Monday, April 27, 2015

Poem For A Grade

The Reading Workshop Poetry Rubric

2/ C
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.

Why Kids Should Blog

Ten positive benefits of student blogging:

1.  Increased Communication Skills
2.  Develop and Improve Writing Skills
3.  Interact with Different People
4.  Improve Technology Skills
5.  Engage in Social Media
6.  Understand Online Social Responsibility
7.  Explore Hobbies and Special Interests
8.  Self Development
9.  Learn to Deal with Comments
10.Develop Social Skills for Life

Just click on the picture to see it full size.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy World Book Day

Revising Poetry

Take a piece of advise from Lee Bennet Hopkins in his poem titled, Dear Poet. Take one of your drafts, Reading Workshop students, copy it twice, and write three versions.

Dear Poet,

Do you want
to write a poem?

Forget it . . .
you have
rewritten it.

Make your poem
writing a poem

rewriting it
rewriting it
rewriting it


what you
a poem




Poem from Seeing the Blue Between compiled by Paul Janeczko.

Do You Use Commas?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why We Use Punctuation

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Inspired by "You Oughta Meet Danitra Brown"

Reading Workshop students, write an inspired by poem about yourself. Please take note of the pattern of three line stanzas with the first two line rhyming.

You Oughta Meet Danitra Brown
By Nikki Grimes
From the book Meet Danitra Brown

You oughta meet Danitra Brown,
the most splendiferous girl in town.
I oughta know, 'cause she's my friend.

She's not afraid to take a dare,
if something's hard, she doesn't care.
She'll try her best, no matter what.

She doesn't mind what people say.
She always does things her own way.
Her spirit's old, my mom once said.

I only know I like her best
'cause she sticks out from all the rest.
She's only she--Danitra Brown. 

You Oughta Meet Your Teacher
Inspired by You Oughta Meet Danitra Brown
By Nikki Grimes

In sixth grade, the weirdest guy
Never see him wearing a tie
A casual Mr. McGuire

Even though he is a teacher
He acts a little like a preacher
pushing kids to do what's right

Always cracking a little joke
Finding ways in minds to soak
a little learning

Constantly yelling about hard work
No one dares act like a jerk
in his classes.

Singing out, a horrible sound
making students' brains pound
Another day in language arts

Need some rhyming help? Check out Rhymezone.

Where Do You Learn?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Will Your Verse Be?

Will your inspired by poem tell your tale?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Inspired by "Where I'm From"

In an inspired by poem, writers use the original poem as a guide. Lines, spacing, rhythm, and stanzas usually mimic the model poem.  The topic is similar but adapted to fit the writer. 

Using George Ella Lyon’s poem as a model, write your own inspired by “Where I’m From” poem. Think about sensory details of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch in your life. Picture your house and your neighborhood. Consider people that are important to you--parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and people you admire. Think about things from your life that made you like you are--activities, events, family traditions, and hobbies.

Where I’m From 
by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls  and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I’m from He restoreth my soul with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded–
leaf-fall from the family tree

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do You Know A Lot?

Reading Poetry

Poems are built on ideas, experiences or emotions in a condensed form that makes the reader search for understanding.  The reader should slow down, think about each line and the words in it, and then reread and reconsider.

However, to understand poetry the reader must not go gently, but should attack.  As we begin to spend time in Reading Workshop with poetry/word study, students must overcome their fears and dive into the language of poetry.  Whether it be as a reader, analyzing the work of others, or when revising their own work, students must go full speed ahead.  They need to take the advise given by Eve Merriam.

How to Eat a Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice
that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

What is Merriam's point?  What about the poem makes you think that?  What thoughts do you have when tearing into her poem? Or others? How does this compare to the way you revise your own poems?

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Monday, April 13, 2015

How Would You End the Book Essay

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's See, What are Good Poetry Titles?

