Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I have come to a conclusion. MY planning period each day is not really MY planning period. 🙂 Let me just give you some background knowledge about my character so you can sympathize with me-teehee! I am a procrastinator by nature. From birth. All my life. Haven’t changed. Soooooo, I tend to wait til the last minute to get things ready for class-like for that day! 🙂 So it seems like each day during my planning period somebody needs me or needs something-yesterday a parent called to speak to me, and I told the office to take a message because I was copying work packets. The parent decided to hop in the car and come visit. Planning period-gone. Today, I got a new student. Planning period-gone. I think I need to start coming every weekend to get EVERYTHING ready for the week so I can sit outside my room each day during my planning period holding a sign that says, “Will work for you!” Now don’t get me wrong-I want parents to want to be involved and communicate with me! And new students are just a reality. But it’s ALL THE TIME! 🙂 Moving off that soapbox now.
I’m really thinking my kids are getting the hang of parts of speech after 15 weeks of it! 🙂 I only hope that what we are doing with these sentences each day will pay off in their writing. Here’s the sentence we labeled today.
This week we have started creating our own sentences as well that follow the pattern. I let them work in groups to make up their sentence-they are VERY engaged with this! Hooray! Here is a picture of our 6 sentences from my afternoon class.
4 out of 6 groups used the verb “ran”. Booooring! They couldn’t believe I told them that! So then they said they could have used: jumped, leaped, rolled, skipped. One student said “sprinted”. That made me happy! I’m thinking that if I had been devoting a lot of time to writing this year we could have had lists of words that could be substituted for the boring ones! Maybe we’ll start that soon.
They worked on their reindeer job application rough draft again today-we will be finishing those up sometime around the beginning of next week, and I’ll take pictures of them. I told them I was going to hang them in the hall. I’m thinking I might have a contest and let the 4th and 5th graders vote on the one they think is the best, and I’ll get some kind of prize for the winner. Sounds cool, huh?
We finished reading the 2nd half of our story today-my homeroom class (or maybe it was my afternoon class!) said they liked this story and several students agreed. YEA! I hope that shows up on the test Friday! I showed them how to partner read with each other because they are going to do that tomorrow with the entire story, and I won’t be in school. I’m at a conference for 3 days (sitting in my hotel room right now as a matter of fact!).
We caught up with our truckerbuddy emails today-he and his wife are going to visit us and bring their truck for the kids to see! The kids are so excited. I better get on the ball with setting that up because we only have 14 days left before Christmas break (but who’s counting?). 🙂
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Today was a quiet day. Today was a good day. However, today was sort of boring! 🙂 It was the last day of the 1st 6 weeks, and we had to take an english test and a reading test to get enough grades in for this 6 weeks. It won’t continue to be like this-BUT I didn’t grade anything the first 7 days of school because we were going over procedures, rules, routines, setting up notebooks, book boxes, taking baseline assessments to see where the kids are in reading, doing other assessments for spelling, writing, comprehension, fluency, etc. AND getting to know each other and get settled into 6th grade. It is SO VERY important to TRY and establish the culture/environment that you want in your classroom during those first days so that you don’t pay for it later in the year by not having clear procedures!
With that being said, I ended up only having 22 days to get 10 grades in reading and 10 grades in english. Break that down-you do the math-that would mean averaging a grade every 2-3 days! WHAT?????? Can I please teach?? 🙂 Someone suggested that I visualize a cool waterfall and say those words when I’m feeling stressed, so…. insert “cool waterfall” right HERE! 🙂
OK-where was I? Oh yeah, the tests from today.
We talked about our word study words for this week and then practiced labeling a sentence for english. We took the english test (maybe 35 minutes?). The english test covered parts of speech, subjects and predicates, and prepositional phrases. (There were A LOT of good grades yesterday on the prep. phrase test!!!!) I hope it will be the same for the english test today!
I checked their homework-they wrote lots more after I showed them on the ELMO how I want them to complete the boxes-One class only had 1 student who didn’t have homework and the other class had 3 that didn’t have theirs. Sigh. (same students each time mostly)
I finished the chapter “Healing Stones” from our read aloud. Have I said that I LOVE this time when I read aloud??? We have good thinking and discussions and sharing!!!! When we finished the chapter I had them do a quick write for 2 minutes about Uncle Leo (Helen’s uncle who has come to visit). They had to write down what they think about his character. I love to listen to what they write and have to say!
I gave out comprehension bookmarks for them to use with the book they are reading. Hopefully, it will remind them to use the comprehension strategies that I have taught AND to think about the literary elements as they read (character, setting, plot, conflict, etc). Here is a sheet with 3 bookmarks if you want to print and use. I got these ideas from a couple of websites and can’t remember the names of the websites so please let me know of any so I can give credit where credit is due.
We took a “fresh read” reading test today. Well, it wasn’t really a TRUE fresh read because I went through some strategies with them on the passage before they took the test. I found an “I CAN DO” test taking strategy sheet on the internet (of course now I’m searching and can’t find where I got it from!)(When I find it I will post the website for you!). Anyhoo, this is what we did together BEFORE they took the test: not necessarily in this order
1. read and circled the title 2. activated schema (background knowledge) about dollhouses (The title of the passage was “Grandma’s Dollhouse” 3. looked for standout items (bold words, italicized words, dates, special names) 4. read the questions and answer choices (this sets a purpose for their reading) 5. read the passage 2 times silently 6. THEN they took the test-there were 3 multiple choice items (33 points each) and 1 open ended question-I am grading these separately
We will do this kind of reading practice/test about twice each 6 weeks. Not only will it help them prepare for the standardized test in the spring, but it is a TRUE measurement of their reading comprehension since it is NOT a story that has been read 57 times that week and discussed until everyone is blue in the face. 🙂
I conferred with a student today about the book he is reading. He really opened up with me and does NOT participate much in class because he is so shy! I have GOT to get my small group and individual instruction going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shhhhh…don’t tell any other teachers, but I would love to have about 1 more hour with each class everyday!!!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Why do I think I can actually teach during Homecoming spirit week??? 🙂 Between working on a classroom door and the hundreds of interruptions each day for announcements-all I’m saying is that you would think I would have learned my lesson by now since this is my 8th year. 🙂
We went ahead and took all 3 of our tests today-Word study, english, and reading
I let the kids study with each other for the word study test before they took it. I called out the definitions and things we had discussed this week and they wrote the words (they could copy from the board). So far this year I have given them 2 paper tests and 2 oral tests. I’m trying to change it up for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I want the kids to be able to excel (hopefully) in whichever way they can. I also don’t want them to just regurgitate words and definitions-I want them to OWN these words and what they mean.
We practiced labeling some sentences before they took the english test. Will english ever get easier for them? I sure hope so! Today on their test they had to do what we had learned this week AND everything we have learned so far. I want each week to be cumulative of what we have learned so far. Maybe this way they can retain it!
The reading test was a baby test today! 5 questions and they were all just the “right there” kind of questions-they didn’t require any higher level thinking. All they had to do was look back in the passage and find the answer! I wanted to give them sort of a break this week because of spirit week! 🙂
I checked homework-I don’t want to be negative right now so I won’t even talk about the results of this! 🙂
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!!!!!