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Read and Write 180-Day 79

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

What a great, oh so great, great day! And no matter what you think, it is NOT because we only have 8 more days before Christmas break! 🙂  I was thinking about how the day went after school today and trying to pinpoint what made it so good in my eyes. Our time devoted to english is always great nowadays since we ONLY work with our one sentence by labeling things and then write a paragraph from that sentence. Most of the kids are engaged during that time and participating. YEA! When we analyze someone’s paragraph on the ELMO they are VERY engaged and on task because I have them work in groups. They have to discuss what kind of “star” they would give the person and then what kind of “wish” they have for the person. Then they actually talk about what kind of grade they would give the paper and why. I really think they are loving this so far. So-that part of our day is always good. The other 2 things we did today were reading and writing. Here’s what we did-

Reading: We partner read our story and asked questions and discussed our thinking. They were so on task with this. Well, AFTER I explained that partner reading is not reading silently 🙂 to 1 group! They had a partner read sheet that I borrowed from another teacher (Thanks, Becky!!) that they used to set a purpose for their reading and guide them through the text. Now this is the 3rd time they should have read the weekly story. The 1st time for homework by themselves (and we know not all of them do this!), I read it to them while they “followed” along, and then the partner read today. I wandered around the room as a “facilitator” (I love that term and have never really felt like one until today!). I listened in on kids reading and their discussions-of course I had to get in on the discussions, too! 🙂 They were really talking, thinking, and wondering. Some even went back in the text to clarify things!!!!! OMG!!!!!!! That is exactly what I have been hoping for and dreaming about this entire year!!!!!!!!!! I would keep putting exclamation marks here, but you might get tired of them! 🙂 So let’s just say that this “partner reading” with the guide sheet is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPEALIDOCIOUS! 🙂 Here are pictures of them partner reading/discussing:

 If you want to play “I Spy” here you go:

Find the one with the mohawk. Find the one that looks the most comfortable. Find the 2 partners that match. Don’t they all look engaged?

Writing: Yesterday we started out reindeer (real) (caribou) reports. We are taking baby steps with this so that I can teach and guide them each step of the way. Yesterday we read a website together and took notes from the website with me telling them what to jot down. Today I gave them copies of an article and I put my copy on the ELMO. They read the article silently, then I read it to them. Then we highlighted the parts that would fit in our notes. After we highlighted facts and info, I told them to add this info to their notes from yesterday. I did the 1st paragraph with them. I told them that some of the information from this article has already been jotted down from yesterday so just check it off on this article. Some of it was new information that needed to be added to their notes and then checked off. What delighted me was that my co-worker who teaches math, science, and ss told me they came into his room today telling him about it. He said they are loving it! OMG again! 6th graders loving something???? Why have I waited until lately to really write with them???? I think what has gone so well with this assignment/activity is that I’m not trying to cram too much in at one time!!!!! I am taking it from ground zero with them and not expecting that they already know how to do this! So-here is a picture of our article today that we highlighted and began to check off:

Now I’ve got to figure out how to complete this process of report writing BEFORE our Christmas party next Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yikes! 🙂


Read and Write 180-Day 34

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today I had to fast. And I don’t mean I had to “go” fast. I mean I had to fast, as in not eat, as in starve….. I had a doctor’s appt. after school for a followup check on my “high” cholesterol. Since I didn’t want a morning appt. because I don’t like being out of work, my appt. was for 3:30 this afternoon, and I was not allowed to eat since before midnight. O.M.G. If you ever try to do this be aware of what might happen within your body: dizziness, disorientation, nausea, inability to focus, possibility of falling out on the floor, etc. 🙂 And what’s REALLY sad about the WHOLE situation is this- my cholesterol is STILL too high. Sigh. But let me tell you that the food at the Mexican rest. in Roanoke was the BEST food I think I have ever eaten!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, mother I cleaned my plate and nobody had to tell me twice! 🙂

Now on to our school day. Why is it taking me 45 minutes to cover word study and english each day?????? As I was rethinking my entire curriculum this summer I only planned about 15(maybe 20) minutes each day for word study AND english so that the rest of our time could be devoted to reading, writing, and small group instruction. Can I PLEEEEEEASE have about 2 more hours each school day? It seems that will be the only way I can do everything I want to do with the kids AND do it well. OK-I do see some light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is kinda long right now. 🙂 This is my plan for english this year:

I am trying to go ahead and introduce/teach ALL of the english skills/concepts that we will work with this year for the next few weeks and THEN the entire year will just be devoted to reviewing. So once we begin the daily review it will only take 5-10 minutes, but right now it’s taking forever and a day to practice these new things each week. 🙂

I finished the “False Alarm” chapter of our read aloud-Helen (Bad Helen) set off an alarm clock in the middle of reading class, and then she shot some firecrackers near the school. We can’t wait to find out what happens because the next chapter is called “Discipline Slips”.