Weird Students
Mismatched Socks
Riding Vader (My Horse)
I Ate Too Much Chocolate
Cheesy Biscuits and Garlic Breath
Hard Workers
Eli is Not So Shy Any More
Just Plain Megan
Cafeteria Noise
Why Do You Make Me Have to be Mean?
The General aka Mrs. Hardin
Frank the Tank (Kaminsky)
Frank Gets Class
Rainy School Days
Zoom aka Carter
Zoom Thinks He's a Super Hero
The Last Class Was Boring
It Was All My Fault
I was Boring
We Were Still Asleep
Last Night I Had Bad Dreams
Why Does Tacey Work So Hard?
Distracting Class
Off Topic
World Hunt
I Hate to Lose
My Truck Got Washed Today
I Want to Cry
720 Classes in a Year
My Heart's a Stereo
I Want to Be the Next American Idol
Everybody Now, Slide to the Left
Courage Enough to Write
My Diet Starts Next Monday
Grandma Has Gas
Talk Less, Write More
Afraid of Poetry
Dreams, Desire, Dedication, and Dish Washing
My Chucks Have Blue Shoestrings
Whining Instead of Working
Flo Rider (I Cry)
Music Makes Me Think
Are We Going to Sing Today and Other Questions Students Ask Every Day
Can I Go to the Bathroom?
How Many Topics Should I List?
Is This OK?
Allison Got Her Name on the Sign
Seriously, Aren't you a Little Sick of Cats Because I Am
Alexis, Allison, and Ashton
Earn a Brave Buck
A Little Less Cry and a Lot More Effort
My Sense of Humor is Underappreciated
Nose Pickers
Eddie's Hair
Take a Load Off Fannie
Morning Announcements
It's For not Fur
Red Card
You Can't Have My List
I Wonder What You Don't Know That I Don't Know
A Spot in Time and It's Not a Dalmation
Spaghetti Face
I Hate Sporks

The Author's Feelings

Have you ever thought about what the writer was feeling? In most instances, great writing is the result of situations or problems that spark strong feelings. The writer is faced with an emotional situation and uses writing as an outlet. 

Sometimes feelings of joy need to be shared. Other times relief in dealing with sadness or grief comes from sharing through writing. In this poem, Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes, he describes facing the challenges in life. 

Well, son, I'll tell you:

Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',

And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

What was he feeling as he wrote this poem? How does that relate to your feelings as a reader? Do think there is usually a connection between the author's feelings and the reader's feelings?

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Bring Some "Ing" to Your Poetry

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, scraping, flailing, editing, revising, writing . . .

Make Your Words Count 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.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Make a Poem

Take this poem and rewrite it. Make it yours. Use your imagination. Be creative. You can read other student's poems HERE.

A boy
walked down
the path

He thought
about kids
at his school

He wished
they were
a little nicer

He didn't know
how to make
it happen

He tried
smiling at them
and it worked.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tell Me About the Main Character

I Hope You're Learning Your Yours

Using language correctly tells others that you are intelligent, thoughtful, and responsible, some of the time. Then there are cases like this:

Image from @grammarly

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do You Know Your Yours?

Image from @grammarly

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Makes You Awesome?

So Reading Workshop students, what makes you awesome? What one thing sets you apart? What one trait defines you? When you think about your best quality, what comes to mind? What is the one thing that you do best? What makes you awesome?

Tell me about it.

Image from @bethhouf

Examples of Using Information From the Text

Listed below are four examples from the Reading Workshop Question of the Week Board.  Read each and then complete the form below.

Example 1

I think that every kid in the sixth grade should read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth because it has a lot of action and some comedy and romance. There are three books in this series, but there is an additional one. Out of all of them my favorite is the third one called Allegiant. I like the third one the best because it has the most action.

For example, kind of at the end of Allegiant Caleb( Tris' brother) has to go through death serum to destroy it so no one can ever use it. Well Tris is Divergent so she thinks that she should go instead because she thinks she can fight the death serum off like all the other ones but Tobias made Tris promise she wouldn't go. Then when Tris is walking Caleb to the room she has guards at the end of the hall pointing their guns. So Tris decides to go and she runs off to go to destroy the death serum.

Another pretty exciting part is when they break the faction and some people are going wild and other have no idea what to do so they go along with them. After that everyone is in the street and smashing things and yelling just doing everything you can possibly imagine. After everyone moves off the street Tris and Tobias look at what they did.

There is quite a bit of romance in this book between Tris and Tobias in this series. A lot of the book is based on there relationship. When something happens to Tris in this book Tobias comes and rushes to her side. Once Tobias meets her he sees her injured and broke. Tobias loves Tris and never want to let her go but then he had to and he was heart broken. After he saw Tris and left and went home and Tried to kill himself because he loved her so much.

I think you should read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. They are really detailed and they have a lot of action and excitement and romance it's kind of like a few books in one. When you read it you will be amazed by this new world I really liked them and I hope you do too.

