Friday, October 29, 2010

Student Blogging Stars

Student bloggers have made an excellent start, displaying their writing, sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. As the first nine weeks comes to and end, the students in Reading Workshop were given the task of evaluating their blogs

Next, I looked at their responses, and took them into consideration as I graded their blogs. For the most part, students and I agreed on how their blogs should be scored. A few students met all expectations, publishing work that any sixth grade teacher would be proud to display. 

Jessica wrote interesting posts, had great detail, and pictures to support her points. And, she even took time to have a little fun at her teacher's expense. 
Megan always links to relevant sites, shows pictures that fit with the topic, and writes extra detailed posts. 
Sara writes in detail and spends her own time writing extra posts to make her blog interesting and informative.
Alex's blog looks great.  Her content is good too!
Shala posts every assignment and a lot of extras too.  She is also the first to help peers when they need it on their blog.
Tyler is a sports nut and his blog shows it.  Go Browns!
Ridge works to make his blog right.  He posts in detail, finds pictures that fit, and links to relevant sites.  Plus, he writes extra posts.

Great job to these students for their excellent work!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Students, Grade Your Blogs

As the first 9 weeks comes to an end, it is time to grade The Reading Workshop students' blogs.  This is a chance for students to have input into their blog grade.  With this embedded Google Docs Form, students can evaluate their work.  

We will be using the Blogging Stair Steps to Success from the post on Grading Student Blogs as a basis for this evaluation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Hard Do You Work?

How hard do you work?  Would others around you agree?  What do peers think of you as a worker?  What do your parents think about your work ethic?   Do teachers see you as a student that works your hardest?  On a scale of 1 - 10, how would you score yourself as a worker?

As we study poetry in Reading Workshop, and look at To Be of Use , these questions came to mind.  This poem is a favorite of teachers because there is absolutely nothing teachers admire more than a hard worker.  This is also a character trait discussed frequently in Reading Workshop.

To Be of Use
Written by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Comments are allowed to be in the form of poetry.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Huffington Post has provided the opportunity for bloggers from the education field to share their views.  This  is an excellent source for all the latest news, views, and opinions.

I have been invited to write and look forward to  contributing ideas and opinions, especially as they relate to The Reading Workshop. The post, Superman 2, The Other Side of the Story discusses the generalization of education in a crisis as outlined in Waiting for Superman.

You can find an archive of my posts here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reading Poetry

Poems are built on ideas, experiences or emotions in a condensed form that makes the reader search for understanding.  The reader should slow down, think about each line and the words in it, and then reread and reconsider.

However, to understand poetry the reader must not go gently, but should attack.  As we begin to spend time in Reading Workshop with poetry/word study, students must overcome their fears and dive into the language of poetry.  Whether it be as a reader, analyzing the work of others, or when revising their own work, students must go full speed ahead.  They need to take the advise given by Eve Merriam.

How to Eat a Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice
that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

What is Merriam's point?  What about the poem makes you think that?  What thoughts do you have when tearing into her poem?

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Honestly, Why Didn't She Just Lie

Students have to read at home 180 minutes each week to earn an "A."  When she turned in her paper, she had read for 170 minutes.  She's a bright girl and could easily have fudged a few minutes here and there to get up to 180.  So why didn't she?

The Read at Home assignment is based on the honor system.  The only real check is whether or not students comprehend the book and can write about it.  Parents don't have to sign off.  Students fill out their reading times.  And students clearly understand that the more they read, the better their grade.

So why didn't this girl, who is extremely driven by grades, add on enough time to get an A?   Last year we discussed integrity and I was a little surprised and a lot pleased with students' responses.  I thought of this again, and felt good about today's students.

Although Cassie didn't get an "A" she earned a whole lot more.  She got my respect and my appreciation.  For herself, she got a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that she did the right thing, and she is an honorable person.

Why didn't she just lie?  She's way too smart and has way too much integrity for that.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Write Right!

As published writers, students in Reading Workshop must recognize the importance of writing well.   Grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills still tend to trip up many writers. We have stressed PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling) on a daily basis. Part of the challenge for learning writers is recognizing just how much of an impact mistakes have on the reader. 

This video makes it quite clear the problems with poor writing, whether from errors, negative tone, or using slang and abbreviations.  Often times, we teach the how, and not the why. Occasionally, something comes along that really points out the reason most of us take writing correctly so seriously.

With permission from Sister Salad, this edited version of their video, "Yo Comments Are Wack!" points out the disastrous commenting seen on the web and in a humorous way explains why writing well matters.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reading Strategies, Making Predictions

Effective readers use pictures, titles, headings, and text—as well as personal experiences—to make predictions before they begin to read and as they are reading. 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 make new predictions.  The process of reading should be a continual and repeated process of predict and confirm.

Making predictions often is based on asking questions. Students must wonder, examine, doubt, and inquire as they read.

Examples of starts of predictions might include:

This problem . . .
In the end, she will. . .
I wonder what will happen when . . .
He has to . . .
That character will . . .
She will solve the problem by . . .
They are going to . . .
I think __________ will be the one to . . . 
Surely they are going to . . .
Next, the author will . . .
If I was there I wonder what . . .

Students, as you listened to the start of Watchers Rewind today during read aloud, what predictions did you have?  What will happen to Lianna, Ripley, and Adam?  What part in the story will the Watchers play?

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