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Read and Write 180-Day 56

Friday, October 28th, 2011

So Friday was our last PEP RALLY. I’m happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I can now add about 30-40 minutes back to my instructional time. Yes, I do like to teach. 🙂 Sad because it is another thing that represents the END of my senior daughter’s time in high school. This pep rally was dedicated to the seniors so I got to walk out on the floor to stand with Taylor. Then I had the luxury of watching a slideshow powerpoint of the seniors (no, I didn’t bring any kleenex so you do NOT want to know what I looked like!). THEN, we got to sing the Alma Mater song-and I couldn’t even choke out the words to this! 🙂 Mr. Brady (my co-teacher) kept asking me if I was ok. You get the picture!!! Here is a picture of me and Taylor.

 She is the 17 year old beauty on your right, not the 40 (almost 41) year old on your left! 🙂

So, back to the classroom. We took 3 tests today. We took 1 test on possessive nouns-I was able to grade them while they took the other tests. The grades were horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many failed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why is it so hard for them to understand things that they have been learning since 3rd grade????????????? So-I will teach it again next week. and the next. and the next. Until they GET IT! 🙂

The other test was on the vocabulary words (I am really trying to expose them to more than just what is in our weekly story or passage that we read together). For the past 2 weeks I have been having them write a short story with their words-it has worked out fine because the words connect with each other-for example, hideous, sinister, ominous. I figure that this type of test helps in more ways than one.

1. I can actually see who knows how to use the word in the correct context-not just memorize a definition and forget it

2. They can work on their writing skills

Now I think I just need to take what they write and use it to teach from.

The last test was a “Fresh Reads” reading test. This is a passage from our reading program that they have never read before so it is a “fresh” or “cold” read. They read it and answer higher level thinking questions about it. This is a TRUE measure of their ability to read and comprehend. If they take a test on a story that we have been reading together all week they have had a guide on their side and the chance to memorize something. That is NOT a true measure of their reading comprehension. A fresh read is. So I will be interested to see how they did. There are only 5 questions (4 multiple choice and 1 open ended) so that is 20 points each!!! I did go over some of the words in the passage with them before the test-words like feline, affinity, etc. This was an on level reading passage and not all of my kids are on the 6th grade level with reading so I wanted to also use it as a teaching opportunity. We all know that a lot of times vocabulary is what trips them up-either not being able to decode and read the word or not knowing the meaning.

Friday night was senior night at the LAST football game!!! We got to walk out on the field with Taylor. Here are a few pictures from that SENTIMENTAL AND EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE!!!! 🙂

 This is me, Taylor, and Joe (my husband of 11 years, Taylor’s stepdad). Yes, we are one of those dysfunctional families!

 This is Carmela (Taylor’s stepmom), Taylor, and Brady(Taylor’s dad).

 This is Brenda(my mom) and Taylor.

I actually did not cry at the game. It was too cold!!! And a little rainy! And too much going on!! I was also selling tickets!


Read and Write 180-Day 40

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

We reviewed our english (subjects, predicates, parts of speech) and took our english test. The grades were sooooooo much better than they have been! 🙂 I graded them at the volleyball tournament tonight (wouldn’t you know that I still haven’t graded all my papers from last week-go figure!).

We read another chapter in our read aloud-only 3 more to go and we will be finished with the book!

I taught them how to find the main idea and then write a summary on our reading passage-I will tell you more tomorrow since I am about to fall over right now! 🙂

FAB FIVE-I’ll tell you all about this in a future post!!!! Good night!

Read and Write 180-Day 39

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Fun with action verbs today! First we did what we always do-labeled a sentence. They’re getting pretty good. 🙂 Then I had them work with partners to identify and highlight 29 action verbs on a page that I had typed from a book-The First Day of School…Forever. I chose this certain page because of the good action verbs on it. Here is the page that I typed up:


Then I read the page out loud and emphasized the verbs so they could check themselves. THEN, I assigned different paragraphs to different rows of students and they had to act out the part that I read. Too funny! With my 2nd class we actually went outside after we did this and the WHOLE class acted out the WHOLE page. I was laughing so hard-I told them I felt like I was in the “Thriller” video!! 🙂 You’ll understand after you read the page! Hopefully, I engaged most of their senses to help them remember what an “action verb” is!

