Sunday, July 28, 2013

The end of summer break...

Well, I have been frantically getting ready to return to work. Wednesday is my first paid day back, but Tuesday I am attending a workshop and getting together with my co-teacher to do some planning (and a little catching up).
It is hard to believe the break is over already! I had fun with the kids, logged many hours at the pool, had lots of fun at the movies and gobbled more popcorn calories than I care to count, and had a few fun day excursions. I accomplished a lot and enjoyed the break from the work routine. But anyone who is a teacher or who loves a teacher knows, teachers really never stop working.
I have attended some work events, read some professional developments books, read some books related to 5th grade, and logged many hours creating some activities for my students. I have spent a little bit of my off-time preparing my room for my new class and will finish it up this week in preparation for parents and students' arrival at Open House.
I have been working hard at creating materials for interactive notebooks for this year. I implemented some components in the past and believe they were quite successful. This year I plan to integrate them in to all subjects daily. I have worked on making foldables that I can use in all subjects and am excited about using those throughout the year.
A few years ago I attended a workshop with Dan Mulligan (great speaker/impressive educator) and some of what he said made a strong impression on me. One of his key points was that we lose a lot of teaching time when we have students copy notes. With interactive notebooks he stressed that if you plan to have kids take notes give them the major parts pre-typed, let them glue it in and then have them synthesize what they have learned as part of the lesson instead of wasting time copying notes from the board or the book. That lecture changed the way I thought about my classroom. Instead of doing things the way they had always been done I was inspired to spend less time waiting for kids to copy things down and more time helping them make connections and add to their notes. Of course, it does require some up-front work and being completely prepared.
I will be honest, I do not have everything for the year mapped out yet, I am striving to get there. But for now I am chipping away at the common core and tackling units and lessons one at a time. This goal meant spending some of my off-time planning for the upcoming school year. Better to start now and get more done than waiting when things get really hectic.
This summer I created the graphic organizers for my animal classification unit and made a glossary for their notebooks for the year. I began the plant classification unit, but have not quite finished it. I am excited about the glossary. They will glue it in at the beginning of the year and have it all year to refer to and make notes for themselves.
The middle column is for illustrations or examples and then the last column is for their notes. Since the definitions for the words are already in their notebook they can spend more time making connections and less time copying the words. I am excited about this glossary, yep I'm a science geek! I will also seize the opportunity to integrate non-fiction text features while helping the students set up their glossaries in the back of their notebooks.
Science glossary and word wall cards available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I love to start my science unit with animal classification. The kids really love it too and since they know a lot of information it really gets them excited about science. I bring in lots of non-fiction text too, integrating reading and science. So as students read and collect information they add them to their charts, then glue them in to their notebooks.


I am a firm believer in encouraging students to use their resources to learn and study. So, I will allow them to take quizzes open book. If they take the time to complete their notebooks, go back and find the information, then they can use it to help them answer quiz questions. Students seem shocked when I let them do this, but as I say, if you reread it, you are more likely to remember it in the future when you cannot use your notebooks, simply because reading it again will help you better learn. As students become accustomed to my techniques they are more likely to put more effort in to their notebooks as well.
I am excited about these items and am looking forward to working with the kids and their notebooks. It may have taken some time upfront, but in the long run I feel that I am better prepared to get started this year and know that my enthusiasm will inspire the students. 
What are your thoughts about interactive notebooks? Do you agree that having notes or skeletons of notes pre-made encourage more learning?  
I linked up with for the Interactive Notebook Linky Party. Check out the site and the great ideas others have shared!
INB Linky for You and Me

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