Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Spiderwick Kind of Class

The students in 604 have been infected by Spiderwick.  Over half of the class has read at least part of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's five book Spiderwick Chronicles series. These books venture into the world of fantasy with an easy to read style.

In book one, The Field Guide, after their parents get divorced, the three children, thirteen-year-old Mallory and her nine-year-old twin brothers, Jared and Simon move with their mother into the Victorian home where their great-aunt Lucinda lived previously.

The kids discover a world of faeries, a secret library hidden in the house, and later discover Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You in a chest in the attic. Soon after moving in, odd things begin to happen, like strange sounds in the walls, and small unexpected and unfriendly other occupants are in the house.

This is a fun series with nonstop adventure  through all five books.  It is great to see a class find a series they enjoy.  And the good news is there are three new books they can read, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How the Setting Impacts the Book

Students recently wrote a blog post about how the setting impacts the book they are reading.  We discussed the setting in the current read aloud, Watcher's Rewind written by Peter Lerangis.  In this book the whole story takes place near where a fatal accident happened.  This makes life extremely difficult for the main character, Adam Sarno.

Students also completed a lesson on Study Island, the online learning program that we use in Reading Workshop.

To see student blog posts, you can look HERE

Friday, January 11, 2013

How Involved are You in Blogging?

As the grading period comes to an end, please count and record the number of your posts and comments.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zero Tolerance for Writing Errors

Zero Tolerance
Starting today there is zero tolerance for mistakes in writingThe school year is half over.  Students in Reading Workshop have been writing every day.  The expectations for writing are for students to use the skills that have been taught.  

Students are expected to write without errors in spelling and mechanics. Each student has tools available, including a computer with word processing and spell check, a dictionary, online sites like and, peer assistance, and spelling buddies. There really is no reason for writing with mistakes, other than a lack of effort.

Students are expected to use correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar. When an assignment is turned in with errors, students' grades will be drastically cut.  Students must edit with attention to detail or they will not pass.

If students don't know the difference between your and you're, it's time to learn.  The first letter in words in a title, proper noun or to start a sentence must be capitalized.  Tiny mistakes mean huge differences in grades.

Step it up Reading Workshop students.  The responsibility for writing cleanly and clearly is on you.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Submit Your Project for a Grade

Reading Workshop students, please copy your Element Essay and Element poem from your blog and paste them into this form to be graded.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hey Guys, Which Half are You In?

I watched as each row was dismissed.  After a few minutes, I decided it was about 50/50.  I didn't see a pattern based on age, dress, or companions.  About half of the time once a man exited his row, he stepped back and let his wife, daughter, girlfriend, and/or mother go in front of him.  The other half, he walked out in the order he left the pew.

This scene took place at a wedding I attended over Christmas break.  I am not even sure what made me notice, other than we were one of the last rows to be released by the ushers so we watched a lot of people exit.  

The guy in front of me walked out with his wife trailing about three feet behind, and he never even looked back.  You could tell that was what they were used to.  As I watched them, it bothered me a little.

So guys, which half are you in?  Do you treat ladies with respect?  What about classmates?  Do you let the door slam in the face of the person behind you?  Or do you stop and hold the door?  Do you let a girl go in front of you?  Is that uncool?  Or do you show kindness and respect to classmates?

And what about you girls?  Do you say thank you when someone shows good manners and treats you with respect?  Or is that just too old fashioned?  When someone extends an act of kindness how do you respond?  

Do manners go out of style?  Do you talk the talk, or walk the walk?  How many times a day do you say thank you?  Are good manners important when you are twelve years old?  Is it just part of being a caring and considerate person?  Or is it just something that doesn't matter until you are an adult?

Image from

Interdisciplinary Element Project

Students will be doing an interdisciplinary research/writing project in Reading Workshop and science.  Students will choose an element from the periodic table and describe the stages of the element's life.  

The language arts grade for this project will be based on organization, creativity, PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling), completeness, and overall quality of writing.  Students will also be writing a poem about the element and it will be graded too.  The science grade will be based on content and quality of overall project as described on the project information sheet provided by Ms. Huysman.

Before beginning to write, students must know the following information:

1.   Name of element
2.   Element symbol
3.   Atomic number
4.   Atomic mass
5.   Number of protons
6.   Number of electrons
7.   Number of neutrons
8.   Date of discovery
9.   Discoverer
10. Country of discovery
11. Boiling Point
12. Melting Point
13. State of Matter
14. Family name
15. Names of family members
16. Period/group
17. Uses for element
18. Type of element

All of this information is expected to be included in the project.  The written part will be posted on student blogs.  This will be printed out and included with other parts of the project as required for science.

Image from