Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who Do You Ask?

Ben and Chloe sit beside each other in Reading Workshop. Both are good students and work hard. When they have a problem, or don't understand something, they don't ask for help. They will talk to each other about things that don't matter but they don't ask each other for help. 

What makes this interesting is how our class is built around everyone helping everyone be successful. Peer tutoring is a continual thing. Any time a student doesn't understand, someone is ready to help. This is expected and students do an amazing job of making sure their classmates do well.

This is similar to how our team of teachers work. If someone has a question or concern, Mrs. Hardin, Mrs. Webb, Ms. Huysman  and I work together to help work it out. This makes a strong team of people that count on each other and are strong because of their unity. This also helps make our hallway a great place.

We talked about this in class today. Most of the students have a couple of people they count on when they need help. This might be when they are editing their writing, doing something on the computer, or trying to complete an assignment. Hopefully now that we have discussed this Ben, Chloe, and any other students that doesn't have a pal to count on will be open for a little help and ask someone when they need a hand.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Did You Learn at Camp?

Last week's visit to Camp Oty Okwa was a great time for students and staff. The group building activities were exciting and students did an excellent job cooperating and making their team successful. With that in mind, this leads to this week's writing assignment. 

Students, on your blog, tell what you learned. Pick a skill and write about it. Define the word that best describes what you learned. This might be cooperation, teamwork, kindness, respect, friendship, working together, responsibility. . .  Include the meaning of the word, and what it means to you.

Explain the situation where you saw this skill in action. This will be one or more incidents during the group activities where this took place. Give details to help the reader understand. You may also want to include how the use of this skill impacted your group.

In your closing, tell how using this trait at school would effect Salt Creek. What would it look like? How would it improve our school? Where and/or when could you use this skill to make our school a better place?


When your blog post is completed, please submit it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Look at Bullying

The assignment for Reading Workshop students is to write a blog post about bullying. Use the information below to help guide the writing. Use a web as a prewriting tool to help organize your post.

What is your view on bullying? Is it really a problem? Does it always look the same? Do you recognize it when it happens? How do you react? How do you define bullying? Is it always the bullies fault? Or does the person getting picked on sometimes cause the problem? 

Please pick one scenario listed on the Reading Workshop Wiki as an example. Explain how you view it and tell why it is or is not bullying. Describe possible responses to the situation and include how you would react if you were involved, both as the person being bullied and as a member of the group, but not the person doing the bullying.





Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Great Start to the Year

This school year is off to a great start. As we close in on the end of the 1st nine weeks, I can't imagine things going any better. A recent Question of the Week got me thinking about why things were going so well. 

As I said in the question:




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Question of the Week

Recently at Reading Workshop I created a discussion board for the Question of the Week. Responses must be a minimum of two - three paragraphs with details to support students' points.

Students, please post your best response to be graded.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Easy Extra Credit

Hey parents, grandparents, and other family members, want to help your student earn some easy extra credit? All you have to do is fill out the form below. It is well worth it to me just to get parents to check in here.

Our language arts class is anchored around this blog. At the top you can find links like the one to Jupiter Grades that are helpful to both students and parents. On the right sidebar classwork, homework, and important dates are listed. Further down on the right side are links to blogs of all of the Reading Workshop students. 

This website is the easiest way for parents to know what is taking place in language arts and at Salt Creek. Please use it to your advantage and thank you for helping your child earn some extra credit.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Success Blog Post

Students, please submit your blog post to be graded in the Google Form below. For the last question use the Student Blog Rubric to support your response.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Do You Want Success?

I had this conversations with a student:

Student:  My aunt doesn't care if I work hard.
Me:  Seriously?
Student:  No, she doesn't care. As long as I get a D she is happy.
Me:  I don't believe it.
Student:  Test it out.
Me:  Whattttt?
Student:  Test it out. Call her and see.
Me:  OK we will.

And so we did and she really did care. She expected him to work his hardest and get good grades.

Thinking about this later, I wondered about how bad sixth graders want success. Have a look at the video below. How does this relate to sixth graders? Is success important when you are twelve? How can ideas from this video help a middle school student reach their goals?


PUGS--Puncuation, Useage, Grammar, and Spelling

If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you must write cleanly. Many readers will judge what you say by how you say it. If your writing is filled with mistakes, the message will get lost in the errors. Do your part and edit carefully.

Chris Pirillo discusses the need for PUGS--Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling in this video.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Trait Blog Post

Students have recently been writing a blog post about the book they are reading.

To read them go HERE.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apostrophes Rock

Students seem to have trouble with correct use of apostrophes. Here are a few basic rules to follow.

