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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good-bye, ELA Switch.... Hello, Literacy Lily Pads!

     For the past three years, a colleague and I taught our ELA skills through a program we entitled,  “ELA Switch.”  We combined our two classrooms, broke them into small groups (sometimes heterogeneous, sometimes homogeneous ) and then filtered them through four (sometimes five) mini-lessons, for an hour a day, four days a week.  This plan was fantastic! It kept the students attention, kept them moving, and was always changing.  On Monday of each week, we introduced the new skills to our class, then, the remaining days of the week were devoted to mini-lessons and activities related to those skills. 

            Unfortunately, in order for our plan to work, we needed more than just two adults.  Being that I teach the consultant (or integrated co-teaching ) classroom, I also had the services of a special education teacher and a classroom aide.   At the end of last year we were informed that our classroom aides were only going to be part-time, which put a monkey wrench in our plan to continue ELA switch.   While the aide only ran a review game or activity, she was very crucial for the success of the “switch plan.” That being the case, I needed to derive a new plan for ELA instruction/reinforcement. Enter . Literacy Lily Pads! 

            With frogs on my brain, I created, “Literacy Lily Pads.”  Each week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), the children are presented with 6 “Must Do” lily pad activities.  They have 3 days to complete them.  When they finish them, they have five “Can Do” activities that they can complete.  While they are working on their activities, I am pulling students; one at a time; to read the weekly reading selection to me.  Depending on their independence level, I have them take the selection test with m,e or send them to their seat with the reading selection test.  Personally, I love this as I am able to really get to know my students’ strengths and weaknesses by reading independently with each one.  While I am pulling students to read their reading selection (from Scott Foresman Reading Street), my consultant teacher is pulling guided reading groups. 

            After two weeks, this is what I have learned:

1.       We all LOVE how this is working so far1 The students enjoy the activities and the teachers love the small group/individual time.
2.    A classroom aide/student teacher has been very helpful with checking work and keeping track of which students complete which activities. 
3.   Punch cards were okay, but the Velcro headbands are MUCH BETTER when trying to keep track of which activities the students have completed. (l laminated sentence strips and drew 6 lily pads on them.  I placed a piece of Velcro on each lily pad.  When a student finishes an activity, the aide/student teacher places a laminated frog on the corresponding lily pad. )  This makes it easy to scan the room to see how many lily pad activities the students have completed already.
4.   MOST of the students do a great job completing all of the activities.  There are of course a few who like to dilly dally.  I have to be good about making sure that they sit out of free time until they complete all of their work.  After having to sit out a couple of times, I hope that motivates them to work instead of dawdle.   If not, I will have to adjust a few things.  There were only a couple who didn’t complete their work last week.  They were both able to complete their work and still have time to play during free time!

            I house each activity in a labeled, laminated manila envelope.  I taped a page protector to the front of each envelope, which I am able to easily insert and remove each activity’s directions.  Below I have attached my blank Must Do/ Can Do instruction templates.  I have printed these and placed them in the page protectors.  I then print out a half sheet of directions for each activity, which I change out each week. 

Literacy Lily Pad Phonics
Grammar 2
Journal Blank
Spelling Lit Lily
Star Words
Can Do Blank


   Here  is a  snapshot of one of the projects we completed as part of our, “My Family, My Home” thematic unit.  Each child created their home using a lunch bag and some stuffing. 

In this unit we also:
1.       Used Google Earth to find our homes.
2.    Completed a family tree map ( I forgot which blog I found this from sorry!)
3.   Used the prompts, “Families can..” “Families are” “Families have” or “Families like to” to write a sentence about families.  I then had the children read their sentences into a Flip camera and made a short movie about families. 
4.   I asked all the families to send in a family photo.  I then cropped each family member’s head onto a clipart body.  I mounted the clipart onto construction paper, laminated it, and glued it to a popsicle stick. family member puppets!  The students love them!!
5.   Home Noun Posters- each child was given a large house cut out. Since we were learning about nouns this week, each child drew and labeled pictures of nouns that could be found in their home.  Then, they wrote their address on the strip of black paper that was attached to their home (it served as the street). 
6.    Home Number Posters- I had the children answer the questions below.  They then added them to a piece of construction paper.  In the middle of the paper was a photo of them, cropped into a small house.  They pasted the half sheets of paper around their photo. 

House Poster
Another freebie:

            In our district we have Homeroom Parents, who are parents that volunteer to plan our holiday parties.  The organized person that I am, I created a document to provide to my volunteers.  It lists the items we need for each party and also suggestions of activities to be played during the party.   Feel free to use any of the ideas for your upcoming fiestas!

Classroom Parties
Happy Teaching

Mindy Wolf

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