Example 2
Have you ever just looked back and wondered what was a must read book that you would recommend for every sixth grader? Honestly, I have thought about it a couple times but, I always think about so many books series. The process went from Divergent, to Percy Jackson, to The Hunger Game series. Finally, I thought about how much action and detail was in each book. So that's when I narrowed it down to just that Hunger Games.

In the Hunger Games there are some unusual things that you would normally never see in other books. For example there names are a little different than other books. In other books you would always see the same names, like Jessica, James, or maybe even Emma, but in the Hunger Games the names are Katniss, Petta (the main characters), Gale, Haymitch, and even Effie. There are more names, but there's too many name.

The Hunger Games has so many twists in it. For example, you would think that the book would go one way but really it would go the complete opposite. In the book when Katniss and Peeta finally go into the arena (the arena is called The Hunger Games) to fight, you would think that since Katniss is in the same district as Peeta then they would be working together to try to win (even though there can only be one winner at the end of the game). But does Peeta really want to work together?

Another exciting reason why everyone should read the Hunger Games is because in the second book (The Catching Fire), something very surprising happens. For example, every 25 years, they have this drawing to choose who is going to be in the Hunger Games that year, but they usually have the whole district in a glass jar. Well after 25 years, something different happens where there's only a few people in the glass jar. 

There are so many reasons why every sixth grader should read the Hunger Games, but I only wrote a few. There's also a lot more examples that could go along with the book but, I don't want to give the book away. There are three books in the Hunger Games series. They are The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and last but not least there's the Mocking Jay. They are all really extraordinary books that I think every sixth grader should read.

Example 3
What books are must reads? There are a lot of books that I think 6th graders should read, but I'm only going to name a one. Some of you might have seen my blog posts. I have quite a few posts about must read books. If you think that one of the books on here is interesting, you can go to my blog, because some of the books on here I typed about on my blog.

Some books that I think are must reads are books by Wendelin Van Draanen. Her books are really good. Some books by her are Runaway, The Running Dream, and Flipped. I've read all three of those books and they were amazing. But the must read book would probably be Runaway. Runaway is perfect for a 6th grader because it has some action, survival, and just a cool story rolled up into one book.

Runaway is about a twelve year old girl named Holly. Holly doesn't get along with her foster parents, so she runs away. The action and survival starts after she runs away from her home. When Holly travels to different places, she meets really weird people. It's like seeing strangers at the side of the road: you don't know their story, you don't know their background, you just try to keep your distance. She sometimes has to run away from them or sometimes gets in fights with them. Holly is homeless, so she has to find a plan on how to survive. Survival is important because Holly needs food and shelter but she can't always trust the people around her. She digs out of garbage cans and hopes that she can find something good to eat and she lives in shelters and cardboard boxes.

Here's an example of action in the book: Holly needs another place to live. She travels all the way down the street, looking for a home. Holly finally finds a short bridge. When she goes to check it out, she realizes there are people already living under it. There's some crazy girl and then there's this guy named Martin that has tattoos and is always sticking his tongue out. Holly doesn't trust the crazy girl because she's always trying to look in Holly's stuff, but Holly especially doesn't like Martin. She thinks he looks suspicious. Holly always sees Martin lurking around the soup kitchen but tries not to be seen by him.

The next day, when Holly was walking to her home, she didn't realize that Martin was following her. When she turned around, Martin attacked. He tried to kill Holly! Martin was choking Holly! She was kicking back at him as hard as she could. Holly thought she was gonna die that day because of the way he was treating her. After many screams and cries, Holly's friend came to the rescue, picked up a spear and stabbed Martin. Martin ran away. The reason why I liked that part of the book is because I like to picture myself in that kind of situation. What if a big, grown man attacked me? How would I fight back? I would kick him. I would scream and run away.

You should really read Runaway. It has a lot of cool stuff in it.

Example 4
Today in Language Arts class, we talked about what book should every student read. My suggestion is the Hunger Game series. It's a book that has a look of action and adventure and many more awesome things. The Hunger Game series was made by Suzanne Collins, she was the writer of all three books, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mocking Jay. All three books lead up to an exciting adventure, on which you will want to hear more of.