1. Apostrophes are used to show a missing letter, for example:
you're instead of you are
can't instead of can not

2. Apostrophes show possession, for example:
the boy's bike
the student's desk
the students' desks (if there is more than one student)
If there are two or more students, the apostrophe comes after the 's'

3. Apostrophes NEVER show plurals! 
"book's in the library" should be "books in the library"
"car's in the parking lot" should be "cars in the parking lot"


The Edrocker explains it best with the Monster song.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing on Topic

As Reading Workshop students start the school year as beginning bloggers, the challenge of writing and writing well looms. Although students have written for teachers in the past, organizing a blog post to make it interesting and understandable is a new skill for many.

As a student, if you are struggling, here is a template to make your writing easy for the reader to get. This is basically the five paragraph format that you will use as a student for as long as you are in school. 

1st paragraph--Introduction
2nd - 4th paragraph--Body
5th paragraph--Conclusion

The latest assignment is to write a blog post highlighting one area of a book that students have read this year. This is how it should be organized:

Introduction/Paragraph 1
The book    (insert title)     written by     (author's name) is one of the most   (insert topic--exciting, funniest, happiest, saddest, greatest, drama filled, scariest, etc.)    books I have ever read. From the second you open it up until the last page you . . .

Body/Paragraph 2
One example from the book is . . .

Body/Paragraph 3
Another example from the book is . . .

Body/Paragraph 4
Another example from the book is . . .

Closing/Paragraph 5
This is an exciting book. If you love . . .

Please feel free to put this format into your own words. You can be creative, but it is imperative that you follow this format. Failure to do will will result in an essay that is hard to understand. Make it easy on the reader and organize your writing.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Start of the Year Blog Post

Students' first writing assignment in Reading Workshop was to write a blog post about one of the most significant events that occurred with the start of the new school year.

You can read all of the blog posts HERE

Friday, September 6, 2013

Reading for Understanding and Score Better Too!

So Reading Workshop students, do you want to get a better score on Study Island? Use the tips from this video and use the highlighter from Study Island and your scores will soar. These tips will also help when you have to read something in social studies and science.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Want to Know Your Grades?


If you want to know your grades just go to Jupiter.  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.

All of students' grades and information about discipline and behavior will be posted on Jupiter. Students can check their grades daily during Brave Period, the intervention period that starts every day. If you are a parent, you will soon be receiving information to enable you to view your child's grades.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing an Essay/Blog Post

Building an essay is just taking yesterday's lesson one step further. The basic idea for building a paragraph is expanded into several paragraphs. The organization is the same.

Here is another of Mr. Heath's videos that explains the process.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Writing a Paragraph

Reading Workshop students have been setting up their blogs. Now the task of becoming a writer is ahead. We will start by looking at paragraphs and how to set up the basic paragraph.

This video by Mr. Heath explains the basic parts of a paragraph, the topic sentence, supporting details, and the conclusion.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Read Your Way to 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 bookmobile. 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.

So if you want a good grade Reading Workshop students, all you have to do is read!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Parents


Thank you for the opportunity to spend the year with your child in Reading Workshop. We had a great first day. I saw a lot of smiling faces and good attitudes. Students seemed glad to be back. 


Today's schedule was different than it will be the rest of the year. We started with a whole school assembly and had a walk through to discuss expectations throughout the building. We also spent a lot of time discussing routines and procedures. A major portion of the day was spent preparing students to have a successful year while explaining things like the assignment book and student handbook.

Tomorrow we will begin our regular schedule in Reading Workshop. We will start some of our regular classroom activities. Different pieces of the class will be explained and students will start to work on some of the things they will do all year.

For tomorrow, students must get a parent signature on the Blog Permission form. Soon we will be setting up an individual blog for each student. This will allow them to write essays for teachers, parents, and fellow students to read. This is an exciting learning activity that is extremely beneficial in building students' writing ability.

As the year progresses, I look forward to getting to know your child. My hope is that each sixth grader can have the best year possible. If I can help you in any way, or you have questions or comments, please let me know. Once again, thanks for sharing your child with me and all the staff at Salt Creek. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Are you Nervous?

New grade, new teachers, new classmates, new shoes--it's a new school year. Everyone is nervous. All the teachers are nervous. All the students are nervous. It happens every year. It even happens to old teachers that have seen many new school years. 

Should you be nervous as you start this year in Reading Workshop? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on you.

It's really easy to succeed. It all comes down to just three things.

1.  Work hard--always do your best. Set a high standard for yourself and give it your all. Never turn in work until you are sure it is your best.

2.  Respect others--treat people kindly. Show friendship and care towards others. Help your classmates when they need it. 

3.  Be responsible--take care of yourself. You aren't a little kid any more. It's not up to me, or your mom, or dad, or grandma. Your success depends on you.

If you do these three things, you really have no reason to be nervous. You will have the best year of your life this year in sixth grade. You will learn a lot and have fun doing it. You will be successful. Your parents, grandparents, and teachers will be proud of you. 

