Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Start With a Little Poetry

Last year students came up with all kinds of ideas about why they couldn't do poetry.  In their minds they were thinking, Poetry is Not Me.  And as they listed these ideas an amazing thing happened--they became poets.

This year, I wonder what we can do with these thoughts??????  Hhhhhmmm, maybe we can use them as poetry starters.  After all, anyone could write a poem about one of these topics:


Poetry is unreasonable
We can't connect
Poetry isn't the ice cream for my milkshake
Poetry is the book with no words
When I ring the door bell, poetry never answers
Poetry is a charging bull (and I am a red cape)
Poetry punches me in the mouth
Poetry is the math that just doesn't add up


Or any one of the many ideas listed at Poetry is Not Me.  Give it a try, Reading Workshop students and see what you can do.

Image from http://www.projectappleseed.org/homework.html

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Pit of Poetry

As we begin to study poetry, take a minute and compare.  Does either poem describe you as a poet?




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are You a Title Champ?

Student blog post titles from Reading Workshop students have been a little on the lame side lately.  What's a teacher to do but have a contest and offer extra credit to the winners?  Hopefully titles in the future will grab the readers' attention.

Students were writing a blog post about their opinion of the main character in the book they are reading.

Great job to title contest winners.  You can visit their blogs at

Megan's Thoughts  with the title What You See Isn't Always What You Get writing about Jazz in Define Normal

Jaili's LA LA Blog with the title Just Another High School Geek writing about Annabelle in Girls Acting Catty

Colten's Country with the title A Courageous Main Character writing about Amy in 39 Clues, One False Note.

Monday, November 5, 2012

So Long Wordpress, Student Blogs are Moving

After using Wordpress to host student blogs for the last four years, Reading Workshop students will be switching to Edublogs.  Wordpress has supplied a great service at no cost.  It is easy for students to use and worked well.  However, there seems to be an increasing amount of ads on blogs when the viewer is not logged in.  As much as I can understand their need to support their service, I would prefer to have ad-free student blogs.

This may cause some inconvenience to those that have spots bookmarked and I apologize for that.  The links on the sidebar under 2012 Student Blogs should be correct.

So long Wordpress.  Here we come Edublogs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jupiter Grades


Well, we are really headed for Jupiter starting with the second grading period.  Jupiter Grades is an online program (similar to Engrade, Progress Book, and others) that hosts students' grades and other information so that students, parents, and teachers can access them at any time from anywhere with Internet access.

This is a building-wide move being made to increase access for students and parents to grades and discipline reports.  If you are a parent, you will soon be receiving information to enable you to view your child's grades.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please don't hesitate to contact the school office. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hey Tacky Blogger

Green pants and an orange shirt today?  Probably not.  So if you take care to not dress tacky, be careful what you do to your blog.

What am I talking about?  Well, most Reading Workshop students are working hard to create the best blog possible.  Their writing is improving daily.  Whatever we do, we don't want to waste that effort.  However, just because you learned how to change the color of words and background, it doesn't mean you should.

Fonts and text colors are part of a theme which is designed to match and look good, without distracting the reader.  When you change background colors or make the background flash, and change text colors be very careful because the next Reading Workshop award might be 


Tacky Blog Award2



I don't think you want that on your sidebar.  :)

Image from http://www.glnd.k12.va.us/index/ghs/

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reading Workshop Outstanding Student Blogger Award

Do you want to be a STAR?  Do you want recognition as an Outstanding Student Blogger?  Would you like to have an award like this on your blog?


Outstanding Student Blogger 2012#2

Outstanding Student Blogger Award



To earn this award, students must post often with interesting content that engages the reader.  Posts should be on a variety of topics that draw readers to your blog and keep them coming back.  There should be links to relative web sites and pictures that help illustrate the writer's point. And as always, PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling) must be correct.

If you want to see some examples, these Reading Workshop students have already earned Outstanding Student Blogger Awards.

Megan's Thoughts     Holden's Home     Kylie's Rocking Blog     Hailey's Paradise   

Will you be next?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can You Give Students a Helping Hand?

Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, could you spare a few minutes a week to help the students in Reading Workshop?  All you need is Internet access and some type of devise  to post comments (laptop, PC, IPad, smart phone, etc.).  

Students have been working hard on their blogs.  Their writing is getting better, both with content and mechanics.  Although they are beginning to build readership, getting frequent comments motivates them like nothing else.  And here is where you could help.

On the right sidebar, students' blogs are listed with links under 2012 Student Blogs.  They are listed by classes 601-604.  If you would comment on a few blogs, you could help make a difference to a young writer.  Some students get quite a few comments, but some hardly ever get any.  You could let these kids know they have an audience that cares about their blog by posting a short, positive comment on their blog.  

