Friday, July 19, 2013

Literacy Conference, Anchor Charts & Whole Brain Teaching has been FOR-EH-VER since I've blogged.  So sorry about that :(

It has been crazy busy around here lately.  You wouldn't think summer would get that hectic.....but WOW!  The hubs and I celebrated our anniversary 11 days ago and decided to take a little trip to Santa Fe with some friends of ours.  It was fabulous!
My dinner date :)

Laying poolside while my love played golf!
Then, when I return, my dreaded grad class is waiting with an assignment due (2 days ago) that I didn't bother looking at until 3 days ago.  It was madness! 

I also attended a 2-day literacy conference on July 16-17.  I love this conference.  I go every year and I am never disappointed.  They bring in a keynote speaker to keep us busy in the morning, and then teachers from all around the region come and teach break-out sessions in the afternoons.  It is always such a blast and I learn so much!!!

This year, the keynote speaker was Tanny McGregor-
author of Comprehension Connections and, more recently, Genre Connections.

I bought both of her books at the conference and I know I won't be disappointed!  She taught a bit from both books, showing classroom examples from around the country.  She is fabulous! 
She really focuses on making connections to help make meaning.  She suggests using objects and concrete materials as much as we possibly can to make abstract ideas easier for our kiddos to understand (inferencing, for example).  In "Comprehension Connections", she talks about many different lessons (easy and cheap) to help your kids make those connections and truly understand what they're reading. In "Genre Connections", it's more about introducing different genres and understanding their structure and what they're all about.  I cannot wait to start reading them!
One of the comprehension strategies she talks about is synthesizing, which can be really difficult for some kiddos.  She has her students make "synthesis spirals".  How cute is that?  Isn't that 10x better than a worksheet?!?!
She also has her students do "6 Picture" or "6 Word" book reports or summaries.  It really takes quite a bit of effort to summarize a story in 6 words or images.  Think about have to figure out the main idea, what is important in the story and what can be left out, and then you have to put it all together to choose 6 objects or words to convey what you think the story is about.  WOW!  That can work with kinder kids up to 5th graders!  I love the differentiation that is available here.  Again, so much better than a worksheet!

In "Genre Connections", she talks about a lesson using a huge anchor chart about genre, using metaphors and concrete objects.  She compares the genre to an object to make the idea more real for her kiddos.  For example, when she introduces adventure/fantasy, she compares that genre to a prism.  There seems to be something magical about the prism and how the spectrum of light makes so many beautiful colors.  The kids now have a very real image for an abstract concept.  Perfect!
Then, in one of the break-out sessions about anchor charts.....I walk in to see this...... 

It was teacher heaven!!  Here are a few of the cute examples that she had displayed:

 These last 4 were more for us teachers, as her students that day.

I have saved the very best for last.........
I attended a Whole Brain Teaching break-out session and have fallen madly and deeply in love with this idea!!!  First of all, the two women teaching the class were fantastic and full of energy and that made the whole experience that much better!!  One of the presenters has a 3rd grade class, so I really felt like this could work for my kiddos. 
Did you know that everything {and I do mean.....EVERYTHING} on Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) is free?!?!?!?!  I'm not lying to's free.......on the world wide web.  Now, I probably spent $80 in ink printing it all off......but it's still wayyyyyy cheaper than buying it.  I printed off several (and I do mean several) e-books and cannot stop reading about it.  Simply go to this address and create an account {'s free} and get started!! 
There are a bazillion YouTube videos out there, just for your grade level where you can see WBT in action.  I'm not going to go into all the science of it, but in WBT the students guessed it......their WHOLE BRAIN!  Therefore, the engagement and retention is 10x what you get when the kiddos are NOT using their WHOLE BRAIN! 
I have found the cutest and best little blog, Whole Brain Teaching with Style, and it is AWESOME! I realize that I may be the very last person in the world to learn about WBT and everyone else is probably already doing this......but just in case you aren't......I urge you to check it out.   I was amazed at what I learned!!! 
One last blog has reached 100 followers!!!!! YAY!!!!!  Thank you sooooo much to everyone who has followed my blog and even helped promote it.  I have loved every minute of this experience!!  I am in the midst of putting together a giveaway......but it is my very first one and it may take me some time to organize it all and get everything ready.  I look forward to sharing all of that soon :)

Keep livin' the dream, 

Monday, July 1, 2013

{CURRENLY} and a Writer's Workshop/Daily 5 {CoNuNdRuM}!!

Hello, all!!! 

I had a saddening, somewhat frightening, realization this week.  I could not, LITERALLY, could not do the July {CURRENTLY} until today.  My fingers would not let me near the computer to even get a head start on it. 

Hello, my name is Mandi Palmer and I have OCD (apparently).  How ridiculous is that?!?!?!?  It seemed wrong to begin on the July {CURRENTLY} until it was officially July 1st.  I have a sickness. that it's we go.......some {CURRENTLY} fun with Farley!
It is CUH~razy how many people link up with this part-ay each month!  Go link up and join in the fun!

Moving on to my Writer's Workshop/Daily 5 conundrum:
How do you do both??  Can you do both??  I love Daily 5!!  I love the way it soaks kids in literacy from every possible angle.  I love how it fosters independence {this helps sooooo much when I'm meeting with my small groups}.  I love, love, LOVE Daily 5!  I also really, really, REALLY want to incorporate Writer's Workshop.

Now, I've heard that Daily 5 can be like a lot of little reader's and writer's workshops.  I get that.  BUT......I need specifics.  Do I have them do something in "Work on Writing" in Daily 5 that directly correlates with what we are doing in WW (Writer's Workshop)?  Do you do WW separately that Daily 5???  I need HELP!!!  Does anyone do both?  Any suggestions will do!!!! 

Also, in my desire to learn more about WW, I ran across this **FABULOUS** resource from Amanda at One Extra Degree!  I cannot wait to dive into this!!! 
Again.....if any of you fabulous, wonderfully creative veteran teachers out there have any (and I do mean ANY) advice on my conundrum......I would really appreciate it!

Keep livin' the dream,