Monday, December 17, 2012

Only 12 and Already Thinking the Grass is Greener . . .

I had an interesting conversation with two students last Friday.  They were telling me how this other class was and how students in there had it made.  A friend had told them all about it.  And they bought it like an early morning shopper on black Friday.

Over the weekend I thought a lot about our conversation.  They might be amazed to know that I know a little bit about the class that was making them jealous.  And if the truth was known, buying what they are buying tells me they are shopping at the dollar store.

They are great students and their class is amazing.  Students are engaged and working at an extremely high level.  The class in energized and fun.  It is one of the most outstanding classes that I have ever seen.  So the grass is most definitely not greener on the other side of the fence.

What about you, Reading Workshop students?  Is your glass half full or half empty?  Hopefully you make the most of every day, taking what you have and making it into the best life possible.  And when someone starts bragging, they are probably just trying to convince themselves that their grass is greener.  Don't buy it.


Image from http://dollarstoreproduct.com/Retailers.html

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To All the Maze Runner Fans

A lot of Reading Workshop students have been reading The Maze Runner written by James Dashner.  The movie is supposed to be out in 2013.  Here is a preview of what you can anticipate.  If you haven't started the series yet you better give it a try.  





Here is the blurb just to give you an idea about the book if you haven't seen it.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reading Success by Selecting a Series

What do the three students in the picture have in common?  All three were reluctant readers that have found success through the choice of an excellent series.  Doing the weekly Read at Home assignment in Reading Workshop was a chore.  They didn't take advantage of the opportunity to improve their grade.  Then they started a good series of books.

Fictional series have a common setting, story, and/or characters. Some series have a specific order, usually based on chronological sequence.  Others stand alone and can be read in any order sharing a similar genre, but sometimes not even sharing characters.

Connor blasted through The Spiderwick Chronicles.  This is a fantasy series written by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi that features three kids, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace as they travel to another world filled with faeries and other mystical creatures.  He read all of the first series and has moved on to the next series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Taneshia starting reading Among the Hidden, the first book in the Shadow Children series written by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  These books take place in the future and show the challenges faced by Luke, a third child in a society that only allows two per family.  

Mackenzie has been reading the Vet Volunteers books written by Laurie Halse Anderson.  This series is a little different than most because it features different characters in each book.  There is a common theme though--all are trying to help animals in need.

What makes these three students so remarkable is their transition as a reader.  They found a series they like and have actually stuck with books, finishing one after another.  There is no fake reading going on here.  They have become successful readers and students.   

It seems like almost all readers have read a series or two that sticks with them forever.  What is your favorite series?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Revising Poems

So you get a first draft of a poem and it seems pretty good.  Now what?  Is it ready to publish?  Everything is spelled right.  It makes sense.  So how do you revise?  How do you make it better?  What can you do with a basic poem like this, that has a good topic choice with a nice twist at the end and make it into an A+ poem?

Thank you to Maddie for allowing us to experiment with her writing.

That one kid makes me sad,                              
That one kid makes me mad.
When I see him I just go Eww!!!!
I don’t like him,
He doesn’t like me.
We fight all the time.
She started it!
No he started it!!
He makes me go crazy,
I make him flip out.
But the truth is………
He’s my brother.


One area that could be improved is word choice. The Reading Workshop Poetry Rubric says, Word choice is exact, colorful, and interesting. What words could be changed to improve this poem?  Is there a synonym for sad that would be more interesting? Or mad? Or doesn't like?


We could also look at improving and adding sensory details like the rubric describes as, Uses sensory details to help the reader see, hear, feel, and/or think.  What could be changed to help what the reader visualizes?  Could the "one kid" be described in some way?   What changes would help the reader see the fight?

The rubric also says, A natural rhythm and structure. Is there a way to put this into stanzas that would improve how it flows and sounds to the reader?

Regarding effort, reflects the effort to create a special piece of writing. What could be added to build this into a more meaningful poem?



You can see the revised poems HERE.

Poetry Rubric



The Reading Workshop Poetry Rubric

Component
4/A
3/B
2/ C
1/D
Rhythm, Form Structure, Organization
Creatively uses poetic form. A natural rhythm and structure.
Structure and rhythm seem natural to the reader.
Structure and rhythm need revised for better understanding.
Unorganized structure and rhythm.
Content, Impact
The purpose of the poem is evident leading to a natural conclusion. The poem engages the reader.
Poem is developed with content that engages the reader.
Content is basic with only a hint of the author's intent.
Content is basic and undeveloped.
Word Selection, Word Usage
Word choice is exact, colorful, and interesting. Uses sensory details to help the reader see, hear, feel, and/or think.
Word choice is interesting with the use of sensory details.
Vocabulary is basic with a few attempts at improving word choice.
Vocabulary is very basic.
Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation
No errors and mechanics used as needed to fit with the poetic structure.
Minimal errors in spelling and mechanics used as needed for understanding.
A few errors in spelling and mechanics.
Errors in spelling and mechanics that interfere with reading.
Effort
Work shows an understanding of poetry and reflects the effort to create a special piece of writing.
Developed piece of work that is the result of revising and editing.
Basic piece of writing that shows a need of improvement.
Undeveloped without signs of editing and revision.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need to Rhyme

Rhymezone

So what do you do when you need to rhyme?  How about going to Rhymezone?  When you are writing a poem and you need a word bank to help you, Rhymezone is a great resource.  All you do is type in the word and it gives you a bunch of choices.  Don't forget though, a poem still has to make sense and be meaningful.