This idea originated from Laura Crosby who has been taking some time to comment on The Reading Workshop student blogs for the last few weeks.  The results have been very positive and students really have felt great reading her remarks about their posts.  

Please take a few minutes and make a student's day.  It doesn't matter if it's someone you know or not.  Believe me, all students appreciate it when someone has something good to say about their writing.

If you have questions about how to get started, just send me an email at  Mr. McGuire.


P.S.  Any student that can get their parent/grandparent to start commenting on blogs will earn extra credit.  :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ten Random Acts of Kindness and a Poem

We are beginning to focus on poetry in Reading Workshop.  The best poetry sparks some sort of emotion within the reader.  A good poem should make us laugh or make us cry.  It might surprise us or make us think.  It might open our hearts and connect us with the writer.

As we work towards the craft of becoming writers, and with the hope of opening awareness of others, students have a special assignment.  During the next five days, give to someone else.  The task is ten random acts of kindness.  This can be to a peer, a friend, a relative, or a total stranger.  The point though is to focus on the interaction of the person involved.

On Friday, Reading Workshop students will pick one event, emotion, thought, or idea from the week and share it in a poem.  I am sure with this year's students, there will be some amazing poetry.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Student Bloggers Made My Day

How would you feel if you had seven students that wrote on the weekend?  This wasn't an assignment, and they didn't get extra credit.  This was just students taking pride in their work and writing on their blog.  I can tell you this teacher is proud of the effort!

If you want to check out some good examples of students' blogs, here is a good place to start!

Holden's Home

Jaili's la la Blog

Emily's Extras

Kami's Place

Kirsten's Blog

Kylie's Rockin Blog

Colt's Chat Zone

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reading Workshop Book Talk

Want a fun activity in Reading Workshop where you do a lot of work and don't get any credit and you have to do it on your own time?  If so, maybe you can do a book talk.  The only reward is fame.  This is a book talk on Drive-by written by Lynne Ewing done by former Reading Workshop student, Kennedy.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fantastic Commenters

Fantastic CommenterAfter all of the talk about blog comments, I thought I would share a couple of good examples from Reading Workshop students.

On a student's post about the book Chasing the FalconersChloe said:
    That book sounds like a book I read. But this one is a little different. I love books that makes me close to falling out of my chair because it has me on the edge on my seat. Don't you? I mean who doesn't? 
     It sounds like to me that the book is one from a series. Is there a series? It sounds pretty exciting and adventurous. How would you describe it?  
     I think you did a really good job on your post. When you get the time please comment back and answer my questions. I might want to read the series because it sounds like a good book.

On a student's post about Manga Comic books, Cole said:
     I think your post is really cool. But you said manga [I think that is a cool book type name] are Japanese based comic books. I just want to know if they are comic books or regular books. How long are the books becuase comic books you can read about 6 in an hour or are they really long?  
     I think your blog is really good. You do a really good job on your blog.

On a post about music, Jaili said:
     WOW!!!!!!!!!! This post is really good! I love to sing too! But anyways your post shows how you love to sing and how you interact with your personality. 
     Most of all no matter what you’ll never give up on it! I have heard you sing and you are really good! Here’s a note NEVER GIVE UP ON WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO! :)

On The Reading Workshop blog I have seen some excellent comments this year.

Sarah said:
     I am reading The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins. I picked this book because all of my friends have read and said they loved the book. So I decided to give it a try.
     Right when I started reading it I was attached. I couldn't believe how good it was. What really dragged me into it was the beginning because I liked when Effie Trinket was picking the names out of the bucket because Katniss's little sister Prim gets chosen to go to the Hunger Games. But Katniss didn't want her sister to get killed. So Katniss steps up and goes to the Hunger Games. 

     That's why I this book is one of the best books I have ever read. So don't fake read, just find a book that you really like!!


And on a post about hard work, Kirsten said:
     It is very important to work hard because if you work hard and take your time, you know that you tried your best, and you made a effort to get a good grade. Sometimes even when you try your hardest you will not get an A but that's okay because you gave it all you got.
     I admit I don't always take my time to do something because I want to hurry up and rush through it. I've worked really hard on projects and work before too. I think it is so important to check over your work because it does make a difference to go over all the questions.


As the writer for The Reading Workshop blog, I appreciate it when someone takes the time to comment. Every student wants comments for their blog too. What makes it even better is when the comment is well thought out, well written, and meaningful. Thanks to all of the Reading Workshop students for making an effort to write excellent comments.  Keep up the good work and maybe you can get a Fantastic Commenter badge on your blog!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Have You Checked Your Homophones Lately?

