Read and Write 180-Day 14

I really want to write this post, but Law and Order-SVU is on!!! I’m a little distracted. πŸ™‚

I checked our homework that they did for the first time last night-45 out of 47 kids did it! WOW! Some of them shared what they wrote-VERY GOOD! All they need to work on is to “describe” their visualizations a little more. I told them to describe what they are visualizing so that someone else can picture it in their mind, too. Their homework was to complete a comprehension strategy box on their thinking sheet. I was really proud of what they wrote (the ones who shared)-I’ll let different students share tomorrow. Also, I have to give credit for this thinking sheet idea to this fabulous resource:

Β Their reading box sheets are far more elaborate than the one that I made-my kids are not used to this type of thinking, reflecting, and writing yet so I want to start small. PLUS-I don’t want them to spend MORE time completing the boxes than READING! πŸ™‚ But this book is an excellent teacher resource book!

We went over our first 3 words for the week-evaluate, formulate, and analyze.

We reviewed articles and adjectives in English. Articles are sooooo easy-they are ALWAYS: a, an, the. They never change! We added the definitions for articles and adjectives to our graphic organizer and then watched the schooltube grammar rock video on adjectives. One of my boys said, “You know, I can’t help it-these songs just stick in my head.” LOL! Here is the link to the video on adjectives:

Then we labeled more words in our sentence-the interjections and prepositions from yesterday.

We read our passage-“Leaving Her Mark”. We did cloze reading which is where I read aloud and then stop and let them fill in a word every now and then-supposed to keep them following along and engaged in what we are reading. Then I showed them (again) how to answer an open ended question. This is our question that we are practicing with:

How did Molly leave her mark? I’m trying to explain to them how to answer questions like this with our RAPS method:

R-restate question Β  Β  A-answer question(all parts) Β  Β  P-prove your answer using evidence from text Β  Β  Β S-sum it all up (conclusion)

This method will help them with our reading tests AND the spring state ARMT test. I think it will also help them answer ANY test questions-not just open ended. If they get comfortable with looking back in the text to find evidence to support their answers, they will also be able to easily do this with any kinds of questions-multiple choice, fill in blank, etc.

We did the restating part today and 1 answer with proof. I can’t remember exactly how I showed them on the board(they were copying while I was showing them), but this is sort of what we did today.

QUESTION-How did Molly leave her mark?

ANSWER (so far-will finish tomorrow)-There are two ways that Molly left her mark. One way is when she left a smile in the dirt when she walked. In the passage, the author stated that the doctors put a smile symbol on the bottom of her horseshoe so when she walked she left a smile mark on the ground.

We will finish tomorrow by also writing: Another way that Molly left her mark was by making the kids smile at the hospital. In the 5th paragraph of the passage the author said that the children were amazed that a horse could have a prosthetic leg. Molly gave them hope for themselves. These are the two ways that Molly left her mark.

I really want them to be able to back up everything they answer AND just everything they think. So, when we are discussing things and they give an answer or thought or opinion I also want to know why. They need to know “why” they think something!

They got to listen to another chapter of our read aloud-boy do they love for me to read to them. AND we get some GREAT thinking out of this time! πŸ™‚ We continued to talk about predictions, and we also talked about making connections. They had to “try” to make a connection to a part of the chapter. There are 3 different kinds of connections they can make:

1. Text to self-this is the easiest kind for them to make-they connect something they read back to themselves-maybe something that has happened to them

2. Text to world-they connect something they read to something that is going on in the world

3. Text to text-they connect something they read to something else they have read

We also talked a little more about schema-their background knowledge about a topic. We all have new schema about prosthetics-we now know that a horse can have a prosthetic leg. So we have added to our schema. I told them that when we have a lot of schema about a topic and then read about it, it is easier for us to comprehend! Little schema about something makes it harder for us to comprehend what we read.

I also explained to them (again) that reading is thinking. They have GOT to think as they read for it to be “real reading”. Here is the poster that I made to give them a visual.

Β READING IS THINKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my overall goal for them this year-think while they read!!! Active reading!

Some people think that when kids answer questions at the end of what they have read that this is teaching reading comprehension. NO-it’s not-that is only “assessing” comprehension! πŸ™‚


Read and Write 180-Day 13

Happy Monday! And happy that it’s over! πŸ™‚ I sort of lost my temper had a discussion with my homeroom class. I had a visitor that came to the classroom to get some books, and (GASP) my kids forgot the procedure on how to continue to work quietly until said visitor leaves! I think they remember now. πŸ™‚ Then “somebody” broke one of my camping chairs-only have 1 left-stapler got broken last week. So I sort of lost itΒ talked to them about taking responsibility for things and following procedures. I also was not too pleased with the grades on their 1st word study test(vocabulary). Anyhoo-better day tomorrow hopefully. Really, the day was fine except for that little tidbit! Still love my 6th graders!