We did our interactive read aloud-they are becoming great predictors. This is one of my favorite times of our day!

I attempted to teach them how to identify the main idea of a text, and then explained to them that a summary includes the main idea with a few details to support the main idea. I just want them to understand that a summary is NOT retelling the story! I’ll really show them tomorrow how to write a good short summary. Here is a picture of the main idea graphic organizer that we will use to remember how to identify the main idea.

I wrapped up my review of how to write our reading response letters-from now on I will just work one on one with each child if they are still struggling to write a good one! I think their eyes were beginning to glaze over! 🙂

CAFE mini-lesson #1-The main idea lesson

Round#1-Small group#1 and #2-Finished up our little story from Monday/Tuesday. I tried to combine 2 groups to see how that worked which would leave me more time for small group/individual conferences. Well, 9-10 students in a small group make it NOT A SMALL GROUP anymore! 🙂 Didn’t like it. Too many mixed abilities-too many kids. I think I have it figured out-will tell you about it at the end of this post.

CAFE mini-lesson#2-I read a picture book to them, Big Smelly Bear, but didn’t show them the pictures. They had to try and create images in their mind while I read. Then they chose a part at the end of the book, had to write about their visualization, and 1 person shared. First I shared mine. Both students that shared had written good visualizations-can it be that they are catching on???? 🙂

Round#2-I conferenced with 1 student about a behavior plan.

OK-this is my solution for small group time thanks to a 5th grade teacher that I talked to after school. I am ONLY going to work with my most struggling readers in small groups each week, the rest of my time will be spent individually conferring with ALL students. That is the only way that I am going to have time to do individual conferences each week, and I think these will benefit my students even more than small group instruction. Make sense??  Gonna try it and see-will post about it over the next week!

Read and Write 180-Day 38

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I’m really trying to concentrate on writing this post at 11:45 pm, but it sure is hard with Jimmy Fallon on television-he just makes me laugh because he gets so tickled!!! 🙂

ok-I’m REALLY trying! 🙂 I want whatever happy pills he must be taking!

Commercial…here it goes.

English-labeled sentence-Jack and Jill ran up the hill. How easy was that? They are getting pretty good! 🙂 Then they had to make up a sentence with an action verb (I asked for strong verbs)-here’s what I got.

ran(that was soooooo strong being able to copy it off the board!!!!)



can’t remember the rest

Read a whole chapter from 6th Grade Can Really Kill You (We’re near the end). They HATE it when I close that book each day! 🙂 I love having the POWER! I actually think they are becoming great little predictors (and getting into it). Now I hope they can just start doing a lot of predicting WHILE they read on their own. It makes reading so interesting.

We finished our reading passage today-“Field Day Champion”. We continued the reciprocal teaching like yesterday-whole class. The wonderful thing about reading short passages (1 or 2 pages) instead of 12-14 page reading stories from the textbook is that we have time to break it down, clarify things by looking back in the passage for evidence, discussing our thinking, etc. I love working with passages instead of looooong stories right now. I know that I still need to pull some long stories this year, but they will be few and far between. Their longer text they get is from their choice books they check out. 🙂

I showed them some more of the format of how to structure the reading response letters. I know they are bored with it (I am, too), but hey-it’s gotta be done!

Another great day of small group instruction!!

CAFE mini-lesson#1-Visualizing-I had a pre-made anchor chart with thinking stems on it. I want them to know to use all 5 of their sense when they visualize and write about it. I did a short lesson based on Tanny McGregor’s book Comprehension Connections (LOVE this reading strategy book) by using a seashell-a very big one! I held it up and had them focus in on it-we made pretend binoculars around our eyes to be able to focus on looking at it. Then I had them think about the “setting” of where this shell would probably be (ocean/beach). They had to think about what they might see, hear, taste, feel, smell. After that I shared my visualization with them-it was hard to bring myself back from that beach let me tell you! 🙂

Round#1-Group#3-Same as yesterday

CAFE mini-lesson#2-They wrote their visualization down in a quick write (1 1/2 minutes)-then they shared. There were some good ones-I really hope this is helping them understand that they can’t just write-“I can see the ocean”. They have to describe it vividly so that other people can visualize it.