One of the exciting parts of the Catching Fire book is when Katniss (the main character) is going through the showing of the tributes, when her dress lights up, almost as real fire, but it was actually fake so it would not hurt her. Peeta (the second main character) his clothes catch the flame too, if you don't understand why it caught flame, here's why. Katniss and Peeta are from district 12. Each district has a symbol of what they do. Katniss and Peeta wore flames because their district is coal/mining. They wore the flames to represent the burning of coal.

Another awesome part in the book The Hunger Games, is when Katniss is running in the games looking for Peeta because the speaker of the games just said pair up again with your tribute from your district. While Katniss is running she stops at a little river to search around when she hears a noise. She looks around and thinks it is another person when she realizes the noise is coming from the ground. She then sees Peeta in the ground under some rocks with a rock like paint on his face. This is a really exciting part because you don't see it coming. You don't expect him to be under some rocks while reading the book.

One more exciting part is in the Mocking Jay book. Katniss has to decide if she wants to be the mocking jay and take responsibility now living in district 13. Katniss decides to be the mocking jay, the rebel of the capital. She must now take on duties, and now, prepare for war. She must prepare because the capitol is destroying the districts, and they will be coming to district 13 before long. This is an exciting part because It's just sounds so cool to be mocking jay. There's a dress with feathers that are blue and has long wings. It also sounds like a big role to take on, and Katniss must take on that rule. The districts are turning on the capital now, and everything is being destroyed. Mocking Jay is filled with lots of adventure and lots of action.

In conclusion, I think the Hunger Games series is a must read book/series. There is three books in the Hunger Game series, and I recommend to try reading them all. These books are a must read series for sixth graders if you like survival and a little violence, and a little bit of romance. If you're looking for a good book to read in the sixth grade, I would suggest the Hunger Games series. There is action and adventure in almost every chapter.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Using Details to Support Your Position

This year we have focused on supporting your writing with details from the text. Recently on the Question of the Week Board, students wrote about a Must Read Book for All Sixth Graders. If you were the teacher, which post would you use as an example? Which post does the best job using information/details from the book to back up their claim as the must read book? 

Keep in mind the writer must have a reason of what makes the book great and the details should support that specific reason. This is not about which book you like best. This is not about which post you like best. This is a selection of one writer/post that best uses details from the book to support their point.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time to Read

Why are you smiling? Oh, because I said, get out your book. It's time for SSR.

Today in class when this happened, I smiled too. As a language arts teacher, nothing beats having students that enjoy reading. The sixth grade class this year has many readers. We are lucky too , because the library has about 10,000 books and all of them are geared towards adolescent readers. With such a great selection every student can find something interesting and exciting.

So thanks, Travis. You made me smile too. I am glad you enjoy reading!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Last 20 Pages

Please complete the form below.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Do You Value Punctuation?

Yes, punctuation does matter.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do You Want to Test Your Grammar?

Grammarly Grammar Nerd Quiz Feature Image

Thanks to for this quiz.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Year-round School Essay

Don't let this be you!

Image from

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are You a Good Writer?

The Grammarly Blog has an article that might help answer that question.  It starts:

Have you ever wondered if your writing is any good? It’s a common question most writers have, especially early in their careers. It’s natural to have moments of doubt; you wouldn’t be human otherwise! Here are six signs your writing is on the right track.

You can read the article HERE.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Test for Students

Today I am a student. I am attending the Ohio Educational Technology Conference. This is a chance for me to learn new and sometimes innovative ways to use technology in our language arts class. I will be attending many classes all focusing on different ways that teachers are using technology to help students better learn.

This is a test for Reading Workshop students. They are working on an Argumentative Essays about year-round schools. When I come back on Friday, I will see what they have accomplished while I was gone. This is always interesting to me because it shows who is motivated to be successful.

So what about it Reading Workshop students? How hard are you working? Are you driving for success? I am anxious to see how you do on your essays. Put in a great effort and make us both proud!

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Good Argument

Students recently completed an Argumentative Essay Project. The following essay was written by Emma A. She did an excellent job of organization and supporting her opinion.

I think parents should limit social media use. I think they should because too much time on social media can put teen’s mental health in jeopardy. Social media can be addictive. Studies show that 63% of people log on to Facebook daily, and about 40% log on multiple times a day.

Social media also leads to a higher risk for cyberbullying. Sixty-seven percent of cyberbullying comes from instant messaging. Peer pressure is another thing that cyberbullying leads to. That affects our mental health because too much pressure can cause teens and people of any age to make bad decisions such as smoking, doing drugs, and drinking alcohol.

