Blog Archives

Read and Write 180-Day 22

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh, happy day!!!! Good thinking, good laughing, and good behavior. What a great mix! Please let it be like this from now on!!! 🙂

Word study-copied 1st 6 words, segmented, and kid friendly definition-then we discussed the 1st 3 words. Our words this week mainly have to do with literary elements (plot, conflict, etc) and comprehension skills that we have to be able to complete after we read( cause and effect, main idea, etc)

English-We are learning the preposition song (sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy)-there are only 36 prepositions in this song (there are waaaay more in our English language!). I told the kids that if they learn it and can sing it to me (not in front of the class) without messing up by this Friday they will earn a 100 point grade in English. This is NOT mandatory for them to learn and sing to me-optional. But, I did explain how much it would help their grade! Hint-hint 🙂 Then we identified a few prep phrases that I wrote on the board. After that, the kids worked in groups to create their own prep phrases using the prepositions from the song sheet. Here is a picture of our work:

Writing- We will learn how to compare and contrast in writing this week. Today we created a venn diagram to list characteristics of “dirt roads” and “paved roads”. We should have lots of schema (background knowledge) of dirt roads!! 🙂 Here is a picture of our venn diagram that we made on the board:

We will end up taking this information and writing an essay comparing and contrasting these two things later this week.

I read 1/2 of chapter 8 in our read aloud-6th grade Can Really Kill You. We worked on predictions again with a couple of inferences. I think I’ll start practicing “making connections” in my think alouds.

Our reading passage this week is “Hitchhikers in the Bathroom”. We talked about what a hitchhiker is, then I had them skim the passage to find and list any things in the passage that they think are the hitchhikers. We’ll read the passage with our partners tomorrow to see if we were correct.

We talked a little bit about a setting of a story.

We had time to do Read to Self and Work on Writing.

My homeroom class worked in groups to think of a theme for our classroom door since this week is Spirit Week (Homecoming). We voted on all the GREAT ideas and chose “Light up the Tigers”. We are going to decorate our door by having a tiger hanging from a pole over a campfire (like a rotisserie pig). 🙂

My afternoon class got to listen to the junior class read their short stories (they have been working on story elements). The juniors did a really great job!

Check back tomorrow for Day 23!


Read and Write 180-Day 19

Wednesday, September 8, 2011

We are halfway finished with this week! Can I hear a “Oh, yeah”???? 🙂

We REALLY spent a lot of time on English today. Actually, we spent too much time. I have got to get a grip on this since “most” of our time NEEDS to be spent on reading. English has just been declared a foreign subject in my classroom 🙂

This week we are working with types of sentences (they are doing pretty good at this), subjects, and predicates. I don’t have 2 hours to really explain how this is going with the subjects and predicates-let’s just say that they are having a hard time!

They had to label a sentence when they first came in the room today-then we went over it. THEN we practiced about 2 more sentences on the board. THEN I had them work in groups to create their own sentence and label it. THEN I put EACH sentence on the board and we went over them. THEN I had to move on to something other than  English! 🙂 I can’t remember the sentences from today, but I am going to make up one for you:

The ball rolled off the desk.

Simple subject-ball

Simple predicate (predicate is the verb)-rolled

Complete subject-The ball

Complete predicate-rolled off the desk

Parts of speech-The/article     ball/noun     rolled/verb     off/preposition     the/article     desk/noun

I am glad that I have ALL year to teach this because it’s going to take us ALL year! Last year I used the English workbook and tried to throw in a few other activities as we went along. None of that worked for the most part so I decided to do something different this year. Right now I am “introducing/teaching” ALL english concepts/skills that we will be learning this year. When we get finished with this, we will work with 1 sentence each week all week long. We will do something different with this sentence each day. This will be our Daily Grammar Practice. I will also be teaching mini-lessons on the things that we covered this 1st 6 weeks. Maybe this method will stick. I hope so. 🙂

We played charades with our word study words. They worked with a partner-I assigned each partnership a word. They had to figure out how to act it out so the rest of the class could guess it. They had a good time. So did I. Finally! I love words, and I just want them to notice (if not love) words and have ownership of them and be able to use them.

We partner read our passage “Spitting to Survive” and practiced the “Say Something” strategy. This is where one partner would read a section to the other one. Then the other student would tell them about what they just read. They said that this helps them instead of just reading it silently. I explained to them that they can use this strategy by themselves when they read to check their own understanding. I want the kids to be able to KNOW when they don’t understand what they are reading and be able to DO something about it. This shows independence/thinking/self-monitoring.

I introduced the synthesizing strategy to them. Synthesizing is mainly just “figuring it out” when they read. It’s changing their thinking about things as they read to be able to understand. I told them that this strategy is not really one they can “practice”-it is what they will end up doing after practicing and getting good at all the other comprehension strategies.

Then they got to do Read to Self and Work on Writing. I pulled a few students to talk to them about their reading records, listened to them read from their independent book, and talked about where they are breaking down in their reading. Above all, I want them to have self-awareness of what they struggle with and what they can work towards. We will set our independent reading goals in a couple of more weeks. I LOVE working individually with the kids and can’t wait to be able to fully implement this part of my instruction!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, now that I have managed to write a college essay on our day I will go so I can read some of their reading response letters. Keep your fingers crossed that they will show some deep thinking! 🙂

Read and Write 180-Day 15

Today’s post may be short since I went out to eat at 5, played BUNCO until 10, and am finally getting around to writing this post at 10:54 pm! 🙂

We went over4 more of our word study words today-fortitude, justice, and 2 more that my brain just won’t let me remember right now!!!!

We reviewed adverbs today in English (these are usually the hardest parts of speech!!!). We watched the grammar house rock video twice, added the definition to our web graphic organizer, and wrote examples of adverbs. Here is the link to the school tube video:

We are having our English test tomorrow-we had A LOT of great grades on the English test last week!!!!!! I was so proud of them! I tried to give some hints on the test that I JUST made up for tomorrow!!! My goal when testing is NOT to trip kids up, but to have the tests actually be a teaching/remediation/reinforcing tool!!! I’m going to try and review with some of my students who did not do well last week while I let the other kids review among themselves. It’s very important that they understand/know the parts of speech since we will work with them ALL year.

We finished practicing our open ended response on our passage-“Leaving Her Mark”. I can’t wait to see how they do this Friday on that part of our reading test.

We took notes on 2 of the comprehension strategies that we have worked with this week-1. Activating our schema(background knowledge) and 2. Visualizing

I talked to them about how to complete the third box of their comprehension thinking sheet for homework. This 3rd box is the “Thoughts/Reflections” box. They have to write about their thoughts and reflections on the book they are reading. Here is an example of what I would like to see:

“I really like 6th Grade Can Really Kill You because it makes me laugh some, and I can sympathize with Helen’s character. I can feel her embarrassment about her problem with reading. It’s easy for me to visualize the things that are happening in the story. I would recommend this book to all students since it’s not complicated to read, and they could probably make some connections when they are reading. I can’t wait to finish this book to see if Helen does pass the 6th grade. I hope she learns how to read better.”

We read Chapter 6-Shooting the Duck today in our read aloud. We shared our predictions-it’s funny to see the kids’ reactions when they realize that they predicted right or missed it! 🙂

I gave out my homework explanation sheet today so the kids and the parents will know what to expect with homework and tests for the WHOLE year. My homework routine will stay the same ALL year! Here is a copy of the homework sheet I gave them:

6th Grade Homework word

OK-it’s 11:08 pm, and I’m about to finish grading the reading tests from last week. 🙂


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! 🙂