Read and Write 180-Day 36

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another pep rally Friday AND fun Friday! Which means less time in the classroom. Awww…….


1. Took our word study test-it was actually a spelling test this week for the 1st time this year. I have only been testing vocabulary, but I have seen several students misspell some high frequency words that DON’T need to be misspelled in the 6th grade so……

2. We took our reading test on the passage-“Founding Fathers”. I threw in a visualization question and a question where they had a choice between making a connection to the passage or writing about a question they had while reading.

3. Gave out graded papers

4. We went to the computer lab and took a STAR reading assessment-I’ll add this information to the assessment web that I plan on making for each student this week. This assessment web will be 2 papers that have ALL of the literacy information that I have been compiling on the students since the 1st week of school. For example, the ARMT state test from last spring, the reading baseline assessment we took the 1st week of school, the STAR reading assessment we took today, a spelling inventory assessment I gave them, a fluency assessment I gave each individual student, etc…. All of this information will help me divide the students into groups since I plan on beginning small group instruction next week. It will also help me guide each student in making an individual reading goal next week.

I went ahead and gave out the study guides for next week instead of waiting until Monday. I might start doing this every Friday.

Have a great weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

Read and Write 180-Day 35

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today was english test day…need I say more? Let me tell you about the positive and the negative. I’ll start with the negative so we’ll have something to look forward to. ๐Ÿ™‚

Negative: My english test is always a 1 page test with about mmmm….15 sentences on it. Today’s test had 3 sections.

Section 1: 4 or 5 sentences to label the dependent clause and the independent clause

Section 2: 5 sentences to label the simple subject, simple predicate, complete subject, and complete predicate

Section 3: 5 sentences to label each word as the part of speech it belongs to

I would say it should take the kids about 20 minutes (at the most) to complete the test.

Are you ready??????? Including the review of english and the test itself we spent 1 hour on english today in once class and 1 hour 20 minutes in the other class.

I know I have already said this in a previous post (or previous postS)

It is taking entirely toooooooo long which takes time away from our reading and writing. I talked with another teacher today to ask their opinion and have decided to shorten the test-maybe only have 2 sentences in each section. OR-I might go ahead and start my Daily Grammar Practice and this will be the ONLY english we do each day each week. Anyway, whatever I decide will be implemented beginning Monday-I CANNOT afford to spend this much time on english each day!!! You would think that english is a foreign language to us and not our native language. ๐Ÿ™‚

Positive: I separated the 3 sections of the test onto 3 different sheets of paper for about 6 students in each class to help them focus and not be so overwhelmed. This decision was made after meeting with a parent earlier this week. Also, I let them take the test at my small group table AND I helped each one with the test. Like really helped them. Like gave them a few answers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anywhoo-I’ll let you know what I decide for next week’s plan for english!

We made up some sentence with our spelling words-I am using 10 high frequency words that are being misspelled and misused in their writing. After the test they will go up on our word wall so that they will BE SPELLED AND USED CORRECTLY!!!

We read our passage again and practiced our “reciprocal teaching” in groups. They changed roles today. We will do this again tomorrow before the test so that they will have had 3 jobs in their groups. The jobs are PREDICTOR, QUESTIONER, CONNECTOR, AND SUMMARIZER. I think I might add CLARIFIER onto the CONNECTOR job. It went much smoother today. This is what I overheard while walking around and listening:

1. It is impossible to predict something-we have already read the entire text!

2. I’m having a hard time making a connection to anything in this passage.

So, I think I’ll let the connector also clarify things that need clearing up. ๐Ÿ™‚

We did 2 short rounds of FAB FIVE(Daily 5). BUT-I also got 2 mini-lessons in!!!!!!!! Here is what it looked like:

Mini-lesson: Anchor chart for writing a comparing/contrasting essay. (Each class gave me their input, I wrote it on the board, and had a student record it for me on a sheet of notebook paper, then after school I made the actual chart on chart paper)

Round 1-I pulled my 3rd small group this week to finish up our note sheet on our comprehension strategies.

Mini-lesson: We talked about “reading voraciously” or reading A LOT! I had them work with a partner to come up with 2 places they either like to read or just 2 places that you can read. Then they had to think of when they can read. We shared these with me writing them on the board and one of my students recording onto notebook paper-then I made the actual anchor chart after school. (I have to do it this way since I teach 2 classes)

ย This is one of our reading goals that I added to our CAFE reading menu board.

Round 2-I pulled my 4th and last small group to finish the comprehension strategy note sheet. I love working with small groups! ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I helped 1 of my students with his reading response letter. I love working with individuals EVEN MORE than small groups! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I’ve got to figure out how to make my small group/individual time about1 hour or a little more!!! HELP! ๐Ÿ™‚


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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!


Read and Write 180-Day 33

Tuesday, September 27th

Glad to be back at school today! Even though the kids got in trouble yesterday for not transitioning well between classes, they were back in good shape today. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our sentence we labeled today was a good one:

Two huge oak trees tower over her house.

