Sunday, August 31, 2008

Success in Jr. High

I saw Trevor S. last night at Texas Roadhouse and it made me realize two things: 1. I miss seeing his big grin, and hearing his stories; 2. There is nothing better for a teacher than hearing about your former students going on and finding success.

I had just finished eating, looked up, and here he came, around the corner. As I talked to him, I found out he is really enjoying the transition to McDowell Jr. High. He likes his classes and most of his new teachers.

I also saw Dillon Y. twice last week, and he said about the same thing. He is feeling great about the new school year and really has plans to do well. I also talked to two other students, and two parents, who all have positive reports about the beginning of Jr. High.

Hearing this makes me feel good about the job all of the Laurelville Elementary staff members are doing to prepare students for their future. Hearing about former students' successes always makes my day.

So former students, stop back and tell me your good news. You can be sure even though you have moved on, we are proud of all you are doing at the Jr. High and at Logan Elm High School.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Pact in Reading Workshop

"Joey Banks is a walking adventure. He’s funny, daring, mischievous—and frequently in trouble. Or he would be if anyone found out about half the stuff he’s done. But Rusty Cooper knows how to keep a secret. And Joey’s the best friend he’s ever had." This is Teachers @ Random House description of the book, Swear to Howdy, written by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Reading Workshop opened this year with the read aloud of the story of two best friends and their first adventure. Every time Joey and Rusty have an exciting or adventurous undertaking, they make a pact to never tell anyone.

Similarly, we are writing a pact as part of writing workshop. Below is my commitment to Reading Workshop. In class today, students wrote their planned course of action and goals for our class this year. I hope to read a lot of plans for hard work, responsibility, and effort to succeed.

Sixth Grade Reading Pact

  1. A formal agreement, such as one between nations; a treaty.

  2. A compact; a bargain.

As the teacher, I agree to do my best to make class interesting, challenging, and worthwhile. There will be times of fun, and times of serious contemplation. I will share my opinions, and ask you for yours. I will start each day new, forgetting bad times and mistakes, but build on successes. I will make mistakes, but will keep trying even when I would rather not.

I will share good books, and expect you to join in on discussions, both written and oral. I will make you a better reader and writer, pushing you to learn all you can learn throughout your sixth grade year. And, most of all, I will do all I can to make this year one you will always remember as the best ever.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conversation with a Parent

Last night, at Open House a parent came up and asked about the blog. She said, "we bought a new computer so we could get on the blog. Our old computer didn't work that well, and we wanted to be sure that we could always get on."

I doubt if she could even imagine how her comment, and her commitment to her son's education affected me. She has my respect for her effort to be involved with her child, and help make him successful.

As the writer of the blog, I am humbled. I appreciate the time that parents, students, teachers, and friends take to read it. I am thankful for the effort students and parents put forth in reading and commenting. I also feel responsible for making this worthwhile for the reader.

As I drove home last night, I thought about what a great feeling this parent gave to me to start the year. Thank you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Words that Count

Once they are assigned, students are responsible for WTC and Vocabulary words in all of their writing. They also have writing assignments using the WTC and Vocab words.

Week 1

Sincerely--I sincerely hope you do well.
because--She ran because she was afraid.
Laurelville--Laurelville Elementary is my favorite school.
write/writing--Please write your first and last name.
right--Did you make the right choice?
your--We went to your house.
you’re--You're allowed to go to the movies.

responsibility--The Reading Log is your responsibility.
strategy--Do you have a strategy for success?
blurb--The blurb tells what the a little bit about the book.
monitor--The teacher monitored your progress.
Week 2
there--Sit over there.
their--They went to their grandmother's house.
they’re--They're going tonight.
where--Where do you live?
wear--Wear your new coat to school.
we’re--We're going to lunch now.
were--We were late for school.

specific--Be specific when you describe your thoughts.
details--Use details to explain your idea.
memory--My memory is fading.
memoir--We are writing a memoir.

