Wait, summer’s almost over and I don’t have it all figured out!

I’m more nervous than excited about the start of the 2014-2015 school year. My mind isn’t quite ready to be in charge of this thing. I haven’t made lists, I haven’t planned, and I don’t have a clear vision for where I want to go.

The hardest thing about setting goals for a new year is to narrow them down. I want to be amazing at All The Things! Some of my plans work out. Others are abandoned halfway through, what with me being human and finite and all. When the owl arrives with my Time-Turner, things will be better. I just know it!

Until that happens, however, I need to be realistic. I need to set one major goal to focus on this year. (Not that owls and Time-Turners aren’t realistic. I’m sure she’s on her way.)

There are several new things happening this year, some of which are my choice: 

  • I’m switching grade levels. AGAIN. In my ten years of teaching I’ve been in 1st, 2nd, 5th, 4th/5th, 4th, 6th, and 5th/6th. Moving around so much is getting old. At least this time I’m going back to 5th, which has my favorite curriculum.
  • Common Core math. Enough said.
  • I’ll get to bring in YouTube resources and hands-on science activities that I didn’t know about last time I taught a straight 5th grade class.
  •  I definitely want to refine and expand Exploration (known elsewhere as 20% Time and Genius Hour) – more about that in future posts.

But the area that I really need to work on is Readers Workshop. I’ve been hacking at it for a few years, and I’ve been happy with the results, but I’ve never formalized it the way I’d like.

For one thing, I think I’ll replace last year’s daily Reading Journal entries with weekly blog posts on kidblog.org. The journal entries were extremely valuable, and I could really see students’ growth. It was amazing how sophisticated their writing and thinking was by the end of the year. However, the daily assignments were a lot to keep up with, for the students as well as for me. (Let’s be honest: It was the bane of their existence, and I didn’t have time to read them as carefully as I should have.) Blog posts are great because students read and comment on each other’s ideas. It’s more than just a dialogue between student and teacher, more conducive to building a community of readers. OK, that’s one decision made and 32 fewer spiral notebooks to buy!

I think I want to incorporate Music Journal, which I will steal adapt from a much-admired friend and colleague.

Beyond that, I’m not sure how I want to set up my Readers Workshop this year. I suffer from having too many resources and not enough time or motivation, with less than three weeks of summer left.

I have an area to focus on, though, and that’s a good step. I’ll reach out to colleagues and briefly flip through those books I brought home, back when the whole summer was ahead of me. Then I’ll heed the advice on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC.

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2 thoughts on “Wait, summer’s almost over and I don’t have it all figured out!

  1. I discovered Donalyn Miller’s books The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild and they have transformed my ideas about reading. She is an upper elementary teacher and I know a lot of what she discusses about her reading workshop will resonate with you. Also, great idea to use kidblogs! Perfect to keep track, get them writing, and build community. 🙂

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