Disclaimer... and credit where credit is due!

This blog is simply my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions related to the Daily Five and Cafe. I give full credit to the creators of both Daily 5 and Cafe, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, also known as The Sisters. I have attended their workshops, read their books, and subscribe to their website. Everything else, I've interpreted on my own! :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on 3 Ways to Read a Book

Occasionally, people have questioned me on the use of "3 Ways to Read a Book." They wonder how I can justify "reading the pictures" as real reading. They ask how retelling stories is helping children to learn to read. Upper grade teachers wonder about the value of reading pictures when their readers are engrossed in longer chapter books. I have always tried to justify this by saying that it makes all of my little friends feel like real readers. In reality, it is exactly what real readers do!

I inadvertantly put this theory to the test in a recent project I started at home. My lesson came when I decided to put together a small entertainment shelving unit. It stands roughly four feet tall, has two shelves, and one drawer. Before beginning, I thought it might take me an hour or two but that I was fully capable of putting it together myself. And then I started.

First, I read the directions that came in the box. I understood all of the words I was reading... with more than 99% accuracy! I knew all of the words in the directions, but it still wasn't making sense to me. I was trying to do what the directions were telling me to do, but I just didn't get it.

Next, I reread the sections I didn't understand. When that still didn't seem to help, I retold what I had read to my helper (thanks, Mom!) Explaining it to her seemed to help... a little. Between the two of us, we were able to read and reread our way through the first step.

Finally, I had the good sense to use the pictures. What a world of a difference! Between the picture of the finished product on the box and the step-by-step pictures in the directions, it all started to come together. While I was able to read everything on the page, I relied on the pictures to help me "see" what I was missing.

My quick little Sunday morning project turned into a 5 hour ordeal! I'm happy to report that the shelf remains sturdy and looks beautiful. This is a lesson that I will keep with me for a long time. It will help me explain to my students and colleagues the power of three ways to read a book. Now if I could just figure out how to hook up my TV...

-Komos :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Teacher of the Month!!

Lardino, me, McCoy, and Baughman
on Polar Express Pajama Day

I was honored this week as our campus "Teacher of the Month," nominated by two of my pod-mates! I'm thrilled to have received this recognition and proud to call Baughman and Lardino my friends. I decided to post their narrative (which was read to our Board of Education last night by Baughman) because I think it really speaks to the power of change! While I've always been a reader and have thought outside of the traditional box, it truly was the Daily Five that re-inspired me and put that drive back into my teaching. I am a better teacher, reader, and leader because of it!

To: HEA Teacher of the Month Nomination Committee
From: Karrie Baughman and Candi Lardino
Last spring we nominated Laura Komos, and we feel that we need to do that once again.  Not because Laura is a friend, but because she has a commitment to professional growth like no other.  She yearns and seeks growth not simply to make herself better, but her students, teammates, district and thousands of others. 
Four years ago I saw a major change in Laura.  She had always had a deep love for reading, and reading instruction, but this change went far beyond a love affair with books.  This change was a strong desire to learn and grow.  Laura gets her “summer reading list” every summer and reads through.  The summer before the start of a new school year Laura read The Daily Five by the “Sisters.”  Laura found so much success through this program4 years ago that she felt compelled to share that success. At the start of the next school year Laura discussed Daily 5 with her friends over at Mackaben.  Then she talked about it at lunch.  As Laura began to share I saw this new energized teacher across the table from me.  You would have sworn she had just graduated from Northern with her teaching degree, and this was her first time job.  That’s truly how excited she was.  Laura began to compile a series of “how to’s” not only for Chesak teachers, but other schools throughout the district.  Laura’s little “how to” series grew into other school districts.  We had complete strangers visiting our school to observe her. 
However, Laura’s new found love did not stop there.  She began attending more workshops and trainings.  She bought more books (she may even let you borrow one if you promise not to crease the spine).    She continued to lead discussions on the Daily 5 and Café.  As Laura grew, those around her grew too.  
Laura is what I like to call Chesak’s celebrity (although until she reads this she won’t know that).  Laura is involved with phenomenal researchers and authors in the reading field.  She has helped authors lead blogs about professional teaching content.  She “tweets” to an audience of followers.  Laura’s drive has pushed her ability to influence reading instruction into the global learning community, effecting thousands of people. 
I’m not sure what kind of commitment to students and staff you are looking for, but I can say Laura has the most commitment I have ever seen.  As Laura betters herself, she betters her students.  In turn those teachers near and far that she interacts with grow as well.  When we grow, our students grow.  Laura shares almost everything.  If you ask her for suggestions she freely offers them.  She is a woman with many talents.  If you have dry, drab paper, simply send it to Laura and she will D.J. Inkers the heck out of it until it is the most glorious paper you have ever held.  She is so proficient at this that it has a name…we call it Komosofying an item.  Another area that helps all of our staff is that Laura is constantly finding new online sources for things.  She e-mailed me so much information last spring that one afternoon I told her not to send me an e-mail unless it was really important because I couldn’t filter through all of the e-mails that she sent of new sites and ideas.  No more than 10 seconds later I heard the mail drop into my e-mail box.  Since it was after school I stuck my head out my classroom door and yelled across to her room, “I thought I told you NOT to e-mail me.”  With a sheepish grin on her face she leaned out her door and said, “I couldn’t help it, this one IS important.”  Much to the tech supports dismay Laura really does feel that these e-mails are important, and she’s right; they are loaded with good info. 
So if you ever have the chance to work with Laura Komos during any point in your career let me suggest that you bring the following items:
1)      A Trapper Keeper (not the original thin ones- I’m talking about the 5 Star Zip up ones from the 90’s)
2)      About 1,000 pieces of loose-leaf to take notes on
3)      An assorted handful of pencils/pens
4)      A Smartphone; if you don’t have one, get one, and maybe an IPAD or laptop because she has a lot to show you. 
I can’t say that I know anyone else who has gone to such great lengths to learn and grow.  I certainly don’t know anyone who gets excited about “tweeting about reading.”  Laura is an amazing person, and I feel very blessed that I get to work with her.  The parents of District 158 are lucky to have her teaching their kids.  She may not be your conventional “workaholic” but she most certainly is one of our greatest assets.