Using social media can also lead to low self-esteem. This can cause depression and anxiety.  The University of Michigan collected data about Facebook users and how it changed their moods. It showed that people who use Facebook daily have shown lower satisfaction for their life and Facebook as they use it more and more. It can also lead to fear of missing out, or FOMO. It is a form of social anxiety.

Social media is sometimes a good idea, but it can be very bad in some ways. The good things about using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and many more improves your heart rate because it relaxes you,  and increases productivity. Just a 10 minute break can make employees happier and they will get more work done. They are many more ways that social media can be good, but not bad.

In conclusion, I think that social media use should be limited not only for teens, but for everyone. Too much time on social media can cause mental disorders, social anxiety, and peer pressure, and many more. Social media can be good as well, but for the most part it is bad for teens, especially. So I think social media use should be limited not only for teens but for everyone.

Year-round Schools Argumentative Essay Organization

Reading Workshop students, your task is to write an editorial stating your position on year-round schooling.

Be sure to include:
• An engaging opening that states your opinion
• At least two separate supporting arguments/reasons, with supporting details from at least two sources
• An explanation of the other side and your reasoning against it
• A conclusion restating your opinion and a call to action (what you want people to do)
• Citation of your sources at the end of your essay

Listed below is an organizational/format aid.

1. Statement of opinion--Students would/would not benefit from year-round schools.
2. Two or three sentences that provide background information to the reader (you may want to do this after you write paragraphs two and three).

Body First Paragraph
1. Topic sentence that tells the topic of supporting evidence you will use in this paragraph. It might sound something like, Students that attend school year-round . . .
2. Supporting sentences with facts and/or information from sources.

Body Second Paragraph
1. Topic sentence that tells the topic of supporting evidence you will use in this paragraph. It might sound something like, Another benefit/detriment of year-round school . . .
2. Supporting sentences with facts and/or information from sources.

Body Third Paragraph
1. Topic sentence that tells the opposing viewpoint. It might sound something like, Some people might say . . .
2. Supporting information of the opposing viewpoint
3. Your rebuttal--reasons that this viewpoint is wrong

1. Restate the statement of opinion from the introduction
2. Wrap up your essay with final points that sum up your argument. 

Year-round Schools or Not?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Check Your Writing

Want to check your writing? Try the Hemingway App. All you have to do is copy your writing and paste it in place of the text you see in the image below and it will help with all of the things listed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Argumentative Essay

Friday, December 12, 2014

Teamwork Informational Report

Steps for writing an informational report

1. Make a plan for the process. Think about the topic and what main points will be stressed.
2. Conduct research and take notes. Use a range of resources — from essays, articles, videos, and the Internet to do this. Take notes without copying word-for-word to reduce the risk of plagiarism. Be sure to copy websites and titles of articles so you can cite your sources.
3. Organize your paper using an outline. Decide which research and information fits best and where it should go in the essay.
4. Write the first draft of the report. Use the outline as a road map.
5. Edit and reread the report. Checking and correcting mistakes are the hallmarks of a good student.

Possible topics might be:

Teams are Built Through Cooperation
Put Your Problems Aside and Put the Team First
Drama Kills Teams
All Teammates Must Contribute
Everyone Must Give 110%
It's About the Team and not the Individual
No I in Team
Teams Work Together to Make Everyone Succeed
Team First
Helping Others Makes the Team Strong
Working Together is More Fun
Together Everyone Achieves More
Helping Makes Better Teammates
Working Together Is Easier
Working Together Helps Everyone Succeed
Team Focus is Important To Go Far
We Not Me
None of Us is Smarter Than All of Us
Teamwork Makes Dreams Work
Selfish Doesn't Work in Teams
Cooperation Counts in Teams
Teamwork is Not Something You Have, It's Something You Have to Achieve
The Whole is Greater Than the Parts
Everyone Included
A Successful Team Beats with One Heart
If No One Works on a Team, Then the Team Doesn't Work

Spurs Teamwork Drives Success

An article in The Daily Texan talks about teamwork at the highest level with NBA champions, San Antonio Spurs. 

