Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mind Reader ~ Freebie ~ Meeting Update

Hi Girlies,

This is my 13th year teaching. This is probably going to date me - but do you remember Patricia Cunningham?  {Four Blocks}.  Is she still around?  Crazy to think that something hot can fizzle out...can you imagine that happening with Reader's or Writer's Workshop?  You know what they say - teaching is like a pendulum - what once was hot may vanish into thin air but be guaranteed to see it again...new name, new packaging, but it WILL come back.

So, I pulled out and dusted off some of my Patricia Cunningham stuff {okay, truth be told, I opened one of my cabinets and things started falling out all over the place and one of those items was my Four Blocks book}...if any of my "been around the block" teacher friends remember good 'ol Patty, you'll maybe remember playing "Mind Reader".  Often times I'll play this game using white boards.  Here's how it works - after each clue they should write a word from the word wall next to that number:

1. Clue number one is always "It's on the word wall"
2. Gives a little more information but doesn't give it away, like: "It has three letters in it"
3. Again, more information but it's not yet obvious, maybe: "It has one low letter and two short letters"
4. You guessed it, narrow it down a bit more: "My word is found under the letter Y"
5. This one gives it away: "My word fits in this sentence: I like __________"  {you}

If I'm playing it with white boards, before they erase the words I have them say it, spell it, say it, erase it for each word {even if they wrote the same word more than once}.  Sometimes I like to play it on paper so they can take the words home with them.  At first, my kiddies get confused and when they hear the second clue they go back and erase what they wrote next to number one.  Don't do this...just move on and write a new guess {or you can stick with the same word if the clue fits} next to number two.

Click on the picture to grab it!

On a side note - today's meeting gave me a huge knot in my stomach.  Holy Toledo....yesterday I mentioned that my district lays off teachers every year.  Granted, we tend to bring most of them back, doesn't make being laid off any easier because, honestly, you aren't guaranteed a call-back that next school year.  Lay offs in the past were based solely on teacher seniority - again, I'm not sure how I feel about that; considering, {unfortunately} there are a few rotten apples out there who are left unscathed.  Under this new legislation teachers can be laid off if they are deemed "ineffective".  Makes sense...honestly, I can completely agree with that.  BUT - there's SO. MUCH. GRAY. {Even after the lawyer explained everything} That's why I feel so uneasy.  In my heart of hearts I think know I have nothing to worry about...but I have a principal who is fair and just and who is also very near retirement.  It's the future that I worry about. 

So, I have to just take a deep breath and do the best job that I can each and every day.  I really can't do much more than that...

{And there's always that coffee shop}...


  1. I LOVE mind reader!!!!! Haven't played in years but you've inspired me!
    I totally understand your anxiety. Hang in there. Show them your blog if they even hint that you could be one of those ineffective teachers!!!!
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  2. I love mind reader, too! Patricia Cunningham has sooo many great ideas! I sure hate evaluations and I've been teaching for 15 years....it doesn't get any easier when your job is on the line. My district is looking at merit pay and they are trying to come up with a rubric of how to rate teacher effectiveness, so they are evaluating all of us to get data for this rubric. Ughhh! My last observation was sprung on me 5 minutes beforehand! Sending hugs your way!

    Teaching First

  3. I'm a big Pat Cunningham fan and still use many of her ideas. They're tried and true, and "borrowed" by many of the current frameworks for instruction. Hang in there, and just do your best each day.
    First Impressions

  4. It's not easy being a Michigan teacher right now. Hang in there! We are all shaken and we just have to believe that we are in it for the kids (letting the other stuff go once we get in our rooms). You have been a great help to me this year (my first year in first)- you rock!


  5. My district still uses the Four Blocks framework (although they call it "Balanced Literacy"). When I was doing my field work, I was astounded that the first two districts I worked in did not teach writing on a daily basis...then I came to my district as a student teacher and had my first taste of Four Blocks (this was almost 7 years ago). It just makes sense. Daily 5 is probably the current "hot trend" that follows it the closest IMO.

    I'm with you on the new legislation. I'm not worried about it though. I feel confident in my ability as a teacher and it isn't as cut and dry as being deemed "ineffective" that gets you let go. I believe you have to have negative evals two years in a row because that 2nd year they have to show they are providing you with help/support to help you get effective. Personally I think we will see a ton of teachers in my district retire this year and next because they are so set in their old school ways and they should NOT be in a classroom anymore because they are well beyond their prime.


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