Friday, August 9, 2013


It has been quite some time since I posted.  Now that the school year is starting on Monday, my first goal of the year is to keep my blog up and running. Wish me luck!

One of the first decisions I make every school year is what read aloud will I start with?  I always want something that will really hook my students.  In the past I have done: Wonder, Freak the Mighty, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, or The Shadow Club.  I would love to start with Wonder again, but am worried that most kids have read it now.  I will have to find out next week.  If most have read it, then I need to make a decision.  This summer I read Rump, which was pretty good and will probably review it in a future post.  I also plan to read Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library which has received excellent reviews.  There is also The Bully Book which I guess has a lot to discuss.  I am also thinking about A Tale Dark and Grimm.  Fun and gruesome to hook the boys.  As you can see, some tough decisions.

But before all that, I will read the short story, Curses, Inc. by Vivian Vande Velde.  It is a 30 page short story that always helps start the year off strong.  I highly recommend it.  This story helps me get my read-aloud groove on.

What read aloud do you start with?  What recommendations do you have?

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012


My school has begun its journey down the Danielson Framework for evaluation this year.  We were given some trainings, watched a few videos, received some hand-outs, and now we are beginning our first year of teacher evaluations based on the four domains and 22 components of Charlotte Danielson.  Sound tedious?  Stressful?  YES!  Luckily, I am off-cycle this year - which means I will not be evaluated under this framework.  Instead, I will create a Professional Development Plan Goal and be able to show proof of my goal throughout the year.  So...what is my goal you ask???

After meeting with my principal this morning, we narrowed it down to conferencing and how to implement conferencing with students.  My district has decided that we need to change the structure of our daily schedule.  Now, they want us to begin with some sort of advanced organizer.  Bellwork is forbidden!  The organizer will lead in to the Reader's Journey (our workbook-like-textbook)  mini-lesson.  This will then lead in to Guided Practice - applying what I taught during the mini-lesson to the anchor book.  Then, we continue with independent practice.  Again, applying the skill to their independent book.  Once finished, we switch to writing and end with word work.  Wow!  That was exhausting.  But you probably have lots of questions that I will be answering as the year goes on.  But, let's get back to conferencing.  This happens during the Guided Practice stage.  I plan to do more research on conferencing skills and how to confer correctly & appropriately.  I want my conferences to become student-led.  I plan to use reading response notebook entries as my guide.  I might even create a class blog or wiki to draw in more engagement. 
For now, how do you lead your conferences?  What works for you? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My First Anchor Charts

In 6th grade, we don't really use anchor charts...ever.  We just write notes on our white boards or project notes on an overhead or projector.  They are usually boring lists or definitions of words that do not stimulate or engage the students. 

Today, I decided to do things differently,  I was able to get an easel pad and I made anchor charts for my notes.  We covered What is Schema? and How to Make Predictions.  They were more visual because I added my own pictures as well as colors.  I drew boxes around important words and bolded the main topics.  It was actually kind of fun for me (although the students still had to take notes).

Here are my anchor charts.  I did get the ideas off of Pinterest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Motivation - Death Crawl

So, I finished grading my all About Me books (finally).  I learned many things about my 6th graders.  I was also happily surprised in their writing skills.  I was a bit worried their writing would need plenty of work.  But they wrote good paragraphs with some details.  That is a big skill we work on in 6th grade at my school.  However, there are always a handful of students that did not put forth the effort in their books.  They turned something, but it was either missing pieces of the assignment or the writing was too short & not detailed.  So, it is time to show them and review with them...the death crawl.  I think the video clip describes it best!


After watching the video, I go into my speech about putting 110% effort in all you do.  I use the phrase "to death crawl" their work.  I think this video is great for motivating students to do their best.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My 3 Words

Today, I introduced the My 3 Words activity we do each year for curriculum night.  This activity is based on the Your 3 Words  segment on Good Morning America.  Basically, the students come up with a positive 3 word phrase.  Then, they put each word on a separate piece of construction paper and decorate it.  Finally, they come up with a creative way to present their 3 word phrase without talking and I videotape it.  I compile all the My 3 Word clips from all my student groups in to one video and put it to music.  The final products come out great!  My team then plays it while the parents are waiting during the curriculum/meet the teacher night.  It is a very fun way to start the year and the kids get so excited seeing the final video.

Here is one of the Good Morning Examples:


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wordle is Still So Cool!

Today was one of those great teaching days.  I introduced my students to Wordle and the wonderful world of word clouds.  We are finishing up our All About Me books and the final section is to create a word cloud on that represents you.  So, I opened up and projected it on the big screen for all to see.  I went through the whole assignment and....they were amazed.  As I started to show them how to modify the word clouds by changing layouts, fonts, and colors, they couldn't wait to get started on their own.  Tomorrow, we will be making the word clouds but I have a feeling they will be experimenting with wordle tonight.  I hope so!