Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Observation and a **Schema Freebie**

Hey Chickaroos,
I wanted to thank you so much for your kind words about my observation. The kids were a tad bit "off" but my principal didn't seem to notice.  I have such a nice group this year that an off day for them would have been a good day for my group last year. 

The kids cheered {literally} when I pulled out the pink erasers {I knew they'd be a hit} and my principal giggled when I pulled out the kleenex when I noticed my writing was so hard to read because of my "lazy erasing".  Happy ending - the kids helped me solve this problem and we all agreed to erase carefully with our brand spankin' new erasers because we want others to be able to read our writing.

While this lesson went well {in spite of the fact that one of my kids tried eating his eraser - thankfully, I think Mr. Principal missed it} I really wished he had seen my readers workshop mini lesson instead.  That one went REALLY well.

A few months back my friend, we'll call her "Barb", and I had a TNO {Teacher's Night Out}.  I think I blogged about it.  She visited my classroom, I visited hers and then we ate dinner and did some planning.  Our big professional goal is to edit, revise and tweak our reader's workshop mini lessons.  We made some progress this summer and finished up our last unit at our TNO.  We still have a ways to go...does it make me a dork that I can't wait for our next TNO so we can work on it some more?!?

I didn't really want to start anything new before break because we just wrapped up our unit on retelling...but I just couldn't hold off teaching the first lesson on connections.  It was just too good to wait.  That friend, we call "Barb", introduced me to this awesome book.  It's really a good one.

The author, Tanny McGregor, believes strongly in using concrete objects to help tap into background knowledge {schema} as well as other areas of comprehension.  For each comprehension lesson she provides ideas for what you could use as your concrete object - of course if you're like me, you're already thinking of other objects you can use from around the house or the classroom to not only make things more concrete for your kiddos...but more fun too!!!

Today's lesson was to get them thinking about schema and what it is.  I started off by placing small pieces of paper all over in the center of our circle. On each slip of paper I wrote a memory, a place I've been, something I've experienced or something from a book I've read: "Minnesota is really cold in the winter", "Running a race is hard work, but you feel really proud when you pass the finish line" "Fishing" etc.  I took my lint {schema} roller and picked up one piece at a time and read it out loud and shared the thought or idea. 

After picking up each piece of paper with my schema roller I talked about how our brains are like that sticky roller.  The things we see, hear, do, read all get stuck in our brains - just like the pieces of paper stuck to this sticky roller.

After that I had the kids paste a picture of a schema roller to the center of a piece of paper and they wrote some of their schema around it. 

Honestly, I've been teaching schema for years and eventually they really seem to understand what it is, but they seemed to really get it just after this introductory lesson.  I can't wait to delve deeper. 

Here's some of our thinking...{Sorry it's hard to see - darn cell phone}

Here's a copy of the schema roller...

Two more days...


  1. Congrats on your observation, it sounds wonderful. I love your schema idea! Before we left (last Friday sorry)we spent the week reviewing text to self connections and text to text connections. This idea will really make a good visual for them. Thank you for sharing. And lucky you only ONE child ate the eraser!

  2. I love the schema roller. Please share more!
    2B Honey Bunch

  3. This has been the best example of how to teach schema that I have EVER seen or read anywhere! Love it! I would love to hear more as your continue with your class.

    First Grade Delight

  4. I am glad your observation went so well! Thanks for your ideas...they are awesome! I am going to go order the book that you shared right now!!


  5. Love, love love your recording page! It's so important for them to record it in some way. I also use the McGregor book for workshop. I wish I had this page for the lesson 2 weeks ago :) At least I have it for the next group of kiddos. Isn't it great that we can keep learning and trying new things each year?

    Have a restful break (when you finally get to bust out of the building!).

    P.S. I'm adding on your button now :)

  6. I so wish you could come to L.O. to participate in our Reading Workshop teacher labs!!! We are toooooo alike!!! If your principal would let you come, we would love to have you!!!

  7. I love your schema roller idea! So creative! :)
    Great blog too- I'm your newest follower!

    Mary Lirette

  8. Holly you are a winner of my winter math unit! I will send it to you in an email tomorrow morning! Congrats!

  9. I'm a new follower and I absolutely LOVE your schema idea!!!!!!!!! I'm going to use it next week. THANK YOU for sharing your FABULOUS creation!!!!

  10. I'm so excited to hear this activity was a success with first graders! I've used it with third graders, but I wasn't sure it would be a good fit for first graders! Thanks for sharing! : )

  11. I've used the lint roller too. We actually bought mini line rollers and gave each kid a sheet off of it and let them stick their schema to it and then made an anchor chart of a body with the head marked with what we've seen, the hands with what we have done, and the feet with where we have been. It really helped them understand. This book is awesome!!

  12. This is such a great activity! I feel like I understand schema better now :) hahaha!

    The button that I usually click to "follow" blogs is not appearing on yours...I will check back tomorrow, probably just a weird Internet glitch.

    Wishful Teaching

  13. I used this lesson for my classroom and loved it! Thank you so much!!!

  14. I'm on love with that book! Thanks for sharing :)

  15. The purpose of the classroom observation paper was to provide students with an experience in which they were able to view the classroom environment and dynamics, question the teacher they were observing, and come to a better understanding of who they want to be as a teacher.

    classroom observation

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