They wrote their words for the week and definitions today. Last week I had them write the words, then I called out the definitions and they wrote them as I called them out. I’m going to just have them write the definitions on Mondays from now on (definitions, are on their study guides). Then we will work with the words on Tues-Thurs and test on Fridays. Since the grades were not too great last week, I’m trying to think of something else we can do with the words each week to help them “own” them. Maybe some kind of role-play? Maybe the words last week were just hard for them-I guess I’ll find out this Friday. Still, there were only 10 and they had a word bank at the bottom of the test. We’ll see.

We reviewed interjections and prepositions in English. I REALLY think they get interjections-especially since I YELLED out an interjection while we were discussing them!!!!! LOL! You should have heard all of the gasping!! I have read somewhere that when emotions are tied to learning, then the learning has a better chance of being retained. Well, the emotion was fear surprise! πŸ™‚ We watched the school house rock video (too funny) and listed interjections in our binder. Examples are: YEA! Ouch! Wow! You get the picture. Now, prepositions are going to be harder for them, but we will focus on prepositions later this year so not to worry. We will also learn the fun preposition song when we focus on them. Prepositions are words that show the relationship between nouns or pronouns and other words in the sentence. Examples-in the rain, through the door, over the hill-the preposition is the 1st word in the phrase.

Here are the links for the 2 videos:

I showed them how to complete their “comprehension thinking sheet” on the book they are reading. This is now their homework each night:

1. Read for at least 15 minutes

2. Complete 1 box on their comprehension thinking sheet

That’s all! Here is the comp. thinking sheet.

Comprehension Thinking SheetΒ word

By the end of the week they will have written about: 2 reading strategies they used while reading their book, their thoughts and reflections on their book, and some type of literary element/device they came across in their book.

I showed them how to write about visualizing today-so that is what they will do for homework tonight. This is what I wrote in front of them on the ELMO today:

In my opinion, being able to visualize what is happening when you are reading is one of the MOST IMPORTANT reading strategies that you can use. It helps you do two things: Understand what you are reading and get into the book. I have always been a good visualizer when I read and hope to help my 6th graders that have a hard time with it really understand how to make it happen. It’s just pictures/movie in your mind. It will make you feel like you are in the story/text!

Tomorrow we will learn how to write about another reading strategy-making connections. Making connections helps the reader relate things either back to their life, something they have read, or something in the world.

This comprehension thinking sheet will REALLY HELP them when they write their response letter to me about their book.

Our reading passage that I chose this week is “Leaving Her Mark”-an article about a horse named Molly that lost a leg, but was determined to live an recover. We talked about “schema” which is our own background knowledge or prior knowledge that we have about a topic. Everyone had different schema depending on their life experiences, what they have read, seen, talked about, been exposed to. My 1st class did not get the entire lesson (will get it Tuesday), but in my 2nd class I had them think about what schema they already have about horses. Then I put their schema on the board. I explained to them that their schema changes ALL the time because they learn new things-sometimes they even correct their incorrect schema when they have wrong information in their brain! πŸ™‚

Here’s a picture of our “schema” on horses:

I had them go through the passage and highlight any unknown words (only 4 for my 2nd class-we’ll see tomorrow about my 1st class). Then I read the passage out loud while they followed along-I would stop periodically and have them fill in the blank. This is called “cloze” reading. It hopefully keeps them on their toes!

Practiced Read to Self again-they are good at this-quiet! I listened to some more kids read to me individually-hope to finish that up by the end of this week!

Sorry for the long winded post today-I guess I just had it in me today! πŸ™‚


Read, read, read

Our goal for 6th grade is to read at least 50 books-10 being picture books. I’m also requiring that they read from different genres so their reading diet can have a variety! πŸ™‚

Here are my requirements (I also added them to my Reading Tools page):

Reading Requirements for 6th Grade

They will also have to keep a reading response notebook. This is where they will write 1 letter each week to me about the book they are reading. Here are the guidelines for the reading response letter so they will know what is expected:

Reading Response Notebook Guidelines

Next week will be when their 1st letter is due. I am going to essentially help them write part of it each day. I’ll post more about how it goes next week-I’ll also try to remember to take pictures of some of them toward the end of the week. This will be a 100 point grade each week (comparable to a test grade).