Is your writing more like 1 or 2?

1.  Due ewe no you're homophones?  Win u our threw righting, due yew no if there write?.  

or

2.  Do you know your homophones?  When you are through writing, do you know if they're right?




Reading Workshop students, please give your readers a break.  Check your homophones and get it right!

For more information see Your Homophone is Out of Order.

Thanks to Gineriella for allowing this edited version of her video to be used in the classroom.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Caps Cause We Care


This is being reposted from Megan's Thoughts

 Hello again, its Megan! I just wanted to remind everyone that Friday, October 13th  Saltcreek Intermediate School  is going to have a hat day!

All you have to do is bring in 25 cents or more to wear your hat all day long! All the money that student council raises is going toward a special girl in the sixth grade who has leukemia. We will donate the money toward whatever her family needs, to help her get better.

Just remember to bring in a hat and a quarter to help her. Your classes student council representative will collect the money in each class. Thank you for reading!


This is a great cause so please bring in money on Friday to help the Student Council help one of our students and her family.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A How-to For Blog Comments


Students in Reading Workshop are building their blogs, post by post.  In addition, many are taking the time to comment on their peers' blogs.  Here is some information about commenting to help with this.

Everyone that blogs wants comments.  We want every single person that visits our blog to comment.  In fact, almost any comment is better than none.  So if you visit a blog, the most important rule for blog comments is to comment.  Take a minute and let us know you were here and what you think.

You need to know though, that commenting is a competition. You are vying for the reader's attention. You are trying to make others agree with you.  You want the reader to listen to you over other commenters, and you want to sound better than others. If you care enough to write, then you care enough to want to sound intelligent. 

If you agree, say so.  If you disagree, or have a different opinion, say so.  But whatever you do, be assured, bloggers love comments. All comments are appreciated. However, nothing beats a comment from someone that is intelligent and makes a great point.

Here are the Reading Workshop rules for Blog Comments.

1.  No personal abuse or name-calling, please. A positive tone wins over the reader, a negative tone drives readers away.
2.  Your content is just as important as the bloggers.  The first sentence MUST grab the reader. The first paragraph should give the reader an idea what the comment discusses. Keep on topic.  Don't write a comment that has little or nothing to do with the subject of the article.
3.  Opposing opinions are welcome, as long as they are respectful of the views of others.  If you disagree with the opinions of the author, express it politely.
4.  Mistakes, especially in grammar and spelling cause the reader to move on to the next comment. Readers assume if you can't write correctly you are not intelligent enough to be worth reading.
5.  Avoid repeating yourself.  If many people have already said something, please don’t say it again.  Once you make a point, support it, but don't keep saying the same thing over, and over, and over.
6.  Don’t make comments like “Great post.” If you read it, say why it was great.  Add some­thing to the con­ver­sa­tion.   Add your own view, or thoughts to the topic. Throwing out a statement without telling why it matters, or how it impacts others, or what significance it has to the reader is worthless.


If you are going to take the time to comment, take the time to do it right. Win the comment contest by writing a fabulous comment that makes readers think, or wonder, or smile, or cry, or agree, or disagree.  Write a comment with meaning.

Bloggers love comments. All comments are appreciated. However, nothing beats a comment from someone that is intelligent and makes a great point.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Easy Way to Get a Good Grade

Students weekly Read at Home assignment rewards extra effort. Students choose a book that they want to read from home, the library, or the book room. The only requirement is that they log the title, time read, and pages.

As a teacher, I reward the students that make the most effort. Although grades are not entirely tied to how hard a student works, poor grades are reflective of a lack of work ethic.  If a student wants a better grade, just read a little more.  I even give extra credit for students that read more than 180 minutes.



A =    180 + Minutes
B =    120 - 179 Minutes
C =    60 - 119 Minutes
F =    0-59 Minutes

Although students have no direct assignments associated with Read at Home many of the activities and projects in class are based on the book they are reading. When students write about their book, it is easy to monitor comprehension and see if students are "getting it." The fact that students can pick their book to read helps because they can find a book that interests them.

The emphasis on reading is largely based on the research from Richard Allington. Allington cites four "background factors" associated with why students have difficulty with reading. According to the author:

1. the amount of reading that students do in and out of school was related to reading achievement;
2. children who spend more time on workbook activities versus reading text are more likely to have difficulty reading;
3. children who come from homes where reading is not modeled have difficulty reading; and,
4. students who have difficulty providing details and arguments to support interpretations of what they read have difficulty with reading.


