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

Acrostic poetry anchor chart

I made an anchor chart to help my students with the idea of what acrostic poetry can be(yes, I made it BEFORE class and not WITH them-I know that anchor charts are supposed to be made WITH the students to “anchor” their learning, but I teach 2 classes each day so the chart is made before class by just me-of course, I can always have the kids add to it.) 🙂

I found this on someone else’s website-in one of my previous posts I put a link to their website.

Most of my kids still wanted to just do the simple type of acrostic poetry where you just write one word for each letter in your name. However, I had a couple that branched out (one especially) to include the more free flowing format. 🙂 I’ll post a picture of his poem later for you to see! I think I might have them create an acrostic poem for our next Scott Foresman story-maybe have them work in groups(just thinking out loud here). 🙂

Demonstrative Adjectives

I introduced the concept of demonstrative adjectives today-I think they are catching onto this easily. But how come we STILL have problems with basic parts of speech????? Since this is my 1st year teaching 6th grade I don’t know if all 6th graders are not knowledgeable about the 8 basic parts of speech or just this class. I wish I knew what to do to help them with it-what’s bad is that parts of speech are not even in my course of study for 6th grade english so I don’t want to spend gobs of time on it, but they are the foundation for everything else in english. What to do?????

I do know that they need to learn more english “stuff” in context, I’m just not sure how or when to do that. I want to spend more time writing with them because that is an area that has been left behind this year with all of the reading that we do. But I’m not real sure how many have made tons of progress in their reading even with the amount of time we have spent on it! I do wish I had more 6th grade teachers at my school to talk with about reading, english, spelling, and writing and the right way to teach all of this. Is it from the countless workbooks that we are given?? Nobody in our school district does workshop methods-we were told to implement small group reading instruction this year in 4th-5th-6th grade but I’m not sure how many teachers are actually doing that. I tried it about 7-10 times this year and the kids really loved it, but of course I couldn’t get to everything that I was supposed to do so something gets left out.

I know that one problem/weakness that I have is trying to do too much-surely nobody else has that problem??? 🙂 I want to be an effective teacher and deliver effective instruction-I think sometimes I just skim the surface and don’t have time to really dig deep! I am currently reading 2 books- R5 in Your Classroom-A Guide to Differentiating Independent Reading and Developing Avid Readers by  Michelle J. Kelley and Nicki Clausen-Grace  and The Cafe book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (The Sisters). These are excellent books, and I’m thinking I want to try and implement a combination of the 2 methods into my classroom, but not quite sure how to do that!!!

This was my schedule for the day (and we rushed!!!).

1. Partner read “The Pasture” poem by Robert Frost. Briefly discuss.

2. English-Introduce demonstrative adjectives-Workbook page and study guide sheet. We worked with partners, groups, and independently.

3. Introduced 5 high frequency words-They wrote them and sorted them.

4. Practice reader’s theater

5. Scott Foresman Reading Textbook-I read aloud the read aloud story-we discussed. They worked in groups to develop the concept web.

6. We read almost 1 whole chapter in “The Westing Game” and discussed.

7. I introduced acrostic poetry and showed an example. (They got a little excited about this!)

8. I reveiwed the comprehension strategy-MAKING CONNECTIONS-We read our choice books independently and kept a tally of when we were able to make a connection.

Whew!!!! 🙂 We worked the entire time-they stayed engaged. But we didn’t get to read our choice books for the length of time that I was wanting to-we only read for about 10 minutes! I just wish I had more time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boys and girls separated

We tried something new today in class-we divided the boys and girls into 2 different classes. I had the 23 girls for the first half of the day and then the 14 boys for the 2nd half of the day. There were only a few students who said they didn’t really like it-the rest of them loved having it that way. Our school actually did this a few years ago with the 6th graders, 7th graders, and I think the 8th graders. My daughter was in the 6th grade class that was divided that way-she liked it because she didn’t feel as self conscious when speaking out and participating! 🙂

I think the participation in both classes increased today-I liked it. We’ll see how it goes for the rest of this week. 🙂

Acrostic poetry

I’m really not sure if my 6th graders have ever written much poetry-I’ll find out tomorrow. However, I am going to teach them how to write Acrostic Poetry” over the next couple of weeks-try to anyway! 🙂

Here is a link to an image of an acrostic poem based on-well, and acrostic poem!


I think I will take it slow-Day 1-we will talk about poetry and different kinds-Day 2-we will talk about acrostic poetry and what it is-Day 3- we will look at some examples of different acrostic poems-Day 4-I will assign the whole class a specific word to write an acrostic poem about and have them work in groups to do this-Day 5-we will share the acrostic poems-Day 6-they will have to write acrostic poems for their names-Day 7-they will have to write an informational acrostic poem about Greece since that is the Scott Foresman story that we are currently reading-Day 8 through Day 10-they will choose a topic to create an acrostic poem about and illustrate

No excuse words

As I have said before, I think I am going to change SEVERAL things next year: one being my spelling instruction (or lack of). 🙂 I am “thinking” about using the nifty thrifty fifty words to teach roots and affixes, possibly words their way, and I also want to include high frequency words within this instruction. My 6th graders have a VERY DIFFICULT time spelling these words correctly within their writing.

