Getting Around

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spaces and Places

Spaces & Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy At NCTM I was told by many people I talked to that I "had" to go see Debbie Diller. I had no clue who she is (I know, WHAT???), so I tried to get into one of her sessions. For some reason, she was in a smallish room, and even though I got there early I couldn't get in. So, I wrote down her name so I could do some reading later.

And boy, am I glad I did! Within the first 20 pages I knew I would be buying this book (I checked it out from my fabulous library). I am an extreme clutterbug who can't let go of anything, so one of the things about teaching that's been worrying me is creating a comfortable environment for my students. I fear creating huge walls of clutter over the years that will eventually endanger my students! I even did my visual pedagogy project for art class on how children felt about their spaces and what they would change about their current spaces. While Ms. Diller's book doesn't really address how students feel in the environments other than to mention kids with attention issues a few times, I found her book very helpful in organizing my thinking about spaces.

I'm not sure I'll use any of the worksheets she's included to help, but just having some guidance in how to think about my space and in what order to set it up will get me going on the right path. Her philosophies about classroom space are similar to mine, which I'm sure helped me to love this book. Kids are going to spend more time in my classroom than they will spend at home during the school year. It should be a productive, comfortable place for them. Now I feel like I have a fighting chance at making that happen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Days of School

The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher This is one of those books that everyone tells you that you have to read. So I read it. And as I've said before, if you are writing an advice book, don't get too detailed about fashion or technology. 'Nuff said there.

I confess to reading an older copy of this book from the library, so I have to imagine that some of my complaints have been resolved in this new edition. Specifically, there's a lot of fluff at the beginning and way too much repetition of the exact same words. I get it, it's important. Only, I don't need to read it three times and then feel like you just sucked some minutes out of my life that I can't get back.

What is good about this book is the content on assessment and teaching to mastery. I've posted before about standards-based grading, but the Wongs were way ahead of their time. The version of the book I read even had a copy of a test that listed the standards alongside each question so you and the students know what standard's being addressed. Brilliant! I could have used more information on how to manage all the data I'd be getting from such assessments. The grade book portion of the book didn't really match with the whole standards-based assessment, so maybe the Wongs are still grading old-school but doing formative assessing based on standards. It's not clear. But it is clear that everyone needs to spend more time thinking about how to get kids to mastery.