According to the author, time on task is the best predictor for reading success in students. Put simply, more reading is equal to greater academic achievement.

The bottom line--if students read more, their grade improves and they become better students.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grading Student Blog Posts

The students in Reading Workshop just completed an interdisciplinary project for social studies and language arts.  They had to research about a place they had visited, list five facts, and then write a story about their trip.  In addition, for their blog, they had to write an introduction, find relevant links, and post pictures that supported their writing.

The project was graded using this rubric.

A 

  • Follows project guidelines
  • Has an introduction that explains the project telling W's (who, what, when, where, why)    
  • Interesting/draws in the reader
  • Writing has a sense of style
  • Provides relative and interesting facts
  • Writes a narrative that is detailed, exciting, and complete
  • Has numerous links to relevant websites
  • Correct PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
  • Does not plagiarize

B

  • Follows project guidelines
  • Has an introduction that explains the project telling W's    
  • Provides relative and interesting facts
  • Writes a narrative that is detailed and complete
  • Has links to relevant websites
  • Correct PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
  • Does not plagiarize

C 

  • Follows guidelines
  • Has an introduction that explains the project
  • Provides facts
  • Writes a narrative that is complete
  • Has links to websites
  • Two - Four mistakes with PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
  • Does not plagiarize

D 

  • Does not follow guidelines
  • Incomplete introduction
  • Provides some facts
  • Incomplete narrative
  • Errors with PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
  • Does not plagiarize

F 

  • Plagiarizes
  • Little sign of effort
  • Did not publish post on blog

Is That Book Exciting?

OK, so you are sitting here in Reading Workshop during SSR (Sustained Silent Reading).  I look up from my book and I see you fidgeting in your chair.  You are squirming like your seat is on fire.  You turn the page without even reading the whole page.  You look around the room, but you can't find anyone to join you in your boredom.  Uh oh, are you like the Queen of Fake Reading?

If your book isn't drawing you in, you need to get a better book.  There are 12,000 books with several thousand titles in the book room.  Find one that you can be a part of and read.  Don't read a book that isn't exciting.

The guy beside you is staring at his book so intensely you think he might stare a hole in the page.  What is going on with him?  Why is he looking at his book like that?  He won't even look your way.  He is pulling the book closer and closer to his face.  He has a death grip on it.

Guess what?  Some books are exciting and he found a great one.  He found a book with action and adventure, that he understands.  He has become a part of his book.  He is living in it and with every twist and turn in the plot, he is drawn more and more into the story.  



What book are you reading?  How does the author draw you into the book?  What makes the book you are reading exciting?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finish First and You Will Do the Worst

Most everyone has heard the saying, hard work will pay off in the end.  Yesterday, students took the Study Island Benchmark Test, and it was a perfect example.  This test evaluates students reading on a variety of reading skills.  Students that took their time, went back in the passages, and found answers scored well, and mostly passed.  Students that rushed through their work had the lowest scores.

This one assignment is a message to all students about what they can expect this year in Reading Workshop.  Those with a good work ethic, that do their best, will do well.  Those that don't give their best and don't work hard are going to struggle.  And it's not just here.  No matter what students do with their life, hard work will pay off in the end.

The column on the left is minutes spent taking the test.  The columns on the right shows students' total percent and score.  A score of 400 is passing.


Compare those to students that took more time.


Taking more time does not guarantee a passing score, but it made a huge difference.  There was no time limit on this assignment.  So for students that didn't pass, I wonder why they didn't take more time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Excitement of a New Book

I am so excited.  We got in some books that we ordered two weeks ago.  And the best part is one of the books is the newest from one of my favorite series.

I just got The Kill Order, the newest book in James Dashner's Maze Runner series.  This is a little different than what you usually find because it is a prequel to the series.  This book will give readers background on what led up to the series.

I can't wait to get started reading.



Here is an audio excerpt from The Maze Runner.

No Wonder These Students Do So Well

Recently I asked students to complete a survey about the importance of reading with a parent or grandparent.   As I looked at some of the comments, I realized why so many students are doing so well in Reading Workshop.  Thank you so much to the parents and grandparents that took the time to talk about reading with their child.