Week 3
aloud--Read aloud to your partner.
allowed--Are you allowed to go to the game?
very--She is very smart.
vary--The student's ages vary.
peace--She painted a peace sign.
piece--I want a piece of pizza.


revise--Did you revise your letter?
difficult--The job was difficult.
important--Listening in class is important.

Week 4


through--Walk through that door.
threw--David threw the ball
thought--Jill thought of the answer.
chews--She chews her food with her mouth closed.
choose --Choose a team to join.
wait--Wait for the bell to ring, before switching classes.
weight--His weight is going down.

different--What different types of pizza do you like?
relationship--What is the relationship between the two?
describe--Describe how the boy solved the problem.

Week 5
since--He has waited since yesterday.
sense--Do you have a sense of humor?
a lot--A lot of times, students spell a lot as one word.
whose--Whose notebook is this?
who’s--Who's packing today?

context--Use context clues to figure out the word.
connect--Connect the pieces together.
connection--What connection do you have?
accomplish--What do you want to accomplish in sixth grade?

Week 6
lets--My mom lets me go to the movies.
let’s--Let's go to Village Cafe.
usually--Usually we eat breakfast there.
probably--She will probably do her homework.
quite--She was not quite tall enough to ride the ride.
quiet--"Quiet," said the teacher.

gist--The gist is the main point of the essay.
skim--Do you skim for key words?
skimming--We practice skimming in Reading Workshop.
summarize--Summarize the article in two paragraphs.
Week 7
example--Give an example to support your opinion.
examine--Examine your essay for mistakes.
express--Express your opinion in your journal.
extend--Extend the answer with more details.
feature--The problem is the best feature of the story.
future--Thinking about the future is exciting.

predict--Predict what will happen next.
respond--Respond to the question on the board.
compare--Compare the main character with yourself.
contrast--Contrast the main character with yourself.
Week 8
possible--Anything is possible.
positive--A positive attitude helps you succeed.
position--Knowing your position in the election is important.
purpose--The purpose of the journal is to share your thoughts.
cause--The cause of the accident was unknown.
continue--Continue to read your SSR book.

emphasize--Emphasize your main point in the essay.
organize--Organize your answer by the sequence events occurred.
instant--It happened in an instant.
indicate--The author indicates his opinion throughout the essay.
Week 9
accept--Did you accept the gift?
except--Everyone except for one girl was present.
break--Let's take a break.
brake--Put on the brake at the curve.
meet--Meet me after school today.
meat--The meat they served was ham.

quality--The quality of the essay was excellent.
quantity--The quantity of books was more than expected.
audience--The audience listened closely.
attitude--Her attitude was excellent.
Week 10
straight--Go straight home after school.
strait--The ship went through the strait.
reason--Give three reasons for the delay.
result--The results were different than expected.
react--She reacted with surprise.
report--Report to class immediately after recess.

sequence--Do you know the sequence of events?
sort--Sort out the topics by genre.
select--Select the gist from the choices listed.
selection--Read the selection to your partner.
Week 11

Week 12

Week 13


Reading Workshop Notes

1/21/09 Correct Commenting
Thanks to
Sister Salad,

1. Use correct punctuation
2. Capitalize proper nouns
3. Don't write run-on sentences (put in periods)
4. Spell correctly
5. Use apostrophes only when you need them
6. Write so people can understand
7. Turn off Caps lock
8. Don't use letters to abbreviate words
9. Use correct grammar
10. Choose correct homophone
11. Don't use foul or insulting language
12. Be respectful
13. Make sense, write something worthwhile

12/8/08 Pronouns

Beware of the evil pronouns. Destroy the evil comprehension confusers. Do not say, “it, she, he, they, we, us, etc. in each paragraph without first telling whom you are talking.

Wrong—It belonged to them.
Right—The treasure belonged to the evil pirate crew.


11/18/08 Predicting is Like Being a Detective

1. Look for clues.
2. Make a guess.
3. Prove it right or wrong.
4. Repeat
11/17/08 Making Predictions

Effective readers use pictures, titles, headings, and text—as well as personal experiences—to make predictions before they begin to read. They think ahead while reading and anticipate what will happen in the text. After making predictions, they read the text, decide if they were right or not, and revise, making new predictions.