Read and Write 180-Day 12

TEST DAY! We have our English test on Thursdays, but on Fridays we take our word study and reading tests. The word study was quick today-on 10 words and I assessed them on the meanings not the spelling. I told them that sometimes it would be spelling, sometimes meanings, sometimes both. They just have to study both each week. πŸ™‚ The reading test was not so quick! The test that came with the reading passage that I had picked for this week was just 5 multiple choice questions, but I made up my own test as well. I wanted to encourage their higher level thinking a bit-and I especially wanted to see how many can answer an open ended question. After I grade the tests this weekend (and next week), I’ll continue to help the ones who didn’t quite get how to answer the open ended one.

Before we took the reading test I had them read each section of the passage to themselves and pick out words that stood out to them-the ones that they thought were significant. As they called them out to me I put them in, and we created a big word cloud. Hopefully, it was a good review for them before the test! We’ll see! πŸ™‚Β I’m loving wordle!!!

We played homeworkopoly (the ones who had their homework this week). I only had to give away some candy and a homework pass! πŸ™‚

I showed them how to write book recommendations and quotes on our “graffiti wall” in our room. These are the books that got recommended by some students today:

On My Honor

Stone Fox

A goosebumps book

Night of the Twisters

I think one more, but I can’t remember it! I’ll take a picture of our graffiti wall next week and post it so you can see it. I hope it gets so full this year!!! And I hope it helps some of my reluctant readers find books they like!

Several students gave booktalks after we discussed the graffiti wall-hope this takes off, too. I already had several waving their hands wanting to give recommendations-I love the informal way we do this-it takes the pressure off the kids (no formal reports, nervousness), and hopefully kids will hear about good books that they want to read!

One of my classes got to listen to another chapter of our read aloud-there is some good thinking going on during this time!! I mean-GREAT THINKING!

See ya Monday!


Read and Write 180-Day 11

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! πŸ™‚ 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!!!!!

Read and Write 180-Day 10

Metacognition anyone??? We discussed it today in class. Thinking about your thinking. Or rather-thinking about your reading. I really want them to understand that we have to think when we read or reading is pointless. We can do all different kinds of thinking when we read-we can visualize, make predictions, wonder, question, make connections, and so on. To show them what I meant I did the “reading salad” activity that I saw on this website:

Make sure that when you go to this site you have plenty of time to cruise it!!! It has FABULOUS ideas!!! πŸ™‚

Anyway, I showed them how to think while they read. I had slips of paper with “text” written on them and slips of paper with “thinking” written on them. I had 2 student volunteers(1 on each side of me). As I read the passage out loud, the student with the “text” slips dropped them into a bowl. When I stopped to “think aloud” the student with the “thinking” slips dropped them into the bowl. This mixture is what you HAVE to have to be a real reader-text+thinking=real reading! I hope they got it! I then had them go back to their desks and read the 1st page of the passage with their partner. One partner would read a section aloud and then “think” out loud about it, then vice versa. We will continue to practice this. I also told them that the thinking usually does not happen out loud, but I want them to be able to know what I am thinking so they can see what thinking looks and sounds like.

Oh, by the way-I first wrote metacognition on the board and had them guess what it meant before I told them. Some of their answers were good-literacy, reading, writing, imagining.

We continued our study of more of our “power words”-compare, trace, and explain. It went quicker today than yesterday (yea).

Did NOT get to our read loud today-boohoo!!!

In English we reviewed verbs(just action verbs) and conjunctions. My 2nd class got to watch the schoolhouse rock videos, but my 1st class didn’t because the internet was DOWN AGAIN!!!!!! Here are the links for the videos for verbs and conjunctions:


I introduced the reading response letters to them-well, just part of the guidelines. I will go more in depth with them tomorrow and Friday-I’ll actually have them write a letter while I show them on the ELMO. I didn’t do this last year, so I’m taking my time getting them started this year because I want to read some good thinking about their books!!!!!!!

Here is a copy of the guideline sheet I gave them. They attached it to the inside front cover of their reading response notebooks.

Reading Response Notebook Guidelines

I went over all of it briefly, but I actually showed them how to head their paper, put the date, write the greeting, start out the letter, and write their closing. The other stuff (the in depth thinking) will be saved for tomorrow and Friday and probably many more days because they seemed lost when I was talking about the mood of the book, theme, conflict, etc. πŸ™‚ Don’t even get me started on figurative language! πŸ™‚ There are just some things that they are taught every year, but it just doesn’t stick!!!!!