When asked, why do you believe reading is important, answers included:

  • Andrea D.--Reading is an important part of life. At first, we learn to read. Then, we read to learn. Reading is the key to all learning.
  • Laura C.--Reading takes you places you may never have the opportunity to visit. . . With reading, you control the graphics and scenery. You get to create your own version of the story in your mind.
  • Heather E.--Reading gives you "life long learning," meaning you can learn new things every day of your life. 
  • Diana F.--there is a whole world of ideas and information there for us to discover. Sometimes reading can make you laugh, cry, and experience all kinds of emotions. Reading is awesome.
  • Susan P.--Reading is the foundation of learning.
  • Tonya W.--I believe reading is important because, for a very long time now, people have taken the time to think things through and deliverer their thoughts on paper.
  • Jennifer T.--reading improves your vocabulary, your writing ability, and your communication skills.
  • Kim E.--It broadens the mind and helps educate in all areas of learning.
  • Beth M.--Reading is the basis for most aspects of daily living. From reading weather and news reports, to road signs and menus, reading is a necessity in society.


When asked, how has reading helped you be successful in your life, answers included:

  • Sandy E.--Being a fluent reader afforded me the opportunity to be my high school graduating class valedictorian. This led to scholarships and grants to help pay for my college education. Reading has allowed me to be a life-long learner and successful in my career.
  • Andrea D.--All successful writers will tell you that in order to write well, you need to read. At the age of 40, I went back to school to become a medical assistant. If I didn't know how to read, I wouldn't have been able to complete the assignments in order to graduate.
  • Laura C.--Without reading I would not have the job I have. I am an Engineer at Kenworth. My job requires me to be able to read...Not only has reading helped me get a college degree as well as a good job it also has helped me to relax. I love to read just for fun. A good book is like therapy.
  • Stephanie S.--Reading has helped me be successful for a lot of things. I couldn't own a business if I didn't know how to read.
  • Cheryl R.--Reading has helped me in my job because I have to read daily work instructions and be able to follow those instructions.
  • Teresa L.--Reading is a way for communication in my work and I continually learn by reading. Reading enhances my career as a nurse to educate myself and others. It enables me provide excellent care to my patients.
  • Lisa B.--It constantly gives me direction in life. On the flip side it has given me a portal of imaginations as entertainment.

Thanks to all the parents for their amazing responses.  Check out all of the responses HERE.


Image from http://www.gameshowstogo.com/SurveySaysCollegeDownloads.html

Monday, September 17, 2012

Student and Parent Reading Survey

Students, please complete this survey with the help of a parent or grandparent.

You can see responses HERE

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Think You're Reading Too Fast

It was during SSR and I started watching her read.  This girl had chosen one of the best books in the book room.  She was reading Awakening, book 1 in Robin Wasserman's Chasing Yesterday series.  At first I thought she must really be enjoying it.  She was buzzing through the pages.

Then I really started watching.  She wasn't getting anything.  All the action and adventure was lost to her.  The fear and loneliness of main character might as well have not been there.  She never gave a thought about the fact that she could be in the book.  

The main character in this series is a young girl that faces an incredible challenge.  The books are filled with scenes that bring the reader into the book.  But this reader is reading too fast.  Her brain isn't keeping up with the pages.  

The reader isn't stopping to 

THINK
WONDER
REVIEW
GUESS
PREDICT
THINK
PICTURE
COMPARE
DECIDE
THINK
ASK
WISH
GO BACK
QUESTION
RELATE
THINK

When you think about it, she's not really reading.  But she sure can turn the pages fast.  Is this post about you?  Could it be?

Image from http://www.unfinishedman.com/why-you-shouldnt-read-a-book-just-to-finish-it/



Friday, September 7, 2012

If You're Going to Write, Write Right

As published writers, there is no excuse for mistakes.  Sister Salad points out the reason most of us take writing correctly so seriously.   This video, "Yo Comments Are Wack!" points out the disastrous commenting seen on the web and in a humorous way explains why writing well matters.



A Student's Good First Blog Post

Students in Reading Workshop have begun blogging as part of their language arts class.  The first assignment was to write about the main character in the book they are reading.  Students all choose their own books based on their interests and ability.

Megan set the standard with her first post.  You can follow her work throughout the year on her blog, Megan's Thoughts.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Study Island & Student of the Day


Study Island
Each day a Study Island Student of the Day is chosen from each class in Reading Workshop. The winners receive an award certificate, a piece of candy,

SI Chair

     AND THEY GET THE CHAIR FOR THE DAY!  


All students want the chance to spend the day in luxury.  And learning online is a great way to achieve this.

Students work daily in Reading Workshop with the online learning program from Study Island. This program is based on the Ohio State Standards. It has lessons that help teach each topic and remediates when students do not pass a topic. Students can do sessions anywhere they have internet access.

Students scores count towards their grade in Reading Workshop.  It is important that students pay attention to their score as they are completing a 20 question session.  If they are close to the next higher grade, doing a couple of extra questions correctly can really help their grade.