No need to be nervous--YOU WILL SUCCEED!




Monday, April 22, 2013

What do People Say About You?

What describes you? Are you courageous, kind, caring, awesome, amazing, beautiful, cool, smart, hard working, funny, winsome, cute, pretty, friendly, smiley, thoughtful, responsible, confident, quiet, honest, loving, outgoing, leader, sincere, reliable, brave, jovial, super, great singer, joyful, good student, generous, imaginative, creative, artistic, energetic, inspiring, athletic, open minded, majestic, terrific, fabulous, keeps trying, motivated, never gives up, successful, poetic, positive, great attitude, truthful, faithful, determined, kindhearted, unforgettable, outstanding, intelligent, incredible, helpful, gifted, wise, polite, mannerly, always does her best, helps classmates, does all his work . . .

Your assignment is to write a blog post that tells of seven things people at Salt Creek say about you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How Motivated are You?

With the OAA quickly approaching, are you motivated for success?  Do you have what it takes to give your best?

Friday, April 12, 2013

OAA Reading Strategies

We have discussed reading strategies throughout the year in Reading Workshop.  What ones did you use completing the passage about Toni Morrison?

You can see the responses HERE




If you have trouble seeing the entire form, can't scroll down, or get to the submit button, on your keyboard, just hit Ctrl - (Control and the minus sign at the top of the number keypad.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

OAA Vocabulary

Here are some words you need to know.

You can see the responses HERE.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A New Word


Monday, April 1, 2013

Making an Inference

What can you figure out?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Practice Proficiency Questions

Please complete the form from your questions from the 2006 OAA.

You can see the responses HERE.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

School Survey Says . . .


A survey about our schools was distributed to families and/or posted on websites in February 2013. Approximately 402 surveys were returned. The results below show the percentages of those who “strongly agree” or “agree” with each statement.  


Percentage of those who “strongly agree” or “agree.”
1. My child’s school has high expectations for students. 
93%
2. Firm, but fair, discipline is maintained in this school. 
88%
3. Our school has my child’s best interest at heart. 
93%
4. I am kept informed about my child’s progress in class. 
92%
5. Students are recognized and praised when they excel. 
91%
6. Students get along well with other students. 
86%
7. School buildings are in good condition. 
60%
8. Parents and the school staff work together when a problem arises. 
87%
9. I am proud that my children attend Logan Elm Schools. 
95%
10. Student learning is a very high priority in our school district. 
90%
11. The school staff is committed to improving student performance. 
93%
12. Teachers willingly help students when asked. 
92%
13. People in this school prepare students to be successful in their academics. 
93%
14. Students who need academic help are given assistance. 
92%
15. Students are kept informed of their grades and progress. 
97%
16. Instruction and homework assignments are clear and easy to follow. 
85%
17. Computers (other technology) are regularly used in our school. 
90%
18. Administrators listen to me when I have problems. 
91%
19. Administrators treat me with respect and dignity. 
95%
20. Administrators follow through on things needing his/her attention. 
90%
21. Administrators are visible in the building and at school activities. 
94%
22. Administrators are friendly and helpful. 
95%

Friday, March 15, 2013

An Amazing Story of a Reader

Savannah never read a chapter book before this year.  Somehow she got to six grade and never finished a chapter book.  She was a fake reader.  She tried reading Scat five times last year.  She kept getting lost and restarting.  It didn't matter because she didn't get it anyway.  Besides, reading gave her a headache.  

Talking about second grade she said, "They pulled me out because I couldn't read. I was just below average."  In her pullout class, she had to read these little books and little pamplet stories.  She just really didn't read though.

Her grandpa started the change.  He would read with her.  He would help her figure out the words.  It started with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  That was the only book she liked.

She came to sixth grade and had to start logging her reading for her Read at Home assignment.  At first she just logged what she wanted her goal to be so she had to read that night.  Then she found The Hunger Games.  She connected to the story and it made her want to read.  She finished the series and found other good books to read.

Before she knew what happened, she began to read because she liked it.  Now she reads at least an hour each night.  Her mom has to make her stop reading.  She reads books, understands them, and writes about them.  The last book she read she finished in two days.  She's an amazing story and the story is just beginning.  Great things are ahead for this girl that just became a reader.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Compare and Contrast Families

The latest assignment in Reading Workshop is to describe the family in the SSR book students are reading.  Then they have to compare and contrast that family with their own.  This is just another assignment in the group as students are working to respond to a prompt.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What is Your Dream?

Do you dare enough to dream?  What is your dream?  Although this clip is from a couple of years ago, the power of the song and the message hasn't weakened.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Organization for Writing a Response Post


The assignment to students was to write a blog post about how the main character in the book they are reading responds to problems he/she faces using specific details from the text to support their points.  

