Blog Archives

Standing up for educators

I wish everyone felt the way that Matt Damon (yes, I said Matt Damon) felt about public schools and educators. If that were the case, we wouldn’t feel tempted to hang our heads low when we tell someone that we teach. Matt’s mom is a teacher, and he and his brother were in public schools their whole lives. They believe in us! We should believe in us, too! 🙂

As the media continues to slam public education(except I do have to say here that WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery, AL does an outstanding job of promoting public schools and educators), we need some positive reinforcement in what we do-Matt delivers this in a rejuvenating speech at a Save Our Schools rally.

Click on the Scholastic blog link below to hear his speech. HOORAY for public education!!!!!!!!



For the love of reading

I am involved in an interactive online book club right now with the Michigan Reading Association(yes, I live in Alabama!) on facebook. The book that we are reading and discussing is Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. It is a GREAT READ!!!!! You should buy this book and read it-it hits the nail on the head with reading inside our schools!

Here is a link to an interview/article with Kelly himself from Education Week. Check it out!

Are we spending too much time testing?

Yesterday (Friday) felt like such a loooooooong day! I only gave my 6th graders 2 tests, but they took sooooooo long! Am I doing an “overkill” on testing for report card grades? Our district says that we have to have a minimum of 1 grade per week per subject. But am I taking it too far with the actual length of the tests? Here is what I have done:

1. Reading-Our Scott Foresman Reading Street series provides a weekly selection test for the weekly story. I used it for the majority of the year, but I didn’t like the assessment. So-I created my own test for the weekly story and made it an open book test. I did this for a couple of reasons.  One is that I want my students to be able to think on a deeper level, while at the same time I don’t want to try and trick them! I also want them to be able to write open ended answers that promote that deep thinking. AND-of course I want them to do well on standardized tests! 🙂

2. English-Poetry- I have started having them read a weekly poem on a daily basis for fluency. I gave them a test yesterday and assessed; vocabulary, mood of poem, conflict, figurative language, etc. They said the test was so hard. 🙂

I do like the type of tests that I have created, because they ask the students to “think”, but they take up so much class time. Maybe I should shorten the reading test to a one page test since right now it is a two page test. And maybe I should do not do a weekly poetry test-make it monthly!

I’m just thinking out loud! 🙂 We’ll see!

Activities after testing

We have now tested for a total of 4 days and have 2 more to go!! Whew!! 🙂 We finished our “practicing” this past Friday, and this week has been sort of crazy because of the loooong testing days-BUT, this is what we have done so far in the afternoons.

1. Silent independent reading-“most” of my kids enjoy this-I said “most”

2. Chunking text- I took a Scott Foresman fresh read passage and made a copy for each student. They partner read it side by side, but I added a twist to it that I came upon on the internet. We used the “say something” strategy as we partner read. One partner would read a chunk (maybe a paragraph), stop, and the other partner had to say something about what was read. I encouraged them to try and use higher level thinking-“I wonder”, “What if”, etc. Then the partners swapped roles. They did this until they finished the passage. I asked them if this helped them with being able to understand the text and get into it, and they said it did!! 🙂

3. QAR-Question Answer Relationship- These are 4 types of questions that they need to understand. We haven’t really gotten in depth with this yet because of time constraints. I only had them brainstorm what QAR stood for and then we shared and then I told them. Of course, they got the Q and the A. However, they made some GOOD guesses for the R like-restate, reread, etc. A few even said “relate”, but nobody got Relationship. 🙂 We will go more in depth with this over the next few days. For some good links to QAR information click on this link to go to my other blog. This blog is where I’m posting links to strategies/concepts for literacy that I am coming upon and want to research more.

4. Reading aloud-I am currently in the middle of reading Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. My 6th graders LOVE for me to read aloud to them. We stop periodically and discuss what has been read.

5. Readers Theater- We have not done this in my class this year (another change I want to make for next year). Today we started one-Flying Solo. This is also a novel by Ralph Fletcher that lots of my girls have read after I gave a booktalk on it. It is a great book-check it out if you have time! 🙂 Here is the link to the script.

I’ll post more later! 🙂