85 - 100 = A
75 - 84.9 = B
65 - 74.9 = C
55 - 64.9 = D 

Congratulations to today's Study Island Students of the Day:  Olivia, Sam, Holden, and Dylan.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Dylan Pays it Forward

A couple of days ago I wrote about Maddie helping Dylan.  Even now, it still seems like a terrific event.  Then yesterday, I got another surprise.  As we worked to set up student blogs, Dylan paid it forward.  Lizzy was struggling with the pace to set up her blog until Dylan took over.

Through every step and each direction, he set up his blog and then guided Lizzy to success.  Now I am sure he had no thought of repaying a kindness someone showed him.  He was just trying to help a classmate because he is a good guy that cares for others.

As we end the second week of the school year, I am so impressed by the kindness and caring of the Salt Creek students.  I can't wait to see who will be the next to step up.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kindness Counts

He was walking down the hall to his next class.  Papers were sticking out everywhere, books were stacked every which way, and his pencils stuck out like swords.  He was a walking mess of school supplies just waiting on a wreck.

He bumped into a classmate and some of his stuff scattered to the floor.  A girl noticed, not knowing I was watching.  She left her circle of friends to help him.  She picked up what he dropped, tucked it into his pile, and helped him on his way.

I am not really sure what makes an eleven year old girl act with such maturity and kindness, but it sure makes a teacher feel proud when one of his students acts like that.  It also serves as a reminder of just how caring some kids treat their peers.

Too often we hear the other side of today's kids with all the media focus on bullying, but the fact is, kids are what makes a school great.  And in my second week at a different school, a girl made me proud to be a part of Salt Creek Intermediate School.  


Image from http://www.school-clipart.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Old Man with the Cane

I was standing at the cash register at the Village Cafe as an old man with a cane slowly walked up to the front door.  Just as he started in, a young woman started out.  They saw each other at the same time and both quickly stopped.  The young woman backed up, and motioned for him to come in.  

Although it was a struggle for him, the old man's response was immediate.  He eased backwards, held the door, and told the young woman to come through.  His response was one built through a lifetime of good manners and showing respect.  

To some, in today's world, his actions may be considered old fashioned.  Some might even suggest he needs to get with the times--women are equal to men.  To those of us with older parents and/or grandparents, we might think he needs to be a little willing to accept help.

But to this old man, his response was the only one possible.  He did what was right.  And he did it because he always treats people with respect.  In just a few seconds, his actions showed the kind of person he is.  He didn't think about it.  He acted the way he always does.

What about you Salt Creek students?  Do you do what is right?  In your new school, with new classmates, do you treat others with respect?  Do you think of others first?  Or are you thinking just of yourself?  

As the new school year starts, please take a minute and think about yourself.  What kind of person do you want to be?  Is that how people see you?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Home


After 16 years at Laurelville, I am in a new school.  I am excited about this opportunity as Logan Elm Local School District opens a new school (although still in an old building), Salt Creek Intermediate School.  The realignment of the district should help students' needs be better served by putting all fifth and sixth grade students in one location.  

I am fortunate to be teamed with an excellent group of teachers, Colleen WebbSusanne Hardin, and Lorrie Huysman.  We will have about 100 students in the 4 classes.  Students will rotate through the classes with one of hour of instruction for each of the subjects, social studies, math, science, and language arts.

Reading Workshop will still operate the same with lots of technology integrated into students' daily learning.  Students will still be writing on their blogs, and use Study Island, the online learning program.  The books from the Laurelville book room have been moved and students will have many choices with a lot of great books.

Admittedly there is a bit of sadness as the end of my time comes at Laurelville.  The students, parents, and staff have made it a great place to be.  But with change there is always the chance for growth and I am anxious to dive into the new school year and all of the fun and adventure in the upcoming year.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing a Memoir

The next project in Reading Workshop will be to write a memoir.  Although somewhat like an autobiography, a memoir is slightly different.  It focuses on an event or personal experience and frequently shares a life lesson or special meaning caused by the event.

The first step to writing a memoir involves making some decisions.

What event sticks out as life changing, or memorable to you?
Who was involved?
Where did this take place?
When did this take place?
What happened?
What problems did you face?
How did the problem get solved?
What moral or lesson did you learn?

Start Here

1.  List the people involved including yourself and the character traits that impacted the incident.

2.  Describe the setting.  Where and when does the story take place.  How does the setting impact the story?

3.  Describe the problems or conflicts?  What minor problems built tension leading to the climax?  How did you react when faced with the main problem/conflict?

4. What crisis occurred? Was there a point when you weren't sure about the outcome?

5. How did you solve the problem?  What positive attributes like courage, creativity, or intelligence do you possess which helped you succeed/survive?

