Friday, October 18, 2013

Reader's Notebooks

Now that we are really into the swing of things over here, we have gotten well into our Interactive Student Notebooks for Reading.  At the beginning of the school year, I purchased these 2 amazing products from Teachers Pay Teachers (where else?!):  the Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks pack & the Interactive Reading Informational Text Notebooks pack.  I cannot say enough about these awesome packs. They have made notebooking SO much easier!  Not to mention, my students LOVE these.  And to be honest, I was a little skeptical at first...not of the product, but of my students' interest and involvement with them.  But my class has surprised me and they really do love using their notebooks.  It's been a bit of an interesting transition using scissors, glue, colored pencils, and markers with them, but they are doing a great job!

We are currently reading Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and the notebooks have been the perfect partner for our learning.  My students have been doing a great job keeping up with their notes and their own learning, and are starting to make those connections throughout their school day.  Check out some of their work!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to School Pics

Our first day of school was weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to posting some cute pics of my kids from the first day.  I attempted a PhotoBooth session where they could choose some props to enhance their pictures.  I went to various discount shops & thrift stores to pick up some silly items that 6th graders might find appealing:  sunglasses, Hawaiian leis, straw hats, dark-rimmed glasses, ties & scarves, and even a giant picture frame they could use to "frame" themselves.  Here are some of my favorites:

Monday, August 26, 2013


This year, my schedule is very similar to last year.  Once again, I have 2 sections of 6th grade to teach, & I'm teaching Reading, Writing, Spelling, & Social Studies.  This is what my day looks like:
8:00-8:30              time in my room before kids arrive
8:30-8:50              homeroom
8:50-9:30              planning period
9:30-11:00            ELA with 1st class
11:00-11:45          Social Studies with 1st class
11:45-12:00          locker break & switch classes
12:00-12:30          ELA with 2nd class
12:30-12:45          recess duty :-(
12:45-1:15            my lunch
1:15-2:15              ELA with 2nd class
2:15-3:00              Social Studies with 2nd class
3:00-3:15              locker break
3:20                      dismissal

Before you even ask, YES, I am ready to eat my own arm by the time my lunch rolls around.  Last year, we had the first lunch, so I felt like I barely finished my breakfast by the time we headed to lunch at 11:00.  Now I need breakfast & a snack before I get to go to lunch...I guess you can't win!  Also, I essentially eat alone, which stinks.  There are a few people finishing up when I get down there, but for the most part, I'm alone.
So, that's my day.  Very exciting stuff!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hello?'s been a while.  I've been less than successful in my attempts to keep up with this blog.  Life just got in the way.  The school year ended, & I never even looked at this blog.  Yikes.  But!  It's a new [school] year, & I'm determined to get better at this.

Full disclosure:  I may have said this last year at this time, too.

The  new school year has started, & after 3 days, I'm exhausted!  Imagine that.  It is 90+ degrees in my classroom, so the kids & I are definitely spent by the end of the day.  We've spent the first days of this year getting to know one another & familiarizing ourselves with 6th grade policies, procedures, & general *life*.  This year I have 2 sections of 6th grade to teach, so I'll spend the morning teaching Reading, Writing, Spelling, & Social Studies.  Then we'll switch around lunch time, & I'll do it all over again with the other class.

Things are going to be a bit different this year with the hybrid new & old standards (Common Core, anyone?!), so I suspect there'll be an interesting learning curve for all of us throughout the year.  My Social Studies standards have changed considerably, too, so it's an understatement to say that I'm mildly overwhelmed.  I'm hoping to explore some new resources & adapt my way of teaching so my students are really ready to change their way thinking!  Sounds easy, right?

One really fun thing that I'm excited about for this school year?  My son (3.5 years old) will be attending the Montessori preschool in my building, so he'll be with me every morning.  I can't wait to look out my classroom window to see him playing with his classmates on the playground!

Friday, April 19, 2013


     State testing starts next week.  (I can only assume a rant & rave post about that will follow soon after).  In the meantime, here's a review game that I played with my students to help them with figurative language!
     The game is called Trashketball, and the Powerpoint & instructions can be found here.  To be honest, it's a review game that could be easily adapted to any standard or skill your kids are working on, but it was a perfect culmination to our frenzied figurative language unit.
     I gave each group of 4-6 students a marker and 10 sheets of paper.  While viewing Powerpoint slides, the students work in groups to answer questions about the type(s) of figurative language displayed.  They have about a minute to come up with the correct answer, then we go over it.  Any group with the correct answer gets to save their answer sheet.  Wrong answers go straight to the recycling bin (I'm nothing if not eco-friendly).  After all 10 questions have been answered, the teams get their correct answer sheets back.  Some groups had all 10, others had as few as 6 or 7.  Then they get a chance to shoot their correct answers into the recycling bin (see?  eco-friendly!).  We drew lines with tape on the floor too represent a 1-point line, a 2-point line, and a 3-point line.
     At first, the kids thought the lines were too close and it would be super easy.  They were totally wrong.  We had several shots bank off the whiteboard behind the "basket", and quite a few also bounce right off my (ceiling-mounted) projector.
     The team with the most points at the end won the game-and they couldn't stop talking about how much fun they'd had.  Apparently, I should try this strategy more often.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Genre Hangman

We're finishing up a quick review on genre in our class, and this is a fun site for the kids to practice what they've learned!

Play Genre Hangman

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Text Features

During our Egypt unit, we spend the majority of our time on non-fiction Egyptian selections.  There are a huge number of books out there that grab kids'attention and really get them interested in the Egyptian culture.    I have about 75 of those books, and the kids love sorting through them and comparing what they've read.  This post is NOT about one of those texts :)

This post is focusing on one of those other kinds of texts-the kind that kids don't really love to read, but unfortunately does a great job of breaking down the information they need about a particular topic.  During today's class, we spent our time working in pairs with a general "Ancient Egypt" article.  The article itself was about 6 pages long, but it was interspersed with loads of pictures, graphics, sidebars, charts, and captions.  There were also several thought-provoking questions that required activating their schema, making connections to those other texts, and using the information in the article itself.

While working, to make it a little more tactile, I handed out highlighters and mini Post-It notes to each student.  They were allowed to use the highlighters to highlight important information, and use one Post-It per page to record one text feature they found.  While I use Post-Its almost daily in my room, I almost never use highlighters.  For one, they aren't allowed to use them on the state test, so I like them to be familiar with simply underlining.  But also, I find that they blatant overuse of highlighting text to be so frustrating!  They get so into using colors that they often end up highlighting the entire text...which is worse than highlighting nothing!  But, I think that every once in a while it's good, because it gets them out of a rut and lets them have a little fun, especially while reading something that can get a little monotonous.

Our text features anchor chart

My own version of a Post-It note (what else can I use my yellow dry-erase markers for?!)

What lessons do you create for your class to make things a little more engaging?