I know, I know. I can hear the gasps from the upper grade teachers now. But don't worry, it isn't the same thing that they do in Kindergarten and 1st grade.....well, it isn't totally the same.
|Click the picture for an upclose view|
As I am writing the message, I am embedding the key skills that the students must practice. Figurative language, parts of speech, sentence combining, and basic grammatical skills can all be found in the messages. When the students are reading them, they are to be identifying the different grade level skills, fixing any mistakes they come upon, and combining any sentences that need to be combined. All of this is done within the first five minutes of entering the room.
Once they have completely "revised" the letter, the students are then to write back to me on the lined side of the paper. Here they are not only practicing their writing skills, but also are using the skills that they learned in the message itself. If, for example, the message of the day focused on conjunctions, the students will be instructed to include a few conjunctions in their own writing. It is a good, in context way to learn the language arts standards.
After about 10 minutes of working on this, we go over it as a class. It is here where I am doing the "small teaching". We find mistakes, focusing on the convention standards they will see on the state test. We talk about figurative language and what it means in context. We discuss how to combine different sentences in different ways, in context, and exactly as they will see it on the CST. All of this takes no longer than 5 minutes.
I know they won't internalize it in one day, and that is ok. The next morning we start again. I put the same skills and standards on it and the students get a second (and third and fourth) shot at those standards, in context.
This is just one example of how I have tried to maximize my minimal teaching time. Have you done something similar? I would LOVE to hear about it.