YES. We have finally taken the plunge! I set up a kidblog.org account this past Friday for my 6th graders to blog about the books they are reading and have read. IT HAS BEEN AWESOME! I really think that even a few of my RELUCTANT readers might get re-energized about reading!
Here is our book blog-check it out when you have time! I Just looked at our stats earlier and we have 95 posts and 275 comments SINCE FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe this is what we have need this whole year!
Feel free to leave one of them a comment-they would be out of this world super duper excited if you did!
I am finally maybe an eighth of the way to figuring out small group instruction in reading for my 6th graders. First of all, let me give you a brief scenario of why it is SO hard to fit this into our day:
1. State mandated curriculum takes A LOT of time to cover
2. Some students work at a slower pace than others, so things in class take time to complete
3. Since we are required to “give” at least 10 grades per subject per 6 weeks, it seems that 1 day each week is essentially devoted to testing
4. Because of the complexity of the 6th grade curriculum, there is a need to add lots of repetition into our schedule to hopefully ensure that ALL students eventually master each thing
5. Our beloved (insert sarcasm here) required reading program is-TIME CONSUMING, DIFFICULT, OFTEN BORING, AND NEVER ENDING which means that A LOT of our time needs to be devoted to covering it. I will leave it at that!
6. We can’t forget about our many daily interruptions-intercom announcements, student check-outs/check-ins, behavior problems, etc. One day my students and I tallied our interruptions and by the end of the day we had 18 total!!
I’m probably not even listing all the reasons why it’s hard to fit in small group instruction, but you see where I’m coming from with the 6 I listed above.
Oh, yeah-I have approximately 2 hours 15 minutes (?) with each of my 2 classes.
Obviously, I can’t implement small group instruction like the earlier grades are able to. So here’s my plan (and I have actually followed it for 3 days this week!).
I will allow a 20-30 minute time slot in our day (each class) for small group help Monday-Thursday. Each day a different area will be covered. Phonics/Vocabulary/Fluency/Comprehension. Of course, the 1st three are the building blocks to comprehension anyway! The students themselves will decide if they want help. If they do, they will sign their name on a clipboard and meet me at the table.
The other students will Read to Self. I’ll report back to you soon and give you the some statistics like number of students requesting help, etc. Today I had 7 in each class that came for help. I really thought I would have had more, but we’ll see how it goes!
In my ideal classroom world, my instruction would probably look something like this:
20%-Whole Class Instruction
20%-Small Group Instruction
In reality, it has been looking like this:
90%-Whole Class Instruction
10%-Small Group Instruction (Hit and Miss)
I at least hope to reach this:
70%-Whole Class Instruction
30%-Small Group Instruction
Now that I have rambled enough about all of this, I will let your brain rest. Will post more later!
And for you teachers out there that have messaged me about some reading resources I am working on them as quickly as I can!!! Sorry I’ve been so busy!
Friday, December 9th, 2011
Friday was our test day. I used to give our english test on Thursdays, as well as a reading test, but now I have moved ALL TESTS to Fridays. Let me explain.
First of all, we need 4 FULL days of instruction and reading and discussing and analyzing with our weekly story that we read because this reading test is H.A.R.D. Are you following me? It is HARD! It is a test that requires high level thinking, critical thinking, and the ability to choose the best answer out of 4 choices, and let me tell you that usually there are 2 choices for each question that really seem like they could both be the answer. This is the test where there are usually about 21 or so D/F grades out of 49 students. So we are taking Thursdays to partner read the story with a reading guide to help us in our partner discussions. (Thanks, Becky, for this WONDERFUL partner read sheet!). You should have seen how engaged they were during this time on Thursday. I took pictures and posted about it HERE .
Another reason that I moved all tests to Friday is that I just want all of our tests on 1 day. It interrupts the flow of our classroom and day so it might as well be just 1 day. In our district we have to have 10 grades per subject per 6 weeks. Whew! That’s a lot of grades! I know one of our teachers said she sent home 25 graded papers with each student for a time period of 1 1/2 weeks. (She has a self-contained classroom) It makes you wonder when we teach?????? So for times’ sake, the kids’ sake, and MY sake, all of our tests/grading things will be on Fridays!