6.  Finish with style.  What lesson did you learn?  How will the reader connect and learn from the moral?


And now, WRITE!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing a D.A.R.E. Essay


After several weeks in DARE class, students have to write an essay about the class.  Students are instructed by Deputy Dale Thomas from the Pickaway County Sheriff Department.  Deputy Thomas has taught students about resisting drugs and peer pressure for the last 15 years.  Deputy Thomas does a super job helping students learn valuable life skills, in a fun and interactive way.

The essay is a time for students to think about what they have learned in D.A.R.E.  The essay should include how students feel about the program, what they learned that will help them be drug free, and why it is important to make good choices.

The format should include:

1.  Introduction tells what knowledge and skills students have learned;
2.  Body with details about the class and why it is important;
3.  Conclusion that summarizes the essay and includes a pledge statement.

The D.A.R.E. book is a great resource to help remember important facts and information.


Monday, April 23, 2012

You Are A Success Story

Students in Reading Workshop have made amazing progress this year.  You should feel good about your success!  What has made you successful?



Friday, April 20, 2012

Free Advise or Advice

Here is some free advice--take a little time to check your spelling.  In the previous post, I used the wrong word, leading students to use the wrong word.  Needless to say, not exactly a shining moment for a teacher but at least it was a teachable moment.

As stated on Zozanga English Forum:

Advice & Advise

The words advice and advise are often mixed up, which is quite understandable since they have similar spellings and meanings.

'Advice' is a noun: you can give someone a 'piece of advice'. For example, let me give you some advice about travelling in China.

'Advise' is a verb: He advised me to always keep my passport on me when I was in China. His advice was very useful.

Image from http://www.erikaliodice.com/career-advice-i-wish-someone-had-given-me/

Are You Ready to be Tested?


In Reading Workshop, students have read passages, wrote and rewrote answers, and been "practiced up" into submission.   They dream at night of "back in the day" when language arts was about reading and writing, thinking and discussing.  Their dreams are of a time before legislators decided schools and their students should be controlled by torture/testing. 

Students have been working hard, preparing for the Ohio Achievement Assessment and they are surviving.  Not only are they surviving, but they are getting smarter.  They are reading critically, and attacking questions to find the point.  They are shredding selections to find those details that earn all 4 points on  an extended response question.  Best of all is they are learning words, and they are much better than the words they learned on the back of the bus in third grade.

Good job students!  Tuesday is the day and your success on the test will make me smile.

Here's a chance to help your peers, Reading Workshop students.  What advise advice do you have to help your classmates on the reading test?

This post had been edited.  See Free Advise or Advice for details.

Image from http://atalante.co/fitness/motivation/persistence-determination-hard-work/

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why You Need to Use Your Strategies

She told the teacher giving her the practice test, "I don't need to look back.  I know the answer."  And maybe she did.  I will know today when we start to score the Ohio Reading Achievement Assessment practice tests.  She might have gotten a perfect score, but probably not.

The OAA doesn't test how smart you are.  It doesn't test your reading.  It doesn't show if you are a good student or not.  It doesn't show if I am a good teacher or not.  The OAA shows how well students can use test taking strategies.  That's pretty much it.  When the whole achievement test process is over, basically the student, the teacher, the school, and the district will be judged on how well students used test taking strategies.

Don't get me wrong, being a good reader and writer helps, but without using test taking skills, it won't get you a good score.  Why else would a lot of teachers drill and kill all year using achievement test passages and questions?  They want to get you "practiced up" so you can score well.

So back to this student.  Do you think she scored well?  If she didn't use the most basic strategy of going back in the passage to find/verify her answer, then I have to wonder what other strategies she ignored.  And knowing this is a test of students' ability to use test strategies, I know she could score higher than she did if she had used all of the strategies she knows.  

What about you Reading Workshop students?  What strategies did you use?   How did it work out for you?

Image from http://school.discoveryeducation.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's Sad is They Think They are So Cute

Students in Reading Workshop are taking the Practice Sixth Grade Reading Ohio Achievement Assessment.  We attempt to make this as realistic as possible just to give students a chance to go through the process, see how they do, and give us some data for final preparations for the actual test.  This practice run through has proven beneficial to teachers and students.

Most of the twenty students that I monitored worked hard and the results will show them and me their ability and potential to pass the actual test.  I took a look across the hall though, and saw a different story.  Two boys spent the last hour of the test goofing around.  They were obviously bored, so they spent the time trying to distract peers.  

