Showing posts with label Class Discussion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Class Discussion. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hey Students, Don't Hide

Even though you think you are hidden, I see you.  Don't be like this gecko, feeling like he can't be seen.  When we have class discussions, you may not raise your hand.  You may not look up.  You may stare at the floor, hoping not to be noticed.  But everyone knows you are here.

Maybe you are afraid your answer will be wrong.  Maybe you are afraid someone will laugh at your opinion or think you are dumb.  Maybe you are just quiet by nature. 

Please do me a favor.  Take a chance.  Speak out.  Raise your hand.  Share your thoughts and opinions.  Everyone will benefit by your participation.    Classmates will learn from hearing your ideas. And you will learn more, too.

 Image from Lorenzo Menendez/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hey Mean Boy, Get a Clue

As part of our reading class, we are singing Mean by Taylor Swift which asks the question, "why you gotta be so mean?"  The current read aloud is The Revealers and students commented about bullying on a recent Reading Workshop post about bullies.  Every day for the last week the class has discussed bullying and not being mean to other students.

 So tell me, what is up with this one boy?  Why does he still think he can say mean things to other students? This class has so many kind and caring students.  No one else acts like him. 

He struts around like he is so cool, but then sneaks around and says mean comments that he knows will tear kids up.  He is good at pretending to help when the teacher is watching, but watch out when he thinks no one can see him.

I hope as we continue to discuss meanness a light will click on and he will stop.  I don't know if he realizes how many people see his sneaky ways of hurting others.  Maybe once he catches on to that, he will try out kindness and compassion.  I guess right now he is the only one in the whole class that doesn't get that everyone else gets that he is mean. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Students' View on Achievement Test Practice

Students took the 2006 edition of the Ohio Achievement Assessment.  This serves several purposed including a practice run-through, data regarding students' ability, projection data, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and specific needs prior to the actual test in April.

Here are a few of the students' thoughts, ideas, and opinions shared from a discussion after the test.

Cody--It is confusing.  Some of the questions are confusing because I wasn't sure what they were asking.
Joanna--I didn't like how a lot of the stories were nonfiction because they were harder to understand.
Karly--I would rather have poetry than nonfiction.  Poetry is easier to understand.
Kater--I wasn't sure how to put my thoughts into words on the extended response questions.
Hannah Hop--The test was frustrating.  I had to keep going back to the passage to find the answers.
Justin G.--The passages and the test were too long.
Joanna--Some of the words were hard and made it hard to understand.
Karly--Yeah, I didn't know some of the words and couldn't figure them out.
Brandon C.--The extended responses were hard and I need more practice so I can do them.
Hannah Hop.--The extended response questions made me mad, because they were so much harder to understand.
Branden M.--The extended response would mention something in the essay, and then say something else, then I would have to read the question again, because I forgot what it was asking.
Andrew--Some of the multiple choice answers didn't go with the passage.
Joanna--It took forever for the question to compare stuff from two passages because I couldn't find it.
Kater--On the multiple choice, if I didn't know the answer right off, I had to go back to the passage and check each answer to find the right one.
Hannah Hop--What are we supposed to do on the extended response if we have no clue what to answer?
Hannah Hop--It is very hard going back and forth.  The passages should be on one page and the questions and where you answer should be together.
Kater--The passages, questions, and answer sheet should all be separate.
Kennedy--It was pretty easy really.
Cierra--I got a headache when I was sitting there trying to take the test.
Alysha--I tried really hard and it took a long time.
Kennedy--Is the real test going to be twice as long? (Basically, except one test passage was omitted)
Tyler S.--It was hard sitting there for two hours.
Justin P.--I kept getting distracted.
Hannah Har--We need more breaks.
Kennedy--There were words I didn't know.
Katie H--They had definitions to a lot of the words at the bottom of the page.
Heather--It seemed like I was being rushed.  I was afraid I wouldn't get done.
Katie H--If there is one more passage, I don't know if I can get it done in time.
Hadley--It made me really tired.
Makayla--Some of the questions were very confusing.  Most of the words were ones I didn't know.
Savannah--There were a lot of extended responses.
Madison--Some of the things were like what I had done before on Study Island.
Hadley--I didn't like having it in the morning.
R.J.--The word bank confused me because they gave more than one meaning for the word.  I would think I knew the answer, but then I looked at the definition and I wasn't sure.
Ian--The two frog jumping passages were confusing because they jumped back and forth and you didn't know which one they meant.
Caleb--Some of the passages were long, and that made them harder.
Hannah C--The cause and effect question was hard because I hadn't done any in a while.
Hadley--Students would do better if the passages were more interesting.  If they are not interesting, kids won't do as well because they just won't care as much.
Madison--Taking the test in the morning made us brain dead the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Can Learn a Lot in 2nd Grade

I had to see Mrs. Sturgell, a 2nd grade teacher about the Relay for Life. When I walked into her room, she was pausing her read aloud for the day to take attendance. I picked up the book, joined her students on the carpet, and finished the read aloud. There sure was a lot of learning taking place today in 2nd grade.