So this next week I am going to “try out” the high frequency part-I am only going to assign 5 words for the entire week. If I did this next year beginning the 2nd 6 weeks we would cover 150 high frequency words. My plan for this week is (and I’m keeping it simple since we are right here at the end of school):

Monday-Students will copy each of the 5 words on an index card or cut up paper

Tuesday-Students will complete 2 word sorts-1 open and 1 closed. Then they will write the words in their notebook.

Wednesday-Students will work in groups to invent a quick sketch for 1 word to help them visualize the word within the picture. Then all groups will share their sketch with the rest of the class


We will see how it goes-I’ll post on it later this week! 🙂

Here is one link for a list of 100 high frequency words for students in the intermediate grades.


Fresh Reads

I am sort of at a loss on how to best utilize the fresh reads with my 6th grade students. I would love to get other people’s suggestions! 🙂 I have tried a couple of different things:
1. Gave the students the fresh read as an assessment without reading it prior to that
2. I read it aloud to them while they followed along. Then I gave it to them as an assessment
3. I had them partner read it twice during the week. They used the “Say Something” strategy where one partner would
read a section, the other partner would “say something” about what was read and then they would swap. Then I gave
it to them as an assessment at the end of the week.

What was so disheartening was that there was not a huge difference between the grades no matter what way I did it.

If anyone has any suggestions please leave a comment! 🙂

Reading Response Letters

I have required my students this year to write “literary letters” about the book they are reading. I started out making them write 6 letters each 6 weeks-3 to me and 3 to friends. Then I cut it down to 5 each 6 weeks. I did model for them how to write the letter at the beginning of the year and showed them 3 good examples, but it didn’t evolve into what I was really wanting. Plus, I got behind in reading and responding to them! 🙂

I am wanting to model for them again how to write it because I want the letters to have better content so I surfed the internet looking for anchor charts. I am going to make an anchor chart and display it in the room for them to refer to. I am also thinking about not requiring that many letters; however, if I could give them more time in class to read independently then I don’t think we would all feel so pushed for time. Anyway, here is a link to Angela Bunyi’s scholastic blog where she wrote about the setup of her reading notebooks. I’m going to use her anchor chart with stems to guide me in making my own.


Pandora’s Box Reader’s Theater

We are about to start on our 3rd reader’s theater-yippee!!!! The kids have loved doing the other two. This one is going to be “Pandora’s Box”. Today I read them a brief story about the gods and goddesses to give them some background knowledge about greek mythology. Then we read a story about Pandora (1 of the many versions). Tomorrow we will begin our practice reading of the script. We did the other 2 readers theaters in 1 week. I think we will begin this one tomorrow and perform it next Friday. There are only 8 parts so I will stretch out the narrator parts so that all 18 in each class will have a part-that way each class will have just 1 performance. With our previous scripts I had divided each class into 3 groups so I had to watch 6 performances! 🙂

Here is the link to the script that we will be using for “Pandora’s Box”. http://www.storycart.com/freescripts/prometheus.pdf

Now I just need to work on some type of assessment for this! 🙂

Read Around the Room

I was browsing the internet this past weekend and came across an activity that I just had to try out with my class. I found the idea on this website:


I’m not sure what the activity was titled, but I have renamed it “Reading Around the Room”. I tried it today with both of my 6th grade classes and the results were fantastic!!! 🙂

The objective was to expose the students to books that they might never pick up and try on their own. I took 18 books and put 1 on each desk. They were all Newbery books except 1. The students had their reading notebooks open to the section “Books I Plan to Read”. I set a timer for 2 minutes. They had to begin reading chapter 1 of the book at their desk and read for the full 2 minutes until I said to stop. If the book was one that caught their interest they wrote it down in their reading notebook. Then each student moved to the left. We did this until every student had read from every book. I took us about 45-50 minutes. Here is a picture of the stack of books that were left at the end of the day after my students checked some of them out. 🙂

After we went around the room reading a portion of each book I gave each student a sticky note. They had 2 things to write:

1. How often they think we should do this activity during the year

2. What their favorite thing was about the activity

RESULTS: Most students in my homeroom class voted to do this activity once each month. My other class voted mostly to do it each week. I think that next year I will attempt to do it about every 3 weeks or so. The things they enjoyed about it were: 1. Being able to read 2. Being exposed to a variety of books 3. Finding books that they might not choose on their own 4. Moving around

THEN, I polled them so that I could see which books had the highest rating. Bud, Not Buddy was the favorite in both classes (all 3 copies in my classroom library have been checked out now). 🙂 Some of the other favorites out of the 18 were:

Maniac Magee/Loser/Bridge to Terabithia/I can’t remember the rest of them-:)

It was a very enlightening and satisfactory activity!!!!!!!!