Winter Break = Recharging my batteries

Two weeks off, after a mere 70-something days of school, is exactly what I need every December.  As my 2011 Winter Break is quickly coming to an end I am mentally beginning my countdown to Spring Break but am also feeling recharged and ready to see and learn with my students in this new year *sigh* Welcome 2012!

The biggest learning stretch for me this school year has been my District's newly adopted RTi (Response to intervention) teaching model.  This highly researched model has proven effective in helping students who are struggling to master a specific skill in many districts across the nation.

Our school, under wonderfully supportive leadership, has fully embraced this model.  We have a sacred RTi time that can not and will not be interrupted by anything (no assemblies, field trips, class parties...) and I love that sacredness.  It keeps things from magically popping up and disrupting our RTi flow.  So Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10:15 - 10:45 is blocked out for 2nd and 3rd grade classes--the other grade levels have their own special RTi times on the same days.

That being said, many teachers are feeling challenged and, to put it nicely, exhausted by the increase in work load RTi has brought.  With hard work comes great reward though. My RTi team (2nd and 3rd grade teachers and team assigned para-educators) reflected on our RTi work to-date (Demeber 2011) just before break and agreed on two three things:

1. we are learning how to work smarter (use each other's talents and resources!), not harder (working alone...)
2. our students love RTi time
3. and, our data shows that working smarter and student's love for RTi time is translating into an increase in the percentage of students meeting standard


So as we begin 2012 with RTi definitely on my mind, I am anxious--the good kind of anxious and the bad kind of anxious.  I am anxious to see those little invisible light bulbs continue to light above smiling 2nd and 3rd grade faces (=good anxious), and I am anxious to figure out engaging, meaningful, and purposeful activities for my students since we do not have an RTi guide or program or curriculum or anything to follow (=the bad kind of anxious).

January brings a new RTi focus skill--Inferring (with a mini focus on Author's purpose and fact/opinion to help teach inferring).

We have our 2nd and 3rd graders split up into nine small-groups.  This time around I have the students who scored the lowest on the pre-test we gave before Winter Break.  This will be my third time with the lowest group so I feel that I have a pretty good idea about where to start, how fast to go, and how to grasp and keep their attention for thirty minutes.

Day One we will start simply:
*What does inferring mean?
*Use the examples from the pretest to help students understand the definition.
*Inferring game I found on Strong Start, a blog run by an early childhood educator--I plan to create this game to work on the smartboard and become a sort of entry task to start my RTI group each time we meet.

Picture also from Strong Start Blog

After Day One I will spend some time reflecting on how things went, how my group worked together, overall feel of the group, and then plan my next three lessons (for the following Mon., Tues., and Thurs.).

Good thing my batteries are recharged!

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