Curriculum planning- check
Organize teacher binder- check, check
Conquer the content....
Ok, so that last item sounds too daunting to tackle at once, so I'm going to go one by one. That's hard for me because that means focusing on one thing for possibly several days. Not pleasant. It's why I gave up trying to learn big, complicated quilting patterns. I don't have the patience for that. Give me a "finish in an hour" sewing project and I'm all over it.
I do have a set curriculum that I have to use, but I'm going to give myself permission to spruce it up a little. (Since I just passed on my blog info to our vice principal I'm going to insert a big smile and hug for Mrs. T...just in case she's reading) I started with spelling. No particular reason for starting there, other than it sounded easy.
The only reason it sounded easy is because the amazing Beth Newingham shared her amazing word study program in her Scholastic blog (check it out here). I had read the post prior to last school year, fell in love with the program, and had it up there on my list of things to implement in class. Well, with only 5 days to set up a classroom, it goes without saying that I never made that happen.
My major setback for implementing a program like Beth's is timing. After a year in the class I realize that I may not have time to spend 20-30 minutes a day on word study, which is unfortunate because it's so important. So this year, I'm going to implement what I can. With the other tweaks I plan on making to other areas of the curriculum (smiles again Mrs. T), I may find that the following year I'll have time for a baby Newingham word study program to be flourishing in my classroom. Anyone else have a Newingham-ish program going on in their class?
Here's how I started taking baby steps.
Step One: Identify Spelling Patterns
I took our spelling curriculum (A Reason for Spelling-Level D), and mapped out the spelling patterns for each list. Sort of feels all over the place. Ok, woosah (man, I had to look that one up too) as my husband would say. I can do this!
Step Two: Incorporate High Frequency Words
I found a list of 1,200 high frequency words very nicely explained when I Googled "sitton high frequency word list". The Google result is a .doc file and I can't figure out how to get to the original source, so thank you to the faculty member from Southern Utah University who put this resource on the web for me to snatch. If you can't find it through Google, send me a quick message and I'll get you a copy. I am going to use Beth's student sheets for marking high frequency words. She has them in groups of 100 and you can get the documents through her post. See the link up towards the top.
Step Three: Vocabulary
Our curriculum across the board is pretty weak in vocabulary instruction so I thought I'd sneak in a little with spelling. Our curriculum has weekly lists of 18 words so I chose two of those words to make into vocabulary words. I created 3rd grade friendly definitions for 2 words from each list.
Step Four: Homework
I liked the idea of Beth's cover letter with her homework. I created something similar where I could explain the spelling pattern, list the spelling words, list the vocabulary words and definitions, and give space for students to fill in their high frequency words. I slightly modified the tic-tac-toe spelling grid that Beth shared.
Step Five: Assessment
I followed a similar format for my testing page, but modified it to include my vocabulary words and to exclude the "new pattern words" that Beth refers to. I'll also only be giving one list per week so aside from having students test each other on high frequency words I can administer the whole test myself. I will require students to know the full definition for the vocabulary words. They don't have to use them in a sentence on the test. High frequency words will be used in sentences. Students will keep a log of missed words and after every 5th week, they'll have a list composed of those missed words. I'll have to come up with some challenge lists for my super spellers!
I'm pretty happy with my goals for spelling this year. I think this will be a manageable transition. I'm excited to see how it works in "real time." Here's to inching out on that limb!