Changing the Norm

We began our year together talking about norms, and about how we would treat each other as learners.   We ended up creating classroom norms and personal standards to live by:

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We come back to these norms all the time, calling each other out (including me when I don’t turn off my cell phone, which is a norm they wanted to put on that list) and reminding us of what we’re supposed to be doing.

Well, we’ve added some new norms to our classroom recently, based on new things we’re doing together.    And just like the last ones, we brainstormed together and then narrowed down our favorites.  And we’re so good at that.  I wish I’d have recorded the conversations around these norms, because they are such great examples of respectful, civil discourse leading to consensus.  LOVE IT!

Ok, here’s what we’ve got:

Before we started our Literature Circles, we brainstormed how we thought we should work together with our groups.  All ideas were fair game, and they had some great ones!

Before we started our Literature Circles, we brainstormed how we thought we should work together with our groups. All ideas were fair game, and they had some great ones!

Then we narrowed it down to a more reasonable number of norms to follow.  And we do a super job of doing so!

Then we narrowed it down to a more reasonable number of norms to follow. And we do a super job of doing so!

The second group of norms is related to our work on Edmodo (more on exactly what that is sometime soon).  We started out without an specific “rules,” just the basic ones that we follow every day in our room.  But as we got better used to collaborating and working on Edmodo, we started so have some concerns about how it was going.  For me, the best part of this list is that all I had to say was, “I’ve noticed some things about Edmdo lately.  What are you thinking about it?” and they thought of the same things as me!

Edmodo concerns brainstorming list

Edmodo concerns brainstorming list

There was an in-between list where they then proposed norms related to each of these concerns, but I don’t have a picture of it. 😦  Fortunately, I think they all ended up on our final poster:

There are a lot of them, but they were all important and necessary to our learning.

There are a lot of them, but they were all important and necessary to our learning.  My favorite one is “quiet hours.”  I would never have thought of that one, but it’s related to the online aspect of Edmodo and not disturbing each other with notifications while we’re trying to sleep.  SO SMART!

But just like with any expectations, rules or norms, the bid deal is following them.  And we’re doing such an amazing job of that!  I really do have the best bunch of 5th graders around!

How do you use norms in your classroom?  Do you norms look like ours?  If so, how so? Thanks in advance for helping us learn!

Literature Circle Reflection

Happy Thursday, friends!

I can’t believe that you’ve made it through your first round of Literature Circles already!  You did a FABULOUS job of being responsible with your reading, asking thoughtful questions and engaging in a civil discussion with your classmates!

Now that you’re finished, I want you to reflect on how it went.  On your blog, please respond in sentences to these questions:

1. What was your favorite thing about the Literature Circle process?  Give reasons for your thinking.

2. What was a question you asked that really got your group talking?  Why did it?

3. What is something you wish, if you participated in another Literature Circle?

4. Give some ideas for a book you might like to read with another group.  Be sure to captitalize and underline the title, and write the author if you know it. 🙂

I can’t wait to read your reflections!  Happy writing!

Mrs. Bearden


Happy Literature Circle Day!

Aren’t you excited?  It’s the first day of your new Literature Circles!  I’m excited to see where this journey will take you, and to hear all the FABULOUS conversations that will result from your close reading of your book.

I would love you to share your first thoughts with the world, so today’s response will be on your blog, not on Edmodo.  After your group has met, please compose a post that includes these things:

1. What is the book that you are reading and discussing (include the author and UNDERLINE the title!)

2. How would you describe the conversation?  Pick only ONE WORD and be sure to tell why you chose it.  For example, you might say it was LIVELY because everyone was really excited to share (and no, you can’t use that word.  It’s mine. 🙂 ).

3. What was something you did to contribute positively to the group?  On the other side of the coin, what is something you could do differently next time to make your conversation even better?

4. What are you looking forward to in your next meeting?

As always, be sure to show what you know about what good writers do (use correct mechanics, choose appropriate words, write in paragraphs, think about the audience, etc.)!  I should see proof of what you know in your writing, as well as see the answers to my questions!  Oh, and use the tags literature circles, reading and fun for your post (plus any others you want to add!).

Can’t wait to hear how it went! 🙂

Literature Circles–Book Trailers!

Today is an exciting day for you.  Today you will get to choose the book you’ll read and then discuss with your new Literature Circle!  I hope that this is a great experience for you, both as you make your book choice, and then even more as you learn and grow with your group.  So, now you’ll begin your journey as I give you a sneak peek of the books from which you’ll have to choose.  Please watch the trailers and read the reviews here, and then give me your first, second and third choice for which book you’d like to read.  You’ll write your choices on an INDEX CARD, NOT in the comments here, because I want them to be private.  In your note, please include how you know it’s just right for you and why you’d like to read it. I’ll let you know which group you’re in by Monday, January 28.  Happy book shopping!

1. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis   LEXILE: 1000

Book Trailer: The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 from Carolyn Martin on Vimeo.


2. A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack


3. Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret  LEXILE: 730


4. Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford  LEXILE: 750


5. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper  LEXILE: 700

The End of Literature

Literature Circles, that is. 🙂

We have spent the last few weeks meeting in Literature Circles to read and discuss a book together.  The kids have done an amazing job of thinking deeply and talking openly.

At the beginning of our study, we read several texts together, learning the roles that they would later use in their groups independently.  They learned–and then practiced–the roles of Discussion Director, Character Creator and Literary Luminary.

After we worked together, each student was given the choice of which Literature Circle they’d like to join.  Each kiddo gave their first, second and third choices for which group they’d like to join, then were put into groups of 4-6.  For the next three weeks students read and wrote questions about the book they chose.  Their lit group met three different times, and students had different roles each time.

The themes of the unit were responsibility and choice, as students focused on taking turns, making sure their voices were heard, and using the text to support their thinking.

My students did an amazing job with these groups!  They’re excited to try it again later in the spring with different book choices.  What great experiences we had together.

What experiences have you had with literature circles or book clubs?  Do you have any advice for us for the next time we meet? What book would you choose to read?