We finished up our compare and contrast essay today-I think I might have them write one independently to see who caught on to the format of an essay AND to check out their writing abilities. Especially since by the end of the year I want them to be able to write a persuasive argument about a topic (easily) and I’m thinking a small research paper.

I tried something new today in reading-it went well in my 2nd class-not so well in my 1st class. Reciprocal teaching. This is really just having students interact with each other in groups with the text they are reading. Each person in the group has a different job-Connector, Summarizer, Predictor, Questioner, The Boss (Team leader). Of course, we didn’t have time to actually complete the entire process so we will work with this again tomorrow and Friday with the same text. There seems to be A LOT of research on this teaching strategy so I hope to continue to use it throughout the year. I think it just takes us awhile to truly understand some things in the beginning stages-I guess because the things we are doing are so different than what they may be used to. Hopefully, it will smooth out. I had my 1st class talk and share what they think the main issues were that kept them from really getting into the reciprocal teaching-the ability to work in a group kept coming up. I just assumed that they could work in groups since they went to literacy centers everyday in K-3. One student told me that even though they went to these literacy centers they still mainly did independent work while at the centers. Oh. Now I know that I need to go back and MODEL how to work in groups. 🙂

Our scholastic book order arrived today. YEA!!! And I had 2 students ask when I was going to send the next one home because they didn’t get a chance to order anything. Happy dance!


Going to try persuasive writing

I have NOT focused on writing in my 6th grade classroom this year! GASP! 🙂 Our reading program took up soooo much time-along with english! Well, I am trying to change that! Of course, I am changing LOTS of stuff right now.

I am going to teach them how to write a persuasive essay, and I found a link to readwritethink for a complete lesson on persuasive writing. Tomorrow (Monday) will be day 1 of the lesson-it will probably take me the whole 2 weeks to get it done. I’ll try to post each day to sort of give an update on what we did. Here is the link to the lesson plan:

Things to write about anchor chart

I know this is sort of bare, but here is my anchor chart for our little writing mini-lesson that I did today when I tried out the Daily 5.

During my 2nd class (which right now is 14 boys) I actually had about 4 of them that did Work on Writing and the rest did Read to Self. One of my boys had brought a small journal to school today where he had taped about 5 or 6 green 4 leaf clovers (1 on each page). He had found them in his yard this past weekend. He wrote about the luck that you receive from a 4 leaf clover on one of the pages-TOO DARLING! 🙂

Poem to share with your students

I just found this poem online and am definitely going to share it with my students. It really opens your eyes as a teacher!

Here is the link to the author’s website:

Revolution for the Tested


But don’t write what they tell you to.
Don’t write formulaic paragraphs
Counting sentences as you go
Put your pencil down.

Don’t write to fill in lines.
For a weary scorer earning minimum wage
Handing out points for main ideas
Supported by examples
From the carefully selected text.

Write for yourself.
Write because until you do,
You will never understand
What it is you mean to say
Or who you want to be.
Write because it makes you whole.

And write for the world.
Because your voice is important.
Write because people are hurting
Because animals are dying
Because there is injustice
That will never change if you don’t.
Write because it matters.

And know this.
They’ll tell you it won’t make a difference,
Not to trouble over grownup things,
Just fill in the lines
And leave it at that.
Tell them you know the truth.
That writing is powerful.
Just one voice on the page
Speaks loudly.
And not only can a chorus of those united change the world.
It is the only thing that ever has.


But don’t read what they tell you to.
Don’t read excerpts, half-poems,
Carefully selected for lexile content,
Or articles written for the sole purpose
Of testing your comprehension.

Don’t read for trinkets,
For pencils or fast food coupons.
Don’t even read for M&M’s.
And don’t read for points.

Read for yourself.
Read because it will show you who you are,
Who you want to be some day,
And who you need to understand.
Read because it will open doors
To college and opportunity, yes,
And better places still…
Doors to barns where pigs and spiders speak,
To lands where anything is possible.
To Hogwarts and Teribithia,
To Narnia and to Hope.

Read for the world.
Read to solve its problems.
Read to separate reality from ranting,
Possibility from false promise.
And leaders from snake oil peddlers.
Read so you can tell the difference.
Because an educated person is so much harder
To enslave.

And know this.
They’ll say they want what’s best for you,
That data doesn’t lie.
Tell them you know the truth.
Ideas can’t be trapped in tiny bubbles.
It’s not about points
On a chart or a test or points anywhere.
And it never will be.

Copyright 2010 ~ Kate Messner