Using Phonics Interactive Notebooks in the Primary Classroom

Hello Teacher Peeps!

Today's post is all about how I use interactive notebooks in my phonics lessons.  This is how I use them in my classroom so know that you may have to tweak/change things to make it work in your classroom.

Since my school uses McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders for our ELA curriculum, I generally get my topics for teaching from the curriculum.  Each week, we focus on one phonics skill.  After teaching the skill Monday-Wednesday, we spend Thursday heavily reviewing and practicing the skill with our classmates.  On Thursdays, we also do our interactive notebooks for phonics.  Right now, we are only sorting our words and then reading each word to our class reading buddy.

The best part?  It serves as a great resource for the kids to refer to!  And they definitely do!

Does it make the classroom a mess?  Yes.  Do kids sometimes lose their words?  Yes.  But it is still so worth it!  The kids create a great visual for themselves and practice those fine motor skills when it comes to cutting.  My early finisher kids get to write sentences on the back of their paper using some of the words.  While the kids are working, I go around the room to make sure everyone is sorting correctly and to do informal assessments by having the kids read the words to me.  After everyone is done, the kiddos sit with their reading partner and each partner has 2 minutes to read the words on their page.

Do you use interactive notebooks in your classroom?

5 Tips for Communicating with Parents Effectively

As a teacher, one of the inevitable parts of the job is communicating with parents.  For myself, talking to parents is one of the scariest parts of the job because I find it a lot harder to talk to parents than with kids.  I get so nervous talking in front of a group of parents - sweaty palms, fast heartbeat, and all of a sudden I talk at a million miles an hour to just get it over with.

Talking in front of parents has been something I've been working on since my credential program days and it will probably be something I will always be working on.  I've learned a lot of tips along the way and I am here to share those tips with you!

Tip #1: Parents want to know you love their child.
I had a professor that used to tell us that parents are trusting us with their most precious possession - their child!  Putting this in perspective helps you prepare some positive, complimentary things to say about this child during your meeting.  Whether you are dealing with a behavior issue, academic issue, or both, you need to be prepared with some kind and positive things to say about the child.  It starts the whole meeting off on a positive note and shows the parent that you see the good in their child.

Tip #2: State you observations.
Whenever I have a difficult thing to talk to a parent about - such as a child's poor behavior or an academic issue - I always start with, "In the classroom I am noticing _______."  I back this statement up with my anecdotal notes or work samples to further support my point.  Don't go inserting your opinion - just state the facts.

Tip #3: Be solution-oriented.
You want the parent to know that you are on the same side as them.  You want them to know that at the end of the day, you want their child to succeed inside and outside the classroom.  So if there is a problem, the conversation should not focus on blaming someone for the issue but focusing on how to solve the issue.  Ask the parent if they have any tips to share that have worked at home.  Or maybe they know of something in particular that might motivate the child.  Create a list of small goals and a timeline for when each goal is to be assessed.  Schedule a time to meet back with the parent to discuss the progress made.

Tip #4: End on a high note.
Always, always, always end the meeting on a positive note.  Share another positive thing about their child and thank the parent for taking the time to meet with you.  You want the parent to walk out feeling confident that with you on their side, their child will succeed.

Tip #5: When in doubt, have a witness.  And document, document, document.
We all have that *one* parent that is accusatory, uncooperative, and just downright mean.  If this is happening, you need to have a witness with you in your meeting - preferably an administrator.  Even if you aren't dealing with a crazy mean parent, it is always a good idea to document your meetings so you can keep it all straight and have a record of what when down.  You never know when you will need to pull that documentation out to CYA (cover your @**).

Currently October

Hi, Adventurers!

It is October so it is time for the Currently October linky party from Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

How is Your School Year Going?

Hello Friends!  How is your school year going so far?  I just finished up my second week of the school year and although I love my kiddos, I am feeling majorly overwhelmed.

Photo Courtesy of Mingo Hagen of Flickr and used via a Creative Commons License

This cat totally says it all.  My class size has gone up to 22 and so far, my kids are super sweet and awesome.  However, they are really have a hard time adjusting to my rules, expectations, and routines.  They are especially struggling with talking - and all the constant talking is driving me insane!

But we've made a little progress and I think we will have to spend another week or so practicing our rules and routines and I'm going to have to lay down the law a bit more. But we will get there.

Luckily, I have my awesome co-workers at school giving me real advice and help.  Plus - I have the fabulous world of Periscope to give me inspiration, keep me positive, and find new strategies to help manage the room.

So... how is your school year going teacher friends?


Hello teacher world and welcome to my little blog!  My name is Elyse Doerflinger and I am a first grade teacher at a charter school in Los Angeles, California.  I absolutely love teaching first graders and watching how much they grow over the year. This will be my second year teaching first grade.

I love all things colorful and have a special obsession with all things polka dots.  I am hoping to do a classroom tour soon within the next week or so since school is starting right around the corner.

So that's it for now but I hope you stick around to see more!