Monthly Archives: August 2011

Read and Write 180-Day 14

I really want to write this post, but Law and Order-SVU is on!!! I’m a little distracted. 🙂

I checked our homework that they did for the first time last night-45 out of 47 kids did it! WOW! Some of them shared what they wrote-VERY GOOD! All they need to work on is to “describe” their visualizations a little more. I told them to describe what they are visualizing so that someone else can picture it in their mind, too. Their homework was to complete a comprehension strategy box on their thinking sheet. I was really proud of what they wrote (the ones who shared)-I’ll let different students share tomorrow. Also, I have to give credit for this thinking sheet idea to this fabulous resource:

 Their reading box sheets are far more elaborate than the one that I made-my kids are not used to this type of thinking, reflecting, and writing yet so I want to start small. PLUS-I don’t want them to spend MORE time completing the boxes than READING! 🙂 But this book is an excellent teacher resource book!

We went over our first 3 words for the week-evaluate, formulate, and analyze.

We reviewed articles and adjectives in English. Articles are sooooo easy-they are ALWAYS: a, an, the. They never change! We added the definitions for articles and adjectives to our graphic organizer and then watched the schooltube grammar rock video on adjectives. One of my boys said, “You know, I can’t help it-these songs just stick in my head.” LOL! Here is the link to the video on adjectives:

Then we labeled more words in our sentence-the interjections and prepositions from yesterday.

We read our passage-“Leaving Her Mark”. We did cloze reading which is where I read aloud and then stop and let them fill in a word every now and then-supposed to keep them following along and engaged in what we are reading. Then I showed them (again) how to answer an open ended question. This is our question that we are practicing with:

How did Molly leave her mark? I’m trying to explain to them how to answer questions like this with our RAPS method:

R-restate question     A-answer question(all parts)     P-prove your answer using evidence from text      S-sum it all up (conclusion)

This method will help them with our reading tests AND the spring state ARMT test. I think it will also help them answer ANY test questions-not just open ended. If they get comfortable with looking back in the text to find evidence to support their answers, they will also be able to easily do this with any kinds of questions-multiple choice, fill in blank, etc.

We did the restating part today and 1 answer with proof. I can’t remember exactly how I showed them on the board(they were copying while I was showing them), but this is sort of what we did today.

QUESTION-How did Molly leave her mark?

ANSWER (so far-will finish tomorrow)-There are two ways that Molly left her mark. One way is when she left a smile in the dirt when she walked. In the passage, the author stated that the doctors put a smile symbol on the bottom of her horseshoe so when she walked she left a smile mark on the ground.

We will finish tomorrow by also writing: Another way that Molly left her mark was by making the kids smile at the hospital. In the 5th paragraph of the passage the author said that the children were amazed that a horse could have a prosthetic leg. Molly gave them hope for themselves. These are the two ways that Molly left her mark.

I really want them to be able to back up everything they answer AND just everything they think. So, when we are discussing things and they give an answer or thought or opinion I also want to know why. They need to know “why” they think something!

They got to listen to another chapter of our read aloud-boy do they love for me to read to them. AND we get some GREAT thinking out of this time! 🙂 We continued to talk about predictions, and we also talked about making connections. They had to “try” to make a connection to a part of the chapter. There are 3 different kinds of connections they can make:

1. Text to self-this is the easiest kind for them to make-they connect something they read back to themselves-maybe something that has happened to them

2. Text to world-they connect something they read to something that is going on in the world

3. Text to text-they connect something they read to something else they have read

We also talked a little more about schema-their background knowledge about a topic. We all have new schema about prosthetics-we now know that a horse can have a prosthetic leg. So we have added to our schema. I told them that when we have a lot of schema about a topic and then read about it, it is easier for us to comprehend! Little schema about something makes it harder for us to comprehend what we read.

I also explained to them (again) that reading is thinking. They have GOT to think as they read for it to be “real reading”. Here is the poster that I made to give them a visual.