Adj. Adj. Adj. N ย  ย  ย  ย AV ย  ย  ย Prep ย PN ย  ย N

Then we labeled the simple subject, simple predicate, complete subject, complete predicate, and prepositional phrase.

I think most of them are finally getting the hang of it now! Whew! But I REALLY need to start throwing in some adverbs-these are tricky!

I RE-introduced the complex conjunctions and dependent/independent clauses today. We tried it another week, but it was too much so I went back to reviewing parts of speech and subjects/predicates.

Here is their study sheet for conjunctions and clauses that I gave them today:

Clauses and Conjunctionsย I hope we can master this by Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

I gave out report cards today-let’s just say that the only direction that some of us can go is “up”. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do have to say that our english grades have gotten considerably better over these last 2 weeks-I think mainly because we stayed with the same stuff to make sure we could do it! I hope that means that we will be english kings and queens by the end of this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

I FINALLY introduced our CAFE reading menu board today!!! YEA!!!! I deserve a high five!!! Woohoo!! Yes, I do believe that most teacher who implement the CAFE system in their classrooms introduce it the 1st week of school. And yes that makes me about 6 weeks late with the introduction. But, hey-I just felt like there were other things that we needed to take care of first.

This is how I introduced the CAFE menu board. I made CAFE cards that had all of our standards/strategies/skills on them. 40 in all. I gave each group of students 4 cards. They had to read them, discuss them, and TRY to decide what category they would fit in on the board: Comprehension/Awareness/Fluency/Expanding Vocabulary

Then we went through each one and actually put it in its place on the board. Here are the cards that I printed:

CAFE Cards

This is a picture of what our board looked like after we put the cards on the board:

ย Comprehension

ย Awareness

ย Fluency

ย Expanding Vocabulary

Now, I will take all of these cards back off of our CAFE reading menu board and put them back up a couple at a time as we focus on the skills/standards/strategies. How long will that take me???? I still need to read up on this here CAFE system!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Next week I plan on conferring with all 47 student to decide on a reading goal for each one of them to work towards. Now, how in the-I mean how do we decide on just 1 goal? How do we decide which one would be best for each student? Like I said-I have GOT to read up some more on this system. But let me tell you-I am so excited about this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m also giddy about the fact that I did small group instruction today!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can only realistically get to 2 groups each day (this is when I’m not conferring with individual students) so what we did today was this:

Round 1-They could read to self or work on writing. I worked with 1 small group-we finished our list of comprehension strategies and definitions.

Mini-lesson back on the rug-I explained how small group instruction is really informal-we don’t have to raise our hands-it’s just like having a dinner conversation-we join in the conversation while minding our manners. ๐Ÿ™‚

Round 2-They could read to self or work on writing. I worked with 1 more small group-same thing.

Mini-lesson back on the rug-I let them share something from their reading or writing.

Love, love, love, love small group instruction. The question is-CAN I KEEP IT UP? WILL I HAVE TIME FOR IT EACH DAY?

Stay tuned to find out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Reading is thinking (hopefully)

I believe we should teach this from day 1. READING IS THINKING. Reading comprehension at the 6th grade level is supposed to be so much higher level than the previous years. It’s not just about retelling the story or remembering what ย the story was about. It’s thinking while you read. It’s predicting before you read and while you read. It’s making connections between what you are reading and yourself, or the world, or another text. It’s being able to visualize what’s going on in the text so that you feel like you are a part of it! It’s wondering about things as you read, asking questions of your character’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. It’s inferring what the author meant even though the author didn’t SAY it. It’s using your schema before you read and while you read to understand the literal meanings of the text as well as the underlying meanings. It’s synthesizing while you read-understanding when you need to change your thinking about the text. It’s ALL those things and more. Can I just say that these are hard things to accomplish? ๐Ÿ™‚

SO-the only homework that I assign my kids each night is to read for at least 15 minutes (the book of their choice) and to complete 1 box of our comprehension thinking sheet. Here is the actual sheet that they will have totally completed(in a perfect world-sigh) by Friday each week.

Comprehension Thinking Sheet

They get to choose which box they want to complete each night. For the past several weeks I had them all use and write about the same comprehension strategy-so 1 week they had to write about making connections in both comprehension boxes, the next week they had to write about visualizing, and so forth. Beginning this week, they can write about any comprehension strategy that they actually used while reading.

This past Friday I gave them a blank comprehension thinking sheet, and they had to complete it for a reading assessment grade. I took last week to go over it AGAIN with them to make sure that they understood what I was expecting of them-lots of deep thinking, reflecting, and writing.

Here is a picture of one of my student’s sheets from Friday about the book Love, Aubrey.

ย There are 2 boxes to write about comprehension strategies they used while reading, 1 box to write their thoughts and reflections about their book, and 1 box to write about a literary element(plot, setting, character, etc).