I am not sure why they thought they didn't need to work.  I am not sure why the teacher didn't notice their repeated attempts to distract peers.  The bottom line was they thought they were so cute and so funny.  And that's sad because they were just unmotivated and unsuccessful.  Is there any chance they will grow up in three weeks?  I guess we can always hope.  

What about you hard workers?  Why did you choose to press the success key?

Image from http://www.onlinecollege-degrees.net/blog/

Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't be Nervous

Students are presenting their project they researched and then created on Google Docs about an ancient civilization as part of their social studies class.  Naturally, some of the students are a little nervous.



However, there is no need to worry.  Just follow a few simple rules and success is guaranteed.

1.  Be prepared--If you know what you are going to say it will show.
2.  Get to the point--What are your main points?  Focus on what is most important.
3.  Think about your audience--Worry about your audience and not yourself.
4.  Speak clearly--This is accomplished so much easier with practice.

Just following these steps will make your presentation a success.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Books in a Series

Kids love series books. Frequently good readers choose to read books in a series. With books in a series, the reader gets to know the characters and gets involved with their problems. It is easier to imagine themselves in the story. Students that are reluctant readers find it easier to read in large quantities when reading a series.  They are also less likely to fake read.

There are many excellent series available to adolescent readers. The poll below lists a few series that have proven to be popular.  What is your favorite series of books?  



Thank you for voting using Poll Everywhere

Do you read books in a series?  Do you like them?  Why or why not?


Want to see the results?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Teacher as the Student

Being a student is a lot easier than it used to be.  If class gets a little boring, you can just check your email, text someone, or surf the Internet.  It's also easier to not get bored because you can check out sites and information the teacher discusses.  At least, that's how it was for me this week when I was a student at the Etech (Ohio Educational Technology) Conference. 

In every session I attended, participants were on their laptop, IPad, or smart phone.  I did see one or two note takers with their legal pad, but they stuck out.  A lot of sessions were interactive and presenters made it a point to share links and involve attendees.  Sessions were obviously planned by the presenters to encourage the use of technology.

Admittedly, as a student, I haven't always been attentive and have been challenged with being a little too hyper to sit in class for very long.  One of my goals when I started teaching was to shut up, keep students busy, and let them learn through their own hard work.  I have always hated classes where the teacher stands in front of the class and talks and talks and talks and talks. 

I couldn't help but think about how different adults are treated than kids.  Maybe it's about having a captive audience with our students.  Imagine how involved they would be if everything they did was interactive.  Imagine how different teachers would be if their students could start texting or surfing the net when they got bored.  It might not be totally a good thing, but it would sure liven up some classes.

The best part of an opportunity like the Etech Conference is the chance to hear about what other teachers are doing and what is working in their classes.  This year's conference had a lot of excellent sessions and ideas for the classroom.  I am anxious to try them in the Reading Workshop classes.

  


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jim Basketball Jones Says . . .

Students were treated to an excellent message during an assembly today.  Jim Basketball Jones focused on applying kindness and care to everyone around you. He encouraged students to look for the good in classmates and to have each others' backs.

In addition, he performed an array of basketball tricks that excited the school, and kept everyone engaged.  His ability to spin and juggle basketballs amazed everyone present. 

Jones pulled a lot of students up to the front to help with his demonstration and utilized them to help with his message of  becoming successful through hard work, responsibility, and making good choices.


According to Jim Basketball Jones Website:

In first grade, Jim Jones was diagnosed with dyslexia. Jim’s struggles were so great that he immediately found himself placed in a special education program. It would take Jim five years working with his tutors and speech therapists before he would make it into a regular classroom.

This adversity fundamentally shaped Jim’s view of the world, and provided him with many early life lessons about the good of accepting help from others, overcoming adversity, and learning to appreciate difference. These would later become the cornerstones of his career as a public speaker.

One of the main motivations in Jones's life was wanting to be like his brother, Mike.  This makes me wonder, what is your motivation?  What makes you like you are?  Who do you follow?  What did the assembly mean to you?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reading is . . .

How do your thoughts about reading compare to your classmates?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

If I was the Best

Image being the best.  Imagine having such an advantage that no one could compare.  Think about being so superior that three million people watched you perform on Youtube.  That is how it is for Mamadou Ndiaye'.





Imagine for a moment, Reading Workshop students, if you had an amazing ability.  And then take it even one step farther.  What if you had an amazing ability and it wasn't in sports.  What would your talent be?  And how would you impact the world?  Describe your success.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It . . .

Some cause happiness wherever they go, others cause happiness whenever they go. Which one are you?



What are your thoughts about happiness?  When someone looks at you, do they think of you as a happy person?  How does being happy make your life better?