Finally! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this!
In a previous post, I mentioned that one of my big goals was to get back on the blogging bandwangon (which, I have to say, is not going too badly right now). What I failed to mention was that I also really wanted to get selling on Teachers Pay Teachers (if you haven't heard of Teachers Pay Teachers, you really, really need to go check it out). You see, I spend a lot of time working with other teachers, building great units and lessons (and having a lot of fun doing it); frequently we use materials that we have purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers but, equally as frequently, I end up creating something for us to use. For quite awhile, I've known that I could probably make a bit of money if I posted some of the activities on TpT but I've also known that I needed to pretty them up a bit (ok, a lot!) before they made their appearance.
I am excited to say that I finally did it! Given a bit of enforced time off (due to knee surgery), I was able to put a couple of things together in to pretty packages. Yay!
You can find my products here. I would love to hear what you think of them!
Ok, so the space is important. And it is fun to put together. But a beautiful space does not a great lesson make. So we had to go further, obviously, than just putting together a great space; we had to come up with a great plan for the learning that would occur in this space. Here, then, is a brief(-ish) outline of some of the ideas that we came up with, borrowed, bought and modified to create engaging, appropriate activities for each station in the Lit Pit.
Before we begin, we'd just like to say a big, heartfelt "thank you" to all the wonderful teachers out there who see fit to post their work on their blogs, on Teachers Pay Teachers and on Pinterest. We truly could not have done it without you (since we took a lot of your stuff!). As we get more accomplished with this blogging thing, maybe, just maybe, we'll figure out how to include some of you on our blog. For now, though, thank you.
Or, more specifically, our theory. We looked at current best practices in learning assistance and literacy instruction, we looked at our caseload and we looked at our own beliefs about education and we combined them to come up with a plan that involved both direct instruction and individual practice in reading, writing and word work. The plan involves close collaboration with the classroom teacher to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all students in their class; it also means focused, in-class intervention for Tier 2 and 3 students that is in addition to their daily classroom literacy instruction. In this way, we hoped to move the Tier 2 students forward more quickly by ensuring that their support dovetails with what they are doing in the classroom and frees us up to meet with the Tier 3 students for even more targeted instruction in a pull-out setting.
We knew that we did not have the time or resources to offer small group pull-out support to all of the Tier 2 students (those who are minimally meeting expectations), nor do we believe this is the most effective model. By dividing students in to leveled groups we are able to target our instruction and practice activities at each station to suit the needs of a wide variety of learners, thereby reducing the need for pull-out instruction. By integrating both the classroom teacher, the learning assistance teacher and support staff we are not only able to meet with each group more often for guided practice but we are also able to ensure a common language and activity link between learning assistance and the classroom. We still provide pull-out support to some of most needy students (Tier 3) but now we know that what we are doing with them matches what is going on in the classroom and in the Lit Pit. In theory, we can reach more students, more effectively using the Lit Pit.
The set-up of The Lit Pit is based loosely on the set-up of The Daily 5 by "The Sisters", Gail Boushey & Joan Moser. The bonus? By having classroom teachers come to us we have two teachers and often 1 or 2 support staff working together to support all of our students. Because we have, at minimum, two teachers in the room at any given time, we were able to make some meaningful changes to the standard Daily 5 set-up. Instead of Read to Others, we subbed in 2 opportunities for guided reading, ensuring that each student receives 40 mins of extra guided reading practice per week. Instead of just one Working with Words station we were able to create two, one focused on kinesthetic practice with words and the other focused on extension activities, allowing students to use multiple methods to learn spelling rules and patterns (most of our teachers are using the Words Their Way). We have a bazillion fabulous writing prompts to inspire kids to write and have several otions that they can choose from each week. Our Listening to Reading station incorporates iPads and iPods so that students can have a chance to listen to some great stories read to them.
All in all, we have a space that allows students to experience literacy in many different forms, all deliberately selected to help them grow as readers and writers.
The best part? By allowing students to work at a level that is appropriate for them they are all experiencing success. They feel proud of their accomplishments and look forward to coming down to the Lit Pit. And that is exactly what we hoped for!
Note to self: It has been a very long time since you've posted on the blog. A very long time.
Second note to self: The blog is part of your professional growth plan. Your professional growth plan is going to be reviewed soon. You should probably have something to show for it.
These two thoughts have been running through my head for awhile now. It has been a very long time since we've posted anything on here. So long, in fact, that the school year has gone from just beginning to quickly coming to a close. Good intentions, best laid plans, blah blah blah. The only excuse I will offer is that we have honestly been very busy teaching, refining, collaborating, refining and teaching again. All valuable information that should be posted on the blog, both as a record for ourselves (ahem, PGP) and to share with others.
So my goal is to get blogging again. To find the time in my very busy life as a teacher, a mom and sometime athlete to post once a week, sharing everything we have learned and created over the winter. I hope that it becomes second nature, I hope that I actually become "a blogger", I hope that this small record of our journey in creating the Lit Pit grows in to something bigger, something that connects us to passionate literacy teachers everywhere.
Here goes nothing...
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!