Now let me tell you about our Friday. Oh, yeah, we tested! That’s about it. We took our english test, our weekly story reading test, a fresh read test(that is a true test of their ability to read and comprehend), an AR test on our weekly story(that will hopefully help their reading grades some), and they wrote a paragraph that I will grade. Remember that a couple of weeks ago I had said that I was DROPPING spelling and the english workbook pages because in my opinion it was not helping them and has never really helped them.
So, Friday was our test day. We did review english before we took that test, and they had PLENTY of opportunity to reread/study for their reading test which most of them do NOT do.
But that HARD reading test? We only had 11 D/F grades this time. Maybe I’m on to something with this partner reading!
I loved what we did with writing today. Maybe it wasn’t a lot of writing but I loved it anyway! If you have been following me lately, you know that I have d.r.o.p.p.e.d. spelling from my instruction and also taken away the english workbook page that wasn’t getting us anywhere, and I have replaced those with writing. Writing has always been put on the back burner so I’m bringing it to the front! Yesterday we finished up our persuasive writing with the reindeer job applications ( will post pictures tomorrow hopefully), and we began a little unit on informative writing today. We are going to write informational reports on reindeer-real reindeer! So today I showed them a video clip about reindeer (caribou), and we read some slides full of information. Let me back up. Before we did all that, we decided “what’ we would want to research and write about in our reindeer reports. Here’s what we came up with in both classes-THEY came up with this.
1. Eating habits
2. Where they live
3. Physical characteristics
So, back to the information slides. We read it and took notes. I REALLY stressed what plagiarism is and how NOT to do it! I told them how to jot down notes from the information they are reading. The notes will be what we write our reports from-NOT the articles. We talked about having at least 3 sources, especially when gathering information from the internet. I’m excited about doing this report writing with them. Here’s the link to the information/video clip we used today.
I am proud to say that on our english tests last week the majority of the grades were A’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We finished reading our story today-Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn’t Tell a Lie. Tomorrow we will partner read it and discuss.
Only 9 days left until Christmas vacation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
How can this be? I graded the english tests from my morning class and it’s like a lot of them forgot what adjectives are. and prepositions. and everything else! How could the grades be soooo good last week and not that good this week? How can somebody label each word in a sentence and not label ANY of the words as a verb? In the 6th grade? Breathe in. Breathe out. Chill. I am not going to get upset.
On to word study. 4 of our words this week will help us with phonics patterns and 8 of them are vocabulary. They worked in groups to come up with more words that fit the patterns for this week. This has actually been a little bit of a challenge for them. Well, not a challenge, but they kept coming up with words that had the spelling pattern but not the sound pattern. Maybe that is why some of their spelling could be improved. Here is what it looked like after they shared the words they came up with.
I read aloud a couple of more spooky stories today. I think I’ve decided to begin The Watsons Go To Birmingham next week.
We had a scavenger hunt today with our story “Old Yeller”. It was just something I thought of last night trying to figure out how we could review for our test, be actively involved with the review, locate “proof” in the text, and just have fun. It was so simple, and yet I think they LOVED it. Here’s what I did. I looked at the test questions to see what I could have them “hunt” for. So I would say something like this- “Find the place in the text where the author let us know what Travis and Little Arliss had in common”. They had to find that part of the story. When they found it they had to stand up. I tried to let the majority of the students find it before I called on someone. When I called on someone they had to read that part of the text and try to explain it. They did such a GREAT job! DEFINITELY going to do this more often. Now let’s pray that it will help them on the text tomorrow! We’re going to try and take it in the computer lab.
We gave a party for our 6th graders from last year because they scored so well on the ARMT last spring. We had a hotdog party for them-boy do 6th graders change A LOT when they get into 7th grade!!!!!!!! That’s all I’m gonna say!!!
After school today I went straight home and cooked ham, mashed potatoes, peas, and rolls. Then Taylor and I took it to my brother-in-law who lives about an hour from us. He has pancreatic cancer and is living with his son and wife. This week we are all trying to help out with supper each night because Tammy(David’s son’s wife) has been staying with her mom in the hospital this week. We had a great time spending time with them this evening. Hope to do it again real soon!
Tomorrow is FRIDAY………………………………………… Wearing pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pep rally. Test Day. Means less thinking time for the teacher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!