The article begins:
This summer the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth NBA championship, crushing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals four games to one. The 2013-2014 San Antonio Spurs are one of the great championship teams in NBA history, and their recent victory further solidified the Spurs as perhaps the best franchise in professional sports. This year’s team also personified the sacrifice of individual acclaim for a greater goal, a characteristic increasingly rare in athletics, which, even on the collegiate level, focus on profit today.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


An article, Benefits of Teamwork in Sports says:
No sports team is successful without working together to reach a common goal. Teamwork is essential to a good performance from any sports team, professional or not, and is a great way to teach children certain life lessons, such as cooperating well with others and taking responsibility for actions. Such lessons are applicable to life outside of sports and can be applied to work or school, such as focusing without interruption on the school paper that needs to be written or working with a less-than-pleasant colleague on a project.
You can read he rest of the article HERE.

An article from Time Management Guide says:

A team building success is when your team can accomplish something much bigger and work more effectively than a group of the same individuals working on their own. You have a strong synergy of individual contributions. But there are two critical factors in building a high performance team.
You can read the rest of the article HERE.

Sled Dog Teamwork is discussed at the Wilderness Classroom:
Every sled dog has a different personality. They are kind of like people. Some of the dogs are outgoing. Some dogs are shy. Some of the dogs are hard workers and some are lazy. The musher of a dog team needs to find the best position for every dog on their team. When the dogs are all working together as a team, they can travel far and pull a lot of weight. Teamwork is a very important part of dog sledding. Do you use teamwork at school? I bet you do!
You can read the rest of the article HERE.

Another resource with several articles can be found at The Happy Manager.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pond Informational Report

You can see all the Informational Reports HERE.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Informational Report--Science and L.A. Project

Reading Workshop students are working on an interdisciplinary unit in science and language arts. They are finding the volume of the classroom pond in the science class determining how many liters of water will be needed for this new and improved home for the class turtles.

In language arts, students will be writing an informational report detailing the process, and what they discovered. Essays will be scored based on the PARCC rubric below.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Kind of Teammate Are You?

Take a look at this video. There are different types of teammate. Can you recognize yourself? Others?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Are You a Team Player?

Your class is your team. Every day you could be a part of something meaningful. You could be a part of something special. You could better the lives of those around you. You could be a leader. You could show kindness to someone in need. You could bring your class together to make it strong.

For this to happen though takes a team first attitude. It means putting others' needs in front of your own. Most of all though, it means evaluating yourself as a teammate. Then you must be motivated to use your strengths to the best of your ability to make your class the best it can be.

Your first task, Reading Workshop students is to describe yourself as a teammate. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How do your classmates view you as part of the team? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Writing a Response Using Details from the Text for Support

Today we are going to take the event from yesterday and use it for support on a writing prompt. This is working backwards from normal, but the process and use of an event for supporting details is the same. This event can be used for a number of topics like setting, character, problem, plot, conflict, comparison to self, comparison to another character, comparison to another setting, mystery, etc. For this example I am going to write about setting.

I just finished reading Compound by S.A. Bodeen. The setting plays a major role in this book. The story takes place in an underground compound/bunker. For almost the entire book, the main character, Eli and his family live in the "Compound."

The books opens with this scene:

My world ended with a bang the minute we entered the compound and that silver door closed behind us. The sound was brutal. Final.   .   .   .   My fists beat on the door. I bawled. The screaming left me hoarse.

Right from the start as a reader I had to stop and try to imagine myself in this place. I couldn't imagine being forced to survive trapped underground with no hope of escape. Also, when Eli finds out his twin brother and grandmother don't make it to the shelter and die, the setting causes even more thought. Eli's father, mother, and sisters Lexie and Terese managed to get safely inside within the forty minutes needed to survive, but his twin brother Eddie and his grandmother didn't make it..

In a way, the setting is the whole world because the world just ended with a nuclear explosion. However, Eli's family was safe only because of the compound. Eli's father (a billionaire) had prepared them for this day and made provisions to help them survive underground for the next 15 years. This tells me right from the start of the book that the entire story takes place underground in this compound prison.

Being trapped here causes major problems emotionally for Eli. He was forced to live with the fact that he caused Eddie's death. Eli had talked him into sneaking into their grandmother's car. She didn't make it back to the compound in time to get to safety in the shelter. Now Eli had to spend each day knowing his brother, his twin died because of him. There is no escaping this fact and being stuck in this setting reminds Eli of this every minute of every day.

Compound is a great book with a lot of events that bring you into the book and make you wonder what you would do in this situation. The setting controls the lives of the characters and the entire story.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Start with an Event

I just finished reading Compound by S.A. Bodeen. This is the opening scene:

My world ended with a bang the minute we entered the compound and that silver door closed behind us. The sound was brutal. Final.   .   .   .   My fists beat on the door. I bawled. The screaming left me hoarse.