Round#2-Group#4-Same as yesterday

Met with only 1 student individually(advanced one). We chose 2 goals for her to work on-Fluency-reading with expression and Expanding Vocabulary-voracious reading. We also talked about a plan on how she would meet these goals. We decided that for every chapter she reads in her choice book she will go back and read 1 page out loud to practice reading with expression. Then SHE decided to be able to read voraciously(she loves to read) she will ALWAYS keep 2 books with her so that she never runs out of books! LOL!

Now I’m thinking to myself just now that it would be VERY BENEFICIAL if everyday we could talk as a whole class about the individual conferences and goals that were set and plans that were made-then other students would hear what other students were doing and it might spark some thinking!!!!!!!!!! This is deep thinking on my part at 12:09 am! 🙂

Here are the pictures I took of my metacognition and visualizing anchor charts that are hanging in the classroom now.


Read and Write 180-Day 37

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pretty good Monday! Started with getting a lot done on my planning period this morning and ended with my daughter’s volleyball team winning tonight! 🙂

Here’s what went on in between.

We only spent about 15 minutes today on word study AND english! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are focusing on action verbs this week(trying to keep it simple again so as to not overwhelm their little brains).

We moved right along to our read aloud-spent about 15 minutes on this. YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moved right along to our whole group reading. We practiced our reciprocal teaching (sort of) with our  passage. We did this in whole group. So I read a section of our passage out loud (while they followed along). We all did the job roles at the same time. So before we read we made predictions-wrote them on our sheet-shared. I read. We summarized-wrote them down-shared. We generated questions before continuing to read-wrote them down-shared. I read the next section. We connected and/or clarified-wrote it down-shared. We will do this tomorrow with the rest of the passage. I think last week I sort of threw them to the wolves by having them work in small groups before modeling it a BUNCH!!! I tend to forget sometimes that I can’t just “tell” them how to do something even though they are in the 6th grade-I still need to “show” them. 🙂

Moved right along to our writing time. This week I’m going back over how to write their reading response letters on their choice books. Maybe next week we can do some kind of jazzy writing-I’m tired of procedural writing (if that’s even what it’s called?). I want to do some FUN kind of writing!!!!! BUT-the majority of them still need to see what good writing looks like on these response letters so they can improve!


1. CAFE mini-lesson#1-I talked to them again about metacognition -thinking about your thinking. This was short.

2. Small group#1-We read 2 pages of a short story in a “Spotlight on Literary Elements” book that I bought from Really Good Stuff. We REALLY talked about our thinking as we read it. It’s so funny because it’s not even a story that I thought they would be interested in, but they couldn’t stand the fact that we had to stop and not find out what was going to happen next. If only I can get them thinking about their own books and wondering and prediction and being interested! 🙂

3. Mini-lesson#2-I read the 1st 2 pages of a chapter book-My Life as a Book-I modeled my thinking out loud for them. Maybe this “thinking while you’re reading” thing will catch on eventually! 🙂

4. Small group #2-Same thing as group#1

I only conferenced with 1 individual student in my homeroom class-none in my 2nd class. The only way I’m going to be able to fit this in is to just pull one small group per day. Yesterday, I worked on dividing my classes into small groups. I had really wanted them to be “small” groups so I made a total of 5 groups with plans to pull 4 of the groups twice each week and the 5th group(advanced) each Friday (if I have time). I thoroughly enjoyed working with my 2 small groups in each class today-BUT I still believe that the individual conferences will have the GREATEST benefit.

So, do I combine the groups so that I only have 3 small groups with 1 being the advanced and only pull them once a week? If I do that I will have about 9 students in each group.

Here are the negatives for that:

***It becomes not so much a small group

***We will have to sit on the floor because there won’t be enough room at my table.

Here are the positives:

***I will have time to individually conference with each child EACH week-setting goals, checking progress, individualizing their reading plans, etc.

I might try to combine them next week and see. What do you think? How do you work your small groups in an upper grade???