I also showed them a little of how to answer and open ended question. I made up a RAPS method to help them write their answers.

R-restate the question in a complete sentence

A-answer all parts of the question

P-prove your answer with evidence from the text

S-sum it up or wrap it up with some kind of conclusion

Here is the poster:


Here are the little cards that I had them put in their writing notebook. They can refer to this each time we practice writing answers to open ended questions.

RAPS Cards for Mini Lesson

The last thing we did today was practice Read to Self. Aaahhh…so quiet!! So nice!!! I listened to about 3 kids in each class read a list of words to me and part of a reading passage. I am going to use this assessment to help me group my kids, but mainly so I will know what each child needs to work on so I can help them individually.

Let me just go ahead and say that I can’t wait to get through a lot of these procedures/routines/expectations so I can begin helping them to reach the goals we set!!!!! But I really want to be explicit in my directions for things like the reading response letters, open ended answers, etc. so they will know what to do and can concentrate on adding depth to their thinking, reading, and doing!!!! πŸ™‚

Talk to you tomorrow!!!

Read and Write 180-Day 9

Can you believe we had fun during English today? Well, I had fun anyway!!!!

We have just started reviewing the parts of speech and will continue through next week. Today we covered nouns and pronouns. We watched the schoolhouse rock videos (gotta love them!!!), discussed what nouns and pronouns are, and listed examples of each. Here are the links to the videos on schooltube (yes, that will work at school-it is NOT blocked!). πŸ™‚

I also had them copy the following sentence, and we will label each word as to what part of speech it belongs to as we go through this review of the parts of speech:

We will run in a very long race, and we will win. Oh, yeah!Β 

During our word study time, we copied 3 of our 10 words for the week. Then we segmented the words into syllables/chunks-I let them decide how they wanted to break the word apart to learn how to spell it. Then we either drew a picture or wrote something to help us remember what the word means. I hate to say this-but they seemed BORED out of their minds. What am I going to do to make this exciting? Or just bearable?????

Of course, they loved the interactive read aloud time. We read chapter 3 of 6th Grade Can Really Kill You, made predictions about chapter 4. We had already made our predictions yesterday about chapter 3 so then we got to either confirm or reject our predictions today after we finished chapter 3. I think tomorrow we will talk about Helen’s character-start analyzing it a bit. They really do a good job of interacting with me and each other during this read aloud time! πŸ™‚

We set up our reading genre maps today. They each have a map of the United States. We labeled the states with our reading genre requirements for the year. See this document to learn about our reading genre requirements:

Reading Requirements for 6th Grade

For our reading text this week, “Your Amazing Brain”, we talked a little about our schema-the background knowledge that each of us have about a topic. Then I had them skim the reading passage to find out 3 different things: 1. What we could name our brain since it is so powerful 2. What game our brain can be compared to because of all the messages that it sends 3. The one thing that helps both our brain and our body

I explained to them that reading non-fictions is somewhat different than reading fiction. Sometimes we read non-fiction to find out something specific that we want to know-we may not even read the entire text from front to back like we do with fiction. By giving them 3 different questions to answer before reading (skimming), I had set a purpose for their reading. Tomorrow we will actually read the passage.

We also had our school pictures today-threw me completely OFF schedule (it doesn’t take much!). πŸ™‚

My 2nd class had time to do Read to Self-they did a fabulous job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I forgot to upload my study guide for this week that I gave the students yesterday. This is so they will know what their word study words are for the week, and what we will be learning/doing in reading, english, and writing. It also lets them know when to expect the tests. Here it is for this week.


Oh, yeah-and one of my students finished Stone Fox today-he could not believe the ending of that story!!! This is one of my all time favorite books ever!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get your kleenex ready! πŸ™‚


Read and Write 180-Day 8

WOW! What a Monday! Internet didn’t work in my classroom today, can’t print from any computer in my room yet, meeting after school today, and open house tonight! Very.tired. πŸ™‚

Hopefully, we will be getting into more of a routine this week. I still have some routines to teach, but it’s starting to smooth out. Picture day is tomorrow, so we’ll be thrown somewhat off schedule, but that’s ok-we’ll get there!

We had a good time with our read aloud today-6th Grade Can Really Kill You. We made some predictions on the upcoming chapter, and then we were able to confirm or reject our predictions after reading the chapter. We talked with our partners about our predictions and wrote them in our read aloud notebooks. I think we’ll talk about Helen’s character later this week since that is an area that we need to work on according to one of our reading assessments. They LOVE it when I read to them!!!! They’ve shown me some good thinking so far!

