Monday, March 31, 2008

Reader Survey

Dear Readers,

Please give me a hand. I have been publishing this blog for about eight months now. Yesterday was a great day - the blog passed 5,000 hits. It is pretty remarkable to me that this blog has been viewed 5,000 times this school year. I appreciate the interest. Now, please help me make it better.

I see it as having three roles including:

1. Informing parents about events, activities, and news from our Reading Workshop,

2. Providing a forum for discussion about our Reading Workshop, reading instruction, our class, and our school,

3. Making us think, me as a writer, and hopefully, you as a reader and writer.

With this in mind, I would like your help - how can I make this blog more useful for you?

Here are some areas you might like to comment on:

  • Topics - are there topics (specific or general) you’d like covered? What topics would you like to see more of? less of?
  • Types of Posts - recaps of daily events, class instructional goals and reports, student response posts, guest posts, upcoming events…. have your say about what you’d like most/least
  • Posting Frequency - too many posts, not enough, just right?
  • Blog Features - what would make your reader experience better?
  • And - what else do I need to know about the blog?

I would especially like to hear from parents and teachers. I appreciate the enthusiastic commenting from students, but my goal is for this blog to serve as a tool for communication with parents and teachers as well.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday School and Loving It

Well, after a million and a half snow days, today we paid the price. Yes, we're in school on Saturday. And it feels different. For some reason, today is just a little more relaxed. It seems like the pace is a little slower, and people are talking more. Students this morning seemed a little extra friendly. The discussion had a bit more of an edge or alertness, with everyone involved. And really, there hasn't been much complaining. As Mrs. Stevenson said, "you know, it really hasn't been that bad."

There are some students that missed due to prior commitments. Scotty is at the state wrestling meet (good luck and bring home the gold). A few students skipped out. One parent told a teacher, "Saturday is kid's day, and kid's shouldn't have to work." What kind of a load of crap is that? What about the ten school days that his kid missed during the bad weather?

Overall today has been quite a success. Students are working hard and learning in Language Arts Workshop. People seem to be smiling. Most everyone here wants to be here. The sun is shining in Laurelville. Who would believe it, Saturday school and loving it. Maybe we should do this more often. . . .NNNNAAAHHH!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Active Reading

Are you an active reader? Or do you snooze along? Do you "dog it?"

Have a listen as a fourth grade student explains his view on how to be an active listener. Cooper, from The International School of Bangkok, in Thailand discusses the reading process.

Would these strategies help you as a reader? Which of the four steps--mark-up, visualize, predict, and question do you need to focus on personally? What are the implications for you when you take the Achievement Test?

Once we watched the video, and discussed it, students took the essay below, written by Roald Dahl and did the following:

1. Skim and then mark the article,
2. Describe two visualizations (things you could see as you read),
3. List 2 predictions you had as you read,
4. List 2 questions you have after reading.

Boy: Tales of Childhood
Roald Dahl
1 On the first day of my first term I set out by taxi in the afternoon with my mother to catch the paddle-steamer from Cardiff Docks to Weston-super-Mare. Every piece of clothing I wore was brand new and had my name on it. I wore black shoes, grey woollen stockings with blue turnovers, grey flannel shorts, a grey shirt, a red tie, a grey flannel blazer with the blue school crest on the breast pocket and a grey school cap with the same crest just above the peak. Into the taxi that was taking us to the docks went my brand new trunk and my brand new tuck-box, and both had R. DAHL painted on them in black.

