"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WOW- It’s already WEDNESDAY!

I’ve spent the past few mornings working on some things in preparation for the upcoming school year, and these past few days I’ve just been overwhelmed at the amount of great websites and blogs and classrooms that I’ve visited all while sitting here on my comfy little couch. In case, you didn’t already know it:There are some amazing teachers out there in the world who are just a click away!
Despite all the negative news that teachers seem to attract these days, the majority of us go to work each day and close the doors to our classrooms and teach! It’s sad then that most of us will never make the six o’clock news unless we retire at age 100 having taught five generations in the same school. Teaching can sometimes be thankless but also very isolated.
That is all the more reason that we as teachers need to come together collaborate and support each other even across long distances, and visiting and sharing and ENCOURAGING via classroom websites and blogs is a great way to do just that.

I feel enthusiastic,renewed, and encouraged in my beliefs about both education and what I do as a teacher, but I’ve also discovered better ways of doing some things that I already believe work well in my classroom.

For several years, I’ve been a fan of Ms. Powell ( Angela Watson) of mspowell.com. As someone who is organizationally-challenged, I admire her skill in lesson planning and storing her materials, but she also has some instructional practices that are worth checking out. I believe that her book The Cornerstone should be a gift for all first year teachers in the primary and elementary grades. It’s THAT good in helping to set up a classroom, set procedures, communicate with parents- everything.
Her website is the first place where I saw the idea of a content-based bulletin board that would serve as a visual review for students.
http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/


My district supports a literacy-based model of reading that encourages the use of anchor charts. Having used Strategies That Work for a decade, I am familiar with that idea. I found many good examples at readinglady.com.:


The Reading Lady
http://www.readinglady.com/mosaic/tools/AnchorChartPhotographsfromKellyandGinger/

The Mosaic Listserv
http://www.readinglady.com/mosaic/tools/tools.htm
Another teacher that I am a HUGE fan of is Angela Bunyi who blogs for Scholastic. Her use of anchor charts and bulletin board incorporate several great ideas from the  Daily 5  and CAFÉ books and Tanny MacGregor’s book on comprehension.


http://blogs.scholastic.com/3_5/2008/08/combining-readi.html
Last year before my job description was  social studies teacher, I hung up a “chart wall” as described in Denise Leograndis’ book, Launching The Writing Workshop which I LOVE because there are plenty of colorful pictures of the classroom and examples of the charts. However, once I became a social studies teacher, it was difficult to adapt that idea to a content-area. I was really bummed!





So now I have found something that seems to take the best of all of these ideas: FOCUS WALLS!

Take a look at the Power Points by a third grade teacher in California

http://schools.cajonvalley.net/webpages/tlee/hm_reading.cfm?subpage=262015
My imagination is just running wild for FOCUS WALLS!Smile





I imagine my focus wall as a content-area chart wall that is very LITERACY-BASED.   I imagine my wall being a place that includes something along the lines of Michael Gravois (who has so many wonderful hands-on ways for children to create study tools and manipulatives in  his many books such as the one below about publishing research). The class mural or quilt would be ideal in my social studies classroom.




Using my imagination and some online examples, I’ve come up with my own focus wall based on what’s expected with my district’s literacy model and also what I believe is best for my own classroom such as reciprocal teaching during my  small group/ guided reading block. Here are my headings for my  new focus wall.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yLgXZ05cnBsXipFd1E-oMWvppmc9IvqsuKSqWYC8-Qk/edit?hl=en_US


I am looking forward  to later   posting some pictures of my very own content-area, literacy-based focus wall.



I hope you’re WOW’ed by focus walls, too!:)



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