10/23/08 When Reading Nonfiction What is Important & What is Not

What is Important
1. W's
2. Main Points
3. Ideas that relate to the gist

What is Not
1. Supporting Details
2. Examples
3. Interesting Stories or Opinions
4. Most Adverbs and Adjectives

But remember anything that helps you understand what you are reading is ALWAYS IMPORTANT!

10/21/08 Reading Rate

The pace of your reading should match your purpose. When reading for information, you must slow down and search for the W's and important details.


10/10/08 Parts of Speech and Reading

Reading—Cut it out to simplify
Writing—Add to tell how

Reading—Cut it out to make easier to read
Writing—Add to tell what kind

Reading—Change to proper to be more exact
Writing—Change to give the reader variety


10/9/08 Reading Nonfiction
  1. Skim
  2. Read & Highlight
  3. List W’s
  4. List facts
  5. Write a topic sentence/Gist Statement
10/8/08 Highlighting

  1. Look closely at the first and last sentence in each paragraph
  2. HL the W's
  3. HL only necessary words or phrases
  4. Don't HL more than ½ of each paragraph
  5. Don't get thrown off by interesting details or opinions
10/7/08 Is or Are, Was or Were
Use is/was for one
Use are/were for two or more

Jill is going home.
Jill and Dave are going home.

He was going home.
They were going home.

10/6/08 Adding a Suffix to a one syllable word with a short vowel

Double the consonant


9/30/08 A & An

Use A before a consonant

Use an before a vowel

A car went by.

An apple fell off the tree.


9/24/08 Reading Aloud to Revise

To revise your content, read an essay aloud. Have the listener alert you at any time when your writing does not make sense, or they have a question. Highlight that part, and after you are finished, go back and rewrite. Then read aloud again. Repeat the process until your essay is easy to understand.


9/23/08 Spelling when adding
ed & ing

Double the consonant with a short vowel: slip—slipped

Don't double with a long vowel: pile—piled

Drop the e and add ing write—writing


09/18/08 Spelling with Y

For plural with a word ending in “Y” change the "y" to "i" and add es.

Cry—cries Carry—carries

09/17/08 For More Details, Ask Yourself
1. What kind?
2. Whose?
3. When?
4. Where?
5. Why?
6. How?

9/16/08 Thoughts and Feelings in Writing

Thoughts and Feelings
To write well, thoughts and feelings must carry more weight in your writing.

9/4/08 Capitalize
1. first word in a sentence
2. proper nouns—names of people, places, and things
3. first letter of words in a title
4. I

9/3/08 Letter Writing
1st Paragraph—set the tone
2nd Paragraph—info, facts,
3rd Paragraph—closing, request, message, etc.

8/29/08 Writing to a Prompt
When responding to a prompt, you should address the question or topic, and then give facts, reasons, and/or details to support your position or answer.

8/28/08 Notes Format
Notes should be dated in the left margin. At the end of the notes, draw a line across the page. The next day, notes go under the line. _____________________________________________________________________

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Guess They Really are Leaving

They are gone. Tonight, as I sit here on the computer, thinking about a new year, it really hits me. My class is gone. It happens every year, but doesn't get any easier. All of the students that were so successful here last year are moving on to McDowell Jr. High. On the first day of school, when those new faces are in their chairs, I will take a second, and think about the great kids that sat there last year.

All through the summer, I know they are leaving, but it doesn't really hit until now. Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the new year, and can't wait to really get to know this year's sixth grade. BUT, for now, I sure hate to see last year's class move on.

I know it is time. I know they will do a fabulous job. I know they are ready. But for tonight, and the next few days, I will be a little sad, thinking about giving up this great bunch of kids as they move on to the challenges ahead.

Seventh graders, good luck, and stop back and tell me about all of your successes. I am sure they will be many! In case I didn't say it before, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DID TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN READING WORKSHOP.