 READING IS THINKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my overall goal for them this year-think while they read!!! Active reading!

Some people think that when kids answer questions at the end of what they have read that this is teaching reading comprehension. NO-it’s not-that is only “assessing” comprehension! 🙂


Read and Write 180-Day 13

Happy Monday! And happy that it’s over! 🙂 I sort of lost my temper had a discussion with my homeroom class. I had a visitor that came to the classroom to get some books, and (GASP) my kids forgot the procedure on how to continue to work quietly until said visitor leaves! I think they remember now. 🙂 Then “somebody” broke one of my camping chairs-only have 1 left-stapler got broken last week. So I sort of lost it talked to them about taking responsibility for things and following procedures. I also was not too pleased with the grades on their 1st word study test(vocabulary). Anyhoo-better day tomorrow hopefully. Really, the day was fine except for that little tidbit! Still love my 6th graders!

They wrote their words for the week and definitions today. Last week I had them write the words, then I called out the definitions and they wrote them as I called them out. I’m going to just have them write the definitions on Mondays from now on (definitions, are on their study guides). Then we will work with the words on Tues-Thurs and test on Fridays. Since the grades were not too great last week, I’m trying to think of something else we can do with the words each week to help them “own” them. Maybe some kind of role-play? Maybe the words last week were just hard for them-I guess I’ll find out this Friday. Still, there were only 10 and they had a word bank at the bottom of the test. We’ll see.

We reviewed interjections and prepositions in English. I REALLY think they get interjections-especially since I YELLED out an interjection while we were discussing them!!!!! LOL! You should have heard all of the gasping!! I have read somewhere that when emotions are tied to learning, then the learning has a better chance of being retained. Well, the emotion was fear surprise! 🙂 We watched the school house rock video (too funny) and listed interjections in our binder. Examples are: YEA! Ouch! Wow! You get the picture. Now, prepositions are going to be harder for them, but we will focus on prepositions later this year so not to worry. We will also learn the fun preposition song when we focus on them. Prepositions are words that show the relationship between nouns or pronouns and other words in the sentence. Examples-in the rain, through the door, over the hill-the preposition is the 1st word in the phrase.

Here are the links for the 2 videos:

I showed them how to complete their “comprehension thinking sheet” on the book they are reading. This is now their homework each night:

1. Read for at least 15 minutes

2. Complete 1 box on their comprehension thinking sheet

That’s all! Here is the comp. thinking sheet.

Comprehension Thinking Sheet word

By the end of the week they will have written about: 2 reading strategies they used while reading their book, their thoughts and reflections on their book, and some type of literary element/device they came across in their book.

I showed them how to write about visualizing today-so that is what they will do for homework tonight. This is what I wrote in front of them on the ELMO today:

In my opinion, being able to visualize what is happening when you are reading is one of the MOST IMPORTANT reading strategies that you can use. It helps you do two things: Understand what you are reading and get into the book. I have always been a good visualizer when I read and hope to help my 6th graders that have a hard time with it really understand how to make it happen. It’s just pictures/movie in your mind. It will make you feel like you are in the story/text!

Tomorrow we will learn how to write about another reading strategy-making connections. Making connections helps the reader relate things either back to their life, something they have read, or something in the world.

This comprehension thinking sheet will REALLY HELP them when they write their response letter to me about their book.

Our reading passage that I chose this week is “Leaving Her Mark”-an article about a horse named Molly that lost a leg, but was determined to live an recover. We talked about “schema” which is our own background knowledge or prior knowledge that we have about a topic. Everyone had different schema depending on their life experiences, what they have read, seen, talked about, been exposed to. My 1st class did not get the entire lesson (will get it Tuesday), but in my 2nd class I had them think about what schema they already have about horses. Then I put their schema on the board. I explained to them that their schema changes ALL the time because they learn new things-sometimes they even correct their incorrect schema when they have wrong information in their brain! 🙂

Here’s a picture of our “schema” on horses:

I had them go through the passage and highlight any unknown words (only 4 for my 2nd class-we’ll see tomorrow about my 1st class). Then I read the passage out loud while they followed along-I would stop periodically and have them fill in the blank. This is called “cloze” reading. It hopefully keeps them on their toes!