2 A tuck-box is a small pinewood trunk which is very strongly made, and no boy has ever gone as a boarder to an English Prep School without one. It is his own secret storehouse, as secret as a lady’s handbag, and there is an unwritten law that no other boy, no teacher, not even the Headmaster himself has the right to pry into the contents of your tuck-box. The owner has the key in his pocket and that is where it stays. At St. Peter’s, the tuck-boxes were ranged shoulder to shoulder all around the four walls of the changing-room and your own tuck-box stood directly below the peg on which you hung your games clothes. A tuck-box, as the name implies, is a box in which you store your tuck. At Prep School in those days, a parcel of tuck was sent once a week by anxious mothers to their ravenous little sons, and an average tuck-box would probably contain, at almost any time, half a home-made currant cake, a packet of squashed-fly biscuits, a couple of oranges, an apple, a banana, a pot of strawberry jam or Marmite, a bar of chocolate, a bag of Liquorice Allsorts and a tin of Bassett’s lemonade powder. An English school in those days was purely a money-making business owned and operated by the Headmaster. It suited him, therefore, to give the boys as little food as possible himself and to encourage the parents in various cunning ways to feed their offspring by parcel-post from home.

3 “By all means, my dear Mrs. Dahl, do send your boy some little treats now and again,” he would say. “Perhaps a few oranges and apples once a week”—fruit was very expensive—“and a nice currant cake, a large currant cake perhaps because small boys have large appetites do they not, ha-ha-ha . . . Yes, yes, as often as you like. More than once a week if you wish . . . Of course he’ll be getting plenty of good food here, the best there is, but it never tastes quite the 1 On the first day of my first term I set out by taxi in the afternoon with my mother to catch the paddle-steamer from Cardiff Docks to Weston-super-Mare. Every piece of clothing I wore was brand new and had my name on it. I wore black shoes, grey woollen stockings with blue turnovers, grey flannel shorts, a grey shirt, a red tie, a grey flannel blazer with the blue school crest on the breast pocket and a grey school cap with the same crest just above the peak. Into the taxi that was taking us to the docks went my brand new trunk and my brand new tuck-box, and both had R. DAHL painted on them in black.

4 As well as tuck, a tuck-box would also contain all manner of treasures such as a magnet, a pocket-knife, a compass, a ball of string, a clockwork racing-car, half-a-dozen lead soldiers, a box of conjuring-tricks, some tiddly-winks, a Mexican jumping bean, a catapult, some foreign stamps, a couple of stink-bombs, and I remember one boy called Arkle who drilled an airhole in the lid of his tuck-box and kept a pet frog in there which he fed on slugs.same as home cooking, does it? I’m sure you wouldn’t want him to be the only one who doesn’t get a lovely parcel from home every week.”

This essay was copied from the Ohio Sixth Grade 2007 Reading Achievement Test.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


DARE class began today. Students are instructed by Deputy Dale Thomas, the Pickaway County Sheriff Department's 2007 Deputy of the Year. Deputy Thomas has taught students about resisting drugs and peer pressure for the last 11 years.

According to the DARE website:

This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation's school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

DARE is a great opportunity for all students. This class is also everyone's favorite. Deputy Thomas does a super job helping students learn valuable life skills, in a fun and interactive way.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where am I?

Call your friends! Call your classmates! Text your boo! Get the word out!

C'mon, smarty pants, amaze me. I know I have some of the most brilliant students of all time in my class. SSSSSSOOOOOO, WOW me. When you come back on Tuesday, come back with something that makes your teacher think. What? I don't know--a joke, a riddle, a mystery, a quote, or a fantastic fact. Make me laugh, or make me cry. But, do not bore me. When we come to the circle on Tuesday, make me ponder your prose but don't make me puke at your patheticness.

By now you are saying, "what does he mean?" I don't know. I don't care. A cereal box back might work, or a quote from Abe Lincoln. Whatever you do though, don't be boring!

P.S. For about 5 million bonus points, where am I in this picture?

Where am I #3?

OK, the last one was just too easy. Maybe this will be a little more of a challenge.

Washington D.C. is not the only place for a vacation. We left for somewhere else.

Where am I #2?

Back by popular demand, the ever popular, Where am I?

I thought about offering a prize of a dollar to the first person to correctly guess, but I decided to offer a piece of candy instead.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

As Freak said in Freak the Mighty, "spring has sprung, and so are we." We are out of school for four days, from March 21-24. And, you won't believe the good news. We missed so many days due to snow, we get to come next Saturday.