ย Here is a closeup of a strategy box.

I’m hoping that the more we read and the more we write about what we read and the more we read….. the better thinkers we will become! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, just in case you can’t read what this one student wrote I am going to type it below for you! PLEASE let me know what you think about this overall process/assignment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Book-Love, Aubrey

Box 1-Comprehension Strategy

“In this book, Love, Aubure, Aubrey is a main character and the part that I am reading is where Bridgette jumps on top of Aubrey and Aubrey yelling “Stop”. I can see Bridgette looking with a weird expression on her face and then start laughing with Aubrey laughing with her.”

Box 2-Comprehension Strategy

“In this book, Bridgette, Aubrey, and Grams are the main characters who live close by each other and are very good friends. Bridgette moved by Grams during the winter and Aubrey moved in with Grams not too long ago. When Aubrey moved in it was almost time to go to school. The question that I am asking myself is does she like school?”

Box 3-Reflections/Thoughts

“I love this book ย Love, Aubrey because it is very exciting but sad. It is exciting because you never know what’s going to happen next. This book is sad because Aubrey lost her sister and father in a car wreck and her mother has just abandoned her.”

Box 4-Literary Elements/Devices

” My main character is Aubrey. Aubrey has a lot going on in her life and school makes it harder. But three things that keeps her going is Grams, Bridgette, and Sammy her pet fish. Gram keeps her safe with a house and food. Bridgette makes her feel like she can do anything. And Sammy gave her company.”

What do you think? Are we on our way to becoming critical readers and thinkers? My 6th graders are NOT used to writing about their reading before they get to 6th grade (according to them).

Read and Write 180-Day 31 and 32

Monday, September 26, 2011 (AND Friday, September 23, 2011)

Yes, I missed my kids today. I was not at school-I was subpeonaed(sp?) to court as a witness in a child custody case for a previous student. I was never called to testify. I did see a lot of heartache. Life is so hard. My heart goes out to the ones involved.


Let me update you on this past Friday-test day. ๐Ÿ™‚ Word study test and reading. Pep rally. Gave out graded papers for parents to sign.

Our reading test was an unusual one this past Friday-we did NOT work with a specific reading passage. I retaught how to complete their comprehension thinking sheet on their choice books since I am not seeing the kind of reflective and deep thinking that I want to see on everyone’s paper. THEN, Friday, their reading assessment was to complete one of these sheets on their choice book. I hope to see some critical thinking when I grade them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did take a picture of our “graffiti wall” that we are using in our room this year. This is where the kids can recommend books to each other and write quotes that they find when they are reading.

ย Will we have room to keep writing by December??? ๐Ÿ™‚

I also took a picture of one my student’s 1st reading response letters. These are the letters that they have to write to me each week (1 each week) on the book of their choice that they are reading. They have guidelines to go by, and I grade them using a rubric that I created. Here is a top notch student’s letter that earned him a 100! ๐Ÿ™‚

Close up picture of each page:

I got a cute picture of some of our class about to run down the hill after the pep rally-this gets them so jazzed up!!

ย We all LOVE Fridays! ๐Ÿ™‚

Read and Write 180-Day 30

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whew!! Almost Friday! First of all, let me tell you that I just read a REALLY good book this week! The 6th Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman. Of course, I loved it because it deals with 6th graders reading, AND it’s funny! It will be on my “recommend” list tomorrow!! ๐Ÿ™‚

We took a practice word study test today (had LOTS of 100s!). I told them if they didn’t miss any today that they don’t have to take the test tomorrow (they can do Read to Self). ๐Ÿ™‚

We reviewed some english and took the english test-I can’t wait to see the results (if I can lift my head from all the other grading I have got to finish TONIGHT!). Here is the english test that we took today:

English Test9-22-11

I read part of the next chapter in our read aloud and stopped before finishing the chapter or finding out what Helen was doing with the alarm clock. You should have heard the groaning!

We shared some of our homework thinking-there’s some GOOD thinking/writing going on. Then I showed them how to complete the last box on the comprehension thinking sheet-there shouldn’t be any questions anymore on how to fill this out each week. Hopefully. ๐Ÿ™‚

My first class worked in groups on their compare/contrast essay (we didn’t have time in the 2nd class because we had a kickoff for our fall school fundraiser).

We did 2 rounds of “Fab Five” (about 20 minutes the 1st round and 10 minutes the 2nd round). I conferred with 2 students in my 1st class and 2 in my 2nd class. LOVE working with individual students!!! I wish I could do this for 1/2 of the class period (about 1 hour 10 minutes). ๐Ÿ™‚

With my 1st class I gave them a copy of a good reading response letter that one of my students had written and we talked about why it was good. I want them to see what a good one looks like because I’m seeing the SAME mistakes and no effort in the letters each week!

OK-going to grade papers!