This week in English(and next) we are reviewing the parts of speech. Today we choral read a poem about the 9 parts of speech (including the articles). Then we highlighted all nine parts of speech in the poem-nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, prepositions, and articles. Then we went back through the poem and underlined the examples of each. I had them draw a bubble map graphic organizer with “parts of speech” in the middle bubble. Each day that we review a part of speech we will add the part of speech with a definition and example. Here is a link that will show you a bubble map similar to the one we drew.

After we did all of this, we learned how to power teach a concept to a partner. Now this is something that gets them engaged-they have to interact with each other. It gets them moving (you know how we need oxygen to the brain!). They seemed to really enjoy it! If you have never heard of power teaching then you need to check out this link:

I don’t follow it to the tee, but I do use some of it. I love to get my 6th graders up and moving-changing locations. I think it stimulates the brain, re-energizes them, and I know I wouldn’t want to sit down for over 2 hours straight!!!! πŸ™‚

I introduced our 10 word study words (a combination of vocabulary and spelling) today. (Well, I actually forgot to do this with my 2nd class-oops) They had to copy the 10 words, then I gave them a short kid friendly definition for each one. The rest of the week will be spent really looking at the word, dividing them into chunks, noticing special parts, and discussing the meanings. This week we are doing some “power” words that they will see throughout the year in assignments and tests. Some of the words this week are: describe, infer, summarize, etc.

I introduced our reading passage for the week. I chose to use one that is about our brains so that we can focus on the one organ that we can learn how to train. I had them skim the passage today and highlight any words that they think will be difficult for them. Then we made a class list of them on the board. Tomorrow we will talk about each word before we begin reading the passage. We will also work in groups to talk about our schema, ask questions, and set a purpose for reading.

The last thing we did today was learn about our “Read to Self” time. This will be one of our Fab Five(Daily 5) choices each week(actually they will have to do this EVERY day. We talked about what it would look like and sound like. Then we practiced it for about 3-5 minutes. I watched them and we came back together to talk about what I observed. The only things that I pointed out were: 1. You can’t get up and move around(someone finished their book and wanted to go to the classroom library). 2. A few of them took longer to get started reading, and I said having a bookmark would probably help this instead of them trying to find the page that they were last on. πŸ™‚ All in all, it was good. They liked being able to choose where to read in the room! Even though we have a VERY small room! Here are some pictures of my 2nd class doing Read to Self.

So long for today-see ya tomorrow on Day 9!!!

Vote today!

Head on over to the following links to vote for some wonderful blogs who make a difference in the blogging world! Our very own Erin Klein is in the lead right now in her category-let’s help to keep her that way!!! Also, make sure you vote for “A special kind of class”. Thanks so much! These are 2 terrific bloggers who contribute a lot to TBA (Teaching Blog Addict). Woohoo! πŸ™‚


Vote for “Kleinspiration”

Vote for “A Special Kind of Class”

Read and Write 180-Day 7

We finished our class mission statement today. We sorted our answers to the 7 questions into similar groups and then wrote the mission statement together. Here’s both class’s statements:

Our Class Mission StatementΒ 1st class

Our Class Mission Statemen2Β 2nd class

I hope they realized through this activity that they have a vested interest in “our” classroom!

We added 2 mini-lesson handouts to our binder-the partner work one and the IPICK one. It was sort of a struggle for them to understand that we are essentially just making a table of contents in our binder so we can reference these handouts if we need to. Maybe it will get easier for them the more we work with it. πŸ™‚

We finished our 100% me poems (well, they still have to do a little more for homework over the weekend even though I just told them this week that I don’t give homework on weekends-oops!!). I’ll try not to let that happen again-I just wanted them to be finished so I can put it all out in the hall for open house Monday night.

I checked homework-6 out of 23 in 1 class and 10 out of 24 in the 2nd class did NOT have their homework. What is up with that? They have had since Monday to do most of it. My coworker said that research says the longer students have to complete a homework assignment the more likely they are NOT to do it. I’ll remember that from now on!!!!! Β We played homeworkopoly (this will be every Friday) except the students who didn’t complete their homework!

I went over their ARMT and SAT-10 scores and sent them home for the parents to see. I promised them a party next year if they make scores of 3 and 4 AND if they make a 1 or 2 but their score improved from the 5th grade. I believe in rewarding PROGRESS!!!! πŸ™‚

I’m very happy about my class from last year-94% 3 and 4 scores!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA!