Thursday, June 27, 2013

Katrina saves the day...

The lovely state of Florida is soon to embark on S.S PARCC
A.K.A Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
To prepare for this new adventure students have been learning a whole new way to write
//text based writing\\

They are given a reading passage and have to respond to a task in written form. This is a lot better than writing to a silly prompt although there are set backs to text based writing...let me give you an example.

The last week and a half of school my students were given their final for my class which of course was an essay. Sixth graders were given a passage on rebuilding houses after hurricane Katrina.
Here is where the fun part begins

I am looking over their essays and I come across an essay that is unlike all the rest! Clearly this student did not read the passage closely or he has no recollection of the damage that hurricane Katerina caused.

He wrote an essay about this girl
Yep, you guessed it named Katrina
Who helped rebuild New Orleans after a "tornado" destroyed the area.
He went into all this detail as to what the tornado did and then came the president of the United States who flew Katrina up to the White House to award her a medal. Katrina was so nervous to meet the president that she was speechless! The president decided to fly Katerina all over America so she can help other cities that needed to be re-built. Children across the country admired her and wanted to grow up to be just like Katrina.

By the time I was finished reading his essay I was laughing so hard I was just kept getting better and better with each line.
and of course I could not keep this essay to myself I had to share it with other teachers around me...who also found it highly amusing. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing goals

A new set of 8th graders are coming my way come August 8th. One of the advantages to teaching three grade levels is that I maintain the same set of students three years in a row. Unfortunately, for them it means that I give them work over the summer to complete. The seventh graders went home with multiple prompts to write over the summer...they were thrilled!
Well I have been thinking of some goals I want to set for this upcoming set of writers I will be developing. Here are some of my ideas:
I want to focus on setting individual writing goals for students and found this table to help monitor those goals. I like how it has a comlomn for accomplishments so we can celebrate what they have achieved in their writing.
I also want to steam line the editing/revising process. Grading multiple essays while teaching two other grade levels is an overwhelming task at times. I love how this teacher used colored highlighters to mean different areas students needed to fix in their essays.
Set up a schedule for conferencing with students about their writing. I managed to have one on one conversations with students this year to review their writing. I would love a set schedule for what is supposed to happen during these confrences and this little pie chart is a nice visual.
Have an organized system for students completed essays. This year I fully implemented interactive notebooks which was great, but a majority of their essays were kept in their notebooks. I would like them to write essays on seperate sheets of pare and then file them away for later use. Creating a mini portfolio of sorts.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

All those genres

I remember learning the word genre in high school and immediately feel in love.
Genre /n/ a kind, category or sort.
I know it sounds odd to like a word so much, but I do. Partly because I like things neat and orderly and this little word puts everything into place!
One set of my 8th graders did an end of the year project on literary genres. They covered five genres and multiple sub genres.
For each literary genre they created a match book with the definition and examples inside. They also created a web and flip notes that contained detailed notes for each genre.
To make this little lesson last longer they also created a movie poster featuring one of the literary genres they learned about.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Goal setting board

I keep my bullitien boards pretty simple and consistent
...once there up there up...
I think one of the advantages to teaching middle school is that I do not have to change my classroom's theme. I am amazed that elementary school teachers turn out these theme filled classrooms year after year.
If my classroom did have a theme it would be "these our a few of my favorite things" I decorate my classroom with things that I like
Anyways back to the goal board
The picture on the left is this years board and the one on the right is last years.
I added these glitter letters that I cut out of scrap book paper and made them pop out from the board.
I plan on keeping this board going for a third year in a row. There might be a few adjustments...although I am not sure what they will be yet...

Tree of life story

The last couple weeks of school are always "fun"
I typically give my students a project to complete
I tell them that it is 75% of their grade and will automatically fail them if their work is not up to my standards.
This last statement is entirely false...well half of it is.
The assignment will not fail them, but I do desire their work to be pleasing.
I came across the tree project through none other
The objective of this project is for students to tell their life's story through the use of the rings inside of a tree. Each ring represents a year the student has lived.
Prior to them actually drawing their own tree I had them fill out a chart with information that they would eventually input into their tree. The chart had three sections: year, age and life event. They were required to figure out how many rings their tree would have depending on how old they were. For example if they were fourteen their tree would have fourteen rings. Therefore they had to account for fourteen different life events. The center ring contained where they were born. The earlier years of their life were sometimes difficult for them to remember, so some exaggerations were appropriate. This could of also been sent home to parents to help them fill out what happened early on in their lives since they could not remember.
Next, came the fun part. Students began to draw out each ring of their tree. They refered back to their chart to write each life event in every ring.
Lastly, they cut out their tree and colored it. I some how failed to take a picture of a completed tree, but I can tell you they were all very impressive and unique just like each one of them!



Thursday, June 6, 2013

While I was away....

Poor April and May were entirely neglected as far as the blogging world goes. I'm not even going to lie..I did not even think about writing during these two months. Well the dust has cleared from this past school year and I am ready to share how it all ended...eventually.
Until then, I stumbled upon this little golden nugget:
Yep this happened without me knowing
The write up of my blog is interesting
17. Oh Happy Day – Despite focusing on one of the most challenging career paths in the world of middle school education, this blog maintains a hopeful, upbeat tone throughout. M.E. Hall, a Los Angeles educator who teaches children with mild disabilities, brings her readers into her world with thoughtful posts accompanied by illustrations.
Where to begin: Hall’s
honest conversations with her students give the reader a snapshot of her persona and her outlook on teaching.

First of all I never knew I taught in Los Angeles
I guess when I said I teach middle school L.A. I should of been more clear
L.A .stands for language arts...not Los Angeles...
To lessen the confusion I changed my bio to:
I teach middle school Language Arts
Nevertheless I am flattered
Should I get paid more since I have chosen "one of the most challenging career paths in the world of middle school education"?