In this case though, the one doing the learning was me. I was reading a book about the water cycle. Although it was a picture book, the vocabulary seemed appropriate for much older students. This was a reading/science lesson that ended with a plea for water conservation.

The first thing I learned was just how smart eight year olds are. They knew a lot of things about a lot of things. Talking about evaporation, one boy said, "you can't see water evaporate because it turns into a gas, and gasses are clear." In fact, in the twenty minutes that I was there, they could jump into every topic, usually with something relevant, and often informative.

I learned that second grade teachers are all about interdisciplinary lessons. This class, although science based, focused on several reading skills including vocabulary, and using context clues. It also had social studies ties about recycling and contributing to society through recycling.

I also learned that second grade is fun. Students wanted to contribute to the discussion. Even when they were wrong, they would jump back in with a comment, or to try to answer a question. Their enthusiasm brightened the room and my day. Today, in just a few minutes, I discovered, you sure can learn a lot in 2nd grade (and the kids can too).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Laney is a Larger-Than-Life Character

After reading a few chapters from Larger-Than-Life LARA, written by Dandi Daley Mackall, I am so interested in Laney.  The book is written in first person from Laney's perspective.   Dandi does an amazing job of bringing this character to life, which  we discovered as we discussed it in class, and students wrote about it in their Online Journals.
The things we know about Laney include:

1.  Tomboy
2.  Poor
3.  Not always nice
4.  Sarcastic
5.  Actress/liar to stay out of trouble
6.  Blurter
7.  Has a mom's responsibility at home (because her mom left)
8.  Runs fast (athletic)
9.  Likes plays, especially Shakespeare
10.  Loves baseball, but the boys will not let her play
11.  Lives in old rundown house with peeling paint on the outside, that is dirty and all lime green on the inside
12.  Three mean brothers that beat her up, and skip school
13.  Tough, can stand up for herself
14.  Mom left and never came back and Laney wonders about her
15.  Has a shoe glued to her bedroom wall from when she won a race and everyone cheered for her
16.  Has to deal with her dad that is a drunk, has a bad temper, steals cable TV, fights all the time
17.  Likes to write
18.  Good imagination
19.  Her bedroom is in the attic which she shares with her dad, cut in half with a blanket as a curtain, with a mattress on the floor
20.  Low self-esteem
21.  Digresses (can't stay on topic)
22.  In the back of the crowd, on the edge, wants to fit in with only one "sort of" friend
23.  No real role model
24.  Collects books, some that the library was throwing away
25.  Doesn't ride the bus because Joey and other kids are mean to her
26.  Family has a bad reputation
27.  Mature for her age, takes care of herself
28.  Fourth grade
29.  Lives in Paris, Missouri
So far in the book (after only five chapters), I think Laney has become Larger-Than-Life.  We know so much about her that it seems like we know her well--even that she lives with us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting Ready for "The Test"

Test TakerCopiers are firing off worksheets and pencil sharpers are grinding away. This time of year, The Reading Workshop, like almost every other classroom in the United States is focusing on preparing for the Achievement Test. Last year, Laurelville students received an excellent rating. This sets a high standard for this year, and students are working hard to prepare for testing beginning the week of April 20.

Some of the activities include:

1. Before school intervention classes with small groups of students are held each morning to assist fifth and sixth grade students with specific skill needs.
2. Peer tutoring on Study Island in areas of specific weaknesses help students address each content area.
3. The sixth grade will have a practice run-through of the Achievement test on Monday, March 23 for reading, and Wednesday, March 25 for math.
4. Students will review scored practice tests and rewrite incomplete or wrong short answer and extended response questions.
5. Students are taking past OAT written response questions and learning the proper format to most-likely answer correctly.
6. The 2006 Seventh Grade Reading Achievement Test is being used to practice on typical, although somewhat harder passages.
7. Group work and cooperative learning activities help students share techniques for comprehension and finding information with peers.
8. Daily class discussions focus on addressing students' needs and sharing ideas that make success more likely.

Students are working hard and learning many skills that will make them better test takers. When the time comes, I am sure their results will reflect the effort they are putting forth each day in class.

Image from

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Freak the Mighty - the Mightiest Read Aloud

Freak the Mighty strikes again. Each year this book is students' favorite read aloud. This book, written by Rodman Philbrick grabs the reader into a story about two boys that are the most unlikely friends. The only thing they have in common is that they are both misfits.

Max begins the book with, "I never had a brain until Freak came along." He is the biggest kid in the school, but one that has always been labeled as the dumbest. Kevin aka Freak is a "crippled kid" with amazing intelligence. Together they become Freak the Mighty.

Students relate to Max and Freak, feeling united with the challenges they face. This is surprising considering how most students are so different from these two characters. But, everyone can feel the pain of not fitting in with the crowd, and being picked on by peers.

We will spend a lot of time discussing character development in this book, especially the way Max changes and grows. In the first chapter his low self-esteem jumps out at the reader. His loneliness is evident with his tears of joy after eating dinner with Freak and his mom, the Fair Gwen.

As we progress through the book, questions upcoming in the online journals include: How would you react if you met Max? If you met Freak? How would Kevin and Max be different, if they attended school at Laurelville?