Practiced Read to Self again-they are good at this-quiet! I listened to some more kids read to me individually-hope to finish that up by the end of this week!

Sorry for the long winded post today-I guess I just had it in me today! 🙂


Read, read, read

Our goal for 6th grade is to read at least 50 books-10 being picture books. I’m also requiring that they read from different genres so their reading diet can have a variety! 🙂

Here are my requirements (I also added them to my Reading Tools page):

Reading Requirements for 6th Grade

They will also have to keep a reading response notebook. This is where they will write 1 letter each week to me about the book they are reading. Here are the guidelines for the reading response letter so they will know what is expected:

Reading Response Notebook Guidelines

Next week will be when their 1st letter is due. I am going to essentially help them write part of it each day. I’ll post more about how it goes next week-I’ll also try to remember to take pictures of some of them toward the end of the week. This will be a 100 point grade each week (comparable to a test grade).


Read and Write 180-Day 12

TEST DAY! We have our English test on Thursdays, but on Fridays we take our word study and reading tests. The word study was quick today-on 10 words and I assessed them on the meanings not the spelling. I told them that sometimes it would be spelling, sometimes meanings, sometimes both. They just have to study both each week. 🙂 The reading test was not so quick! The test that came with the reading passage that I had picked for this week was just 5 multiple choice questions, but I made up my own test as well. I wanted to encourage their higher level thinking a bit-and I especially wanted to see how many can answer an open ended question. After I grade the tests this weekend (and next week), I’ll continue to help the ones who didn’t quite get how to answer the open ended one.

Before we took the reading test I had them read each section of the passage to themselves and pick out words that stood out to them-the ones that they thought were significant. As they called them out to me I put them in, and we created a big word cloud. Hopefully, it was a good review for them before the test! We’ll see! 🙂 I’m loving wordle!!!

We played homeworkopoly (the ones who had their homework this week). I only had to give away some candy and a homework pass! 🙂

I showed them how to write book recommendations and quotes on our “graffiti wall” in our room. These are the books that got recommended by some students today:

On My Honor

Stone Fox

A goosebumps book

Night of the Twisters

I think one more, but I can’t remember it! I’ll take a picture of our graffiti wall next week and post it so you can see it. I hope it gets so full this year!!! And I hope it helps some of my reluctant readers find books they like!

Several students gave booktalks after we discussed the graffiti wall-hope this takes off, too. I already had several waving their hands wanting to give recommendations-I love the informal way we do this-it takes the pressure off the kids (no formal reports, nervousness), and hopefully kids will hear about good books that they want to read!

One of my classes got to listen to another chapter of our read aloud-there is some good thinking going on during this time!! I mean-GREAT THINKING!

See ya Monday!


Read and Write 180-Day 11

We took our first test today-English. I’ll be interested to see what the grades are-right now we are just reviewing the parts of speech that they should already know (but English is hard for them to retain)!

Finished going over our word study words-have a test tomorrow on them. I’m only doing 10 words per week this year so that we have more time to study/notice things about them instead of just memorizing them.

We had our 1st pep rally of the year (Go Bulldogs!!!!), so my 1st class was cut short. We practiced reading our passage with a partner again and thinking out loud about our reading.

Then I showed them how to answer an open ended question-we will work on this A LOT more! 🙂 I want them to:

1. Restate the question

2. Answer the question

3. Prove their answer using evidence from the text

4. Sum it up (conclusion)

I REALLY want them to be able to do this well-I think it will help them on ALL kinds of questions-not just open ended questions.

We had extra time in the 2nd class so we did some power teaching with some vocabulary from our reading passage. Fun fun!!

Then we did Read to Self while I listened to a few individual kids read to me (assessing their reading).

Got a lot planned for next week!!!!!