Enjoy the long weekend and come back ready to learn!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect-Achievement Test Preparation

Today we took a practice run at the Ohio Sixth Grade Achievement Test. We tried to make today as similar to the actual test as was possible. The test format was the same. Passages and questions were from a previous test. The time allotted and class structure was the same as when students will take the reading test on May 5.

On March 28, Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. Caudill, and I will score the tests using the same score sheets/rubrics as the state used. I will share the results with students on the week of March 31, and we will review areas of difficulty.

The practice today serves several purposes. When students take the actual test in six weeks, hopefully they will be familiar and comfortable with the process. This should allow them to perform at their highest level. The data from the test results will help me intervene on an individual and classwide level. I will be able to see specific academic areas that need addressed, and other areas that students have mastered. I can tailor instruction to best help the students learn what they need to learn.

The Ohio Department of Education has set up a website with a lot of usual information. There is a section just for the Ohio Achievement Test. Students can practice using test passages and questions from previous years. They have a choice of setting up an account to save their results, or they can Take a Test without Logging In. Parents and students can see what is expected, scores, and what they mean.

Students worked extremely hard, and with their accomplishments, the results will help us do the best job possible in preparing for the test, and learning what students need to be successful in upcoming grades.

Great job to all of the sixth graders for their effort!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tell Me About A Great Book

I know you have read a book this year that is the best book you have ever read. So, tell us about it. What made it great? Why is it your favorite? Who would enjoy reading it? Give us some details, but don't give away any surprises or the ending! See the Book Letter post for ideas.

Your reward? Why how funny you should ask--a lot of extra credit. Just post in the comments. BUT, be sure you have correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. :lol:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snow and More Snow

Well, we are out of here at 1:15 today (Friday). Once again, Ohio's weather has attacked us. At least we got in enough time to count for a school day. Laurelville students (and staff :) ) are moaning about the make-up days already. The state allows 5 calamity days, but we have used 9. Three days will be added to the end of the year, and one day will be made up on Saturday, March 29. I think it will be interesting to see our attendance when everyone has Saturday school.

This is the view looking out of our classroom at 12:00.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Election Day at Laurelville

We had a primary election today at Laurelville Elementary in our language arts classes. We only voted on the two democratic candidates, due to the closeness of the race. Both classes had a total of 22 voters. Amazingly, both classes had the same results. In each class 14 students voted for Barack Obama, and 8 voted for Hillary Clinton for a total of 28 votes for Obama and 16 for Clinton. This was 64% to 36% win for Obama. Ironically, this is very close to the results of the last 11 primaries.

As part of the process, students listed their two main reasons for choosing the candidate of their choice. The we came to the circle and discussed reasons students used to pick the next President.

Their reasons included:

Barack Obama

Tommy S. He wants to stop taking businesses overseas.

Brianne H. He promises to stop the war and make peace between countries.
He will lower the cost of medical insurance.

Shelby C. Obama talks about change.

Scotty D. He would run the USA better.

Cail J. He is going to make insurance affordable.

Dillon Y. He said he will improve schools.

Kari W. He will help people who have been layed off.

Hillary Clinton

Brittany M. She is going to try to stop the war.

Seth R. She is going to stop achievement tests.

Justin H. I think Hillary will be a better leader.

Emily S. She will get a lot of help from her husband.

Molly V. Her husband was President so she knows what it is like to be President. She already has experience.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hot Spot

Today we are focusing on the HOT SPOT of an article. This idea was adapted from Ralph Fletcher's Writing Workshop, the Essential Guide. Fletcher talks about identifying the HOT SPOT of a story as a writer. We looked at using this same skill as a reader.

We used our Scholastic News, and tried to find one or two sentences in each article that contained the gist of the article. Usually these included at least two W's. This
HOT SPOT is the key to comprehending the article. We also discussed the importance of slowing down and thinking about this part of an article, because this is the most important section.

Students skimmed each of five articles, and then highlighted what they felt was the section that contained the key. Then, we used the doc camera to project articles and discussed the differing opinions, until we decided on the
HOT SPOT for each article.