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.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need to Rhyme

Rhymezone

So what do you do when you need to rhyme?  How about going to Rhymezone?  When you are writing a poem and you need a word bank to help you, Rhymezone is a great resource.  All you do is type in the word and it gives you a bunch of choices.  Don't forget though, a poem still has to make sense and be meaningful.

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. 

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.