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!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Congratulations to Lindsay over at My Life as a Third Grade Teacher for hitting 600 followers.  Check out her giveaway here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sad Day

Earlier this week, the real one and only Ivan the gorilla passed away.  Here are some lnks about Ivan and his death.

One and Only Ivan

Saturday, August 18, 2012

And so it begins

I started back at school this week.  Monday was our first institute day and Thursday was our first day with students.  I have been teaching now for 16 years and every year I am filled with anxiety as the new school year begins.  Thursday was filled with those feelings as well as fear, excitement, and exhaustion.  I am realizing, though, that this thing called a grace period does not exist least at my school it doesn't.  Kids are coming in a lot more comfortable and chatting with each earlier.  Not cool.  Anyway, I have been so busy with beginning of the year activities, meetings, copying, technology issues, etc that when I get home, I am just done.  Where is the closest pillow?  I hope to share more ideas with you next week as my body will hopefully get used to this schedule.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best English Teacher Website

By far, the best and my go to site is...The English Companion Ning.  Jim Burke's site is an award winning ning just for English teachers. You must check out this website and join.  It is an amazing place to see what other English teachers are doing in their classrooms.  I go here for novel ideas, chat with other middle school teachers, and to get motivated for the upcoming school year.  I highly recommend you poke around this ning, join a few discussions and even make a post.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beginning of the Year Activities

As many of us start to prepare for back to school meetings and prep work, I begin to think of the icebreakers I will use to get to know my incoming 6th graders.  I believe that middle school is a transition time and we teachers must really form a bond with our students.  That bond helps the students succeed in a positive classroom environment.

One of the ice breakers I like to do is the "about me" bags.  I am sure you have seen or heard of these.  I come to class with a bag (one that describes me) and fill the bag with items that tell about my life, personality, family, etc.  I share my bag with my classes and then I send around a sign-up sheet for each student to sign up for a time they will present their own "about me" bag.  I usually do 5-6 a day and it takes about 10 minutes or so.

Another ice breaker I do is a time capsule/survey.  I have each student fill out a 10 question time capsule sheet, collect them, and put them away for the year.  On the last day I have them fill out the same sheet as I pass back their original one.  We then discuss how our lives changed over the 182 school days.  It is interesting to see who has all10 answers that changed.

I also do a 2 lies/2 truths.  This is where you come up with 2 truths and 2 lies about yourself.  Then we guess what is true and what isn't.  The kids love to share these.

I also begin an All About Me book that the students create.  It is a writing activity that we cover in 4-5 days.  This booklet tells me a lot about my student's backgrounds.

Another thing I use to get more information from my students' parents is A Million Words or Less assignment.  It is a homework assignment for the parents :)  It is basically a questionnaire for the parents to reflect and write about their child.  It gives me some great feedback on my students and their strengths, weaknesses, and the type of learner they are.

All About Me 2011

In a Million Words or Less

Monday, August 6, 2012


Check out this great new giveaway over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher.  Lots of neat prizes and easy enter.

Hope to see you there!