Friday, December 6, 2013

Better now...than NEVER (My Story Buckets)

Hello Dear Teachers in Blog World!

Wow!  I have had a contentious year to say the least.  Our district is imposing a new evaluation system as part of a new reform...UGH!  It has been stressful and demoralizing.

My students are amazing (as always); my student's parents have been responsive and supportive...but my allowing our Public State Education Department's (PED) ridiculous demands to give me so much stress has been OVERWHELMING!  I'm still trying to figure out if all the cause of this stress is due to local demand (Principal) or if PED is really trying to "give it to us!"

Well, that's my reason for being so behind on my publishing.  Michelle made this amazing blog design and I'm happy that I finally get to use it for my stress relief.   Please stay tuned for my next "Snooping Around" blog titled, "3's Please?!?"  I would love to reach out to all of you and hear if you're experiencing the same type of demoralizing demands that my state department has imposed in regards to Teacher Evaluations.

Anyhow, the silver lining is that I was recently asked to present at a local National Board Conference.  I was asked to engage teachers in what I wrote about for one of the portfolios.   This is what teaching is all about:  fun and inventive strategies that help our ever-changing children's learning styles to succeed in reading!

I decided to focus for both this blog and my presentation on one of my favorites: "The Story Bucket!"

 My reading program consists of a large focus on comprehension.   (Of course, a main portion of the day is dedicated to phonics and phonemic awareness!)  

I would like to introduce one of my most favorite strategies in connection with decoding:  My Story Bucket!  No matter what type of learner a child might be, young children will enjoy utilizing a Story Bucket with story element wands to re-tell a story.   

This bucket is displayed proudly in a main part of the classroom.  My students make their own Story Pockets:

left picture:

This single bucket (a converted oatmeal box) was converted into a Story Element re-tell tool.   After reading a story in a whole group or small group setting, children use the sticks by pulling them one at a time to cite the main ideas of a story (Common Core Standard R.L.1.3 for First Grade).   The following re-tell wands (sticks) to represent the main elements are are in this bucket:  Setting, Characters, Beginning, Middle and End.  I have found immense success.  Here are some artifacts:

Students holding up the correct sticks for an appropriate Story Element re-tell:

 I am especially proud of these pics.  These are my "struggling students."   Each student has a Kinesthetic Learning Style.  As you all know, this learning style is perceived as a difficult learner but in fact, are quite able and intelligent students.  The idea that they can grab sticks after reading a story is compelling and engaging for them:

Since writing about my success for my "Comprehension" entry  for my National Board Certification Portfolio, I have since added new wands to our Story Bucket!  I am currently working on a packet in connection with this bucket for my TPT Store (finally).  Due to the immense market on Teacher's Pay Teachers, I am doing whatever I can to make it "TPT-worthy."

Finally, I would like to close with pics of the buckets that I made for my grade-level friends.  They are amazing.  This is the least I could do for all of their ideas and support:

I am currently working on a friend's bucket with an Owl theme.

Thank you, my dear teacher friends!   I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!  More to come...