These are the two methods of organizing the essay:

¶1  Introduction—Title, author, purpose for writing, and describe the problem
¶2  First Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶3  Second Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶4  Third Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶5  Closing—wrap it up
or

¶1  Introduction should include the title, author, and purpose (what you are going to write about)
¶2  First Problem's Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶3  Second Problem's Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶4  Third Problem's Response—How the character reacted and details to support it.
¶5  Closing

By the way, you can write more paragraphs. :)


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Character in a Book

Students wrote a blog post about the main character in the book they are reading. They shared how the character acts, thinks, and feels and compare him/her to themselves. This should have an introduction and conclusion, and should be at least 5 or 6 paragraphs. Students had two days to complete this assignment.





Monday, February 11, 2013

Hey Students, Who is in Charge of You?

I am spending the next three days at the Ohio Etech Conference.  This is a chance for me to be the student and learn about using technology in the classroom.  Many of the ideas that we use in Reading Workshop originated from past conference.

This brings me to the topic of this blog post

HEY STUDENTS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Whenever I am not at school, I learn a lot about the students.  I find out who is motivated and successful.  Is that you?  Or do you need your mom or dad or teacher telling you what to do every minute of the day, just to be successful?

Do you see a substitute teacher as someone that you can try to take advantage of or do you know that you need to be understanding and responsible?  Will you be the one that gets the sub to write a note about how this was such a great class?  Or will you get a trip down the hall to visit the principal?

Do you know that everything you do during the next three days will be for a grade?  Do you know that I will be reading blog posts about the characters in Watchers Rewind?  Do you know I will be monitoring Study Island scores?  Or are you a motivated student that is going to do your best just because you have pride in your grades and your blog?

Good luck the next three days, Reading Workshop students.  I am anxious to see how you do.  In fact, I can't wait until Thursday when we discuss this post.  In the mean time, please think about what you do and what it says about you!

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 Answers.com and Dictionary.com, 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 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-05-31/lifestyle/sc-fam-0531-parenthood-manners-20110531_1_modern-lesson-door-slam-ladies

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 http://quantumartandpoetry.blogspot.com

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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Inspired by Poetry

Some of the best poems are often those that are inspired by another poem.  The concept is to take the framework of a poem you like, and then revise it to make it fit you.  Just remember to always give credit to the author by stating, "Inspired by . . ."

The Other Me
Written by Kristine O'Connell George

The other me knows what to wear,
fits in, doesn't stick out,
is one of them.

The other me remembers jokes,
doesn't get teased
by anyone.

The other me doesn't have big feet,
doesn't stumble,
doesn't drop her lunch tray.

So where is she,
this amazing
Other Me?

Reading Workshop students, please take this poem, or another of your favorites and write an "Inspired by" poem.

Image from http://tvtropes.org

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Makes a Good Poem?

Today we will ask the experts.  Students in Reading Workshop, what makes a good poem?  Or, what makes a poem good?  As you looked through poetry books the last two days, what did the best poems have in common?

When you looked through a book, what made you want to keep reading it?  What made you want to put a book back and try another one?  What made the difference between a book that grabbed your attention and gained your interest from a book that bored you?



Image from http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk/2012/09/my-five-favourite-pieces-of-poetry/poetry/

Friday, November 16, 2012

No It's or Is's Allowed in Poetry

Cut out all those words.  This is poetry so you don't need them.  In fact, if the word doesn't do something to clarify meaning, or help make your point, just delete it.

Get rid of all those annoying little words and leave only the ones that matter.  You really don't need all those "it's" and "is's."  Nor do you need those are's and were's. Trim the fat and excess words.  Make your poem meaningful and exciting.

The best thing about poetry is that the author makes the rules.  You can choose whether or not to use capital letters, sentences, and punctuation.  The only rule is write in the best way to make your poem meaningful and understandable.  Just write so your reader relates to your message.


Author's note:  There are divided thoughts about using apostrophes in certain circumstances to show plural.  The general thinking is that it is allowable in a few instances if it helps considerably with making text more easily understood and more readable.

Image from http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/tag/linking-verbs/

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Need Some "ing" in Your Poetry

Is your poetry alive?  Or does it just lay there squashed and ragged, like a mushy apple smashed on the road?  Maybe it needs a little "ing" put into it.

Good poetry is alive, bringing the reader inside and making him think, or wonder, or laugh, or cry.  And to bring the reader in nothing works better than action verbs.  Thus the need for some "ing."

Screaming, shouting, racing, zinging, glistening, clinging, spinning, howling, catching, hooting, buzzing, violating, falling, sprinting, vaulting, pouncing, scaling, attacking, lunging, foraging, galloping, whipping, creating, gambling, whaling, slashing, wondering, listing, faking, destroying, escaping, dreaming, visualizing, imagining, bouncing, scaping, flailing, editing, revising, writing . . .

Image from http://newtimesfrontier.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/the-ing-factor/

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.