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.
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!!!! 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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!
AND NOW-MOVING RIGHT ALONG TO SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION!!!!! This is what it was like:
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???