Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Laptop = Accomplishment

Wow, it has been a crazy few days for me!! On Thursday night, my computer ‘caught’ a virus and died on me! I had never had a virus on my computer before so I started freaking out, which is a typical reaction for me when facing an unfamiliar crisis. So, I took it in to a computer shop to get repaired on Friday and I got it back today. That makes a whole 4 days with no computer….and let me just say it was the longest 4 days of my life!!!! The first couple of days were the roughest because I seriously did not know what to do with myself without my laptop. I am ALWAYS on my computer when I’m home. If I’m doing homework, watching TV, talking on the phone, eating….I’m always on it! I soon realized how much time I wasted on sites like Facebook, YouTube, and incessantly checking my emails when I know that I probably don’t have any!!! I decided to take the incredible amount of free time that I always wish I had and do some things that I have been wanting to do.

Early this semester, I blogged about filing away my lesson plans, handouts, and other teaching resources acquired from my classes. This summer, I organized the papers I had into a system that works for me. So, this weekend, I decided to file away all of the lessons, reflections, and other resources into my expandable file folder. It took about 3-4 hours to get everything organized and put away, but it is all done!!!

I also took time this weekend to read 2 new books that I bought. They are not any of the ones I mentioned in one of my recent posts….I got a B&N gift card for my bday and of course I had to spend it. I didn’t feel so bad this time because I actually read them!! The two books are Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller and Discipline with Dignity by Richard L. Curwin, Allen N. Mendler and Brian D. Mendler. I bought these books because I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do differently in the classroom when I take over and the major themes are discipline and work stations. I have an incredibly challenging class of students and I feel like the classroom management system is very ineffective in managing behaviors. I haven’t exactly figured out how to talk to my CT about amending the system. I don’t want to abolish hers (even though I won’t use it in my own classroom), but I want to tweak it and make it fit with my own style and philosophy. Any suggestions on how to have this discussion with my CT??

In regards to work stations, we use them during Guided Reading, but they are pretty pointless. My CT has the students either work on a reading assignment that she was not able to cram in during reading or work on a math review/introduction for the lesson in the afternoon so she won’t have to do it in the afternoon. This is great when our students need the occasional additional intervention for a specific topic, but not every day. Diller’s book, to me, is geared more towards the primary grades, but I can absolutely adapt it to fit my 5th grade classroom. In the paraphrased words of Debbie Diller, a literacy work station is an area in the classroom where students “use instructional materials to explore and expand their literacy”. I feel like in my classroom, it is used as a glorified study hall. One of my goals for next semester is to incorporate literacy work stations into our Guided Reading block and give my students an opportunity to work independently on meaningful work to practice what has been modeled by the teacher during instruction time. How are you using literacy work stations in your classroom??

I plan on writing more explicitly about the new things I want to implement in the way of discipline....stay tuned!


  1. (Otis is my Google name, after my dog)
    Thank you for buying my book, and even more for reading it. Two suggestions: As a student teacher, you are your CT's guest. Never challenge, suggest anything too deviant or be too much better. If you want to try a new strategy, show her the idea from the book and ask her what she thinks, and would she let you try it. Next year you can whatever you want. BTW the difference between student teaching and teaching is bigger than from college to pro in sports.

    Suggestion two: It is more important to find out who you are and pick discipline strategies that fit you than to pick strategies that are not you and fit into them. In DWD #3 there are a variety of choices you can make, no prescriptions so interact with them rather than be bound by them.

    Good luck to you.

    Rick Curwin

  2. Mr. Curwin,

    Thanks for commenting on my post. I must admit, I was a little awe-struck when I realized that one of the authors of the excellent book Discipline with Dignity commented on my blog!!! I absolutely understand your point about not trying to overthrow my CT's classroom. I am a guest, but as I said, the nature of our program brings us together as more of a partnership than most student teaching programs. Anyhow, whatever changes I have in mind, I will respectfully present those to her and ask her if she would be willing to let me give it a try. My main goal right now is having support and justifications for whatever changes I want to implement. I know she will be open to just about anything, I just want to be as respectful and courteous as possible when I bring these things up.

    DWD #3 has an array of techniques/methods for getting behaviors under control while maintaining student dignity, which is of the utmost importance. Thanks for the advice to "interact with them rather than be bound by them". It is with the flexibility and openness to various strategies that may help improve discipline management and instruction that true success for students and teachers can come about! Thanks for your insight, Mr. Curwin!