. Happy reading!
    Chickadee Jubilee

  4. It is quite amazing how much y have accomplished already with so many disruptions to your schedule.


    The Math Maniacc

  5. I have just started reading The One and Only Ivan with my class. They are only four chapters into the book but I decided to read ahead today. I have fallen in love with Ivan and his friends. Thank you so much for the book recommendation.

  6. I am in love with your math journal entries and am starting them up after spring break for our last quarter. I was wondering if you have any more entries for reading because I would love to take a look into how you structure those.