In the next few pages the book explains that Eli's family is in an underground shelter but his twin brother Eddie and his grandmother didn't make it. Eli's father, mother, and sisters Lexie and Terese managed to get safely inside within the forty minutes needed to survive.

The world just ended with a nuclear explosion. Eli's family was safe only because of the compound. Eli's father (a billionaire) had prepared them for this day and made provisions to help them survive underground for the next 15 years.      

Eli was forced to live with the fact that he caused Eddie's death. Eli had talked him into sneaking into their grandmother's car. She didn't make it back to the compound in time to get to safety in the shelter. Now Eli had to spend each day knowing his brother, his twin died because of him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Support Your Writing with Details!

Reading Workshop students, please copy and paste the latest writing topic about the book you are reading, "Could You be the Main Character?" To see more about this project you can see all responses to this topic on the Question Board.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why We Sing in Language Arts Class

Each day in Reading Workshop for about 7 minutes (usually two songs), students sing. Lyrics are shown on the white board using the LCD projector. Music is played and students sing along, reading the lyrics as they sing. Every week, we sing at least one new song. As students get familiar with a song, they know all of the words, so they don't need to read. Changing songs is important to keep students reading. It also helps with vocabulary instruction. With each new song, there are new words to learn and discuss.

The best part of singing in reading class though, is how it helps academic achievement. When students read fluently, the ability to comprehend increases dramatically. Conversely, when students fight to read each word, starting and stopping, and starting again, comprehension decreases dramatically. We have all listened to a student read, struggling with each word, never reading a sentence through, and wished we had a magic bullet. We know if we could just get him to read fluently, he would have a better chance of understanding what he reads.

As we know, there is no magic pill, to cure all ailments. However, with modeling, and repeated readings, students can significantly increase fluency. In fact, primary teachers use this daily. Adolescent learners will quickly turn us off though, if we try to read as a class every day. This just wouldn’t be “cool.” This is where singing plays an important role in the language arts classroom. Singing their favorite new hit is most definitely “cool.”
The available evidence provides reliable, scientific evidence of the positive impact of repeated readings on a variety of reading tasks and outcome measures. These studies also indicate that engaging children in repeated readings of a text is particularly effective in fostering more fluent reading in children who are struggling to develop proficient reading strategies.

What better way for repeated reading than through singing?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Happened in the Book Last Night?

Here is an example written by Trinity T. in about 15 minutes.

Gecko had stolen a car from a lady. He was trying to find his brother Reuben but couldn't find him on foot. He was under age to be driving. He was only 13! The lady called the cops and he had cops after him in a few moments of driving. He was going about 80 mph down the highway trying to find his brother. He finally found his brother running out of the door at a game store with a bunch of games. Gecko figured his brother was stealing the games. Reuben spotted Gecko and ran to the back door. He hopped in with all of the games in his hands.

The cops started to catch up with him and soon were on their tail. Up ahead was an old lady pushing a stroller with a baby in it. Gecko swerved the car and the car started to spin. Gecko slammed on the brakes and the car stopped. Gecko noticed that he had missed the old lady. He sighed in relief. The cops were long gone. No where to be seen. So he headed back to the house. Gecko started to think that his life needs to change.

This is from the Gordon Korman book, The Juvie Three.

Is Study Island Making You Crazy?

Jacob came to school this morning and he was really upset. He did his best on Study Island trying question after question after question and his score was still really low. He spent a lot of his evening last night trying to improve his grade. I appreciate his effort very much, but there are a couple of things he needs to know.

1.  Doing extra work always pays off. Even if it doesn't help his grade it will make him smarter and make success more likely down the road.

2.  Students are only required to do 20 questions. They can do more to improve their grade, but they should never do more than 40 - 50 questions.

3.  Study Island is a challenging program and I don't expect students to get A's all the time. All I ask is their best effort. 

4.  The grading scale is curved for a reason. Getting high grades every time is extremely difficult.

5.  There are a lot of grades in language arts each grading period. One or two low scores will not ruin a grade. Just keep working hard and your grade will show it.

6.  I appreciate the hard work Jacob put forth last night. Even if his grade doesn't improve, he earned my respect for his positive attitude and that is worth a lot more than any 10 point assignment.

Image from