I might be lucky, or it might be my outlook, but every year just keeps getting better.I have a new class, still first grade. I don't have quite as many ELL students, and it saddens me a bit...I enjoy the diversity and challenge that it brings to my class. However, I do have the best class that I've had yet, and have tried a new reading program with them.
Its called the Daily 5, and it allows for the children to pick either read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, or word work each day. I break apart my langauge arts lessons into 3 mini lessons, and there is a 20 minute rotation in between where students pick their "Daily 5 choice" while I work in small groups with children. In the past, I had students working on activities that required a lot of my time to create or to teach, and they quickly became bored with them. However, because they are "choosing" what they want to do..and I have made reading a fun activity..they are fully engaged for the full 20 minutes! I have followed the book, "The Daily 5" to a T, and it has worked! Students work independently, and know not to interrupt me during that time. Through daily "stamina" routines the first few weeks, the program is in full swing and I love it.
Here is a link to the Daily 5: http://www.the2sisters.com/the_daily_5.html
And here are a few snapshots of my students working hard together: